Food Trip: Chicago’s Local Scene

As I find myself in Chicago again, I feel more and more at home with every visit. My first trip involved a typical tourist’s itinerary. Checked off every famous landmark as possible; Millennium Park, Cloud Gate, Art Institute of Chicago,  Navy Pier, Downtown, Wrigley Field, Lake Michigan, etc. My second visit focused more on the suburbs or as the Chicagoans call it “The ‘Burbs”. My most recent trip had been all about the local food scene.

Not that I didn’t eat enough during my last two trips, but my friends and I pretty much skipped the fancy downtown dining at Michelin restaurants this time around. Instead, we opted for our usual local food adventures.

chicago

Like any other big cosmopolitan American city, Chicago is a melting pot of cultures. Which for me translates to a smorgasbord of international cuisines. Chicago, besides New York and L.A., has some of the best international restaurants.

My Chicago foodie friends are even more adventurous than I am when it comes to food, that’s why I absolutely enjoy dining with them. Every time I visit, they always take me somewhere new and exciting.

Here are the top three foodie moments I had for the past four days:

Mexican Ice Cream and Snacks

I walked inside the La Michoacana Paleteria Y Naveteria and was greeted by the colorful array of ice cream. Just like a kid in a candy store, I was mesmerized by the scores of unique ice cream flavors.

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I mean tequila ice cream?? Come on! You had me at tequila.

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Besides ice cream, they also have snacks like the popular Mexican street food elote or corn. But it’s so much more than corn. It has butter, mayo, crumbled cotija cheese and sprinkled with chili powder!

Elote

Another La Michoacana special is the mangonadas. Anything with mangos is a winner in my book. Mangonadas are made with real mangos, chamoy sauce (Mexican condiment), lime juice and chili powder. It was sinfully good!

Mangonadas

Because I wasn’t able to try every single flavor, I did some research and found out that there are a couple of similar Mexican ice cream shops in New York. Of course New York would have that.

Sweet Filipino-French Fusion

We found Rowie’s Bakery while waiting to be seated at the always-packed Angry Crab restaurant across the street. This cute little shop is a Filipino bakery with a modern twist. Having been deprived of Filipino sweets in Connecticut (I would have to go to New York for those), I walked in with such despair and excitement.

What I like most about this shop is the French influence on the flavors familiar to me and the refinement of the usual gritty pastries I know.

pastries

Buko pandan cupcakes? Mango sylvannas??

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Besides, they look too pretty to eat. I think this bakery should start shipping these out…to Connecticut.

The Angry Crab

For seafood lovers, this place is heaven. This was one of the best seafood restaurants I’ve ever been to and it also reminds me of New Orleans. It smelled like how a seafood restaurant in New Orleans would smell, crawfish and all. But it was not just about the food. The seafood and the homemade sauce were amazing but the fun part was eating together with friends and getting your hands dirty. It’s the whole experience!

This local favorite is always busy and packed with seafood lovers, especially on weekends. We waited for an hour and a half to be seated on a Friday night. It was so worth it!

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You order by the pound and everything is bundled together inside a big plastic bag with a cajun-style sauce. You eat with your hands, period. It’s messy, it’s spicy, it’s amazing.

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Oh, and did I mention it’s BYOB?

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A BIG thanks to my Chicago hosts for always being so generous and accommodating. And thank you Chicago for always making me feel at home.

Jen is a Chicago-based traveler and a full-time Director of Development for an arts & culture organization. Originally from Connecticut, she created Angel of Wanderlust as a place to share her travel stories and photos with friends and family. Now, it is a place for adventurers, explorers and dreamers. Its purpose is to inspire and encourage people to see the world and achieve a better work-life balance.