Chicago Day 1: The Palmer House & Carmine's

This past weekend I was lucky enough to enjoy a mini-vacation to Chicago with Jeff. I had actually decided at some point last year that I wanted to take the trip because it seemed to be the perfect weekend to go: my birthday + St. Patrick's Day + my Chicago friend Caitlin's birthday. It was no doubt an adventure-filled, tourist-filled, food-filled weekend.

Since Thursday was my actual birthday, we flew out to Chicago that evening after Jeff got home from work. Due to the late arrival though we didn't have too much time to do more than check into the hotel and go out for a birthday dinner.

First stop, Palmer House Hilton to drop off our bags and freshen up.

Let me start by saying that the hotel was STUNNING!

I wasn't sure if the hotel would actually do justice to the online pictures, but the ornate details by far trumped my expectations. Apparently the lobby ceiling is one of the most famous ceilings in Chicago.

And apparently the hotel's Empire Room is pretty famous too.

According to the pictures of the talented performers that lined the hotel's hallways, The Empire Room hosted some pretty legendary talent back in the day.

Among the acts were people like Cher, Frank Sinatra, and Etta James.

But past performers aren't the only famous individuals who have graced the hotel with their presence. Just on Friday Obama was there for a fundraising luncheon. I can't really pretend that I knew he was there at time though considering I found it out from a maid the next day. I blame my obliviousness on the fact that we left out early Friday to explore.

Anyway, after checking in and oohing and awing at the hotel on Thursday, we caught a cab to have a late Italian dinner at Carmine's downtown.

We nearly survived a crazy cab ride to restaurant and then had to have dinner next to the strangest, most wacked out couple from Detroit. Luckily though we were able to drown out the experience with good wine and good food. We started with the house bread with olive oil and parmesan dipping sauce and then shared the Tortellini Carbonara and Chicken Calabrese. Even though we didn't get to people watch from the patio (was too chilly that evening) or get lucky enough to spot celebs, the yummy food was enough for Carmine's to live up to the hyped reviews.

While day 1 in Chicago was short and sweet, plenty more food and adventure were to come.

To be continued...

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