Over the summer, I went somewhere every foodie wants to go to—or wants to go back to—Chicago! Being the non-frequent traveler that I am, my foodie horizons have only reached Philadelphia and the surrounding area. Needless to say I was EXCITED, and not only just for the amazing food, but also to see the amazing sites (but mainly the food). 

DAY 1:

Leah Hillegas

My first day in this bustling city started out at The Original Pancake House. For those of you who don't know, The Original Pancake house is known for their pancakes (duh). Their pancakes aren't like any others.

With several locations across the United States, The Original Pancake House is known for their apple pancakes, which look exactly like an apple pie, their German pancakes, and their omelettes. The infamous dishes here were HUGE. Unfortunately I didn't order any of the well-known items, as I know I would never in a million years be able to finish them, but I did snap a picture of their chocolate chip pancakes, and they for sure did not disappoint. 

After my phenomenal breakfast, I knew it would be a good day for food. Making my way southward, I tried a Chicago staple: a Chicago Dog. A vienna frank, a pickle spear, fresh tomato, spicy mustard, relish, celery salt, and peppers all tucked into a poppy seed bun. To an east-coaster with taste buds fit for a hot dog with relish, mustard, and ketchup, I thought it would taste repulsive. To my dismay, the Chicago Dog tasted great; so great that I went back for a second one.

Leah Hillegas

To end my first full day in Chicago, I went to a place called Ramen San for dinner. As the name suggests, this restaurant solely serves ramen. I've never eaten authentic ramen in a restaurant before, and was a bit hesitant to think I would actually enjoy it.

I decided to order the kimchi and fried chicken ramen, an extra spicy dish on their menu. I've never eaten such delicious ramen (since my only experience was the instant ramen you buy in the grocery store), the spiciness made it addictive (it even got in my eye, RIP) and the noodles were cooked to a perfect temperature and chewiness. The flavors of the chicken, corn, and fried garlic complemented the rest of the dish perfectly, making my first ramen experience eventful, and not in the least bit disappointing.

Leah Hillegas

DAY 2: 

To start my second and last full day (I only got to stay for two full days and two half days), I traveled around the loop to a little cafe called Stax. Nestled right on the corner of West Taylor Street, I could tell this small restaurant was a gem by all of the people inside-- and my 20 minute wait. I ordered fruity pebbles pancakes which made my day a little brighter, and a lot more fruitier. The buttermilk pancakes were perfectly cooked with fruity pebbles on the inside and drizzled all over the top. The maple syrup complimented all the flavors of the fruity pebbles extremely well, enhancing their sweet flavors. 

Leah Hillegas

To start my second and last full day (I only got to stay for two full days and two half days), I traveled around the loop to a little cafe called Stax. Nestled right on the corner of West Taylor Street, I could tell this small restaurant was a gem by all of the people inside—and a 20 minute wait.

I ordered fruity pebbles pancakes which made my day a little brighter, and a lot more fruitier. The buttermilk pancakes were perfectly cooked with fruity pebbles on the inside and drizzled all over the top. The maple syrup complimented all the flavors of the fruity pebbles extremely well, enhancing their sweet flavors.  

For lunch, I ate another Chicago staple: Deep. Dish. Pizza. Unlike a true east-coaster, I hate thin crust pizza (sorry, everyone on the East Coast), but I love thick, deep dish style. To get the true Chicago experience, I selected the famous Giordano's Pizza (with locations all throughout Chicago, they're not hard to find).

My hungry self was forced to wait about 45 minutes, but when the pizza came out to my table, I could tell it was worth the wait. Deep dish crust, cheese, pepperoni, and sauce (in THAT order) engulfed my taste buds, making for the perfect pizza experience. When the waiter came to my table, he even asked if I wanted to take a picture of my food—a true foodie appreciator. The cheese was melted to perfection, and the crust was soft and chewy, just the way I like it.

Leah Hillegas

On the way back home, I finally saw a Sprinkle's Cupcakes ATM! I never thought I'd get to see one in my life, so I had to stop and pick up a perfect red velvet cupcake (insert heart eye emojis here).

Leah Hillegas

For my final meal, I made reservations at Carmine's Italian restaurant. Walking in, the restaurant is decorated in autographed pictures of famous people who have eaten there. Seated in the dimly lit restaurant, I ordered Rigatoni Alla Vodka. The sauce was so thick and rich, perfectly coating the rigatoni pasta. I ate in absolute silence because this pasta was so phenomenal. I wish I could go back and eat it right this second. 

Leah Hillegas

I left my stomach back in Chicago with all the amazing food I ate there—although Philadelphia still holds first place in my heart. If you ever have the opportunity to go to Chicago, definitely go. You won't regret it.