Travel Destination: Chicago
My trip to Chicago started off on a high note with a fantastic meal at Doc B’s, but eventually hit rock bottom when I was severely poisoned at the Chicago Diner.
Before my recent trip to Chicago to look at wedding dresses, I did my research per usual. That began with my hotel selection. After looking at my options, I booked a room at the Residence Inn Chicago Downtown/ Magnificent Mile. Residence Inn’s are my favorite hotels because they have a full kitchen in every room. The room I was given had a full-size refrigerator, stove with oven, dishwasher, large sink and lots of pans, pots and dishes. So, I knew that I’d be able to bring a lot of food, and prepare a good meal if I needed, and would have plenty of options to make breakfasts and snacks.
I’d be more thankful for its kitchen capabilities than I originally thought by the end of day 2.
After the five hour drive from Detroit to Chicago, my mom and I arrived at the hotel tired and hungry, so we quickly checked in and unpacked. I selected Doc B’s Fresh Kitchen for our dinner location, as its North River location was a 15-minute walk from the hotel. I would later realize it’s Gold Coast location was only 2-minutes away… but either way both restaurants had great reviews on Findmeglutenfree.com and the manager assured me that they could easily and safely accommodate my dietary needs.
And boy were they right! I ended up ordering “The Plate,” which comes with a kale slaw, quinoa salad, wilted spinach, grilled artichoke and seasonal vegetable. It was excellent! My mother, who has no food allergies, also enjoyed her salmon salad.
The next day my mom and I were planning on spending touring Chicago. I had once again done my homework, and selected Brightwok Kitchen, an entirely gluten-free restaurant that specializes in healthy wok-made meals, for lunch. Since I planned to be visiting the Shedd Aquarium right around lunchtime, I called Brightwok that morning and asked if they delivered to that area. They replied they did! I then asked all my usual questions: Were they celiac safe? Able to accommodate a vegan? Etc. They replied yes on all accounts. In fact, besides their meats, the entire menu was vegan!
The worker was very friendly. He offered to take my mom and I’s order then, and to have the meal to us at the aquarium by 1 p.m. I ordered a chili coconut curry bowl over mixed greens with extra veggies, and my mom ordered a tahini ginger bowl over mixed greens with extra veggies.
At precisely 1 o’clock, I received a call from the Uber delivery driver that he was outside the aquarium with the food. I was just finishing a tour of the shark tanks and headed up to grab it. The food was well-wrapped in compostable containers, and by the time we opened our containers up in the aquarium’s lunch room, it was still hot. I wasn’t sure what to expect, but the food was excellent. My curry sauce had just enough spice, and my mom who really never orders vegan meals was thrilled with her’s as well.
I received a text from the Brightwok employee I spoke with on the phone to confirm my meals had arrived on time. I replied that they had and how much we enjoyed them. This level of customer service was fantastic.
For dinner that night, we went to the Chicago Diner, an all vegetarian restaurant that had an extensive gluten-free menu. Warning alarms were sounding in my head as soon as we pulled up to the joint. I mean joint, literally. It was a classic diner. And extremely small. We sat down in a worn booth and were promptly given menus. I told my server all my food restrictions and he said, without much confidence, there’s not much you can eat. He ended up having to go get their allergen menu. It turned out the only thing I could eat was sides.
I got a mixed vegetable, sauteed greens and roasted brussel balsamic sprouts. Even though the waiter repeatedly told me he talked with the chef and the sides were prepared safely, I ended up getting really sick the next day. My mom didn’t care for her vegetarian meat loaf either and ordered a pizza for herself as soon as we got back to the hotel.
Even though I felt horrible, I had appointments to try on wedding dresses at several different stores the next day. But I knew I couldn’t afford to get poisoned again. Since Brightwok had worked so well the day before, we ended up ordering food again… this time delivered to the Nordstorm bridal suite. It arrived once again on time right to us. I had another lovely experience with the company. I’ll definitely have to go there in person next time around.
I made my own dinner in the hotel room. I didn’t want to risk going out.
So, Chicago had its hits and misses. Overall, I did find some real gems, and next time I’m in town, I’ll know where to go.