Pizza, Architecture, Beer: My Trip to Chicago

Chicago skyline reflected in the Bean {the ponytail diaries}

I imagine most people, when they think of Chicago, think of, say, the Cubs or Bears, deep dish pizza, the lakeshore, maybe mobsters like Capone and his ilk.

With my family, Chicago means food and architecture.

See, my architect dad…well, let’s say really, really admires Frank Lloyd Wright. Famous architect who started his career in Chicago. Fallingwater. The Guggenheim in New York. Taliesin. Robie House. Maybe you’ve heard of them? Probably not, unless you were — like me — lucky enough to grow up with an architect in the family.

And my brother has spent the last couple years exploring the fine and not-so-fine side of the Chicago food scene. So without more of me rambling, here’s some of the photos I took last weekend.

Big Star tacos, Chicago {the ponytail diaries}We started with tacos at Big Star. OMG so delicious. We had just gotten on the plane and were pretty much all starving, so after I scarfed down most of the chips and guac, I started on my fish taco (the one in the bottom left) before thinking to take a picture (as you’ll see, my remembering at all to take a photo of my food like a good blogger was an unusual occurrence).


Chicago Skyline, river architecture tour {the ponytail diaries}

Chicago Skyline, river architecture tour {the ponytail diaries}I do have to recommend taking the architecture tour on the river if you ever get the chance and are the slightest bit interested in history and architecture. Especially if you can go in the late afternoon/sunset. Gorgeous.


Giordano's Pizza, Chicago {the ponytail diaries}Der. You can’t not eat deep dish. This is from Giordano’s, a local chain highly recommended by my brother. And with good reason.

Giordano's extra-cheesy deep dish pizza, Chicago {the ponytail diaries}This is how you know there’s enough cheese on your pizza.

Unity Temple, Chicago {the ponytail diaries}Friday was, according to my dad, “Frank Day.” We went out to Oak Park and started with a tour of the FLW-designed Unity Temple, above, then went on to his Oak Park home & studio (where we weren’t allowed to take pictures inside) and eventually wound up at the Robie House near the University of Chicago.

Robie House, Chicago {the ponytail diaries}

Robie House Interior Art Glass Window, Chicago {the ponytail diaries}I give my dad (and husband) a hard time about being architecture nerds, but I guess it’s worn off on my because the tours — all led by volunteer docents — were really well-done and worth checking out. Generally, you think that an architect designs a home and then there’s this empty building that the owners or an interior designer has to fill with furniture and finishings. Not so with Frank Lloyd Wright. He designed literally every tiny detail in the homes he built, from the windows to the light fixtures to the rugs to the furniture, at least in the “public” rooms (he didn’t care so much about the bedrooms or servant’s quarters). His thinking was basically that everything in the home had to fit the architecture. Also, he had a colossally huge ego and didn’t want the family who would live there screwing up his designs.

Au Cheval cheeseburger, Chicago {the ponytail diaries}Then we ate at Au Cheval for dinner. OMG IT IS THE BEST BURGER IN THE ENTIRE WORLD AND YOU SHOULD GO EAT ONE RIGHT NOW. I’m not exaggerating even the tiniest bit. The “single” is two patties with cheese, pickles (which I still picked off because gross) and I think some sort of garlic aioli. You should add a fried egg to it and have a proper foodgasm. Guh.

Au Cheval is verrrrrry hipster and there’s usually an insanely long wait (I think we waited nearly 90 minutes and went to an Irish bar down the street for a couple beers for that time), but they also have a solid beer and cocktail list going for them. Those burgers though. Damn.


Fannie Mae chocolates, Chicago {the ponytail diaries}Now, here’s where my failure as a blogger really shows. We went on a food walking tour on Saturday and this is literally the only food picture I took — at the very last stop. We ate pizza (Pizano’s, another strong contender for best deep dish in the city), brownies (which were invented there), Chicago hot dogs (I really don’t like hot dogs, but I sucked it up and ate this one, with all its crazy toppings, and it was good, I’m glad I tried it, but I really don’t have the desire to try one again), gumbo from Heaven on Seven, the first/only (?) Cajun restaurant in the city, cheeseburgers from Billy Goat’s Tavern (which were crap, but the point is that Billy Goat’s is what inspired John Belushi’s and Dan Akroyd’s “Cheezeborger cheezeborger cheezeborger! No fries! No Pepsi!” skit from SNL. And apparently also the curse on the Cubs), and these chocolates above.

As my brother says of the Midwest, “We’re fat, but we’re happy folk.”

Bub City mac & cheese, Chicago {the ponytail diaries}After deciding not to wait 2 hours to go to the Skydeck in Willis Tower, we hung out near Wrigley for a bit (the Cubs weren’t playing at home and I guess they only do stadium tours when they are? Lame) and ended our trip with dinner at Bub City, a southern/country restaurant. Pulled pork and brisket and all that good stuff, mostly skillet mac & cheese, gimme. That picture is what Husband got, mac topped with prime rib (I tried a bite and oooh yum).

Sooo…there you have it!



2 thoughts on “Pizza, Architecture, Beer: My Trip to Chicago

  1. Too funny we both did the boat tour and Au Cheval. I would like to go do the Frank Lloyd Wright tour, his work is quite interesting. I toured one of his houses in Mississippi, years ago. That mac and cheese looks SO GOOD! I’m a bad blogger often and forget to take pictures 🙂

  2. Pingback: “Yes sir, no ma’am”: Regional Manners | The Ponytail Diaries

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