Author Topic: Extra Long Weekend in Chicago  (Read 332 times)

Online shaulyaakov

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Extra Long Weekend in Chicago
« on: July 03, 2019, 02:19:15 PM »
Introduction:
Having qualified for a Southwest Companion Pass through the credit card bonus, I thought that going somewhere for Memorial Day weekend (Sun-Tuesday) with my wife would be a nice use. Living in Bergen County, NJ and wanting a quick non-stop flight, I landed on Chicago due to having non-stop flights from Newark. Once I saw that the Cubs were home (I'm a huge baseball fans and love checking out stadiums), I knew that we should do it. Having parents willing to watch my daughter made it even better! Plus, I've wanted to check out Milt's and Shallots for a while, so it all lined up.

Flights:
Flew Southwest Sunday morning (we didn't want to leave our daughter over Shabbos) and planned to return Tuesday evening. Unfortunately, the Tuesday night flight was cancelled about 15 minutes before boarding, so we left Wednesday night instead. More on that later.

Hotels:
I wanted to use a Hyatt card anniversary night for one night, and either cash or points for the second night. There are a bunch of Hyatts that are 15k per night or less, but none that are close to the Kosher food. In the end, we decided on Hyatt Centric the Loop, due to it's proximity to the Orange metro to get from MDW --> hotel, and the red line to get hotel --> Wrigley. Plus it was next door to a shul (their weekday Minyan has a Mechitzah and uses Koren siddurim, though I believe on Shabbos they have a non-Mechitzah minyan as well). The second night was so cheap due to Memorial day, that I just paid cash for the second night (value would have been less than 1c pp).

We were upgraded to a large corner room, which had a nice view of the area, and a gorgeous bathroom. The hotel has a modern/boutique feel, as well as a lounge with free snacks/drinks open most of the day. There was also a rooftop bar that we did not go to due to time/weather. The location was great. Walking distance to Millennium park ("The Bean"), as well as being close to Lakeview drive that goes up to the Kosher places.
Unfortunately, there was a toddler who did not enjoy sleeping in the room next door. After the first night, I spoke to the front desk about it. They offered to give me either 50% of the next night's room rate back, or the could comp me breakfast (obviously we took the cash). They also saw that that family would still be there, so they offered to move us. When we got to the new room, I was pleasantly surprised to see that I was upgraded to a suite! The suite was enormous with a foyer, livng room with a couch, dining table, couch and TV. The bedroom was the same size as the room from the night before, and opened to a bathroom. The only thing I didn't like was that there was no door between the bedroom and the bathroom sinks.

After our flight got cancelled, I booked a night at the Hyatt Regency (cash, to hopefully be reimbursed by CSR travel insurance). This hotel is simply mediocre. It’s massive and takes forever to get from the lobby to the room. The room itself was small, had stained carpets and a tiny bathroom. The lobby and pubic areas are nice, but that’s about it. It’s also very annoying to get in and out, due to being in a part of Chicago where the roads are multiple levels. The bar was nice, and the receipt says “bar and grill” so I’m hoping that my Glenlevit 15 will be reimbursed by CSR as “dinner.”

Activities:

Sunday
As an avid baseball fan, going to Wrigley was always at the top of my list. Luckily, I found cheap tickets on Stubhub for seats in the 200 “level”. For those who have never been to Wrigley, the 200 level is really just the top of the lower deck. So we were about 40 rows away from the field, and right next to the kosher stand – which was helpful as walking around Wrigley is hard! The food at the stands is good (Romanian hotdogs and sausages), but not offering a Chicago style hotdog is criminal. It’s better than Yankee stadium food, but still not the best (that honor goes to Nationals Park or Camden Yards of all the stadiums I’ve been).

After the game we went to the river walk. It’s really nice and gives a great perspective on the area. Unfortunately, there’s some construction and poor signage, and we ended up stuck in a detour the side of a highway for an extra 10 minutes of walking (whereas if the path had been opened, we would have ended up out right away).

We took a horrible Lyft Line to Shallots for dinner. I went in with high expectations and left underwhelmed. The food was expensive even by NYC standards, and while it was good, I would not return at that price (2 apps, 2 entrees, and a dessert ran us over $200 with tax + tip). That’s the same price that I usually pay at Mikes in NYC, and the food was nowhere near as good.

Monday
Monday morning, we walked from the hotel to Millennium park for our obligatory picture at the Bean, and from there, we went to a lake-beach (it was nowhere near swimming weather even if we had been so inclined). After that, we had an architecture boat cruise. Unfortunately, just as we were boarding, the skies opened up, and it started pouring. Sadly, the covered portion of the boat had no view, so we braved the storm with umbrellas and ponchos. We enjoyed, but were completely soaked by the end, when the rain stopped. We went back to the hotel to dry off, and from there, on to Milts.
Milts was phenomenal. We ordered a bunch of half portions, and every time they brought food, I told the waiter “no, we ordered the half portion”, at which point he assured us that these giant plates were indeed a half portion. I had heard mixed reviews about the ribs, but I was not disappointed. The half rack was more than enough for us to share. While they aren’t on par with Izzy’s or Backyard BBQ, I’d give them an 8/10, and for $55 for a half slab that was our entrée for the night (plus 2 apps), it was well worth it.

Our evening plans for the night was the Second City comedy show. Second City is one of the leaders of improv and sketch comedy, and is where many famous comedians have gotten their start (including Colbert). We saw the “Best of the Second City” show, which is essentially their top sketches from various shows plus a few improv segments. The show was about 2.5 hours long plus a couple of intermissions in a comedy club layout. I’d say the show somewhere between a PG-13 and an R, with most of the show being the former, with a few sketches veering to be a little less appropriate, but nothing graphic or egregious. Overall, the show was very good, and I would love to see another one of their shows in the future. They allow kids as young as 12 to come – I wouldn’t bring kids to this show.   


Tuesday
In what was supposed to be our last day in Chicago, the plan was built around going to Romanian to bring a box of salami/deli back. On the way, we went to the Lincoln Park zoo, which is free. It’s a decent zoo, but not somewhere worth more than 2 hours or so.

We went to Himachi for lunch. They have very cheap lunch specials and the food was above average. We had sushi and soup, but they recently added Chinese. After lunch, we hopped in a quick Lyft to Romanian.

Romanian is basically heaven on earth for me and they helped us pack a box of meat for about $100 total.Luckily, I opted to buy a couple of ice packs, which would go a long way to helping our meat during its 36 hour trip back to NJ We also picked up sandwiches for the night for like $4.50 each. Unfortunately, the only sides you can buy are bags of chips. They also don’t have to-go mustard packs, which should be illegal.

Trip Home Saga

We went back to Midway for a late afternoon flight home, checked all of our bags (including our Romanian box), went to the gate, and just as boarding (which was delayed) was about to begin, our flight was cancelled due to storms in NYC. After spending the next 2 hours waiting to be rebooked (in the end it was done automatically before we could even speak to an agent, so we could have left), we were put on a flight 28 hours later, which was the best they could do. I left the secure area only to learn that our bags would be sent to Newark eventually and they had no ability to get them back to us. We were now left scrambling to book a hotel, buy clothing/toiletries etc., as well as try to find a place to work the next day, as we didn’t have laptops with us (Learned my lesson to always travel with a laptop if I’m supposed to work the next day). In the end, we got what we needed, and found a friend in West Rodgers Park who had laptops we could borrow for the next day. Luckily, our meat survived, and our bags made it to EWR when we did.

While we were in West Rodgers Park, I picked up Main Pizza Chalavi food for lunch and Great Chicago for dinner, both of which were fairly mediocre. I had stopped into the Mariano’s supermarket to pick up a couple of things, and noticed that they have a kosher grill, where they’ll grill anything from the meat case for no extra fee. I regret not just buying dinner there.

Overall, it was a nice quick trip, but flight cancellations really have a way of leaving a bitter taste.
« Last Edit: July 03, 2019, 02:31:01 PM by shaulyaakov »

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Re: Extra Long Weekend in Chicago
« Reply #1 on: July 09, 2019, 06:03:05 PM »



Tuesday
In what was supposed to be our last day in Chicago, the plan was built around going to Romanian to bring a box of salami/deli back. On the way, we went to the Lincoln Park zoo, which is free. It’s a decent zoo, but not somewhere worth more than 2 hours or so.

We went to Himachi for lunch. They have very cheap lunch specials and the food was above average. We had sushi and soup, but they recently added Chinese. After lunch, we hopped in a quick Lyft to Romanian.

Romanian is basically heaven on earth for me and they helped us pack a box of meat for about $100 total.Luckily, I opted to buy a couple of ice packs, which would go a long way to helping our meat during its 36 hour trip back to NJ We also picked up sandwiches for the night for like $4.50 each. Unfortunately, the only sides you can buy are bags of chips. They also don’t have to-go mustard packs, which should be illegal.



lol about the mustard
I always wondered why Romanian never tried to capitalize on a proper takeout menu when their meat is so good (deli sandwiches, grilled hot dogs, hamburgers, mustard, etc.) Perhaps because it is slightly out of the frum neighborhood and they don't get a lot of foot traffic/walk ins?