The Layover – Chicago – In Review

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I hadn’t had the chance to sit down and begin watching the new episodes of “The Layover” yet over the past couple weeks.  Work (my internship) got really busy and pile on top thanksgiving, my sisters birthday, my moms birthday and I got sick and it got a little hard to find the time to do everything I wanted to!  But now that I have caught up, I wanted to look at them more in depth… because Tony’s shows inspire me to travel and eat new foods and I hope they do the same for you!  I am big on cultivating the desire to travel, so I hope these reviews do just that!

First is the Chicago Episode.  Let begin by saying that Chicago is by far one of my favorite cities that I have been to (and I mean city, I love Manhattan KS where I go to school, but it is by no means a city!).  Real quick, a list of Justin’s favorite cities:

1) Phoenix – As an Arizona native this is home and where the heart is.  Always something to do.  Good sports, culture, arts, and food.

2) New York – Gosh if Phoenix wasn’t my home, I’d want New York to be.  There is just something about New York that draws me to it.

3) Kansas City – Fantastic barbecue, fantastic culture, lots to do and, of course, Sporting Kansas City.  To say I crashed (and totaled) my car on the way to a playoff game and still made it in time to see the first goal, would be an entirely accurate statement.

4) Chicago – If it wasn’t so cold and windy, it may be higher on the list (I can look past this for New York).  Great pizza (ironically something Tony makes quite clear that he hates) and wrigley field… if I lived in Chicago I feel like my allegiance to the Diamondbacks would be tested… I’m a sucker for historic teams (maybe a factor for New York, mets though, not yankees… I could never stoop that low!).

5) Boston – I have literally spent only less than 24 hours in Boston.  In that time I visited Fenway (again a sucker for historic teams), snuck onto Harvard’s campus, and visited the few historic sites that I could at night.  I have some sort of semi-unnatural draw to Boston… Maybe i just like the Departed way too much.

**California cities like LA and San Diego almost made the top five but I’ve spent so much time there that I’d rather just visit from Phoenix.**

Now the premise of the show is where would you go in a city (for example, Chicago) if you had a 24-48 hour layover.  Tony is guide, so let’s buckle up!

Chicago is famous for the O’Hare International Airport.  And Tony is quick to point out that because of its business, importance as a hub for travel to just about everywhere, and the unpredictability of midwest weather, O’Hare is just about the most likely airport for you to have a long layover.

Here’s the most notable places Tony Goes in Chicago:

1) The Old Town Ale House – This dive bar has been around since the 50s and is a staple of Chicago.  Bruce Cameron Elliot, famous for the paintings that dawn his walls are, well… interesting.  He also blogs as the “Geriatric Genius” (which I linked to his name) and it is quite clear that he is a character!

2) The Billy Goat Tavern – This well known Chicago establishment has been around since the 30s.  You might know more about this restaurant than you think… it was the inspiration for The Olympia Restaurant Skit on SNL.  Frankly I’m surprised they didn’t talk about it on this episode.  I am sure that I learned it from No Reservations… or another Travel Channel show.  This skit is famous for the “Cheesborger, Cheeseborger, Cheeseborger. No fries. Cheeps. No Coke, Pepsi” lines.  The Billy Goat Tavern has long been a local haunt for actors and journalists and Chicago natives John Belushi and Bill Murray used to frequent this place and wrote the Olympia Restaurant as a homage to it.

3) Publican – Located in the West Loop of Chicago, Publican Quality Meats  is a holy grail of a butcher shop that specializes in the most fantastic breads, cheeses, and cuts of meats.  Paul Kahan is the owner and chef of Publican and Publican Quality Meats, which services his fine restaurants.  Publican is set up like a European style beer hall with big communal style seating and, well, lots of beer!

4) The Doughnut Vault – One of my favorite things in the world is a doughnut and from what I can tell, the Doughnut Vault does doughnuts right!  Tony might not be a huge fan of doughnuts, but even he had to sing some (subdued) praises of the Doughnut Vault.

5) Jimmy’s Red Hots – Tony says that Chicago’s hot dogs are, by far and away, the best hot dogs in the world.  And Jimmy’s Red Hots are among Chicago’s finest.  In the typical Chicago fashion, the saying goes, “Nobody puts ketchup on a hot dog, don’t even ask!”  And since I may be in the vast minority of americans that does not like ketchup, this is something that I and the great people of Chicago definitely agree on.

6) Girl and the Goat – The executive chef is Stephanie Izzard, the winner of Top Chef Season 4.  In a couple of days I will be talking about one of my favorite restaurants I’ve found on my internship, also by a Top Chef alumnus, so keep your eyes open for that.  But the Girl and the Goat has become a big and successful restaurant in Chicago.  As the name might suggest, the restaurant specializes in goat… but does oh so much more.  Lobster.  Octopus.  Pig face. Escargot.  It is truly an ambitious restaurant for an ambitious city.

What did you think about the episode?

Do you remember that famous Bill Murray-John Belushi skit?

Do you put ketchup on your hot dog?

Comment below!

7 Responses to “The Layover – Chicago – In Review”
  1. I personally have never been a fan of Bourdain, but part of it is due to the fact I haven’t invest too much time in his show. The episodes I have watched I was sort of put-off by his personality.

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