Week #35 – Water Taxi & Lao Sze Chuan

Nǐ hǎo from Chinatown!

Honestly, this one goes down as one of my favorite things I’ve done for the blog so far! I’ve had a water taxi ride and visiting Chinatown on my to do list since the beginning of the blog, and I couldn’t have picked a better group to check these activities off the list.

Bridget, Trey, Lauren, Bill, Gina, Erin, and I all met at the Madison Street water taxi station around noon to take the water taxi down to Chinatown. For $5 (each way), we could take in the beautiful sights of the city…on a water taxi!

We boarded the boat and walked toward the front to get the best view. I was worried about the boat being a little rocky, but rest assured, these taxis are smooth sailing. We caught up as we headed south on the river, posed for photos (see below!), and enjoyed the hot summer day.

Quickly we arrived at the Chinatown stop, where we were greeted by a huge Chinese structure (which we posed by on our way back to the loop). We walked through the winding residential streets until we arrived at the heart of Chinatown, where there’s a square, and lots of shops and restaurants.

Not only is Lauren the coordinator (and mom) of the group, she and Bill lived in Singapore for two years and traveled extensively around Asia, so I gave her the task of choosing our lunch spot. Lao Sze Chuan was her choice, and I couldn’t have been happier. Recognized by the Michelin Bib Gourmand, Lao Sze Chuan is one of the highest rated Chinese restaurants in Chicago!

Natalie and Pat met us there, and we started off our meal with a spicy cabbage appetizer (brought to every table, like bread) and green tea. We ordered Tsingtao beer, per Lauren and Bill’s suggestion, and it was refreshing on that warm day. For appetizers, we snacked on crab rangoon and pot stickers, and for the main courses, we had a little bit of everything: sesame chicken, sauteed green beans, shrimp with broccoli, fish, crispy spicy chicken, mongolian beef, spinach, orange chicken, and I know I’m missing more. The best thing about going to Chinatown with a bigger group is that we were able to sample so many different flavors. And what meal isn’t complete without dessert, a.k.a. a fortune cookie! Now, I don’t know about you, but I am superstitious and won’t read my fortune until I’ve completely eaten my cookie. My fortune was: Time is the wisest counselor…in bed. Don’t you add “in bed” to your fortunes? Once you start, you won’t stop, I promise. 😉

After our delicious meal (I will definitely return!!!), we wandered around Chinatown, looking in the shops and getting lost in the summer heat. When we returned to the square, we took pictures by the different Chinese zodiac signs: Erin, Gina, Pat, Natalie, and I are dogs; Bridget and Lauren are pigs; Trey is a monkey; and Bill is a horse. (In no other context is that sentence appropriate!)

From there, the majority of us headed to the water taxi to return home. Seriously, before this hot summer weather goes away, take a water taxi ride down to Chinatown for a bite at Lao Sze Chuan. It’s like a really inexpensive architecture tour with a good meal in between. I promise, you won’t be disappointed. I know I wasn’t!

Chicago Water Taxi

Lao Sze Chuan
2172 S. Archer
Chinatown

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Week #34 – Chicago Diner

As long as I’ve been working with my vegan gal Erica, she’s raved about the Chicago Diner. Our summer intern Anna also eats mostly vegan, so we figured what better time to visit the diner? Erin, who is a foodie, joined in too.

Upon entering the diner, it was a lot smaller and cozier than I imagined. We sat in a booth and figured out what we would order. A whole menu without any restrictions equals pure joy…and so many options!

We decided on buffalo wings (I’ve never had real ones!), most of us got the rueben (mine with waffle fries, of course), and two shakes to split: peanut butter cookie dough and vanilla chai.

The buffalo wings were awesome. I really enjoyed the sauce! The rueben was good, but I should have ordered it with less toppings. I could barely eat a half! And then, the most amazing part of the meal: the milkshakes. I don’t know if you can tell from the photo below, but I was in heaven. I could even eat the whip cream…which really tastes like whip cream. Light and airy…melts in your mouth!

Friends, no matter whether you choose to or not, can or cannot have dairy, treat yourself to these shakes. I promise, you’ll thank me later.

Warning: I needed to walk this meal off I was so full, so I ended up walking 2.5 miles of the way back to the West Loop! Good food and a little exercise and fresh air? Kind of a win win, don’t you think?

Chicago Diner
3411 N. Halsted
Lakeview

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Week #34 – Encore & Cadillac Palace Theatre

I was a total ’80s kid. Loved dressing up (I wore two dresses a day…even in kindergarten), crimping my hair, listening to Debbie Gibson and Tiffany, playing video games and pinball, and watching movies. Looking back, I now realize that I watched films that were probably a little too mature for my age, and one of those was Flashdance.

Which gets us to the point of the blog post: Flashdance the Musical. You may not have know this existed, and neither did I until my boss Amy asked if I wanted to go recently. Amy and her friends discovered an awesome deal that you can get a season’s worth of balcony tickets for $10 a show! (God knows I love a good deal.) My co-worker Erin went, too, along with Amy’s friend, Liz.

Before the show, we headed to Encore for some food (didn’t want my stomach to growl the entire show…not cute). Amy and I split baked goat cheese and a little sampler dish of coconut shrimp and chicken skewers. Accompanied by a glass of Prosecco, of course! And some live jazz music too!

The food was just what we wanted, something to tide us over but nothing too heavy. (Could you imagine if I fell asleep at the theatre? Yikes…) Amy’s friend Liz also met us, and we headed over to the theater next door (can’t get a much better before-theater spot) shortly after.

We raced up to our seats just in time for the show to start, and even though we were in the last row, it honestly didn’t matter. PS–How gorgeous is that theatre? I haven’t been to a musical for a while, and Flashdance was such a feel good, dance in your seat kind of show. The dancing was incredible, and the singing was strong too. (Secretly, it rekindled my dream of being a singer, but that’s a whole other blog post for another day.)

It has been awhile since I’ve seen the movie, but I like the way they portrayed it on stage. And who can resist that final scene when she’s dancing for the judges to “What a Feeling”? If you’re like me, you’ve definitely re-enacted that scene a time or two. If only I had some leg warmers…

Encore Liquid Lounge
171 West Randolph Street
Loop

Cadillac Palace Theatre
Flashdance the Musical
151 West Randolph Street
Loop

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