04 January 2009

Chicago is Still My Kind of Town

How is it already January and I have to go back to school tomorrow and I haven't even told you about the goodness that was visiting my parents in Chicago over the holidays? It was a really nice trip--both my parents seemed really well, and very happy, espeically with their now-functional fireplace! We watched TV and read a lot, and Jeff and I even went snowshoeing for a little bit on Christmas day. But the some of the best times were hanging out with my parents trying new places to eat--both of my parents had been raving about this bar, Hopleaf, for a while, and we had also been informed that we were all going to go to a noodle bar that my mom had read about: Urban Belly.


Only Jeff and I ended up going to Hopleaf, but I think that was alright. It was snowy, and slushy, and neither of my parents were too excited about heading out to go to a bar (albeit their favorite one--my parents have a favorite bar!). Jeff and I got there kind of early, about a quarter to four or so, but we unfortunately learned that the kitchen wouldn't open until five, so we just ordered beers. Luckily for us, Hopleaf specializes in quality Belgian beers on tap--there were so many to choose from! Unfortunately, though, one of us still had to drive home (um, yeah, that was me), so I could only have one. Little did I know that 8.5% alcohol hits you like a wave if you haven't eaten too much because you were expecting the kitchen of the bar you were going to to be open. Oops.


But then Jeff and I sat it out, drank our beers and waited. It was very pleasant to sit in the window table, read the Chicago Reader and Beer Advocate, and decompress for a little. And then when the kitchen did open--well, let's just say that the "bar food" was great. I had moules frites, and Jeff had a brisket sandwich. Both disappeared quickly. Jeff also had a second beer, and I got to drive home.


The other place we went on my parent's suggestion (and with my parents!) was the adorable noodle bar Urban Belly. We had been out driving around, and we had been kind of worried about parking, until we pulled into a little strip mall where the shop was located. An unexpected boon, since there was a neat little parking lot where we could not worry about getting stuck in the snow. And inside were delectable dumplings, and so many different kinds of soups and noodles--it was great. The perfect response to a chilly, windy night. The dumplings were savory and zippy and nice--we had both the pork/chive and chicken/mushroom--and the soups were pretty darn good. Dad had a kim chi laced ramen with bay scallops, mom had a pho broth with pork belly, and Jeff had spicy soba, also with scallops. I nibbled all of them. And was terribly happy. Eating a dumpling and noodle meal with my favorite people? Nothing better.

We also saw so many people that needed seeing--I miss you already!

Hopleaf Bar
5148 N. Clark St.
Chicago, IL 60640

Urban Belly
3053 N. California Ave.
Chicago, IL 60618

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