Vacation in Chicago… Part Two

Chicago is a city that is easy to navigate. Because our hotel (The Godfrey) was situated in a central location we were able to traverse the city seamlessly to visit some of Chicago’s most storied landmarks.

Is it just me or does the Google navigation system (when you’re walking) take you on wild goose chases down alleys and streets circumventing your destination and adding miles to your walk? A simple 40 minute walk can translate into a 2 hour “walk-about” quite easily. Good for our exercise but not so good for that elusive ingredient called patience. Having said that Nancy and I were bound and determined to reach our destinations reminding ourselves that the only time set for the day was a dinner at Morton’s Steak House later that night.

I realized quite a long time ago that if patience was a country I’d be Vatican City (according to Google the smallest country in the world). However, overcoming a small obstacle has its own rewards; and so it was time to march on to one of the most beautiful parts of Chicago, the river. We were actually only looking for a “Chicago” magnet we could put on our refrigerator to acknowledge our trip to one of the greatest cities in the US.

I chose a destination taking us to the Chicago river and thus killing two birds with one stone. This would enable us to see the river again (we were in Chicago a year ago) and enjoy some of the most beautiful vistas of the river and skyline. We found our magnet on the other side of the river in a shop located four feet from where we were standing as Google told us to walk another 1.25 miles to find said magnet shop. Anyway the city scape beckoned us to explore and so we decided to take the river walk which wraps around the entire downtown area.

Restaurants, bars, and boats dotted the landscape as we meandered around the river walk. We most certainly enjoyed the interaction between tourists and guides that were on the shore and in boats passing us by as they navigated the river while pontificating on the subject of architecture and the history of the “Windy City”. So many interesting stories bolstered by facts about gangsters, Hollywood, and of course the political infrastructure that weaves a tale too weird to be believed and too factual to ignore.

After the river walk we were famished. And so there was really only one place to go for lunch, an iconic restaurant that has become an institution featuring the famous “Chicago Hot Dog”, Portillo’s.

Any outsider while entering Portillo’s restaurant would be just a little hesitant to stay because of the long lines to reach the Holy Grail of hot dogs. We soldiered through within a relatively short period of time because as I’ve said many times the restaurant business is about manufacturing and this restaurant exemplifies the perfection of efficiency.

A lady stands in a space between the two lines formed to await the delectable hot dog some 40 deep with customers. She then takes your order while writing in short hand on a bag to take to the cashier. The cashier then writes a number on the bag and hands that to one of the expediters, soon to be filled with your delicious order. You then wait in another line while a lady with very strong lungs yells out the order number. You retrieve the food and search for a table not encumbered by some of societies largest examples of meat eaters.

After the hot dog we headed back to the hotel to rest and get ready for the “Morton’s” dining experience. Morton’s started in Chicago and is now recognized as one of the premier steak houses in America. There are many choices in Chicago for steak but we like to go to Mortons on Wacker Place because of the General Manager (Chicago Jeff) who happens to frequent the restaurant I work at in Vegas, Jean George.

We started the meal with a couple of complimentary glasses of Prosecco (an Italian sparkling wine) with our salads (we were going full on classic steak house menu) a caesar and wedge salad. Our main course were filets served with a wine that I brought (Jeff generously waived the corkage fee) a 2015 Grenache from a small winery out of Los Olivos near Santa Barbara called Barbieri. Mr. Barbieri’s was once the wine director at the Bellagio in Las Vegas and holds the title of Master Sommelier with his expertise as a wine maker focused on the small batch production of Italian varietals.

The meal was fantastic, the wine even better, and of course we had to finish the meal with the classic Grand Marnier Souffle. When in Chicago make sure you go to Morton’s Steakhouse on Wacker Place and ask for the General Manager, Chicago Jeff.

Next week’s blog is the reason we came to Chicago in the first place… A Tale of Two Cities.