Chicago, the major city in the state of Illinois and most populous in the Midwest region. Situated on Lake Michigan, Chicago is famous for comedy, jazz, blues, major sports teams, a huge range of architecture and cuisine inspired from all areas of the globe.
Lay of the Land
Making the most of the ever changing styles of architecture, one way to learn about the history of the buildings, and that of the city itself, is to book one of the architectural boat tours available along the Chicago River. During these tours you can learn about the buildings, what inspired them, when they were built and perhaps a ballpark figure on what you might expect to pay for one of these iconic apartments.
As Chicago is home for one of the six major marathon series, it is unsurprising that running is readily accessible. For a more grounded way to find your bearings, Chicago offers an excellent running route along the shore of Lake Michigan, where you can run through Lincoln and Dawes Parks before cooling off with a quick stride into the lake.
Now in Chicago you can find all types of food, from all over. Thankfully on this trip, and as previously mentioned in other large American cities, allergies were well recognised and the service that accommodated them was excellent; never the feeling of awkwardness when making an allergy inquiry awkward, but rather the staff both ensuring the chef is aware of allergy requirements and talking you through suitable choices to meet those allergy requirements.
One of the favourite restaurants on this trip was the “Little Goat Diner” in Chicago’s West Side. This was visited several times for breakfast items including Okonomiyaki, Pancakes and a unique meal combination consisting of Strawberries, Chicken, French Toast and Maple Syrup. Why this restaurant was ranked highly for travelling with allergies was because conveying allergy requirements to the staff was simple and although I was recognised on subsequent visits, the staff were still careful to understand the allergy concerns again and conveying the allergy requirements to the chef.
Another interesting outing was that of the Apple Festival at Lincoln Square. Here several streets were closed off to traffic and there were many market stalls selling different apple products from apple fritters and excellent apple crumble to various different ciders. If travelling to Chicago it is recommended to see what street festivals will be on during your visit.
Of course, Chicago is also famous for the Chicago Style Pizzas; the original are deep pan wheat based pizzas, topped with cheese, tomato sauce and potentially pepperoni served at immense portions. If you are planning to visit one of the more famous pizza restaurants such as Lou Malnati’s or Pequads, be prepared to wait for an available table, especially if on the day of a major sports event such as the Chicago Marathon.
Chicago was also the first time I was made aware of the Allergy Teal Movement via the Teal Pumpkin Project by Food Allergy Research & Education (FARE) during a visit to a Target Store. In short by leaving a teal coloured pumpkin outside your house on halloween, you let others know you have allergy free treats and can be massively encouraging for those halloweening with an allergy; parents of and children with allergies alike. This project spans across Canada and the USA and FARE even have an interactive map to allow households to share that they are participating in the Teal Pumpkin Project and will have allergy friendly treats available. This is a hugely commendable project, which really makes halloween an inclusive holiday for those with allergies; to find out more visit https://www.foodallergy.org/education-awareness/teal-pumpkin-project .
Overall, it felt that there are many options for those travelling with allergies to Chicago. Similar to other large American cities, the level of restaurant service in those visited this trip was excellent, as was the understanding of communicating to those with allergies, and passing their allergy requirements on. In addition, this was also the first exposure to the Teal Pumpkin Project by the Food Allergy Research & Education which helped to contribute making travelling with allergies to Chicago quite comfortable.