A Trip to Chicago, Day 3
Monday mornings are usually reserved for grumblings and self-loathing. However, this Monday was a bit of a change, as it was the final day of our trip to Chicago. We arose early and had a breakfast of Stan’s Donuts, which we had picked up the day before. While these are reputedly one of the best donuts Chicago has to offer… I wasn’t too impressed. They were good, but not $3 per donut good. Maybe it’s something that’s only worthwhile when it’s freshly made.
We had quite a few goals set for ourselves on this day. The first goal was to get lunch at one of Chicago’s most up-and-coming restaurants, Au Cheval. They are quite known for having the best burgers ever to have been created, or something like that. I didn’t really care about that, as I was more focused on ordering the fries topped with an egg and served with creamy mornay sauce and garlic aioli.
We’d been warned by Drew’s cousin to get there early – very early – otherwise we might have to wait for hours to get in. While we tried to heed his advice, we got a bit of a later start than we wished, and ended up arriving to the establishment about a half hour after they opened.
We weren’t too discouraged, however, as the line was just poking out the door when we arrived. We figured that we just had to wait a few minutes for these people to get seated, then we could both indulge in our tasty treats.
However, our hopes began to be crushed as we heard other people talk about their wait time. When we finally reached the hostess, the news was confirmed – it would take three and a half hours before we would be able to eat.
Luckily, this did not mean we had to hang around for three and a half hours waiting, as we would probably slip into hunger comas. Instead, we decided to skip ahead to the second thing on our agenda for that day – Chinatown. A short Uber ride later, we were walking the along Chinatown Square in search of Qing Xiang Yuan Dumpling, a restaurant that specializes in delicious dumplings. Drew decided on an order of Lamb and Corriander, while I went with Pork and Onion (a last resort choice, as they were completely out of all types of chicken dumplings).
Each bite of the dumplings was a juicy paradise, as they were filled with a combination of soup broth, meat, and toppings. After we were finished, however, I needed a little dessert to finish off the meal. Around the corner of the restaurant was an indeed Asian food court where I found exactly what I needed – bubble tea.
My craving quenched, we perused the various shops and restaurants littering the Square, admiring the sheer volume and uniqueness of it all. However, it was quickly time to move on, as we wouldn’t be able to buy anything to take home with us and we couldn’t eat anymore.
Our next stop was Lagunitas Brewing, as we figured we could use a brew or two before we had our very belated lunch. After a bit of driving the wrong way down a one way street, our Uber driver dropped us off in front of the massive brewing warehouse and taproom. Upon opening the door, we were greeted by the psychedelic light show that everyone talks about. However, we were quickly stopped by a man standing at the front desk.
He politely informed us that the taproom was actually closed today and that we wouldn’t be able to drink. However, there was a tour starting at 3 PM if we felt like joining. Of course, we would have loved to do that, but Drew had been keeping tabs on our reservation for Au Cheval, and we knew that it would conflict with our eventual meal. Sadly, we had to pass up the tour, and hailed a new Uber to take us over to Au Cheval.
We arrived just as Drew’s phone alerted us it was time for us to be seated. Score! We walked in past the restless line of people and quickly scored seats at the bar. The kitchen was right out in the open and directly in front of us, meaning we could watch the cooks work their magic on a number of dishes (though, to be honest, the burger production line was pretty much never-ending). Numerous times, we believed that the delectable dishes being assembled belonged to us; however, they often went to others. Finally, though, the food we had laid claim to arrived before us.
It was quite a good order of fries, though not the best I’ve ever had. Would I wait 3 and a half hours for them again? Probably. Though anyone that knows me must realize that I would probably wait three and a half hours for any kind of fries.
By this time, it was nearly 4 PM. Our flight that evening would leave at 9:36 PM, meaning that we really didn’t have too much time left to head back into the city or anywhere else around town. Therefore, we just decided to get a couple of drinks before we headed to the airport. We stopped at Haymarket one last time, and then headed to a promising bar called Pork Chop with a pretty good happy hour deal. By the time we finished our drinks, sadly, it was time to head back to the apartment and hail an Uber to take us to the airport.
So ends our trip to Chicago. It was a time filled with drinking, eating, and walking. These are some of my favorite things, and since Chicago has a lot of these things, it is now a favorite city of mine. If the rest of the year can be filled with as much exploration, exhilaration, and enjoyment as this weekend, then I think I have a lot to look forward to.