the windy city

I really loved our visit to Chicago. We spent the past weekend there and I'm already hoping to go back in the near future. We had been given a few lists of recommendations, and we managed to visit many of the restaurants, bars, and shops listed. I thought I hadn't taken too many pictures, but I did have four rolls from my LC-A+ developed. I wish I had more pictures of the people we spent our time with, but I have many happy memories for now.

Just thinking about the trip makes me feel a little misty-eyed. It couldn't have been better. We were able to see my friend Allison again, and we met Caitlin and her boyfriend James for the first time, as well as my penpal of a few years, Mia, and Sarah of Cursive Design, and Jennifer of Hound, and Casey! So many wonderful, beautiful, funny folks who were kind and sweet. They were generous with their time and spoiled us with rounds of drinks and drives back to the hotel. I felt as though I had always been there and that I would never leave (I was quite sad to leave). There is nothing better than that feeling! I really cannot express how grateful I am to all of them. I love you guys. I don't want to speak for Geoff but in this instance I know that he agrees with me absolutely.

Milk & Honey Cafe
This was on a few lists of recommendations, and it was really tasty. This cafe is well known for its granola. I had chocolate banana waffles (with a mound of butter on top), and Geoff had apple-cinnamon granola pancakes. It was so filling that we didn't have to eat lunch that day. We also visited Cipollina a few times, an Italian deli & coffee shop by the Damen L stop -- I just realized that the two are related.

Renegade Handmade
A few doors down from Milk & Honey. We visited this shop twice because there was just so much to paw through. We picked up a zine by Gemma Correll, notecards by Essimar, and a "Midwest is Best" tote from Megan Lee Designs. An essential stop.

An amazing shop that carries a wide variety of men's and women's clothing at various price points. I tried on a few things (including this coat, which is adorable), and Geoff bought a shirt from Brooklyn Tailors. It is a truly beautiful shirt. I got some earrings by Lulu; they are peach-coloured enamel teardrops and were only $10 (what a deal!). This is also an essential stop.

We stayed at a hotel by the river that we had found through Hotwire. It's not often that we get to stay at a four star hotel, which happened to cost only a little more than some of the guesthouses we researched. The hotel was on the same street as the Pucci Corportation offices, and the sweet "Pucci" lettering became a bit of a landmark for me. When we would see it, we knew we were close to our cushy bed (and relief! We walked quite a bit).

This was taken after a coffee stop at Cipollina. I was quite enamoured of the El. So clean, so efficient, and with a nicer overall feel than a subway. We made good use out of our transit passes, although Caitlin and James and Mia were so kind as to drive us around as well.

One of our goals on this trip was to eat as much Mexican food as possible, so we spent some time wandering around Pilsen looking for a place that wasn't too crowded (this was on Saturday night). We ended up at a place called Perez, which had great margaritas and even better wall art. We didn't go into this ice cream shop, though. We did go to a vintage shop called Knee Deep, which was pretty fun. I just found out about a shop called Workshop that is near here, but we didn't know about it at the time: next time!

Big Star
I think this place opened fairly recently and is a bit hot right now. We had to wait about an hour for a table, but it was delicious. $2 tacos; I think I ate four because they were just so good. I like this little walk-up counter for takeout.

Our first stop on this trip was the Art Institute of Chicago as we arrived on a Thursday, which is their free admittance day. I took pictures there with my digital camera, but took some pictures of the public art around the city with my LC-A+.

This is a great shop on North Milwaukee, with its own in-house label as well as a few other women's lines. When we were visiting there was a vintage sale on, which was nice. We were given free beer mimosas. Perfect!

Rhonda Hoffman Gallery
We took the train out to the West Loop but weren't able to visit too many galleries; a lot of them were closed that day. Rhona Hoffman wasn't, however, and there were some Sol LeWitt paintings on view.

This was a shop in Andersonville, a part of town which has a few Swedish businesses. Dala horses everywhere.

We stumbled upon Brimfield while wandering around Andersonville, and it proved to be a fantastic shop full of treasures. They specialize in reupholstering services, using old wool blankets. Geoff & I felt quite at home with all the Canadiana. It felt like a Georgian Bay cottage!

We only had about 20 minutes to look around Quimby's Bookstore, but I was happy that we were able to visit. It kind of reminded me of Pages bookstore in Toronto.

Lula Cafe
We met our friends here for lunch on Sunday, and it was where we had one of our most memorable meals. The sun was shining that day, and the food was carefully and thoughtfully prepared. They also have a version of the Pimm's Cup. I was pleased!

Seeing Marina City in person made me quite happy. There were a few other places that I would recommend visiting, but that I have no photographic evidence of: the Marc by Marc Jacobs store in Wicker Park, where I picked up an inexpensive umbrella and a cute tote for $13; Lenny & Me, where I found some sensational vintage cat-art; Dovetail, a vintage clothing store where we attended a two year anniversary party; Yolk restaurant, which offers good quality enormous (!!) plates of food; Jerry's, a restaurant with a massive sandwich list where we met up with a large group -- I was too shy to take pictures, sadly; as well as all the bars with cheap drinks: Rainbo Club, Skylark (black & white photobooth!), a few others (but I wouldn't recommend The Green Mill, unless you like listening to jazz while being shushed and don't mind the sounds of scatting -- although that was kind of hilarious). It was kind of funny that we spent so much time in Wicker Park as a few years ago Geoff had read a book called Neo-Bohemia about the gentrification of Wicker Park. He remembered some of the places that had been mentioned in it.

Thank you, Chicago! You are a beautiful city.

(Incidentally, Anabella had asked on my Hoof Cafe post about the type of film I use with the LC-A+: I really only use cheap film from a photo chain here in Canada [Black's]. When you buy it, prints & developing are free. I probably wouldn't take as many pictures without this film, which always seems to be on sale. For some of the close-up shots I put a funny little lens on my camera that I got on eBay. It's meant for the Fuji Instax camera, but it works on the LC-A+ and it allows you to take pictures from about 0.3 meters away, as opposed to 0.8m. If you search on "close up lens lomo" on eBay, you should be able to find it for about $20.)


vicky: Oh, thanks! I'm glad you like it. It takes a lot of time but I don't mind.

thegirlworks: Oh, I don't understand it myself. It kind of freaks me out a little bit -- I tend to avoid those aisles of the craft stores. Thank you for your thoughtful comment on Sonja's work. I'm sure she would blush if she read it.

Megan: Yeah, Spike is in the book! Spike's story scared little me when I was a kid. I love Degrassi (while simultaneously being really embarassed about how low-budget it was -- but in retrospect, it was amazing). I never really did watch the Next Generation though! Magic Pony is really cool. If you visit Canada, I'll show you around!


  1. Oo thanks for all the great tips! I've never been to the windy city but have always wanted to go. I'll keep these in mind.

  2. it was so great to meet you + geoff anabela! i was also too shy to take pictures at jerry's. eep! and i have to say MAN you guys really covered some major ground in a small time. IMPRESSED. (i once went to a poetry reading at the green mill + couldn't stop giggling..got shushed..same situation..hee.)

  3. Great post! My boyfriend used to live in Chicago and we visit often, but most of these are new spots to me. Looking forward to checking them out the next time I'm in the city!

  4. It was so fun meeting up with you, I wish I didn't have to leave early that night! Also totally random you ended up buying jewelry made by my friends (lulu) and Megan (of Megan Lee) is the one who taught me to screenprint! Haha, Chicago's so funny because everyone really is connected. You definitely hit the best of list, almost all of my fav. places!

  5. you took such lovely photos! it is so nice having company in town, especially in the spring right before it gets warm again and we tend to get out way more..really helps the city reinvent itself to you. i had so much fun with everyone and am so happy to have been able to meet you and Geoff. ..hahah it didn't even occur to me to take photos at Jerry's..too overwhelmed! Wish we had more time to spend with everyone all together. It was nice that it worked out though!

  6. oh thanks for replying to my question! that's super awesome that you get to develop your film for free! and im def. gonna find me a lens like that. thank you so much again. also wow! i lived in chicago for 20 years (i now live in nj), and i've never been to any of these places! im going to use this post as a guide when i go back. lol!

  7. love love love your recap and recommendations! planning a trip there this summer so this is great - martina

  8. I'm so glad we made this trip to Chicago. I've said it before and I'll say it again- good company makes traveling something I wish we could do way more often! Sure Anabela and I didn't get through our whole list of sights to see but in the end its the fantastic people we got to meet and hang out with (and also maybe the food and drinks) that I will always remember about Chicago May 2010.


  9. I love Yolk. One of my favorite breakfasts spots in good ol' chicago. I haven't been there in a few months and see your photos make me long to go and visit my parents in my favorite city.

  10. Hey, I`m a fan of your blog, and I mentioned you on mine. =) It`s in portuguese, but I hope u like it! http://guaranahplimplim.blogspot.com/2010/05/diy-miu-miu-inspired.html

  11. Ah crap, Lula's was my favorite restaurant in Chicago- I used to live a block away and spend great portions of my paychecks on those brunches.

  12. this post is perfect timing for me!! I am heading over to chicago on Saturday and I am totally gonna be a creeper and retrace your steps. =P

  13. I am so glad to see some of my suggestions made it into your destination list! :D This makes me want to skip right over finals and hop on the Amtrak to Chicago!

  14. Fun!! I visited Chicago for the first time last year and loved it too. I'm going back this August and can't wait. I frequented a lot of the places you mentioned here so this was a fun post to read!

  15. I'm so glad I got to meet you and Geoff in person and spend a good part of the weekend gallivanting (a word my dad likes to use) with both of you. It was also nice to spend time with a crew of Chicago people I don't see around often.

    After reading your recap though, I can think of so many other places we could have taken you two! Oh well, I'll save those for next time. There better be a next time.

  16. oh wow. i grew up in andersonville and this post is making me miss home a lot! did you manage to hit kopi cafe? i worked there when i was fifteen!

  17. Whoa whoa whoa, "beer mimosa"?? Is that what people are callin' good old fashioned Brass Monkey these days? Also, you look so dang adorable with your little basket!

  18. I work at Cipollina and Milk & Honey. I am so glad you made it to both! I obviously don't know you, but I read your blog, and I got a little sad when I realized I probably helped you this weekend and didn't even place who you were! Glad you enjoyed your time in Chicago!

  19. ooo, i love chicago! man, there are so many beautiful photos here. i especially love the black and white tiles!

  20. Oh I love this city so much, I really hope to get back there sometime soon!

  21. i'm so glad you had a good time!
    you went to a lot of places i haven't been so i'm putting them on the list for next time!
    i have a midwest is best top, so now we are twins sort of.

  22. oh quimby's yay! Love that place, zines, zines, zines AND the photobooth in the back, be still my heart.

    When you go back, make sure to hit up the cultural center. It's a couple blocks north of the art institute across the street. Inside there are many free galleries, a huge tiffany dome ceiling, AND the most trafficked Artomat, through the gift shop.

  23. wow what a post. chicago looks lovely, one of those great american cities that is maybe left in the shadow of nyc.

    and your basket! did you travel by train/plane or automobile?

  24. what an amazing review, so many of my favorite places! i love seeing the basket in action!

  25. WOW! What an amazing trip! Sounds awesome!! When and if I ever go back to Chicago, I will definitely check out one of your sources. Thanks for sharing all those great sources. The first time I ever went to Chicago, we stayed at the W hotel; the place you stayed sounds awesome. Have a good day!

  26. Anonymous14.5.10

    this post oozes awesomeness. i love the blue in the 1400 shot. gorgeous.

    xo Alison

  27. So many great things to remember for my trip! I'm so glad you two had a great time in the windy city. Your photos are amazing!

  28. i am totally bookmarking this post for our upcoming pass through chicago. we have so many connections there that i rarely find new things. i've never even been to that andersonville nightbourhood. and now that i realize you were in pilsen, i am kicking myself for not suggesting no coast (http://no-coast.org/). it's right around the corner from knee high. i love it there. it's silkscreen art heaven. it sounds like you will be back, though...

  29. thanks for making such a lovely post on my fair city! i will definitely save this for my visiting friends. you touched on some really fun places on the northside, and i'm impressed you hit up pilsen! try checking out the hopleaf when you come back. and now Workshop is closed :( but owner Anne Novotny of frei designs has her collection at Post 27 (a really fun design store with mid-century pieces). check it out when you come back!