So have a few free moments after returning from Chicago. Lots of folks have been asking for a quick breakdown on the trip. In short, it was a great trip. Chicago is a great metropolitan city with all that you would expect (great food, shopping, sites) and some things you wouldn't (very nice people and surprisingly very affordable).
We flew in to Midway
on Thursday and headed straight for our hotel. We stayed at the Palmer House Hilton
($75 a night from Priceline
!) on Monroe and Wabash. Super conveniently located hotel in the middle of the city. It has an L stop
right outside and is only a block away from Millennium Park
, The Art Institute of Chicago
, and the Chicago Harbor
. Plus there's a 24 hour CVS
across the street and a Dunkin' Donuts
around the corner. Just for shits and grins, I toured a high rise condo across the street from the hotel, the Park Monroe
. Super luxurious with amazing views of the water, the city, and the park. What was crazy was how cheap (relatively speaking) these were. A 2BR, 2BA 1400+ square foot unit with water and city views was selling for only $600K. The salesperson even hinted I could bid much lower and probably have my offer accepted. A comparable location in San Francisco
would be the Embarcadero Plaza
area just outside the Financial District
and the same unit would probably sell for twice the price. Even crazier were the 1BR, 1BA 900+ square foot units which were only selling for $300K! There are condos in Oakland
that are smaller and more expensive than that! I guess it just highlights how out of whack Bay Area real estate still is.
On to the food. We did our share of high-end and normal food. On the high-end side we hit Alinea
. Both good though I have a hard time justifying the cost of Alinea. I guess it's one of those "do it once" type of places. Impeccable service and definitely high on the creativity scale. We opted for the monstrous 35+ course tasting menu (a 4.5 hour meal!). Though I definitely felt as if some of the dishes were more about the flash than the actual substance. Blackbird, on the other hand, was much more reasonable and the flavors were very good. We also hit Miller's Pub
a few times. Just a no nonsense pub with very good food. It's right next to the Palmer House so we were able to sneak over whenever we had a craving for a midnight snack or drinks. They're open until 4am and seemingly always busy. Great buffalo wings and a pretty decent fish and chips. Sausages with peppers and onions was not bad and though I didn't have it, they are known for their Canadian baby back ribs.
All in all, I'd have no problem vacationing in Chicago again. If I had the dough, I'd even consider owning one of those condos and renting it out!