Every month that I’m living in this city, I am constantly reminded of how grateful I am to be living here. As cliché as it may sound, I often forget the amount of wonderful opportunities that surround me. I’ve heard it said again and again but how many people get to take the bus down Michigan Avenue to get to class? You may be reading this thinking taking the bus isn’t too thrilling but honestly, I’ve grown to love it.
Living here for almost two years now, this city has opened my eyes to so many things and helped me grow as a person in more ways than one. I came here from Cleveland, scared of public transportation and afraid of the world of communications, afraid to do most things on my own. Now I ride the subway by myself at 5:45am to get to work and I have encountered people I could have never met anywhere else but here.
Although I live in one heck of an expensive city, there is never a dull moment. If I’m ever bored, I can hop on the train and be somewhere exploring unique shops and restaurants within an hour tops. That is precisely what I did today, which was what inspired me to write this post.
As of last week I’ve been doing a ton of exciting and fun things in the middle of working and finishing up the last few weeks of classes. I’m starting to branch out into different neighborhoods rather than sticking to the same Gold Coast and Lincoln Park businesses. Today I ventured through Old Town, last week it was River North and Evanston.
Here are my top 5 favorite snippets from the past 2 weeks!
1. Chicago’s recent weather
Last week was completely gloomy and a foggy mess if I do say so myself. Each day went from extremely chilly and unclear to comfortably warm and sunny. Although I wasn’t a huge fan of the temperatures, I absolutely loved the foggy days. I love working when it is raining outside even if it means time goes by slower. Sometimes I like the days that seem as though they’re moving at the rate of molasses. This was one of those days (when I shot the above photo). Chicago is stunning in my eyes when every skyscraper can only be seen up to its 10th floor and the whole sky blends together as one gray blob. This week has brightened up thankfully but sometimes ya need a dreary day (or week)!
2. Farm-to-table dining / Found Kitchen and Social House
Finding a farm-to-table restaurant in the city is one of the hardest things I find myself attempting to do. There are either not many, not within a reasonable distance or overpriced. However, two Saturdays ago when my roommate recommended grabbing lunch in Evanston, I immediately wanted farm-to-table and anything but a chain restaurant experience. I quickly discovered the limited but eye-catching menu at Found Kitchen and Social House and called for a reservation.
The restaurant was tucked away in downtown Evanston, across the street from Whole Foods (which meant it obviously would be terrific – right?), with wooden frames and antique art sprawled across the walls. I shared a plate of harissa roasted baby carrots with my roommate (I devoured 90% of them) that was smothered in a spicy sauce and large white onion pieces. For my main course, I chose the lamb meatballs with pistachio chimichurri yogurt. Ever since the beginning of this year, I try to incorporate dairy and meat more into my diet when it is local, in season and/or organic. This was the first time I had devoured meatballs in well over a year and I was so impressed. Despite the deceivingly small size, I could barely finish all five. I ended up clearing the dish as we paid because how could I let delicious lamb go to waste? It’s not every day you get to eat farm-to-table meatballs! The pistachio crumble on top brought out the rich flavor of the lamb as well. It deserved nothing short of 100 heart eye emojis.
3. Switching up my workouts/SoulCycle
When I belonged to a gym in Cleveland and even now when I go to my university’s gym, I am often stuck doing the same workout: hitting the treadmill doing an interval workout, riding the bike or lifting the same weights over and over. Ever since I purchased ClassPass in March, however, I am loving the different strength training workouts I’ve come across and the mix-up. One day I’ll attend Pure Barre, the next I’ll be cycling at FlyWheel. Last week I tried my second CorePower Yoga sculpt class (I did my first over a year ago) and was so tired and sore the next day but it gave me such satisfaction.
When I heard SoulCycle (one of the most well-known cycling companies) was coming to Chicago last fall, I knew the moment it opened I would hit a class. Even if it costs a ridiculous amount ($30 for 1 class), it was a necessary to-do list in my book. Luckily, your first ride is only $20 but the tempting apparel lining the front window including $80 sweatshirts that say “CHGO” and $50 tanks that say “Find Your Soul” will have your debit card begging you not to let go of the few dollars you’ll have left after registering for classes.
I hit the bike at 8:30am and it was exhilarating. I took it with one of Old Town’s new instructors, Jaclyn, and she KILLED it. We ended the class pedaling to “All These Things That I’ve Done” screaming at the top of our lungs, “I got soul but I’m not a soldier!” What’s not to love? Whenever I have big paychecks, SoulCycle will definitely be my splurge workout class of the week.
4. Cold-brew coffee/almond milk lattes
I get into these fads where I go from drinking coffee every single day and drowning my thoughts in lattes and the following week I’ll bounce back to the Yogi Tea train. This week, coffee is my best friend of the week. My biggest dilemma with drinking coffee is the high acidity that gives my stomach all of the worst kind of feels. Recently though, I discovered that cold-brewed coffee has lower acidity, causing less pain in your stomach.
I usually get café au laits with steamed almond milk because I’m a huuuuge lover of that frothy foam but iced lattes are just as good. If not better, actually. I try my best to buy local and organic coffee. It tastes much richer in flavor and quality. My favorite cold-brew brands are Stumptown Coffee Roasters and Chameleon Cold-Brew. Both are sold at Whole Foods.
If I find a coffee shop that has almond milk, my face turns illuminates like a lightbulb and I’m like a little kid in a candy store. As I rolled into Real Good Juice Co. in Old Town, I was planning on grabbing their matcha juice but when I found out it was $11 my mind jumped quickly to their new almond milk latte that they just released this week. It must have been fate leading me to it because it was more bang for my buck! I added the chameleon cold-brew to it because I needed/wanted more coffee and wow. I’m hooked. I love mixing drinks. Coffee drinks that is 😉
5. Beatrix Restaurant’s “Chai Latte with a kick”
I can count the amount of chai lattes I’ve had on one hand as of now. Ask me in 1 month and I might not be so sure after having experienced this chai tea.
At Beatrix in Chicago’s River North neighborhood, they have quite an array of coffee based drinks ranging from an $8 bulletproof coffee to a simple cappuccino for $3.85. But if you get the chance to stop in, the chai latte with a kick should be the first drink you order. I prefer to make my own tea lattes 99% of the time I drink ’em because the whole point of the latte is to enjoy the tea itself, whereas buying lattes from Starbucks and chain companies means you’re getting a concentrate of 40% tea and 60% syrup with milk. If you have a chai latte at Starbucks there is hardly any spice compared to an authentic and homemade latte.
This is one chai I will sacrifice for the sugar and concentrate. I’m not sure how it is made but I do know it is topped with a thick foam, can be substituted with soy or almond milk (high five to Beatrix for serving almond milk) and it has a dash of cayenne pepper to wake you right up! Each spice is heavily present, something necessary for a good chai tea latte.
Whenever I order hot drinks, I love to drink them slowly and eventually pour them over ice which is what I did when I grabbed lunch with a friend last week and ordered this. Beatrix’s chai latte with a kick is one of those drinks you can drink over the span of two hours rather than two minutes. If I’m going to enjoy a decadent beverage once and a while, I’d rather have it last as long as possible. Now every time I’m in the area, my craving for this strikes like a match.
What are you loving lately? Any exciting spots, shops, events I should hear about?
I’d love to hear your thoughts!