The month of March was filled with lots of fun travels for both work and fun; Las Vegas, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Toledo, Ohio (for a wedding). No wonder the month flew by…I was gone most of the weekends of the month! I still tried out some great things during the weekdays when I could:
Urbanbelly Wicker Park
Urbanbelly– One of my all-time favorite chefs in Chicago is Chef Bill Kim (read about his vegetarian cooking class I attended here). He is truly one of the nicest, most humble chefs I’ve ever met. I was thrilled to hear he was opening another location of his famed Urbanbelly restaurant in the bustling Wicker Park neighborhood underneath the blue line El stop at Damen. I attended the soft launch party and was not surprised that the food and drinks were outstanding. I absolutely fell in love with the sweet potato, maple, feta and arugula dumplings (so unexpected, but SO good), the vegan kimchi and let’s not even talk about how much of the pea shoot fried rice I had (jasmine fried rice with scrambled egg, tofu, pea shoot and Madras curry powder). I literally could not stop eating it. It’s wonderful to find Asian restaurants that understand that many of us vegetarians don’t eat fish sauce, so it was great to see a menu reflective of that kind of attention. I’m super excited to go back and try the vegetarian pho and other dishes. Oh, and you know I will be ordering that pea shoot fried rice. One for dine-in and one to-go. Yes, I’m that obsessed.
Earl’s Kitchen + Bar
Earl’s Kitchen + Bar– When you think of things associated with Canada you probably think of things like hockey, maple syrup and Justin Bieber to name a few (ha ha, sorry for the Bieber reference…I had to). You can also now add Earls Kitchen + Bar to the list. This awesome chain out of Canada is making its appearance all over the US, including right here in Chicago. I finally tried it out and was really blown away by not only the sheer volume of options on the menu, but the international influence from many different cuisines of the world. I’m talking Japanese, Mexican, Chinese, Korean and Indian just to name a few. I wasn’t sure how authentic these dishes would be, but I was really impressed with everything I tried (which was a lot)! I have to say that hands down my favorite vegetarian dish I tried was the Korean Bi Bim Bop. And, I was not expecting it all. The spice level, flavors, fresh ingredients and awesome stone bowl it was served in made it feel like a truly traditional dish. And, also to note is the fun drink menu, like the Silly Wabbit drink that was visually made to look like an actual carrot (including the fact that they use fresh pressed carrot juice in the drink). So, let’s give a little love to our neighbor from the north and enjoy this great restaurant here in the city of Chicago.
iFLY Chicago Lincoln Park
iFLY Chicago– Even though I consider myself pretty adventurous, there are still things that I’m not sure I can do, like skydiving. I think I would freak out on the plane ride up and then right before I had to jump out of the plane. So, I recently tried out pretty much the next best thing; indoor skydiving!! The newly opened iFLY in Lincoln Park was such an amazing experience and probably the closest I’m ever going to get to real skydiving (well, maybe I’ll change my mind someday, who knows)! This indoor simulator has you “flying” inside basically a huge air tube with an instructor by your side to guide you. Check out the video I posted on Facebook here. You go through a whole experience where you first watch a safety and “how-to” video. An instructor will then help you get geared up with jumpsuit, goggles, helmet and earplugs. And then you are off! I was definitely a little nervous, but once I got in the air tube, I had the best time flying around and enjoying the experience of what it must feel like to be floating through the air. I have to admit the time went by really fast, just as it probably does when you are free-falling in skydiving. I would definitely go back with family and friends and its the perfect indoor activity, especially on those cold winter days when you are looking for something fun to do. Go check it out and let me know what you think!
Snap Kitchen Streeterville
Snap Kitchen– I think I was the last person in Chicago to try out Snap Kitchen! No really…my Instagram feed has been filled with beautiful pictures of all the awesome dishes and cold pressed juices for months now. I FINALLY made it to Snap Kitchen since it opened inside the Whole Foods in Streeterville, which is close to my work. I was so impressed with the quality of food and found it fresh, healthy and delicious. What really hit the chord for me though is that all the signage and packaging for every dish is color coded. So, standing from 10 feet away from the refrigerated case, I could quickly scan through all the options and find the green tags that denotes a vegetarian/vegan dish. I don’t have to read every tiny ingredient to determine if something is vegetarian since it’s already done for me and so easily visible! In addition, I had the chance to meet the mastermind behind all the food, the executive chef, Matt Reinhart. Not only was he so incredibly nice and humble, he truly was interested in my honest feedback. I appreciated that (and that he was even interested in it at all)! I know he’s already incorporated some of my ideas and I’m excited to see what else he comes up with as Snap Kitchen is always reinventing their menu. Definitely worth trying out Snap Kitchen, no matter what your palate or dietary restriction.
Tilt At 360 Chicago Observation Deck
360 Chicago– Can you imagine being 94 flights up in the sky, and then tilting out of the skyscraper at 30 degrees hovering 1,000 feet over the Magnificent Mile? Yeah, me either, until I tried it. Another one of Chicago’s fun adventures is the Tilt at the John Hancock Observatory. Basically in a glass enclosed “ride” of sorts, you are tilted out of the building with sweeping views of the city and the streets below. It’s unlike anything I’ve ever done and is truly the first of its kind in the world. And, it’s definitely not for the faint of heart! It was fun and so unique and you know I love that! The other great thing about 360 Chicago is that you can enjoy views in every direction of Chicago (get it, 360 degrees). I spent a lovely evening trying out the Tilt, taking some great pictures before it rained and learning about new upcoming events like the Sunset Series; weekly events such as a Monday night tripod series with a photographer, Tuesday evenings with a docent from the Chicago Architecture Foundation and Thursday evenings with a DJ for a fun party. I kind of want to go for each one of these to check them all out. Who’s in?
Please Note: While I was invited to these events, all opinions are my own.