Wednesday, 8 August 2012

The road trip comes to an end: Chicago.

Our road trip sadly had to come to an end but what better place to end it than Chicago? It's a city that neither of us had ever visited before but we'd both wanted to go there for ages. Unsurprisingly after our long drive we were starving so as soon as we'd checked into our hotel we headed out to find food. We accidentally stumbled across Cloud Gate, more commonly known as The Bean!

We took a lot of pictures! It's a really cool sculpture and we loved watching everyone interact with it.

We were heading for Native Foods Cafe because it was the closest place to eat to the hotel we were staying in. I ordered the Chicken Run Ranch Burger.

Can you spot yet another root beer in the back of this picture?!

The burger came on a wholewheat bun and I ordered a side of Crispy Sweet Potato Fries to go with it. The burger was great, I loved the crispy battered burger and the ranch sauce. I wish we'd had time to go back here but I'm sure we'll be back in either Chicago or one of the many other places Native Foods Cafe has locations one day.

After dinner we went up to the top of the Willis Tower to check out the Skydeck and their super fun glass balconies.

 We went up just before sunset so that we could look at the city in daylight, at sunset and in the dark!

Afterwards we went to check out the Buckingham fountain. We managed to time it just right and arrived just as the multicoloured light and music show started. It was pretty cheesy but in a good way!

The next morning after I managed to fall over a speed bump in a pretty epic way we made it to Karen's Cooked for brunch. We both ordered the Homestyle Breakfast...

...which came with scrambled tofu, veggie sausage, crispy potatoes & a side of toast. This was an excellent start to the day, we loved the thick sliced toast and the crispy potatoes were great.

After spending the day at The Art Institute of Chicago we had a very late lunch at somewhere I've wanted to go since I first heard about it, The Chicago Diner. I ordered one of their classic dishes with a twist, the Reuben with Coleslaw and Cheese.

There seems to be a Root Beer in the back of this picture too!

This Reuben came with a side of truly excellent Mac 'n' Cheese and the sandwich itself was one of the best I've ever eaten. I'd never tried a reuben before and whilst this Sauerkraut-less reuben isn't a classic it did come on marbled rye bread with beef style seitan and cheese so it was kinda similar!

We liked The Chicago Diner and the area it's in so much that we headed back there for brunch the next day. I started my day with a mimosa which was perfect because it was already far too hot that day.

We both decided to go for the French Toast Combo Plate which comes with 2 wedges of French Toast, Scrambled Tofu, Seitan Sausage & a Fruit Garnish.

This was one of my favourite ever brunches. The french toast was perfect and I've really grown to love the combination of sweet and savoury on one plate which is something a lot of us Brits aren't down with yet!

On our last night we decided that we couldn't leave America without having one last pizza. We'd heard of Ian's Pizza and so we planned to head there, then we heard that it had closed, then we picked somewhere else, and then we heard that Ian's Pizza had actually turned into Dimo's Pizza and that Dimo's Pizza has impressive vegan pizza too. Bloody hell. It was a bit of a roller coaster of pizza emotions but eventually we were in Wrigleyville gazing at a list of vegan pizza options.

We eventually decided to get a whole Teese covered pie to share and we split it half and half with vegan sausage on Nick's side and vegan sausage and mushroom on mine.

Yet again we forgot that sausage can mean something different in the US! This was a great pizza though, plenty of melty Teese and toppings and just look at those crust bubbles! 

Unsurprisingly I also ordered one last root beer. 

I kinda wish that we could get root beer here but on the other hand it's probably a good idea for me to save it as a fun holiday treat!

Sadly the next morning was our last and we started it off with a leisurely breakfast in bed...

...followed by a trip to the huge Lincoln Park Whole Foods store to stock up on all of the stuff we wish we could get at home. We bought loads of Tofurky Slices, Yves Bologna, Go Max bars, Clif bars, Field Roast Sausages and Veganaise. Towards the end of our shopping trip we realised we were pretty hungry so we stopped at the stall cooking up vegan hot dogs!

We definitely couldn't pass up the chance to eat lunch in the middle of a supermarket and I ordered the Irving Park dog.

As the menu said the Irving Park dog comes with cheese & onion but I wasn't expecting anything this spectacular. The onions were beautifully caramelised and the cheese was meted on top of the dog right on the grill giving it awesomely crispy edges.

This was a ridiculously perfect end to an amazing trip. I can't wait to get back to the US which is good because we just booked a trip to Austin! We'll be there for 10 days at the end of September, so, see ya soon America!


  1. All of these meals look so tasty, especially the burger & chips & hot dog and the pizza and brunch food... can you tell I'm hungry? I've really enjoyed reading all your posts about this trip, and it's making me want to travel more! You've also convinced me that I need to try root beer, but I've never seen it over here. Looking forward to reading about your Austin trip in September :)

  2. What a fun trip! And Chicago is definitely a great city to go out on! The Chicago Diner is always fabulous. While I've never been to Karyn's Cooked, Karyn's on Green is one of my all-time favorite restaurants, so I'm sure the food is just as stellar at KC -- we will definitely have to try it the next time we are there. "Yet again we forgot that sausage can mean something different in the US." You have me curious, what does sausage mean to you? I had no idea there was any difference. :)

    1. I guess here a sausage is just a long thin mock meaty thing (like you guys' field roast sausages) and in the US sausage is also a ground mock meat crumble thing.

  3. Sounds like you had a really nice time here in Chicago. I love the Art Institute and ‘the bean’ is definitely fun. I haven’t been to Willis Tower since it was called Sears Tower - and still is by a lot of native Chicagoans - so I’m kind of curious to check out the sky-deck now.

    Karyn’s Cooked is great, amazing brunch!!! and such a cool little place with great atmosphere. I haven’t been to The Chicago Diner in years but I remember it always being very good, can’t recall a bad meal ever eaten there. I’ve been to Native Foods many times since they opened here, they’re amazing. The Chicken Run Ranch burger is pretty good but my fave is the Oklahoma Bacon Burger check it out next time!!!

    I didn’t know there was a place in Chicago that had Vegan Pizza options so I learned something new even though I live here! I’ll have to check them out because Pizza is one of my husband’s favorites and even though I make pizza, eating pizza out is always a treat!

    How do you keep refrigerated stuff from spoiling on the plane back to England?

    1. I'll definitely check out the Oklahoma Bacon Burger next time, it was my second choice!

      As for bringing home refrigerated stuff I figure most stuff will be okay out of the fridge for the amount of time it takes me to fly home! I haven't poisoned myself yet!

  4. I love your vegan travel write ups. Makes me want to go on holiday now!

  5. You don't need to go cold turkey! There's a deli stocking some American products in Gardner Street (the opposite side to Infinity Cafe), Brighton that sells cans of root beer. Some branches of Asda sell cans of root beer in multi packs. And Fentimans produces bottles of root beer but I'm not sure which outlets stock Fentimans in Brighton.

    1. Oh yeah Cyber Candy! I don't know why I didn't think to look there! Infinity Foods sells Fentimans products, I didn't know they made a root beer though, I'll have to look out for it!

  6. oh my gosh! What a great blog entry! I've been to Chicago once, decades ago - but only for a wedding. I never saw anything in the city itself. I LOVE Cloud Gate! What a really cool sculpture, and how cool that people feel so invited to interact with it. Also, what a treat to actually eat at Chicago Diner. I wish i could get a French Toast Combo plate - without having to make it for myself! What fun! :)

  7. Great post about The Windy City! I especially enjoyed it since I'm from the good ole state of Illinois. I've only been to Native Foods Cafe once in Chicago and also got the Chicken Run Ranch burger. Crazy how much it was like real chicken and having vegan ranch was such a treat too. I've been dying to go to the Chicago Diner and I think your pic of the reuben and mac & cheese has sold me on making a trip now!

  8. Oh, funny, I just blogged about my trip to Chicago, including pics of Native Foods and the Tower. I love Chicago. Glad you had fun!

  9. Just recently found your blog and have enjoyed going through the archives and definitely enjoyed following your tour of the US. Like NutriWife said, all the Chicago food finds were cool to see since it is in our home state. Hoping to make it to some more vegan spots in Chicago soon.

  10. Hi I loved reading about your trip, seeing the yummy foods, and all the photos etc cant wait to get to USA myseslf next year

  11. Sweet and savoury together FTW! Also my Taj sells A&W root beer!!!!!!!!

  12. Oh, it looks like you had such a great time! Isn't Chicago a fun town? They have so many fabulous vegan & vegetarian restaurants. The Chicago Diner reuben is definitely one of my favorites. The next time you're back in Chicago, visit Karyn's upscale restaurant, Karyn's On Green. Eating there was one of my favorite fine dining experiences ever.

  13. I think this post should come with a warning. Do not read when hungry. OMG I'm dying. This food looks so great. I've never been to Chicago either and now I want to hope on a plane just to get that wonderful breakfast.

  14. I'm drooling over all of the food shots, it all looks so good. It's way too hard to pick a favourite, the burger, hot dog, pizza, reuben and scramble are all calling out to me!

  15. I'd give just about anything for a big bunch of the fries in that last picture. I haven't had fries in way too long...
    So happy that you had a good trip!

  16. Sounds like you two had a wonderful trip! I have never been to the US, but Chicago is definitely on my list.

  17. This is such a fantastic post! It sooo makes me homesick for my former land: Chicago. So glad you tried and loved the Chicago Diner as well! We always eat there two days in a row when we go back to visit family - it's too good to pass up :)

  18. Wow I love this! It looks like you are having loads of fun...I'm so jealous!!! Loving the food porn too :)


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