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Things I Miss about Chicago

by Krista
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Some Vitners chips/crisps at the entrance to Oak Street beach, Chicago. Vitners are a Chicago institution.

It’s been two months and a few days since I decided to hop on a plane in Chicago and relocate myself to London. The time has gone quickly — way too quickly — to say the least. (Tip: Next time you quit your job, take three months off before you start your new job.) And while Chicago was never really my kind of town (sorry, Chicagoans), after living there for a grand total of 12 years (!!!) between my two stays, there are some things I still pine for occasionally. Here’s what I’ve been missing about Chicago lately.

Around Town

  • Forgive on sidewalks: Sometimes I would be walking around Ukrainian Village in a bad mood for various reasons — thinking f*ck this shit, if you really must know. And then I’d see  Forgive. And I would change the direction of my thoughts.
  • CLS and his/her sculptural street art. Chicagoans, you’ve seen CLS’ stuff around town. Scraps of wood, together, in an art piece. (This Flickr user has a number of photographs of CLS’ pieces if you’re not sure who I’m talking about.) I like CLS’ stuff. It’s natural but architectural and yet random.

Mexican Food

  • Cemitas Puebla: Mexican sandwiches. They deliver to Weegee’s in Logan Square! Now that was an exciting discovery! I want to know how they get their pork chops so thin.
  • Mexican in general…Mexican like the place on the corner of Chicago & Ashland, Taqueria Transpasada. Not the commercial burrito chains. London is full of burrito chains now. I just want some tacos. OK, I really want some tacos at Big Star even though I am not hipster enough for Big Star. (I realize I am, in some ways, contradicting myself. What I want is tacos from the corner shop and on weekends, tacos at Big Star, along with some Johnny Cash and bourbon.)
  • Tamale guys. Magically appearing in bars around town in the wee hours of the morning, just when we all need some carbs. GENIUS.

TelevisionWGN morning news. Seriously, these guys crack me up. (Check out some of their best bits from 2013.) I love that they’ve been doing what they do for so long together. London breakfast news programming is terrible. They repeat themselves every 12 minutes. (I’m gonna time it.) And no jokes! And they don’t have enough human interest stories. And the news is so DIRE. Someone help me. I need something to watch in London between 6 am and 7 am while I am trying to become fully functional.

Chinese: Mon Lung: My Sunday routine when I lived in Noble Square was Szechuan green beans and chicken from Mon Lung. Me and all the cops and the fish tank. I loved that the multi-generational family was so in evidence here. This is really a family-run business, and they are all so super nice. (Sometimes, they run out of green beans. Just to warn you.)

DinersThe Pittsfield and Beef & Brandy: I love a good diner. The Pittsfield is my absolute favorite; it’s a triangulation of beautiful building decor, friendly service, and good food. Breakfast for dinner! At The Pittsfield, I like the Mr. Gyros Omelette, which is on the old menu, not the new menu, but they will still make it for you. Make sure you ask for some tzatziki. $10 (or less) for lunch and you get table service…really nice table service. They do what they do better than a lot of expensive restaurants I know. I also like Beef & Brandy on State Street, mainly because they let you pay at the table. (At The Pittsfield, you have to pay at the counter and then walk back to your table to drop off the tip.) I also love how Beef & Brandy’s website calls it the best restaurant in downtown Chicago. I normally go for the grilled cheese at Beef & Brandy.

Beer: Zombie dust!! All the Three Floyds! All of it!

Vietnamese Food: Han yen on Argyle. After my trip to Vietnam in March, I got a little addicted to pho for breakfast. So once I sold off Noble Square and moved away from Mon Lung, my new Sunday routine became a trip up to Han Yen on Argyle for a big bowl of pho for Sunday lunch.

Cheap Manicures and Pedicures. Particularly New Age Nails on State Street north of Chicago Avenue. So clean and white and nice.

Drinking: Pops for Champagne & The Watershed. London did something to me. It made me drink champagne a lot. I arrived back in the US and everyone kinda looked at me funny when I would ask if we could order a bottle of champers. So I would take myself to Pops and drown my sorrows. Champagne is not cheap in America. Champagne in London is a bargain in comparison. (There’s something to be said for being across the channel from France. ) Also, I love The Watershed, downstairs from Pops, which specializes in midwestern beers and wines. I like focus. And the banjo player on Thursday nights.

What am I forgetting? I am sure there is something!? Help.

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7 comments

Molly August 31, 2014 - 9:17 am

A/C on public transport. I still feel grateful for it when I get on the Blue Line on a hot day! And screens on windows.

Krista August 31, 2014 - 11:21 am

M–wait til you experience the new Hammersmith & City/Circle/Metropolitan/District line trains. AMAZING.

Marcus @myfoodhunt September 2, 2014 - 9:08 am

Hi Krista,

I have been back in blighty for over a year now. I miss the el big time, riding down the brown and back around the loop on a sunday (for no particular reason.)

I miss having the aircon on at 70 in the summer to be cool and 70 in the winter to keep warm.

All my neighbourhood bars, watching random sport and talking to random strangers.

We must have been to different places to hang out – I miss the Fountainhead, The Globe, Girl and Goat when I was feeling wealthy and had planned, all cheap hot dog places, and all the diners too. Gosh I even miss the crowds at the Taste!

Also the size. Nottingham is just too small. I should have moved to London 🙁

Marcus

Jess September 2, 2014 - 11:02 am

Agreed on the London breakfast programming! I think you need to start watching Top gear re-runs.

kaszeta September 2, 2014 - 2:42 pm

I keep telling my London-residing brother that he needs to (a) recruit some Mexicans, and (b) starting running taco trucks and after-bar tamale services around London.

K+B+b September 2, 2014 - 3:02 pm

you miss us right? and the coffee – I miss it when I travel – and the art institute – and fried chicken – and … I could go on … but looking forward to a return visit to London soon.

Krista September 2, 2014 - 3:29 pm

Lol I actually had “Karen and Bob” (and “Gerry and Ben”) on the original list and was like “hmmmm creepy..

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