you love trip recaps.

by Janetha on February 22, 2011

in meals

time to start recapping my chicago trip! i know, i know..  i just flooded my blog with trip recaps from mexico.. but when trips are taken and amazing food is eaten and glorious sights are seen.. there is a lot of recapping to do!

last thursday, my best friend (kristen) and i flew into chicago to visit our friend danny & his boyfriend, derrick.  they recently moved to chicago and we had promised we would visit. we weren’t aware that mid-february wasn’t exactly an ideal time to visit chicago.. but we had already booked our flights before we found out this little nugget of information. so, we packed our warm coats, boots, scarves, gloves and beanies and off we went!

i will spare you details and photos from the night we arrived. we didn’t get to danny’s apartment until nearly midnight and the food we ended up finding was nothing to blog about. instead, let’s start with friday morning’s breakfast!


we went to a cute little café just around the corner from where we were staying. it was called banana’s foster—isn’t that the best name for a restaurant? for those of you who are curious, it is literally steps from the granville station. and you should go there if you live in/near chicago.


such a cute place!


i was mesmerized by the huge menu and the various flavors of hot cakes. which, i soon found out, are different from pancakes.


i went with the banana topped with toasted pecans, as per the waiter’s suggestion.


for a little protein, i added a side of egg whites to my order. don’t they look like mashed potatoes?! yeah, they aren’t.


these hotcakes were amazing! i loved the crispy texture and the warm bananas cooked inside the hotcakes. the caramelized nuts were a nice addition.


definite success for our first meal in chicago!

after eating, we started our day of exploring the city. the weather was unseasonably warm—what luck for us! it was nice to have danny as our own personal tour guide. IMG_8263

first stop: millenium park!


finally got to see the notorious bean in person. yes!


can you spot me in the bean below? hint: far right.


the view from underneath. so crazy!


obligatory close up in 3, 2, 1..


i was told by one of you fabulous readers that there was an intelligentsia coffee near the park, so that was our next stop. i was also told that it is the best coffee in the city, so i was excited!


their brewing method was so fun to watch!


i snagged a bag of beans for my mister.IMG_8339

after grabbing a cup of joe, we were off to see more of the city. we walked to the john hancock building and kristen & i went up to the observation area on the 94th floor. the sights of the city were breathtaking!


i love big cities.

by the time we were done  at the hancock building, we were ready for more food. mara told me i had to try frontera while in the city, so we checked it out. there was a 2.5 hour wait.. um, no, not happening. we went next door to xoco, which happened to be recommended by another one of you guys! (sorry, i don’t remember who recommended what, but i did write it all down!) there was just a small line at this casual culinary hot spot.


i love that xoco tells you where their food comes from.


the menu was GIANT. luckily, kristen wanted to share, so we ordered a torta from the oven and a torta from the grill.IMG_8392

we started with chips, guacamole and salsa.IMG_8398

the tortas we chose: IMG_8400

on the left is the woodland mushroom torta, which was filled with roasted garlic mushrooms, goat cheese, black beans & arugula. on the right is the milanesa grilled torta, which was filled with chicken, black beans, pickled jalepenos, jack cheese and cilantro cream sauce. ohhh my gosh, both tortas were SO amazing. i kept saying, “YUM” after every. single. bite.

i didn’t have any room left for dessert, but when you see a sign that says this, you can’t resist:


homemade mexican vanilla soft serve? where do i sign up? we got a small cup of it with churros.. they accidentally brought us some (very rich) hot chocolate, too.IMG_8406

just give me a vat of this soft serve. i will die happy.


thanks for a great meal, xoco! please come to utah! Winking smile

not sure how we managed to walk after this feast of delicious food.. but i think the fact that H&M was on the agenda helped motivate me to move.

we walked down michigan ave with only one thing in mind. when you don’t have an H&M at home, visiting a city with a THREE STORY location is a big deal!


after spending over an hour and way too much money at H&M, we decided to head back to the apartment for some much needed relaxing.

derrick & kristen


me & danny


we played some games and laughed a lot. it was a great ending to a great fist day in chicago!


tune in next time for day #2—more incredible food, more sight seeing and more not-to-be-missed chicago landmarks.


1. is there a dessert that you can always make room for, no matter how full you are? i am certain i have a specially reserved area in my stomach designated for ice cream.  and, i mean, it melts.. so it doesn’t take up a lot of room. right? right.

2. have you been to chicago? this was my first trip to the city!

xo. janetha g.

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Alicia from Poise in Parma February 24, 2011 at 9:12 pm

I loved my soup at xoco when I visited back in December 2009. SO GOOD. Would easily eat at that little restaurant for the rest of my life.

Elise February 24, 2011 at 9:50 pm

Aww! I used to live 4 blocks from banana fosters — and moved about a month after the opened (so we never got to go). Now I’m convinced I need to go there next time I’m in town! So glad you got to check out Xoco, its supposed to be AMAZING. And Frontera, I’ve heard, is worth the wait (as ridiculous as it is). LOVE for Chicago!

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