I figured this is a good way to kill time before my Psych midterm in a half-hour. I'll get to the bad later; I wish to be more positive now and I'll not compare with the Bay Area...or least, try not to.
These are in no particular order either.
1. Deep dish pizza. I know, I know, I'm lactose intolerant and this should be the last thing I end up enjoying, but honestly, it's so damn good in its heavy, cheesy, meat-laden goodness. I just can't resist popping my Lactaid and then indulging. These are serious pizzas; they are literally heavy and can take on even the heaviest eater. If you say these pizzas aren't intense, then frankly, you're just a fat-ass. Yeah, I said it.
I haven't been to the more famous Chicago joints such as Gino's East and Pizzeria Uno and Duo, but I find that Giordano's and Lou Malnati's serve me pretty well. I have to say though, that my decision to take one over the other is highly dependent on my mood and hunger level. I go for Lou if I want more of a crunchy crust with more flavored items such as spinach, three cheese, etc. It's "light" and flavorful. If I want something more hearty and just plain old cheese, tomatoes, and mushrooms, then I head for the Giordano's.
But anyway, I challenge you to find anything that rivals this in California.
2. Steaks. Serious steaks. This is Chicago, the land of steakhouses. You don't come to this city without hitting up at least Pete Miller's or Sullivan's. And those are the low-end ones too. I'd go to these places more often, but I don't have $45 to plunk down for a nice Kobe. These are just plain and simple steaks: grilled to perfection melt in your mouth goodness. Enough said.
3. The Lake, Lakeshore Drive, and the Lakefill. Lake Michigan is a beautiful body of water. It doesn't compare to the Bay, but it's got a special place in its own right. I need to get on this whole picture dealio(it'll happen...once I get off my ass and go out to photograph). Even when the lake is frozen solid, it's still something to marvel at. You have a big body of frozen ice with piles of snow chilling on top.
As for Lakeshore Drive, well, let me explain for those of you not in the know. Basically, it's a semi-freeway that runs from Evanston down to South Side Chicago...along the lake. It is a magnificent drive and there is no better driving tour of the shoreline and city views. I have no qualms about the 45 minutes it takes to visit Perry on weekends.
The Lakefill. Ok, so this isn't really in Chicago, but it's in the Chicagoland area(Ok, this is going on my list of things I don't like about this city...I mean, they couldn't come up with a better name?). Up here in doldrum Evanston, Northwestern basically reclaimed parts of the lake and put a big lawn with trees and rocks on the shores. The rocks are pretty hilarious because students and faculty have painted various messages on them ranging from "Jesus loves you" to "Will you marry me?" These aren't just shitastic spray paint jobs, people have taken some serious time for most of these. In fact, I have a spot by my favorite rock. Damn, I need to take a picture of it.
At any rate, the lakefill is beautiful in the morning with the sunrises and at nights, especially with the full moon out and the clear skies giving a view of the Chicago cityscape. I've spent many hours biking around it and just sitting to appreciate nature and to think. It's probably one of the most relaxing places in Evanston.
4. Legit Fall. You just don't get this kind of beauty in the Bay Area. I never truly appreciated the serenity of Fall until I got here. Back home, it's just some odd season that precedes kind of cold winters. Some trees change colors, but that's about it. HERE!! Here it's all different. You have beautiful seas of orange, red, dark pinks, and bright yellows. The trees are just abound with color and intensity. It's incredibly humbling too see Mother Nature's work in such an astounding way. I think my happiest moods here are in the Fall...it's just so damn colorful. I'm pretty sure I have a mediocre Facebook album about this too, just in case you want to check it out.
5. Baha'i Temple. Look, I have no idea why the only one of these in North America is located here, but I'm glad it is. You have to go here at night. It's a big white spaceship. I don't know how they keep it so white, but it's absolutely pristine and gorgeous. The grounds are fun to walk around and it's just so spiritually cleansing to be there. I like going into the temple and just meditating for a while and admiring the architecture.
6. Devon and the random ethnic enclaves. We all know that Chicago is full of Poles, Russians, and various other Slavs, but you'd never know that there is a Somali hang out/restaurant or decent Oaxacan food with fresh mole or even an Arab Mexican joint(sadly not as good as you'd think). Heck, there are random Puerto Rican neighborhoods and well, West Devon is just India. I've never seen such a huge community of brown people in once space in America. I've yet to find food on par with Shalimar or Pakwan, but I've come a bit close. And besides, the atmosphere makes up for it.
I'm also going to give a shout-out to H Mart, Mitsuwa, and Joong-Bo Market(home of the five dollar kimchi jjigae). Yeah, that's right, Korean and Japanese supermarkets. Awesomeness.
Oh right...and there is a Julius Meinl here too...go figure. Austrian coffee roasters opening up shop here. See!
7. The Chicago Symphony Orchestra. I'm not terribly sure where I want to live after my schooling is all done, but wherever it is, it must be near an amazing orchestra and I don't take advantage of it nearly enough. It's such a joy having the CSO here as it is having the SF Symphony back home in addition to a variety of smaller orchestras. I've seen Yo-Yo Ma here and the SF Jazz Collective. I think I've gone there one other time as well for a concert. The playing was incredibly beautiful with much class to boot.
Also, if I have a wedding reception, it would most definitely have to be in one of their halls. Stunning.
I also have a plan to see go to the Lyric Opera. Oh right, did I mention that they give free concerts in Millenium Park in the Spring? Well...when it's nice out(lolz).
8. The Chicago Art Institute. Go there on Thursdays because it's free...and well, what's wrong with a great art museum and free admission? It's fun to wander in here when they have special exhibits. I haven't been in a very long time, I was last there when they had a Jeff Wall exhibition. Good stuff. I've yet to visit Shedd Aquarium(LIVE PENGUINS!!!!) and the Field Museum, but I imagine I'll get around to it soon enough. I also want to visit the Museum of Surgical Science, which I bet you is just so gruesome and badass in its own right.
9. JK Sweets. Ok, look, it's really not that good, but you know, it's open at 2 a.m. and if you want bulgogi then, you are sure to get it. I haven't been there in a while though because, well, while they are lovely people, I can make better bulgogi than they can. Yeah, I went there. I've done it too. Whatever, it's open late and can satiate my kimchi cravings.
10. Oh crap, there's something I'm going to miss here. I don't know, this is getting pretty hard. Snow. I like the snow when it's bearable to actually be outside. Granted, that doesn't happen very often, but when it does, it's very fun to play around. I have a goal to build and live in an igloo...and also I shall fashion a snow penguin and panda. Word.