Barbecue and Baseball in Chicago
July 11, 2016
We had a great time visiting Chicago over the fourth of July weekend. While many people across the country were in their backyards grilling hot dogs and hamburgers, we went to a “Ribfest” in uptown Chicago and then, the following day, we watched the Chicago Cubs baseball game from rooftop stands that overlook Wrigley Field. On our third day in Chicago, we walked the streets, ate a lot of food, and made sure that we stopped in at Ditka’s restaurant, a tradition of ours. It was a busy, but wonderful time in one of our favorite cities.
Apparently there are events every weekend during the summer in Chicago, and the fourth of July weekend was no exception. If you’re a fan of barbecue ribs, Ribfest is definitely the event you want to attend. In addition to the ribs, there was plenty of pulled pork, kabobs, mac and cheese, and more. We tried several ribs from the different places, all boasting to have one different competitions and proudly displaying their awards, but one of the more unique things that we ate were some pulled pork nachos. Very different. In addition to all of the food, there was live music as well, and everything else that you would expect at a food festival. What we didn’t expect, and was a strange sight indeed for uptown Chicago, was the pen offering camel rides as well as pony rides. We’ve ridden camels on the beach in Morocco, so we chose not to ride one on the streets of Chicago.
Going to the baseball game was a lot of fun, although we have to admit that we’re not huge baseball fans (soccer is more our game). Before the game, we went to one of the traditional “watering holes” for Cub fans and got ourselves an ice-cold beer. There was plenty of traditional ballpark food, lots of beer, and the Cubs even beat the Cincinnati Reds by six runs. Even if it hadn’t been the fourth, there would have been plenty of red, white, and blue at the stadium due to the team colors. Even if you’re not a sports fan, going to a game at Wrigley Field is something that you should do at least once, it is a truly American experience. After the game, we went and played darts at another local spot and we even got a few bullseyes.
We were fairly exhausted after a couple of long days trying to keep up with our youngest daughter’s twenty-something friends, so we enjoyed a relaxing day walking the streets of Chicago. We were going to go to the top of the Willis Tower (still called the Sears Tower by locals), but a holiday weekend is not the time to go to a tourist spot, so we took pictures of the tower from below and will go to the top when it isn’t as crowded and wait times aren’t as long. The architecture of Chicago is always fascinating to us and we truly enjoy simply walking the streets and seeing the various skyscrapers the city has to offer. We had to go to Ditka’s Restaurant, we’ve been there every trip to Chicago and weren’t about to miss out on this trip. Mike Ditka is a former head coach of the Chicago Bears who took them to victory in a Super Bowl and the restaurant is filled with memorabilia from his career as a player and coach.
Every trip to Chicago ends with us wondering why we haven’t lived there yet. For a large city, the people are generally nice, and there is so much to do and see. We’ve gone to most of the traditional tourist spots like the Art Institute of Chicago, Millennium Park, Michigan Avenue, the Museum of Science and Industry, the Field Museum, and the observation deck at the Hancock building, so we were content not to do any of those on this trip, but clearly if you go to Chicago, those are must-see attractions. Our time in Chicago went by too fast, but we’ll definitely cherish our memories, especially of the baseball game.