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Nutella Cafe (Chicago)

July 30, 2017
  • 189 N. Michigan Avenue
  • Chicago, IL 60601
  • (800) 861-4888
  • Website
  • Menu

When we left the Chicago Suburbs on Wednesday afternoon, we headed towards my parents house about an hour south.  We don’t eat out a lot when we go there because…simply, there aren’t many choices.  My home town is about the size of Climax and has about as many restaurant options.  There’s a Subway in the gas station and a pizza place on Main Street.

We spent two days there then headed back into Chicago to meet up with one of J’s friends.  The two of them worked together in Idaho about fifteen years ago and they’ve stayed close ever since.  J’s friend just moved to Chicago from Atlanta so we wanted to see her new place and hang out since we haven’t seen her in over two years.

We got into the city just after noon.  We found a parking garage right next to her highrise then went to hang out in our 40th floor apartment looking over Michigan Avenue.  Once the kids stretched their legs and put their grubby little fingerprints all over the floor to ceiling windows, we ventured out for the first time to go get something to eat.

Our first stop was Shake Shack.  We were hoping to grab a quick bite to eat, but there was a line out the door so we passed.  J’s friend suggested a bar near the river, but B has been such a pain at restaurants lately and I didn’t want to fight him at yet another sit down place.

On our way to Shake Shack J noticed the Nutella Cafe across Michigan Avenue from the apartment.  We started heading back that way and J asked if that would work for lunch.  As long as there wasn’t a huge line, I was fine with it.

Nutella Cafe is right on the corner of Michigan Avenue and Lake Street in downtown Chicago in the Millennium Park Plaza building in The Loop.  This location is the first Nutella Cafe by the Ferrero who own Nutella.

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Vito and Nick’s Pizzeria

July 29, 2017
  • 8433 S. Pulaski Road
  • Chicago, IL 60652
  • (773) 735-2050
  • Website
  • Menu

The first thing we usually do when we get to Chicago is start planning our first couple of meals.  I need Italian beef and we need pizza from our favorite pizza place.  I got my beef at Pop’s, but pizza wasn’t going to happen.

We go to town late on Monday night and pretty much just went to bed.  Our first full day in town was Tuesday and Palermo’s 95th is closed on Tuesday’s.  We were going to have to wait a few days because we were leaving J’s parents and heading to mine on Wednesday, so it would be Friday before we could get there.

I’ve explained several times how there are two separate pizza cultures in Chicago.  There’s the famous one that outsiders think of when they think Chicago pizza.  That’s the thick crust and stuffed crust pizza with cold marinara sauce and a crust that’s loaded with fat.  That’s your Giordano’s, Malnati’s, and Gino’s East pizzas.

Those are mostly north side chains.  On the south side, there’s a completely opposite type of pizza.  The crusts are crispy and cracker thin.  The sauce is cooked down and usually sweet.

The most famous of those south side pizzerias is Vito & Nick’s Pizzeria on Pulaski Road right at 84th Place in the city’s Ashburn Neighborhood.  Most people, including me, got their first look at Vito & Nick’s on Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives back in January of 2009, but the neighborhood joint has been serving Sicilian style pizza in one form or another since 1946. Read more…

Pop’s Italian Beef & Sausage (Chicago)

July 29, 2017
  • 10337 S. Kedzie Avenue
  • Chicago, IL 60655
  • (773) 239-1243
  • Website
  • Menu

We were all over the place for this vacation.  Columbus, Ohio back to Kalamazoo, to Silver Beach, to the south suburbs of Chicago, to even further south of Chicago back to the city then back to the suburbs before we finally make it back to Kalamazoo.  It’s a long week with a lot of things to do and people to see, but something we all needed.

We got to J’s parents in the south suburbs on Monday night after a quick sunset swim at Silver Beach in St. Joseph.  We figured we were already almost halfway to Chicago, what was the point of going back to Kalamazoo just to sleep.

We woke up in the suburbs Tuesday morning.  The first meal I have to have when going to Chicago is an Italian beef.  I have to make sure I get one before we do whatever it is we’re going to do the rest of the week.

My favorite Italian beef place near J’s parents went out (for the second time) quite a while ago so I’m moving around a bit trying new places.

There’s one chain in Chicagoland that I keep putting off.  Pop’s Italian Beef & Sausage keeps popping up in lists for Chicago’s best Italian beef, but we had one in Kalamazoo for a while and I only went there once.  I wasn’t a huge fan despite it was an authentic Chicago chain.  I loved the beef itself, but the peppers left me a little disappointed.

I finally decided it was time to see if things are done differently in Chicago.  I picked the lone Chicago location on Kedzie Avenue just south of 103rd Street on Chicago’s southside in the Mount Greenwood Neighborhood.  This building looks like it could be the original store in a franchise, but it’s not.  The chain started in Palos Heights and still has a presence there in the same spot.  This one on Kedzie has a much simpler sign and doesn’t have the franchise logo on any exterior sign.  If you didn’t know any better, you’d really think this was an independent beef shop. Read more…

Dickey’s Barbecue Pit (Coldwater)

July 28, 2017
  • 445 E. Chicago Street
  • Coldwater, MI 49036
  • (517) 278-2330
  • Website
  • Menu

Columbus to Kalamazoo is a pretty long drive.  It’s easy, but it’s long.

We left Columbus around 2:00 after hanging out with some friends at North Market.  That put us back in Michigan just before 6:00.  As we were driving north along I-69, I saw a billboard for a BBQ place in Coldwater.  We hadn’t eaten yet and I figured we probably should before we got all the way home….and you know how we like BBQ.

We pulled in to Dickey’s Barbecue Pit right around 6:00 on Sunday.  There were no other cars parking lot for the small, stand alone building on the corner of East Chicago Street and Michigan Avenue just west of I-69. Read more…

Market & Boar

July 27, 2017
  • 59 Spruce Street
  • Columbus, OH 43215
  • (614) 471-8844
  • Website
  • Menu

The North Market in Columbus, OH has so many options when it comes to prepared food.

We met some friends who now live in Dublin at the Market for lunch while we were in Columbus for a trip to the Zoo.

We sort of split up to get our food with the plan of meeting in the dining area on the second floor of the market.  We had already gotten the kids pizza from Serafino’s Pizzeria & Italian Deli, but I had passed a BBQ place while walking around and you know I’m not going to pass up BBQ.

Market & Boar is the North Market’s resident BBQ shop.  It’s located on Park Street side of the market right near the middle entrance.   Read more…

Sarefino’s Pizza & Italian Deli

July 25, 2017
  • 59 Spruce Street
  • Columbus, OH 43215
  • (614) 457-3900
  • Website
  • Menu

Our first task once arriving at North Market was to find food for the kids.  We had skipped breakfast to make sure they were hungry for lunch.  We were meeting up with friends in Columbus who we hadn’t seen in a long time and we really didn’t want meltdowns because they didn’t want to eat.

I had done a little research before we got to the market so I knew where to go once we got there.  We sort of started walking around and our path took us right to the pizza place.  Pizza is never a bad option when it comes to my kids.

Serafino Pizza & Italian Deli is the pizza option at the North Market.  They take up a space sort of near the back of the market not far from the middle Park Street entrance.

Read more…

North Market

July 25, 2017
  • 59 Spruce Street
  • Columbus, OH 43215
  • (614) 463-9664
  • Website

When we decided to make the trip to Columbus to go to the Zoo, we knew we didn’t want to do any driving before or after walking around in the heat all day.  We drove to Columbus late Friday night and stayed until Sunday afternoon.  The money spent on the hotels was worth it for our sanity.

If you don’t know J and my’s story, we met working for the same company in Peoria, IL about twelve years ago.  It was the kind of company where there were a lot of young, single people which led to a lot of couples being formed in the years we spent there.

One of those couple moved to Columbus several years ago.  The guy and I were pretty good friends before J ever moved to Peoria and the woman and J became fast friends in the short period of time we all worked together.

I got back in touch with them when we started planning this trip.  I was really hoping we could meet up for lunch or something, but I know how summer’s go so I wouldn’t have been surprised if they had something going on the weekend we were in town.  Luck would have it, they didn’t and we decided to meet up for lunch on Sunday.

I left picking a place to meet up to the people that know Columbus better than I do.  On Sunday morning, I got a text asking if we wanted to meet at North Market.

The North Market is in downtown Columbus at the corner of Spruce and Park Street.  It’s kind of tucked into a very crowded portion of the city near the Greater Columbus Convention Center. Read more…