Five (Unexpected!) Chicago Places I Miss

Chicago is too massive for me to wrap my brain around. I lived here nearly eight years and I barely scratched the surface of it. Like many residents of any town, I settled into my routines and barely got out of them. I thought maybe I had a lifetime to figure this city out. And now I only have the occasional visit…

As excited as I am to choose my own PDX adventure (or do I want to take the Rose City path!?!?!), I can’t deny I miss Chicago deeply. And as I’m visiting for the first time, I’ve been replaying so many things I miss, and I realized there’s an important category I’d like to share.

Places I Regret Not Visiting More

MANA Food Bar

MANA has fabulous food. I’ve only managed to get there a few times, but I loved it so very much every time. It’s amazingly tasty and satisfying. It’s vegetarian. It’s got good beer. The patio, when open, is fantastic. MANA is so good it was one of my birthday meals the year I decided to do a bunch of tiny birthday dinners. And I have no regrets about this. Honestly, the only regret I have is not going more often. So, I went there for dinner last night. And learned they’ve been awarded a Michelin Bib Gourmand rating. It’s going to be far harder to get in there in the future, but worth it.

A bottle of Metropolitan Brewing's Magnetron above a MANA menu.


Beer. Sandwiches. Nice people. Whiskey. Beer. Their menu is ridiculously huge, food-wise. It’s actually a little overwhelming. But it’s tasty and I hope to go for lunch Saturday. And I’ve typed part of this post from their bar, sipping on a beer. Where I was reminded they do one of my favorite things ever: small pours!

A close up of Jerry's menus on a bar.

Basically, Jerry’s wins.


I still follow these guys on social media. They are so nice and the food is out of this world. We used to live rather near them, and once they opened, we were probably in there once a week. Minimum. The chilequiles breakfast is far too much food and yet I cannot stop ordering them because they are that fucking good. I do not know if we will manage to eat there this trip or not.

City Grounds

Let’s discuss what a perfect coffee shop might include, shall we? Actually, let’s not, because we don’t need to. We know. And the perfect coffee shop is City Grounds. Amazing coffee, fantastic tea, couches, power, the perfect balance of noise with quiet, tables, and so much more. City Grounds was the first coffee shop in town I trusted to make me tea regularly. As far as I can discern, the owner (Steve) is committed to offering as perfect an experience as possible, for every customer. Including us tea drinkers. And so as often as we went, we could go even more and never go enough.

Cup & Spoon

Finally, there’s a quaint little coffee shop in Humboldt Park that I only discovered a year or so before we moved. It’s welcoming and sweet, with the best goddamn “pop tarts” anywhere. I only rarely got to sit in here, but I regularly popped in for pastries and the occasional cup of something while waiting on the bus to take me to Goose Island, Clybourn. It was right on the way, and brought a spot of extra joy to a day that was already improving.

Now What?

I have no idea. I don’t know how often we’ll visit Chicago. And even when we do, we’ll end up going to a mix of places we miss and new places. But I plan to keep these places I wouldn’t have realized I’d miss in the rotation, not just the Goose Clybourns of our lives.

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