Chinatown Chicago

A few weeks ago I wrote about our weekend in Chicago and promised a follow-up post about everything we did.  Here it is! Before we went I was able to connect with Christine of the Chicago Office of Tourism and Culture (the official tourism office of Chicago).  She was amazing!  I was so happy with how quickly she responded, provided me information and set us up for a few activities. If you’re considering a visit you need to a) visit this site often and b) get in touch with them to make your visit even better! (You can follow them on Facebook and Twitter too) I know that we very easily could have spent weeks exploring and only have scratched the surface.

Instead we decided on two things that we knew we would have enough time for and would keep both of us happy.  The first was a walking tour with the Chicago Greeter program.  This is a free program, where volunteers who live in the city show visitors around.  Seriously very cool and a great taste of Midwestern “nice”! Out greeter was James and we decided to visit Chinatown and Little Italy.  We were doing this tour on a Sunday so our options were a little limited as many things were closed but we still had fun!

Chinatown Candy

We went to Chinatown first and checked out this candy shop.  Some of the “candy” I was just not interested in but we did pick up some dried fruit and rice candy for the kids.  It was fun to just look through the store even if we couldn’t read half of what the packages were!  We also went into a Chinese grocery and kitchen goods store.  MarocBaba let me get a small steamer and 4 soup bowls spoons – with no complaints!

St. Alp's Teahouse

We stopped in at Saint’s Alp Teahouse and I tried my very first bubble tea.  At first I really just didn’t get it and the “bubbles” freaked me out. But since then I’ve been craving it!  From reading many reviews this is THE place for bubble tea.  The teahouse itself is a Hong Kong import and the original Saint’s Alp in the US. Worth going out of your way to try this! From here we hopped on the train and made our way to Little Italy.

Columbus Statue

As I said before it was Sunday so most everything in Little Italy was closed. Normally this would have been a deal breaker for me but MarocBaba can’t eat much when it comes to Italian food and that would have been the one thing I was after.  Instead we took a nice tour of the homes, businesses and parks.  It was really interesting for me as some of my ancestors came to Chicago first after leaving Italy.  It was a little slice of history for me! This picture is from a park – did I mention Chicago is the greenest big city in America? They take their foliage seriously! Anyway that’s Christopher Columbus standing guard. If you want REAL Italian food in Chicago you need to come here.

After some transportation mishaps and diverting through a Greek Independence Day parade we said goodbye to James and hopped a taxi back to our hotel.  However on the way we decided to ask the cabbie if he knew of any good Pakistani or Afghani restaurants and he took us to one.  It was a typical hole in the wall place and MarocBaba enjoyed it though it wasn’t my favorite. A short ride back to the Hyatt and we rested before our evening activities.

Second City Chicago

I know how much MarocBaba loves comedians so I made it a point to see Second City.  I loved the show -we were both laughing and I know if we lived here this would be a regular activity for us. It’s mostly tourists but it’s really fun. Food and beverages can be ordered at your seat.  My only slight complaint is that the seating was pretty cramped, and I don’t think the lady next to me liked me very much…oh well!

We slept in the next morning and left the hotel just in time to stop by the Chicago French Market at 131 N Clinton  very close to the commuter transport station and the Amtrak station.  I was intrigued by the concept and thought it would be the perfect place to pick up some food for our train ride home. I ordered from Saigon Sisters and picked up their Hen house Banh Mi with caramelized chicken, lemongrass, ginger, mint, lime, crushed peanuts, mayo.  MarocBaba got rice and chicken kebabs at Presto.  Both used halal chicken!  Finally we stopped at Vanille Patisserie and got a gluten free cake (small) and these;

French Market Macarons

You can order as few or many as you’d like – but I thought I’d try almost every one.  Honestly I liked these better than the dry macarons I ate in Paris! It was a very happy train ride home!  Overall we had a fabulous time thanks to the help of the Hyatt Regency Chicago and Chicago Office of Tourism and Culture.  I can’t recommend Chicago highly enough as a destination to visit.  There is something for everyone with areas that are easy to walk, lots of public transportation (we didn’t have a car and never missed it) and locals who are willing to help!

**Disclaimer: I was not compensated for this review however I did receive a complimentary stay at the Hyatt and complimentary theatre tickets. As always all opinions are my own and all additional costs were incurred personally.