Soldier Field – Chicago

14 06 2009
  • 425 E. McFetridge Drive
  • Chicago, IL 60605
  • (312) 235-7000
  • Website
The entrance to Soldier Field, home of the Chicago Bears, in Chicago

The entrance to Soldier Field, home of the Chicago Bears, in Chicago

I’m not a huge football fan.  At least not the pro game, so I don’t go to a lot of games.  I have been to one game at the “New” Soldier Field and one game at the “Old” Soldier Field.  I’ve almost seen more concerts at the venue than I have football.  Still, being a Chicago sports fan, I could write a whole blog just on the look of the building.  I’m not one of those people that think sports teams need to stay in a building because of it’s “historical” significance (I’m looking at you drunk frat boys on the northside).  As a fan, I like to be comfortable if I’m paying top dollar to see a sporting event and most of all, I want to see the show.  After having seen games at both the old and new configurations of Soldier Field, I can tell you, the new one blows the old one away.  Still, it’s an eyesore in a beautiful Chicago skyline.

Soldier Field from the 18th Street pedestrian bridge in Chicago

Soldier Field from the 18th Street pedestrian bridge in Chicago

Soldier Field is located just off of Lakeshore Drive on the south side of Chicago’s downtown.  Chicago Mayor Richard Daley was very vocal about keeping the Bears in Chicago, but there’s was no place to really put a new stadium.  The historical society was adamant about not letting Soldier Field being torn down.  Since historic preservation laws only prevent the exterior from being destroyed, the designers on the new Soldier Field gutted the place and landed a spaceship on top of the existing stone structure.  Technically, the old walls and columns that defined the building are still there, but they are overshadowed by the monstrosity that was set on top of it.  From a visual standpoint, it’s the ugliest sports stadium in the country.  The historic designation was eventually stripped and Chicago was left with a pimple on the supermodel-like face that is the skyline. 

The inside of the stadium is a much different story.  I remember the old Soldier Field as being archaic and uncomfortable.  If you sat in the end zone, you felt like you were a mile away from the action.  It was cold, uninviting, and uncomfortable.  While the new stadium look awful, it is a much more enjoyable place to watch a game or see a show.  Read the rest of this entry »





Grace O’Malley’s – Chicago

14 06 2009
  • 1416 S. Michigan Avenue
  • Chicago, IL 60605
  • (312) 588-1800
  • Website
  • Menu
Grace OMalleys on South Michigan Avenue near 14th Street in Chicago.

Grace O'Malley's on South Michigan Avenue near 14th Street in Chicago.

If we’re going to go to a concert in Chicago, you know I’m going to find someplace nearby for a pre-concert meal.  J and I were meeting my brother and his wife near Soldier Field for the Kenny Chesney concert.  Both of us decided to take public transportation due to the horrendous parking around Soldier Field.  My brother took the Metra Electric Line from Univerity Park and J and I took the El Orange Line from Midway.  Both trains have a stop near Roosevelt Street.

From the train stops, Grace O’Malley’s is less than a half mile walk south on Michigan Avenue.  For my brother and his wife, it was a horrible walk.  It was pouring rain.  By the time J and I got off the CTA, the rain had stopped.  I had made 1:45 reservations and had everything been on time, we would have arrived just before the reservation.  Instead, some punks decided they were going to tag our train while it was stopped at the 35th Street Station.  The conductor had to get out and chase them away.  We were sitting in the station for ten minutes while all this went on. 

My brother and sister-in-law got to the restaurant and got our table just as were were turning down Michigan Avenue.  It was a little over a two block walk for us, but we found Grace O’Malley’s on the west side of Michigan Avenue in the middle of the 1400 block.  Read the rest of this entry »





Kroll’s South Loop – Chicago

16 02 2009
  • 1736 S. Michigan Avenue
  • Chicago, IL 60616
  • (312) 235-1400
  • Website
  • Menu
Krolls South Loop on Chicagos Near South Side.

Kroll's South Loop on Chicago's Near South Side.

I wasn’t planning on eating lunch in Chicago today.  My dad and I went to the Chicago Auto Show, so I put on a post on Chow.com asking if there was anyplace to eat within walking distance of McCormick Place.  Most of the replies said no, but someone replied this morning and J happened to see it so she texted me with details.  About 2:00, dad and I were getting hungry so I thought, what the hell.  It’s only a half mile or so away, so I called J to get directions and we went for a walk.

Kroll’s South Loop is on the Near South Side at Michgan Avenue and 18th Street.  It’s a little, corner neighborhood bar.  They have the menu posted outside and prices looked reasonable, so we went inside to grab a bite to eat. Read the rest of this entry »





McCormick Place – Chicago

16 02 2009
  • 2301 S. Lakeshore Drive
  • Chicago, IL 60616
  • (312) 791-7000
  • Website
The entrance to McCormick Place in Chicago.

The entrance to McCormick Place in Chicago.

This is funny.  Last month, when I was writing the review for Cobo Hall after we went to the North American International Auto Show, I mentioned I had never been to the Chicago Auto Show or McCormick Place.  I happened to be home this year during the auto show and I asked my dad if he wanted to go.  You see, he was supposed to drive up for the Detroit show, but snow kept them home.  I figured the Chicago Auto Show was a good replacement…and boy, was it.

 

McCormick Place is on Chicago’s South Side right where I-55 (Stevenson Expressway) turns into the famous Lake Shore Drive.  When you’re on the highway, it’s really tough to see anything other than a massive building.  I had no idea what the front of the building looked like or even how to get to a door from Lake Shore drive, but I have driven by it hundreds of times.  Read the rest of this entry »





Mindy’s Hot Chocolate – Chicago, IL

13 02 2009
  • 1747 N. Damen Avenue
  • Chicago, IL 60647
  • (773) 489-1747
  • Website
  • Menu
Mindys Hot Chocolate on Chicagos north side.

Mindy's Hot Chocolate on Chicago's north side.

Valentine’s Day came a day early for J and I.  We have other commitments tomorrow, so we decided to get reservations for a restaurant in Chicago we had heard good things about.  When I called at ten this morning to see if we could get a table, the response I got was, “Ooooh…I don’t know.  Hang on a sec.”  Turns out, the only opening they had was at 5:30 which is when they open.  I told them we’d take it.

Mindy’s Hot Chocolate is locate on Damen Avenue in the north side’s Bucktown Neighborhood.  Coming from the south suburbs during rush hour was a little bit of a challenge.  It’s only twenty miles, but with rush hour traffic, it took a little over an hour.  Once we got to the neighborhood, we then had to find a spot to park.  The only options are valet or finding a spot at a meter on the street.  We actually got pretty lucky and found a spot on the corner just about a block away.

We walked in to Hot Chocolate and were met by a hostess who showed us to our table.  The restaurant is fairly small with a bench along the back wall that acts as a seat for about ten tables.  There are also a handful of four tops, a bar, a small waiting/lounge area and one table near the kitchen for larger groups.  We were seated along the wall and the tables were really crammed in there.  It was alright at first because there was no one sitting on either side of us, but once the tables around us were filled, it was like we were all eating together.  There was just a matter of inches between the tables.  Read the rest of this entry »





Vito & Nick’s Pizzeria – Chicago, IL

4 02 2009
  • 8433 S. Pulaski Road
  • Chicago, IL 60652
  • (773) 735-2050
  • Website
  • Menu
Vito & Nicks Pizzeria on Chicagos south side.

Vito & Nick's Pizzeria on Chicago's south side.

When we were home for Thanksgiving, one of the places J’s step-dad recommended we eat was Vito & Nick’s on Chicago’s south side.  We passed and went for ribs instead.  Imagine our surprise when we saw the pizzeria on Diner’s, Drive-In’s, and Dives earlier this month.

After that airing, we decided on our next trip home, we would check the place out.  It’s not far from J’s parents, so we hit the place up for lunch on a Wednesday afternoon.  J’s mom was off work so she decided to join us.  Vito and Nick’s was a place her parents used to take her, but she hasn’t been there in a number of years and wanted to see if it was the place she remembered.

The Original Vito & Nick’s is located on 84th Place and Pulaski.  There’s another location in Lemont, but we wanted to go to the one in Chicago.  J’s mom said she remembered the place as having a red, white and green awning and that’s what we looked for.  By the time she saw it, I had missed the parking lot, so we had to circle around the neighborhood to get back. Read the rest of this entry »





Soooooo Close

13 01 2009

I almost beat Guy Fieri to a restaurant instead of going after I see it on Diner’s, Drive In’s, and Dive’s.   If you watched Triple D last night, you saw a pizza joint on Chicago’s south side called Vito & Nick’s.  When J and I were home for Thanksgiving, Vito & Nick’s was one of the places J’s step-dad suggested.  We chose BBQ instead and went to The Pit Rib House (review HERE) in Hickory Hills.  Now, when we go home in February, we’ll follow Guy again and go check out Vito & Nick’s….





7-Eleven – S. Cicero, Oak Lawn, IL

5 01 2009
  • 10441 S. Cicero Ave.
  • Oak Lawn, IL 60453
  • (708) 636-4052
  • Website
7-Eleven on South Cicero Ave in Oak Lawn, IL

7-Eleven on South Cicero Ave in Oak Lawn, IL

I told you I had a new addiction to 7-Eleven.  J and I had to make a quick trip back to Chicago for an unplanned visit that I’m not going to get in to.  We were only there a day and a half, but we still had time to go out to dinner with her parents.  We went to Hackney’s in Palos Park (review HERE) which is a few miles from her parents.  On the way, we noticed a huge range of gas prices.  The stations along Cicero were all at $1.95, but a couple stations along 111th Street were still at $1.75, so after we got home, J and I jumped back in my truck and went to get gas.

I’m not usually one who runs after cheaper gas, but I was shocked that gas was as cheap in the Chicago area as it was in Lansing.  Usually, we’re 30 – 40 cents less than the suburbs which is 30 – 40 cents less than the City, so I didn’t want to miss out on the 20 cent savings. 

So, we filled up at Speedway and started heading home.  Oh sure, I could have just went inside at Speedway and got a frozen Coke, but I knew I was passing a 7-Eleven.  I had been a little grumpy all day and both J and I were exhausted, so I decided to do something nice and offered to stop for slurpees.  At first, she hesitated, but quickly changed her mind.  Read the rest of this entry »





Hackney’s in Palos Park (IL)

3 01 2009
  • 9550 W. 123rd St.
  • Palos Park, IL 60464
  • (708) 448-8300
  • Website
  • Menu
Hackneys in Palos Park on 123rd and LaGrange in Palos Park, IL

Hackney's in Palos Park on 123rd and LaGrange in Palos Park, IL

Whenever I talk about the “best burger” people always bring up burgers with lots of stuff on them or a great special sauce, but no one ever takes the time to talk about a really good flavorful piece of meat.  I don’t like sauces and condiments on my burgers.  I want a burger that tastes good with a slice of cheese on a bun that wasn’t delivered to the back door three weeks ago.  I’ve found a few places in Lansing with burgers like that, but it’s never at the places that win “best burger.”  Very few places take the time to grind their own meat and put the emphasis on the cow.  Lucky for me, there’s still a place in Chicagoland that does just that.

If the name Hackney’s sounds familiar, it’s probably because you’re a fan of Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives on the Food Network.  Guy Fieri visited the original Hackney’s in Glenview.  There are six restaurants overall including a downtown Chicago location.  We chose to visit the Palos Park location which has been open since 1986. 

Hackney’s in Palos Park sits on the corner of LaGrange Road and 123rd Street.  It’s across the street from the forest preserve and there’s not much else around it. The building looks like an old farm house both inside and out.  We showed up on a Saturday night just before 5:00.  There’s a huge parking lot that was fairly empty, so we were pretty confident seating wasn’t going to be a problem. Read the rest of this entry »





BonaPit Grill & Smokehouse- Palos Heights, IL

29 12 2008
  • 12200 S. Harlem Ave
  • Palos Heights, IL 60463
  • (708) 361-9610
  • Website
  • Menu
BonaPit Grill and Smokehouse on Harlem in Palos Heights, IL

BonaPit Grill and Smokehouse on Harlem in Palos Heights, IL

I told J as we were eating dinner, it’s a good thing we don’t actually live in Chicago.  Every time we go home, I gorge myself when we go out because the food is so damn good!

J and I were at one of her friends house catching up with them when dinner rolled around.  They ordered pizza from a place I’ll probably blog about next time we go home.  They encouraged me to try a slice and a slice ended up being two and a half. It was delicious.  We didn’t eat because we had plans to meet her parents at a BBQ place in Palos Heights. 

BonaPit (not Bon Apetite) is located on Harlem near 122nd Street in Palos Heights.  J’s mom said there used to be a fancy, white tablecloth restaurant in the building and that was the first thing we noticed.  BonaPit doesn’t look like a BBQ joint.  The floor was a wood planked floor, but the tables, walls and ceiling all looked like we should be sipping wine over candlelight.  Read the rest of this entry »