March break is a hellish week for travel. Which is why original ideas are key. This past break, me and my GF decided to visit two nearby American cities over a week, making a mini road-trip into the heart of the rust belt. Five days, two cities, and two people who were pleased as punch to have ventured into the states by car. Our first day was a four hour shot from Toronto to Detroit, then on day two another four hour shot to Chicago, with the same routing on the way back, to keep things from getting dull.
ACCOMMODATIONS IN DETROIT AND CHICAGO
So, we stayed at three different places, trying to keep our budget low – I like to splash out and go for the JW Marriott level places, but her tastes are a little more reasonable. For the first night in Detroit we stayed at the Westin Book Cadillac, right in downtown, which I booked through Hotels.com. It was $130 ish, but this was the nicest hotel of the trip, and one I desperately want to revisit for a longer stay.
For our accoms in Chicago, we used Hotwire.com and got the DoubleTree Hilton, about two blocks from the Magnificent Mile. It ended up being $300 tax in for 3 nights. I didn’t love this hotel, and we never got our damn cookie, but for that price, it was fine. But parking downtown is about $30 a night, and wasn’t included with the room rate. Ouch. Probably would Airbnb something out in the Wicker Park neighbourhood next time.
FOOD IN CHICAGO
Dear good lord, the food in Chicago is amazing. We were never successful in finding great deep dish pizza, but we did find great tacos, great prime rib, and great burgers.
- The Art of Pizza – Lots of places said this was the best, but it was just like a good version of Pizza Hut. Nothing impressive here. I’m still psyched for Danny’s Original in Detroit, if I ever get to try it.
- Lawry’s – This place is all over, and I hate to mention a chain, but man alive, this place is AMAZING. Everything is tasty. My martini had bits of prime rib stuffed into the olives. Everything is perfect. It’s like McDonald, if McDonald’s served the best food ever.
- Kuma’s – Fries not my favourite, but I am VERY picky about fries – interesting take on the burgers. Each one is named after a metal band. I had the Aus(?) The base burger was awesome.
- Eataly – Super commerciallisticfragilagidocious, but tons of cool stuff. If you want authentic, I don’t recommend. If you’re into novelty, you will like this!
- Lazo’s Taco – We totally stumbled on this place, but could tell by the agressive synth mariachi going on inside that this was pure Mexico and we were not disappointed. The stuff poblano taco. Just do it. Super boozy margaritas hit the spot.
- Margies Candies – Sundaes in clamshells, and all sorts of oldey-time goodness. You’ll wait for a seat, then you’ll never remember that happening once that sweet sugary stuff hits your lips.
- Garrett’s Popcorn – Holy Christ. This is why Chicago is popcorn city. Lineup down the block. We got three kind; caramel, cheese and Chicago mix (which is caramel and cheese mixed together) and they were all PAINFULLY ADDICTIVE. I’ve done hard drugs that don’t have the same effect that this stuff did.
- The Taco Truck In Front of the Beepers Store On Michigan – One day I’ll figure out where this is and tell you about it, but seriously, don’t even waste your time going into the Mexicantown restaurant ghetto. These taco trucks are on par with Mexico.
BARS IN CHICAGO
- Logan’s Hardware – So many cool arcade games and $2 cans of Shiner. This place made me smile – games I’d never been able to play before were there. They also rotate “free play” games, so you don’t have to spend a mint if you’re just browsing. The titles are pretty eclectic and there are lots of pinball machines, but they don’t have Rampage. So why even get out of bed is my question.
- Charleston – At the corner of Charleston and another street, this classy dive made us feel right at home. Could have spent the whole night here.
- Map Room – So much beer. I feel gassy just thinking about it. The guy who served us was bigger than the bar fridge. His beard was bigger than him. By the time we got there, I honestly can’t remember what the heck we tried, but they have everything, so if you like everything, go here. Also, it’s a good place to end a night it seemed. That’s what we did, and we were pretty pleased with our decision!
ATTRACTIONS IN CHICAGO
- Field Museum – We only went to see the Chicago’s World Fair exhibit, and I say a big ole BLAH to that. Snoozeville.
- Chicago Institute of Art – There’s way too much hyperbole in this article already, but this place has way too much stuff. And 80% of it is awesome. Also the room with the painting from Ferris Buehlers Day Off is always packed.
The thing is, the states has everything. And they have a better version of everything that we have. So it’s no surprise that the cities were awesome, in totally different ways, but also that their geography changes so often that you could really never get bored driving around there. Chicago is a great city – one I’d like to revisit for months on end, work there, live there, get to know people. It’s a world class city, the way Paris or London is. It’s Toronto, but if pretty much everything was good and rad. But Detroit. Well, Detroit is like discovering another planet. Like John King Books, where I found the picture of the three chickens shown above – they claim to be the #2 bookstore worldwide. A tall claim, but they are in contention for most fascinating one that I’ve ever experienced, or likely ever will.
Follow me on the Instagram @NorthernRoads if you want to see more pics from this trip and other stuff. Mainly pictures.