Greetings from Chicago!

2 Jun

Happy Thursday party people! And you guessed it, I’m in Chicago. I got here yesterday afternoon and absolutely love it here.


The drive up from Indianapolis was pretty uneventful. If you’ve never driven through Indiana, you’re not missing much. It’s flat, farm land with not much to look at.

I stopped at Portillo’s in Merrillville, IN for lunch. I am originally from that area and it’s so weird seeing how built up everything is now. There just used to be the mall, a hotel or two and a handful of restaurants but not the road it’s on is jam packed.

When talking with my sister and my aunt this past week, they told me I have to go to Portillo’s and that my life will never be the same once I have it. They told me I’ve had it before when I was a youngin but I don’t remember any of it although the name sounded familiar. The serve hot dogs, sandwiches, salads, burgers, milkshakes and more. The inside is a bit kitchshy and reminded me of Coney Island kind of restaurants with the signs for hot dogs, soups on the paneling. The place was packed for a Wednesday afternoon-I almost couldn’t find a table but fought off some children for a single table that they were using as a jungle gym. I got the dry Italian Beef sandwich with hot peppers and a side of fries

You can get the sandwiches with the gravy on them but the idea of soggy breads skeeves this girl on. And when I heard gravy I was a bit confused because I was thinking brown gravy you put on mashed potatoes. The gravy they serve is more along the lines of au jus sauce and once I poured it on the sandwich and took a bite, I remembered having it before. And it was a good memory. Poor sandwich, it didn’t have a chance of having a long existence in this world. Gone in 10 minutes.

Of course I got a little lost while coming into the Chicago Metro area because you know, that’s what I do. I swear I don’t like the whole idea of a GPS ordering me around but I think that’s what I need. One of these days when I get lost in the hood, I will learn my lesson and buy one. But until then, I will keep looking out for landmarks and try to get myself in the right direction. I finally saw this and just kept trucking along, knowing I was headed in the right direction.

After an hour at Starbucks and some texts to Amy asking where I was, what time it was (Chicago is in the central time zone but my phone didn’t change time when I entered), I went over to my friends house……right after the Cubs game ended. Which fighting my way through traffic is a whole other story in itself and og my god—there is a midget who sells water-but yeah, another time for that story. Soon I was on my friends porch, enjoying new-to-me beers!

We went to Uncommon Ground for dinner.  They are a hippie-esque restaurant with local art on the walls, live music and use products that leave no or a low carbon footprint. And their vow is to “use seasonal, locally produced, family farmed & organic products”—how could I NOT love this place?

We sat outside and they have a quite a spacious patio area but most of all, I love the diversity of people walking around. Edit—diversity of people and their dogs—this is such a dog friendly neighborhood! I feel like every person we saw had a pooch and I think I saw some that Lincoln would like.

I got the Capriole Goat Cheese Stuffed Portabella Mushroom Sandwich-
“artichoke, spinach, arugula, caramelized onions on cracked oat bun”

Aww yeah, look at that goat cheese! It was messy but worth the mess, I was very happy with my selection.

Even the bathrooms made me feel at peace with the world

I don’t want to go back to Charlotte, which I know I always say that anytime I’m away but for reals. I am staying in Lakeview and it’s awesome here. I love that people walk everywhere and you see people all the time although it’s not crazy rowdy. I have a few restaurants and bars I can walk to in Charlotte but nothing like this. I could totally see myself here, just need to figure out the whole job and how will I pay to live thing.

Have you ever been/lived in Chicago? What’s your favorite thing to do in Chicago? Help a sister out, I have a day to myself but I think the first thing on the agenda is finding some coffee!

39 Responses to “Greetings from Chicago!”

  1. Amy @ Second City Randomness June 2, 2011 at 8:36 am #

    I was with Holly @ The Healthy Everythingatarian when I had my first Spotted Cow! It’s good! However, 312 is usually a staple in this girl’s house. It’s awesomeness in a glass. 🙂

    And is it weird that I never crave Portillo’s? I think it’s the fries- I don’t like crinkle cut. And fries are a very important part of the dining experience. So yeah.

    I still think you should go to the zoo. It’s a gorgeous day today. And it’s free. I’m sure there’s a Starbucks in close proximity as well. 🙂

    I googled Starbucks locations just for you if you refuse my Dunkin’ Donuts coffee tomorrow morning. Truth.

    • simplyshaka June 4, 2011 at 8:10 pm #

      I’m not a huge fan of crinkle cut fries but if you put it in front of me, I would eat them. I have no shame. One of these days I’ll make it to the zoo.

    • adrianna June 4, 2011 at 10:48 pm #

      love love love me some 312.

  2. Alyssa June 2, 2011 at 8:37 am #

    I’ve never been to Chicago! but OH MY GOSH. I think that portabello/goat cheese is more than enough to get me to visit. holy canoli.

    • simplyshaka June 4, 2011 at 8:11 pm #

      Yep, it was that good!!! I kinda want to try to recreate at home but know I will come nowhere close.

  3. vixter2010 June 2, 2011 at 8:41 am #

    Mmm sandwich and chips looks good! City driving in America seems really scary, you’re brave to travel so much on your own and without sat nav, woo you!! Sounds like you’ve found the place you want to be yay you can do it 🙂

    • simplyshaka June 4, 2011 at 8:12 pm #

      It sucks, I really want to experience the driving in Europe!

  4. According to Gus June 2, 2011 at 9:11 am #

    I LOVE Chicago! Mitch and I visited almost once a month when we lived in Iowa City. I’m partial to shopping on Michigan Ave. And check out a show at Second City if you get a chance – it’s dirt cheap and HILARIOUS!


    • simplyshaka June 4, 2011 at 8:16 pm #

      I desperately want to catch one of their shows!

      Are you going through Chicago on your trip?

  5. Alexis June 2, 2011 at 9:13 am #

    I’ll be in Chicago today!! (Granted, it’s just for an hr, in O’Hare on my way home to Ireland for 3 weeks!) Kinda wishin I had a longer layover to explore….but the emerald isle awaits mr! 🙂 Have fun! 🙂

    • simplyshaka June 4, 2011 at 8:17 pm #

      Thats awesome–hope you have an amazing trip home!!

  6. leashieloo June 2, 2011 at 9:23 am #

    We lived in a suburb by Chicago when I was in 6th grade, to this day Chicago is my favorite U.S. city. I love the people, the architecture, the art, just love it all. I go almost every year, but this year I’m off to Vegas instead so I will live vicariously through you 🙂

    • simplyshaka June 4, 2011 at 8:17 pm #

      Lucky girl! I haven’t been to Vegas in six years so I will be living through you as well.

  7. miriam June 2, 2011 at 9:43 am #

    I’m with Amy – you have to go to the zoo! It’s kind of awesome and free.
    I have a massive, massive obsession with Mana Food Bar – . It’s vegetarian, but the meat-eating boy was equally blown away by the food. Get the Mana Sliders – probably one of the single best things I have eaten in my entire life and tried to recreate at home. There’s a cute bakery a couple doors down with salt caramel macarons. I was a bit “merry” when I ordered and the cashier laughed at me. Typical.

  8. BikiniBy30 June 2, 2011 at 11:00 am #

    DUUUDE! I wish it was Friday, because Hot Doug’s ( reopens tomorrow (they’ve been on vacation for Memorial Day).

    If you’re in Lakeview (Yay-North side!) Jump on the train and head downtown and walk Michigan Avenue. Shopping and people watching for days!

  9. Mindy@FindingSilverLinings June 2, 2011 at 11:00 am #

    AWESOME! I want to be you & travel everywhere & blog about it. I am jealous.

    • simplyshaka June 4, 2011 at 8:18 pm #

      Thanks girl but mind you I have no steady income while I do it 😦

  10. OliePants June 2, 2011 at 12:59 pm #

    Oh hun buns – that’s my type of sandwich – and fries! 🙂

  11. fitinthemidwest June 2, 2011 at 1:28 pm #

    Yay, you’re just an hour away from me! And I see you are enjoying Wisconsin beer (New Glarus). Woo hoo! Spotted cow is great!

    I like shopping on Michigan Avenue, the Art Institute is awesome (if museums are your thing) and Millenium park is fun to walk around! Hope you found some good strong coffee.

  12. Nicole June 2, 2011 at 4:04 pm #

    Yeah lady…Chicago is awesome all around. Lived in and around the city for 23 years. You must be privy to the following though: 1) insanely heinous traffic, 2) bitterly cold & windy 7-8 months out of the year, 3) price-ay real estate, food & very high sales tax.

  13. Elin @andserenitytoo June 2, 2011 at 5:24 pm #

    Yay, Chicago! You’re travelling a lot girl, how fun! 🙂
    That spotted cow beer looks interesting – what is it jumping/tripping over??
    The goat cheese sandwitch is making me drool…

    • simplyshaka June 4, 2011 at 8:19 pm #

      It was wonderful! I had to do a double take with your question–it’s the state of Wisconsin it’s jumping over. You’re very onservant!

  14. Anna June 2, 2011 at 5:44 pm #

    I am in the northern suburbs of Chicago and love the area. Sadly it has been too long since I was actually in Chicago. During the summer there are a lot of different events and live music. I am hopping to get in to enjoy some the entertainment and taste of Chicago this summer 🙂

    • simplyshaka June 4, 2011 at 8:20 pm #

      Thats awesome, I love that there is so much to do. It’s like you can never get bored there 🙂

  15. dianacheung June 3, 2011 at 9:04 am #

    like I said I love Chicago. go to millennium park (g proposed under the bean…you can go and reenact it for me). stay away from the navy pier. walk around miracle mile. go to the museums. BTW I gulped and bought myself a gps. the phone is good but doesn’t “reload” fast enough if I get lost!

    • simplyshaka June 4, 2011 at 8:01 pm #

      I think I’m gonna have to follow your lead! This getting lost thing is getting out of hand!

  16. Erin June 3, 2011 at 11:09 am #

    I love Chicago! 🙂 That goat cheese sandwich is out of this world. Seriously. Mmmm….

    My fave thing to do was hang out in Millenium Park and people watch. There is A LOT of that to do. 🙂 I visited Navy Pier just to ride the ferris wheel and drink at the little beer place there. It was nice enough.

    If I had only the one day though, I would take this architecture tour that goes through the Chicago River and into the lake. So interesting, great views of the city and so fun!

    • simplyshaka June 4, 2011 at 7:58 pm #

      Thanks for the link, that sounds really interesting! I am going to check that out next time. I went to Navy Pier last time so I wanted to do something new but have never been to Millenium Park.

  17. Monique June 3, 2011 at 11:45 am #

    OOOOO Weee! I did NOT experience Chi-town like that!
    I remember hitting a deep dish pizza place, kitchen roscoe and the burger joint that SNL made fun of “cheeburger, cheeburger. No Pepsi! Coke. No Fries. Chips”

    • simplyshaka June 4, 2011 at 7:51 pm #

      OMG I need to find where that place is. I didnt get deep dish pizza, boooooo!

  18. MelissaNibbles June 3, 2011 at 4:32 pm #

    I’ve never been to Chicago, but I’d go just for that portobello sandwich!

  19. janetha @ meals & moves June 3, 2011 at 11:44 pm #


  20. Alan Ali June 4, 2011 at 6:53 pm #

    I love love love Chicago, i had to move away from there when I got laid off in 2009. I am definitely moving back when the time is right 🙂

  21. adrianna June 4, 2011 at 10:47 pm #

    tiff, where do our similarities end? no where, thats where. i went to optometry school in chi-town! lived on the south side, by school (loans, no car, only choice), and did not enjoy that, but every time i went uptown was lovely and fun. its a great city…so much to do, so much to eat, so many good looking people. i have to be ridiculous though…the weather got to me. big time. winter is forever, and summer is short. but oh the summer…tons to do, even if its just a stroll by the lake, bc its so pretty! i thought i wouldnt miss it, but seeing all your recaps and photos makes me, a lot! enjoy it baby.

    btw, on the previous, portillo’s is off the hook. love. it.

    • simplyshaka June 6, 2011 at 7:26 am #

      I never knew you lived there! I love the city so much but my main concern is the weather (and cost of living of course) Even though I am originally from that area, I grew up in FL so am used to the hot weather even though I dig cold weather.

  22. suki @ [Super Duper Fantastic] June 5, 2011 at 10:17 pm #

    we’re excited for our trip to Chicago over Labor Day weekend. we’ll be meeting up with some friends, but mostly, we just love exploring new cities. i’ve been there once before, but it was a short weekend.

    • simplyshaka June 5, 2011 at 10:20 pm #

      I saw your tweet about that! I wasn’t sure if you would be going for business or pleasure but you will have such a wonderful time since it shouldn’t be too hot then (I think?) I can’t wait to read about it on your blog 🙂

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