Chicago – the Art Institute & Native Foods

Oh where to begin. This was the day I planned out a little JC birthday celebration. I emailed with the staff at The Lobby in the Peninsula hotel before we left Toronto about their Afternoon Tea, and we planned to go to the Art Institute of Chicago for a very long wander and to visit the famous Chicago Bean (uh, I mean the Cloud Gate…) in Millennium Park.

Cloud Gate

It’s also a perfect time to see a few other things in the area like the Magnificent Mile, DuSable Bridge, the Water Tower (one of the only remaining structures from the Great Chicago Fire of 1871), House of Blues, other things, and you can grab a bite to eat at Native Foods if you’re so inclined (we were.)

Milton quote on Chicago Tribune Building

I love learning more about the history of places we visit, and some of the architecture, so I considered taking a walking tour with the Chicago Architecture Foundation, but there wasn’t enough time, but if you’re planning a visit you might want to check them out. There is a list of the various walking tours here. They also have tours by boat and other methods of transportation.


We whipped out our fancy 3-day pass loaded Ventra (transit) cards and took the pink line train to The Loop, which many other lines are conveniently connect to as well. To go to the Art Institute of Chicago (AIC) we got out at Adams/Wabash and walked up to the Beaux-Arts style building (a design familiar to some of us Canadian Prairie folks, as our Provincial Legislative Buildings are made in this style.)

Chicago Art Institute American Gothic by Grant Wood

It’s easy to spend hours at the AIC, so we did. Starting from the bottom where the paperweights and miniatures are, and working our way up to the special exhibit on the surrealist works and life of René Magritte. (which we could take no pictures of – but you’ve probably seen at least one of his paintings, especially his “ceci n’est pas une pipe” aka The Treachery of Images.)

Chicago Art Institute

I am so awestruck by some art pieces, especially those very iconic ones that seem almost unreal in real life or works I’ve always felt a connection to. But there is so much to see in this museum/collection and so much additional AIC provided self-tour materials, that it is probably worth going a few times. There are also guided gallery talks & highlight walks on a regular basis.

Andy Worhal's Mao

We had an amazing time, and walked well over 10,000 steps according to my fitbit… just within the gallery. Seeing amazing works of art like American Gothic, Andy Worhol’s Mao, Paintings from Dali, Lichtenstein, & Duchamp as well as paintings and sculptures from ancient civilizations to photography, and more. Oh so much more. But don’t take my word for it. Go there yourself.

If you’re feeling like having lunch, or a snack post Art Gallery visit, there is a conveniently located Native Foods just a few blocks away. I have to say, that after having stuff from Native Foods when I was in Anaheim for ExpoWest, I’m not sure about the keenness that people for it as a MUST VISIT (especially in Chicago – where there are so many wonderful locally created options), but it is a great option for a quick bite, especially when it’s around other things you’re doing, or if it’s your very first Native Foods it’s probably worth at least one visit, but of course, I don’t understand the enthusiasm – but I’d love to find out more about The Whys if you are a super fan.

Nachos from Native Foods

We ordered the nachos and the “wings” to share, and got a delicious glass of their lavender lemonade.

wings from Native Foods

I wasn’t into the nachos but JC liked them, the wings though, breaded and dipped in buffalo or ranch were exactly what I needed for a late breakfast/lunch before we continuing our walk through Millennium Park and the Magnificent Mile towards our penultimate stop –  The Peninsula Hotel, where I made reservations for late afternoon tea for JC’s birthday at The Lobby.

The details about which will have to wait (and I don’t want to over sell it, but it was a great time) but we are, and will continue to still be on the road. More coming soon!

Native Foods (there are 3 in Chicago) – 218 S Clark St, Chicago, IL

4 Responses

  1. That’s really interesting that you’re not that into Native Foods. Different strokes! 🙂 I really love it, and while I totally agree that there are lots of awesome local options in Chicago, which I love hitting when I’m there, I also like visiting Native Foods when I have a chance. Since I only get to have it a few times a year, it doesn’t feel like I’m missing out on something unique for a chain I could get any time. My town is lacking in good vegan options, and I would be really happy to have Native Foods where I live. I like it that they have a fun, varied, all-vegan menu, aren’t too expensive, and they offer wine too. Plus, they make one of my all-time favorite sandwiches, the Oklahoma Bacon Cheeseburger.

    • I guess I don’t want to say I’m not into it, just that I’m not like super duper excited about it. I suppose I feel a bit more enthusiastic about it than say a Chipotle or something. But, that said, I think it would probably be really cool to have one in Toronto.

      I’ll have to try the Oklahoma Bacon Cheeseburger, because I suspect I’ll be back at a Native Foods location at some point on this trip.

      Thanks for the extra insight, I’ve definitely been curious about this one.

  2. I loved the AIC too, Nick and I spent hours in there when we visited Chicago. I’m definitely a Native Foods mega fan, they make the kind of tasty comfort food that I love and it’s pretty different to anything I can get in the UK.