City by the Lake, City of the Big Shoulders, The Windy City and Second City are just a few monikers for one of the most popular cities in the Midwest—Chicago. Home of the Cubs, and the Bulls, The Bean and 360 Chicago (just to name a few), Chicago has many sites/sights and bites to offer. I made my way west to visit my dear friend who left me in Boston a year and a half ago and moved to IL with her boyfriend for work purposes. Aside from Jamaica, Canada and other Caribbean Islands, I have never traveled anywhere outside of the East coast (my flying chops are crap since I’m petrified to get on planes), so I had no idea that to expect when I touched down in Chi Town (another more popular moniker). One thing I did know is that I wanted to take advantage of this foodie city and eat as much as my belly could handle.
I had time to kill in between when I landed and when my friend got out of work, so I decided to hit up a spot I’ve been dying to try ever since seeing it in all of my favorite UK youtuber’s videos—Nandos!
(I need those chairs in my house!)
I studied the menu before I got to Chicago, so I knew exactly what I wanted to order. After being greeted by a very chipper server (people in Chicago are super friendly) with a heavily Chicagoan accent and taking in the gorgeously vibrant décor, I went up to the counter and ordered 5 peri-peri wings (mild), fries and a glass of sangria.
I’m sure my server could tell it was my first time to the Nando’s rodeo, so she kindly walked me over to the sauces and explained how the process worked. You pick the sauce you want, and take the bottles to your table and enjoy to your heart’s content. She recommended the Lemon & Herb Peri-peri sauce and I chose to add a notch of spice and went with the Extra Hot sauce (these sauces are also available for purchase behind the counter and contain no added preservatives or flavors and are gluten free and kosher). The wings (which are always local and never frozen, along with all of the meat) tasted smoky and were very tender! It’s probably due to the fact it’s marinated overnight and grilled on an open flame.
If you’ve ever been to any Caribbean island and tasted the grilled/smoked street meat, then you can imagine how delicious these wings were. Even though it is a South African/ Portuguese company, I was transported to the salty air and cool breezes of Jamaica, walking about downtown Montego Bay and eating a freshly grilled chicken leg; no cares to be had. There are so many more dishes I’d like to try (like the Nandoca’s choice, and the Chicken Burger) so I cannot wait to head back soon!
After the hugs and kisses and chitter-chatter catchup, my friends and I headed out to feed our bellies. If you follow me on Instagram, then you know I have a current obsession with ramen. After liking tons of pics from other Chicago based food bloggers, I came across Chicago Food Girl’s Instagram, and she recommended I try Jinya Ramen Bar for some awesome ramen bowls. Welp Chicago Food girl, I took your advice and loved it!
The place was packed, so I knew it would live up to it’s recommendation.
When we finally sat, we saw that it was BYOB, so my friend’s boyfriend ran out and got us a few beers and we ordered a few bowls of ramen and a fried brussels sprout appetizer.
I ordered the Jinya Tonkatsu Black which has a pork broth and pork chashu (marinated bbq’d pork belly for tonkatsu ramen), kikurage (type of mushroom), green onion, nori dried seaweed, seasoned egg (I skipped the egg), garlic chips, garlic oil, friend onions and thin noodles. It was very good, not too salty and not too spicy. The only complaint I had was that the pork was a bit too fatty (probably because it is pork belly), but that didn’t detract from my enjoyment of the dish.
Most of my trip was spent in my friend’s neighborhood of Lincoln Park. Since I’ve only been to states on the east coast, I can only compare it to places such as Somerville/Cambridge, or the hipster part of Brooklyn, to give you an idea. The next morning, we hit up a popular Lincoln Park breakfast spot called, Yolk. Again, this place was very busy.
The atmosphere was alive with laughter and booming conversations of the previous nights BLD’s (an acronym my friends and I created in college for Bad Life Decision). Everyone was donned in their typical fall attire: chunky sweater, layered scarf and some knee-high boot of the brown or black hue, all patiently waiting to dig into their stack of pancakes with a side (or heap) of bacon.
First thing my eyes fell upon was the chicken and waffles. I’ve never had it before and thought there was no better time to try it than while on vacation and not giving a $%^& about what I ate. I know it wasn’t as good as Roscoes (partly because I’ve seen mouth-watering pictures on instagram and partly because my friend’s California-born boyfriend kept reminding me it didn’t compare), but for my first time, I quite enjoyed it. I was a little disappointed the chicken fingers weren’t whole fried chicken wings, but I am a big fan of a good chicken finger or three. This place is also BYOB, so when you visit, be sure to bring a big bottle of champagne and indulge in a mimosa (heavy on the champagne!).
Before this post turns into 10 pages, I’ll stop it right here. Stay tuned for part 2 next week!
Question of the Day: Have you been to the Lincoln Park area before? What were your favorite spots?
Leave a comment below! and don’t forget to follow me on my social channels below!