Food, glorious food…

Sadly, when I travel, many times the overall response to, or final rating of a city or place is dependent upon how good the food was.

“The food was fantastic, ergo, we loved the city we visited!”

I think that is why Italy is my favorite place in the world.  I’m just not sure any other location can compete, foodwise.

But, I’m happy to say, Chicago is one of those places that can certainly boast about its food offerings…ergo, we liked Chicago!

(Ergo is my word for the day.  Ergo, I like using it in sentences.)

That was a steak salad from Smith and Woolensky, next to State Street.

The steak absolutely melted in my mouth. (They dry-age their steaks for 28 days, which allows for an incredibly flavorful piece of meat.)

ThrillCam ordered a plain, ol’ steak.  A plain, ol’, melt-in-your mouth-juicy-delicious steak…

A simple presentation with an out-of-this-world taste.


For lunch one day, we found ourselves in a little hole-in-the-wall Mexican restaurant, Allende’s.

We sort of just stumbled upon this place.

ThrillCam and I love to eat at local places, rather than chains, especially when traveling.

Allende’s is not pretty.  It’s not fancy.  But, it’s decent, filling food.

And the place was full, which is always a good sign.  Janitors, professors, and students from close-by DePaul University entered and ordered, keeping the cook busy.  (My iPhone app, UrbanSpoon, gave it high ratings from the locals.)

My friend, Tim, who lives in Chicago, laughed when I showed him pictures of the restaurant.   He said his friends love Allende’s for the occasional “late-night drunk food.”


One of our favorite places was suggested by a couple of college girls we met at the U2 concert.


On Ontario Street, downtown.

The place was hoppin’!

The decor is busy and fun–items taken from old buildings from in and around Chicago.

A fun place to meet friends, or take the family.  Nothing stuffy about this place.  Plus, the prices were really, really reasonable.

I had the Italian Beef with their Sweet and Hot Relish (much like a Philly Cheesesteak).  It was quite de-lish!

ThrillCam had the Polish Sausage Dog with grilled onions.  He loved it.

(By the way, there were plenty of fries for the two of us, with a large order.)

But…the topper was this:

It was highly recommended that we try the chocolate cake while there.

No need to ask me twice.

At first glance, the cake kind of under-whelmed me.  It didn’t look much different from a cake I could make at home…

Can I just say, looks can be deceiving?


I think what I loved about the cake was its slight salty flavor.  I know that sounds odd, but it wasn’t too sweet.  It was just right, not-too-sweet chocolatey, with just a hint of a salt, if that makes sense.

I promise you, you should give it a try.

No, I mean, for the love of Pete, EAT THIS CAKE!

And don’t forget the frozen custard on the side.  You won’t regret it.

You will go home fat and happy.

I love Chicago.


Update: Portillo’s has numerous locations, all over Illinois, and a couple in California.  Smith and Woolensky has locations all over the country.



  1. JillZ

    I live in Chicago and the Portillo’s chocolate cake is just as famous around here as their Italian beef sandwiches! If you search online you can find dupe recipes(there are only 4 ingredients–one being boxed cake mix!) and I’ve made it and I can hardly tell the difference! Just an FYI if you decide you need to have more and aren’t in town 🙂 It certainly is a crowd pleaser!

    • Elizabeth Simmons

      You have made my day! My week! My year! My decade!!!!! I will now do a search for the copycat recipe!
      Oh! And, thanks for stopping by!!

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