08 October 2013

Sweet Home Chicago

I'm not sure if it was because my sinuses had addled my brain, I was experiencing some bizzaro fever-dreams, or it was just time for it to happen, but while I was sick last week some of my misery was compounded by a bout of homesickness for Chicago. I'm actually surprised it took this long for it to happen, but I suppose it had to happen some time (we did live there about 9 years, after all). I didn't miss our old apartment or even too much of our old neighborhood, but there are plenty of aspects of Chicago that I can't help but love, even from afar. Now we're all on the mend, I'm out of my funk, but I thought I'd share some of my favorite things about Sweet Home Chicago.

Little Man in the observation box at the Willis Tower (Sears Tower) - Summer 2012

The Food. If you did it right, you would never need to cook. Chicago is one of those cities that you can always find a restaurant or snack stand open somewhere. From our favorite early-morning breakfast spot in our old neighborhood, the Sunrise Cafe, to world-class restaurants downtown, to the late-night hot dog stands, Chicago has something for you. The diversity of food available is a little crazy - basically food from any region of the world you can think of - and if it's not in your neighborhood, it probably wouldn't take too long to find it. I could probably list close to 50 restaurants and food joints that are worth a visit, but I'd just start drooling.

Western Avenue. It's counted as the longest street in the world at 23.5 miles long, and it goes through such a range of neighborhoods that I'm always in a bit of awe. At one point, I would drive 12 of those miles every day on my way to work, and when I wasn't doing that, I'd drive the other direction for a good length depending on what I was doing on the weekend. I've seen all of Western Ave for some reason or another.

The Music. So many great musicians and bands have come out of Chicago, and we've gotten to see some great shows. You learn to love or hate certain venues, but some of my favorites are the Empty Bottle, The Beat Kitchen, and The Hideout. I have great memories of good shows and times with friends at these places.

Pumpkins. This may be because of the expat-autumn-longings, but the state of Illinois produces 95% of the pumpkins grown in the United States and cans approximately 85% of the world's canned pumpkin supply (the Libby's processing plant is located in Illinois). And I could really go for a pumpkin muffin right now.

someecards.com - If you say “Pumpkin Spice Latte” 3 times in front of a mirror a white girl in yoga pants will appear and tell you her favorite things about Fall. 

The Lincoln Park Zoo. It's free, open every day of the year, and it's easy to get to. The animals are well cared for and the facilities have an interesting mix of being "historic" and being maintained and updated to meet the needs of the animals in the zoo's care. We especially loved doing Zoo Lights with Little Man each Christmas season, when the whole zoo is beautifully lit up with Christmas lights at night.

Lincoln Park Zoo Lights - Photo Source: www.lpzoo.org

The CTA. It's no secret that the Chicago Transit Authority has its (major) issues, and its quality doesn't even come close to the European systems I've experienced so far, but it is one of the better options in the US for public transit systems. It covers a huge range with the trains and buses, it's reliable more often than not, and it has it's own charm that can grow on you. Plus, there's fewer things as interesting as people-watching on the Red Line.

The Tamale Guy. This relates to my first point about food. In the Wicker Park/Bucktown neighborhood, if you stayed out at one of the smaller bars without an attached kitchen late enough, you would get to see the Tamale Guy. He would come in with coolers filled with 2 or 3 flavors of delicious, homemade tamales and sell them for a ridiculously good price. Everybody is happy when this guy shows up.

The Shopping Plazas around the Western/Elston/Diversy Intersection. I could buy basically anything I could think of around this intersection. My favorite Target store is located there, and everything from the pet store, hardware store, craft store, toy store, and grocery stores are located in the same plazas or real close by. Just about all my errands could be done in one trip up here.

DePaul University. Through this place we were given so amazing opportunities, grew as people, and made some great friends. It holds a special place in my heart.

I'm sure there's more I just haven't thought of yet. It's one of those things I'll want to add 25 more things to the list after I've published this post. But you know, a place you've called home will do that to you.

What do you like to think about when you get a bout of homesickness? 

Also - I'm joining up with Treasure Tromp and Brachel Boulevard's Friends Around the World Blog Hop - It's a great way to see bloggers and their experiences from all over, so please check out these other blogs, too.

Friends Around the World Link Up Blog Hop


  1. Where are you from in Chicago?! I went to high school outside of the city in the suburb of Crystal Lake! Thanks for linking back and joining the blog hop today!! Xx

  2. We lived in the Ukrainian Village in the city for a long time, but we went to college in Oak Park/River Forest. I know people out by Crystal Lake, though. =)

  3. Welcome back M, A, & M... Hope you'll be back soon to stay... Would be nice for Malachi. And Reagan to get together and play. Enjoy your visit!

  4. Oh man, Chicago would be a really hard place to leave! I visited friends there and loved it. Now you have me craving tamales...

  5. Thanks for the kind wishes, but we're not actually in Chicago - I was just reminiscing about it. It would be nice to get back for a visit, though!

  6. It's really a great city - and the things I have up are just a tiny fraction. And the tamales available are amazing =)

  7. I used to live in the Midwest and traveled to Chicago ALL the time. I miss it!

    Found you via the blog hop. Nice to meet you. :)

  8. Chickpea, Star Lounge, Tecalitlan, Bacci, Roots, Phil's Last Stand all on W Chicago Ave .....

  9. That someecard is awesome! And very true.
    Stopping by to say hello from Friends Around the World!

  10. I had no idea about the pumpkin! Interesting! I have one place that comes to mind about Chicago....Portillos! Yum!

  11. Hi Rachel, thanks for stopping by! I think if I was nearby in the Midwest, I would definitely visit Chicago often. It was such a great place to live!

  12. And Mr. Brown's Jamaican restaurant (also on Chicago Ave), Sweet Cakes Bakery, Goose Island Brewery, Revolution Brewpub... I could and would go on...

  13. Thanks for stopping by, Mar! I found this Someecard a few weeks ago and I laugh about it every time I think about it. I couldn't help but include it here.

  14. Oh, Portillos is awesome, too. Anything hot dog or Italian beef related is guaranteed to good in Chicago!


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