On Holiday in Lincoln Park, Part I

We've spent the last few days on holiday in Lincoln Park. If my in-laws stay in the Chicago suburbs, Chris and I might have to explore all the neighborhoods in the Windy City. This was our longest trip away from the kids since Lilah was born: two nights. As expected the kids did wonderfully and loved every minute of their extra special grandparent time. And now I have some great places to tell you about.

We started off our adventures with my in-laws and the kids at brunch at Shaw's Crab House. What a treat. Throw away any preconceived notions you have about a buffet. This buffet has delicacies including lobster bisque, eggs Benedict, baked apple french toast, oysters, sushi, crème brûlée, and more. The place was packed and even though we had a reservation we had to wait 20-30 minutes. I didn't mind. We were so excited to be on holiday. Lilah checked her coat by herself. She is unique one year old.While we waited,  my in-laws enjoyed the Bloody Mary bar.

The food was decadent. This ended up being our most expensive meal of the trip and luckily we were treated by my in-laws. They also picked up the tab for our fanciest dinner. Lucky us, truly. More on that soon. As part of the dessert bar, yes you read that right, Shaw's serves house spun cotton candy. However, Lilah preferred the crème brûlée and berries. She's my girl.

We kissed the kids goodbye and headed out in my orange Fit. Our first stop sans kids was the Randolph Street Market. You pay to shop (less than $10) but still.... There's lots of discounts for the shopping tickets, so search online and buy in advance. I even got half off for being a grad student. With your tickets you get a $5 voucher for any purchase over $25. Randolph is a vintage/antique/hand craft fair. We would have liked to see more hand crafts. Chris was disappointed there weren't any knitters or yarn  Still, some of my girlfriends would have been in paradise. We talked to the vendors about imported fabrics, and leafed through the prints, but walked away empty handed. My parents' business is antiques and the fair reminded us of going through my mom's suitcases. Still, if this is your thing, I could see the market as a fun place to go gem hunting.

Next, we made our way to Lincoln Park. We had no trouble finding free street parking in front of our B&B, Villa de Citta. The Villa is a surprise greystone tucked right into the neighborhood.

Usually  when traveling we opt for the most modest room in places just out of our range. For this trip we splurged on the nicest room. It had been almost a year since we'd had a night away and we got in before the prices doubled for the prime season. Doubled.  Our room was exquisite.

It was the perfect retreat to our adventures. Now we are daydreaming about a fireplace in our master bedroom someday. And, check out this bathroom. Ahhhh....

For dinner our first night, we asked Cathy, the hotel manager for a recommendation. She recommended Pasta Palazzo.  We walked up the road about three tenths of a mile and were there. They don't take reservations, but we were able to walk right in. Pasta Palazzo defines the perfect neighborhood restaurant. Locals pour in. Conversation flows easily. You sit right next to your neighbors. And the flavors. Wow. This may be the best pasta I've ever had. We ordered the grilled portabella with gorgonzola to start and then shared the linguine pesto-cream and jalapeno gnocchi. I am going to try to recreate the linguine, but wouldn't even know where to start with the gnocchi. You get to watch your food being prepared, which makes me feel good about eating it. And those fun loving tattooed chefs are pros.  My only little complaint... I ordered a glass of sagiovese and it came in a juice cup. Strange.  But the taste that meal left in my mouth and the happy ambiance of the crowd far outweighed the vino detail.

After dinner we started exploring the neighborhood. Chris and I love walking together and weren't familiar with Lincoln Park before this week.

We walked until dark and then settled into our warm room for the night.

Breakfast at Villa D Citti is make-your-own, which isn't what we're looking for in a B&B. That said, they had delicious coffee, pre-made waffle batter and a gorgeous kitchen. Guests have access to the kitchen, panini maker, and pizza oven for their whole stay. My recommendation would be to re-market the Villa as luxury flats for short term rent in trendy Lincoln Park. Chris and I started our day slowly by sleeping in and enjoying a couple cups coffee.

Then we headed back out into the neighborhood for a long walk and some shopping, mostly of the window variety. There are lots of darling boutique shops nearby and the big box stores including World Market, a three story Crate & Barrel and CB2 are just a mile or so up the way. The weather was cold. This is shaping up to be the longest winter, but back home they got nine inches of snow and here it was just windy, so I can't complain. Instead we snuggled close, tied our scarfs and drank hot chai.

Back in our room we settled in for more hot tea, cookies, and some time by that wonderful fire.

By now, we were really beginning to feel restored. It is good to take time for our relationship. We are intentional in building that time into our days, but in our "normal" schedule we have to squeeze it in between: lesson planning, PhD homework, diaper changes, dinner dishes, and seventh grade math homework. It was divine to switch the whole focus to each other these few days.

Check back soon for Part II.

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