The 5 Best Places to Get Lunch in the Loop

Borrowing ideas from some friends’ blogs, I’ve decided to compile some 5 best (in my own opinion, of course) lists. I have a few list ideas already, but I'll space them out so you don't feel too bombarded. So, in no particular order:

The 5 Best Places to Get Lunch in the Loop
(on Wells, between Madison and Monroe)
Some co-workers tipped me off on this little Mediterranean joint. I love their Chicken Kebab Pita, which is basically a chicken kebab with onions and peppers, taken off the stick, and put in a warm pita with lettuce and tahini sauce (and tomatoes, which I don't get on mine). Oh my - the chicken is so juicy and has this really good Mediterranean marinade/sauce stuff on it. Their menu is really big, and everything is really, really fresh.
(on LaSalle, between Washington and Madison)
Ok, well, there are like a million Potbellys in Chicago - specifically in the Loop, but I love it, love it, love it. There's just something about a sandwich made on toasted bread and cheese. My favorite is the Chicken Salad Sandwich on regular bread with lettuce, onions, and 3 hot peppers (I have a sensitive mouth). You see, I have a thing for chicken salad, and I'm very particular. And Potbelly's has the best, so far, that I've found. Also, their oatmeal chocolate chip cookies are divine.
(on Franklin, between Couch and Randolph)
Truth be told, I've only been there once (it's not all that close to my office, and the weather has been fairly yucky since I was there last). But! I think it says something that this place is on my list, even though I've only had one Goodwin's experience, which was fabulous. Let me tell you why: The atmosphere and the huge menu. The restaurant is kind of like a maze and is on two levels of an old building downtown. It's not over-produced either. They concentrate on good food there, and the ambiance just takes care of itself. It's very cool. When I was there, I had the Santa Clara Wrap (mesquite chicken breast, Provolone cheese, and red onions - no tomatoes for me - served hot in a flour tortilla). But there were tons and tons of options.
(on Monroe, between Clark and LaSalle)
Nothing special here - I just really, really love the Orange Chicken. Really.
(on Lake, between Wabash and Dearborn)
This is slightly a ways from my office, but so, so, so good! In the nice weather it's not a hardship at all to hike over there for a sandwich made from artisan cheese, bread, meats. This is often my go-to place in the summer when I head over to Millennium Park for a concert and picnic supper with friends.....ahhh. Anyways, my fave sandwich they make is the Panino Di Prosciutto, which is "San Danielle Prosciutto, Podda cheese, field greens, olive oil, and black pepper." Walking in the store always makes me feel like such a foodie (huge cheese counter with tons of cheeses whose names I can't pronounce, large wine selection, an extensive cured meat selection, olive oils, tapenades, breads, and spreads), but I really have no idea what the difference is between San Danielle and regular prosciutto - I just know that whatever they sell in the store is GOOD.


December 29-January 12

(To catch up in chronological order, see here first, and then here.) 

Which brings us to the last week in December, which was a short one due to my traveling and then New Year’s. My friends John and Sara have hosted a NYE bash for the last three years, and this year they did it again, promising fun in EPIC proportions. Kelly and I agreed to make all the food for the soiree, with the hosts providing the beverages. As soon as I got home (at 1 pm!) on Thursday, we got started cooking. We were powerhouses in the kitchen right up until it was time to leave for the party, cranking out delectables such as

a potato and onion flatbread; 

baked brie in a puff pastry served with apple cranberry chutney; 

smoked salmon and dill with crème fraîche;

spicy seasoned pretzels; chips with salsa, guac, and a spicy queso/meat dip; Emily Martens's Famous Zimpy Shrimp Dimp; and gingersnaps and snickerdoodles. It was a lot of food – I think we still may be eating it. But! The party was indeed epic (I didn’t get home and in my bed until 4 am!), and the rest of the long weekend was spent in my robe, reading on the couch and snuggling with the kitty.

And so, Monday arrived, and I made it through the first week back. Nothing noteworthy. (Well, I went to the symphony...that was fun!) This week though, there's the promise of an exciting trip to Indy at the end of it, so I'm definitely looking forward to that. 


December 19-28

(To catch up in chronological order, see yesterday's post first.)

Still, though – no date with the doctor.

We continued to text throughout the week trying to make it happen, but he worked late on every night I could meet up. In order not to overwhelm you with too many details, suffice it to say we ended up at a neighborhood bar, late-late on that Saturday night. And he was boring – barely asking me anything, one-word answers to all my questions, and boring one-word answers at that! Also, he kept asking me if I wanted to get breakfast with him. I’m still not quite sure what all that implied – regardless, I was ready to go home and go to bed and so declined the offer.

So we leave. And, as we’re leaving, he takes out a pack of cigarettes, tells me he smokes when he drinks, and lights up. I tell him that’s too bad, and, as I’m talking, he tosses the now empty cigarette carton on the sidewalk. I stand there, staring at this blatant display of laziness and littering, and ask, “Aren’t you going to pick that up?” I get nothing but a puzzled expression in reply. Maybe he misunderstood. “You just littered – there’s a trash can right up there,” I point it out. Still no signs of life. So, I walk around him through his smoke haze, pick up the empty carton, and throw it away. That’s when you know the night is over – when you find yourself picking up your date’s trash off the ground and throwing it away for him. Needless to say, there have been no further dates with the doctor.

The next week I headed to Houston to spend six days lounging with my parents and brothers, eating amazing food, watching movies, going on walks in the warm weather, gazing at palm trees, and just generally having a fabulous time with my favorite people. 


December 10-18

Kelly’s grad party on Dec. 12 was a huge success and very, very fun! We had drinks and hors d'oeuvres at the Mid-America Club, which is on the 80th floor of one of the tallest buildings in Chicago. I’ve never been that high in a building before – so it was definitely exhilarating to look out the window down on my city, and I think we all had fun imagining we were Very Important People for a while. After that portion of the evening, my Chicago family headed to Aria, the restaurant in the Fairmont Hotel. Thanks to Jimmy (who is a big daddy chef there), we were able to crash at the sushi bar while Kelly took her family out to dinner elsewhere. Our perks included some awesome sushi created especially for us – specifically the Green Serpent, which was a vegetarian roll, and was amazing – all for, like, practically free. After Aria, we met up with Kelly and the younger portion of her family at Martini Park, which is a favorite. Fun and revelry (and dancing) ensued, as well as the promise of a date with an attractive doctor for me! (More on that later.)

The following week was spent in anticipation of the aforementioned date, with much texting back and forth between the doctor and myself. Then, to make me even antsier, I happened upon the VP of my company in the break room one morning, only to hear him tell me that he’s quitting, moving with his family to Breckenridge, CO, and starting his own business there. And then he proceeded to ask me if I’d design his print and advertising material on a freelance basis. Of course I said yes! So that night we met and discussed the new company and the particulars of what he needs me to do. It’s all very exciting.


New Year, New Post

Well, this blog has certainly gotten away from me, huh? I suppose I can blame the holiday season as keeping me so busy and away from my computer that I couldn’t even eke out a short little post here and there. Which I don’t have a problem with – blaming the season. I’ve spent the days like I’ve had a million, loving on my family and friends and just soaking in the blessings they bring to my life. So, to recap the portion of my life missing from this blog, I’ll be posting the next couple of days on old, but still very good, news. So stay tuned.

In more recent news, I joined a gym(!) this last weekend. I know. One of my goals for this year is to just be healthier. I’m not setting a weight goal or going on a diet, but I do want to be more conscious of what I’m putting into my body, as well as how I’m using it. A couple of my friends belong to the FFC  in our neighborhood, and I thought – hey! Maybe they’ll have some promotional deal going on so it wouldn’t be such a financial burden to have a membership. So I went, and they did, so I joined. Yesterday I had my fitness assessment with a trainer. I got weighed and measured all over, and then I stepped up and down on a box and reached really far over my toes and climbed into all these scary weight contraptions and lifted and pressed and pulled. The results are that I need improvement in all areas except flexibility, in which I’m in the 95th percentile; so, you know…that’s good.

Today Kelly and I went to a FitFlex class that started at 6 am! Oh geez. It was 45 minutes of arms with weights and lunges with weights and squats with weights and then all three at once and it was actually kind of fun. I’m fascinated with how I felt a couple times that I’d like to stop, but then kept pushing myself because there were only a few more to do in the set and I could make it four more reps (or what have you), and then when we finished I was like – yesssss! I did it! And it wasn’t because I physically could, because that was obvious since I didn’t stop. It was like a mental thing that I powered through.

Anyway. This is all very new to me. I’ve never been someone who works out regularly, and I whenever I do work out, I rarely think myself through. Instead I just stop when I’m feeling too pushed. I guess I’m surprised that I’m actually excited to see what I’m capable of. So. Good things!