Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Tourist in my own city

   Have you ever spent a day being a tourist in the city you live in?  After being out of town weekend after weekend for friends' wonderful weddings all summer long, Whit and I thought it was about time for a little vacation in our own favorite city... Chicago.

   We started the day with a low key brunch at Bakin' & Eggs in Lakeview. After filling up on some of the best chilquiles in the city we took a trip to the Garfield Park Conservatory.  We spent hours touring the 10 acres of indoor and outdoor gardens.  For the budget friendly entry price of zero dollars, you should feel encouraged to make a small donation to One Pane at a Time - the fund raising efforts to repair the catastrophic damages from an earlier hail storm that destroyed approximately half of the glass panes on the roofs of the conservatory's multiple greenhouses. These gardens and greenhouses are kept up in impeccable fashion, and provide you a sense of being in a completely different climate without ever leaving the city.  Take a visit and get some fresh air in your lungs!

After a quick break at home we picked up our bicycles and rode to one of the great BYOBs in the city, Irazu Costa Rican Dining.  I've never ordered anything here that was any less than outstanding.  On this particular evening Whit got the veggie paella, and I opted for the plantain burrito, both were terrific.  They make their own hot peppers in house and can vary by time of year from spicy to inedibly spicy.  Ask your waiter about the heat level of the peppers on that day.  You'll be happy you did.

If you forget to BYOB, not to worry(,amateur).There is a small wine shop that also has some booze and a few craft brews right across the street.  Make note that Irazu is cash only, as it should be seeing that two of us were in, out, and with a solid buzz for under $30. This place is no secret and I don't believe they take reservations for groups under six.  Plan on waiting a few for a table, but I think they bump you up the list if you're not a prick to the hostess.

Back on our bicycles we decided to venture back to the Northside.  We pit stopped outside on a beautiful set of church steps and helped ourselves to our remaining wine while figuring out our next destination.  Keeping in the spirit of gluttony, we headed off to a new neighborhood spot, Black Dog Gelato. We tried the Nutella (incredible!), and Chocolate gelato and enjoyed both flavors thoroughly while watching 40 year old drunks stumble out from Retro on Roscoe trying to make their way to their own next destination next door, Tony's Burritos.

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