Well, I was in Chicago for 5 and a half hours last night/this morning. I think it's the shortest period I've been in town since I moved there (if that makes sense). And as much as I love my city, if you only have 5 hours to be in Chicago, 1 to 6 AM Monday morning may not be your best bet. But it was worth it to see my sleepy girlfriend for a few minutes.
But I have bookended Chicago with meals at two of my favorite restaurants: Lo-Lo's and Men Kui Tei. And if that's not worth traveling 2,400 miles, I'm not sure what is.
Last year when I was in Phoenix for the Phoenix Improv Festival, one of the festival after-parties ended up at Lo-Lo's Chicken & Waffles. I'm not sure if the year's worth of raving I've done since had anything to do with it, but this year a visit to Lo-Lo's after the Friday shows was on the official festival schedule, with reservations and everything. I was told we were going to be sitting in a newly-built section of the restaurant, which made me worried that the essential nature of Lo-Lo's had changed. I was relieved when we got there that Lo-Lo's had certainly not moved from their dimly-lit industrial/residential neighborhood and that the new addition, while it did seat 20, was just as charmingly awkward as the rest of the house-turned-restaurant. Lo-Lo's has a fair variety of soul/southern food, but I stuck with the meal I've been craving for a year: pretty good fried chicken and one of the best waffles I've ever had.
Lo-Lo's Chicken & Waffles
10 West Yuma St
Phoenix, AZ 85003
"Still closed on Mondays"
And here in New York, I had lunch at Men Kui Tei, a little noodle shop just down the street from work. I really need to get out and explore all the food possibilities available in NYC, but it's tough when there's such great noodles waiting just half a block away. Today I had the Char-Shu Ramen, which is the Shoyu Ramen (soy sauce flavored noodle soup) with extra slices of roast pork. The pork was tender and tasty, with just the right amount of fat, and I finished off every drop of the broth.
Men Kui Tei
60 West 56th St
New York, NY
"We DO NOT accept any type of CREDIT CARD"
And on the way back to work I saw that Print on 56th has a big selection of English candy bars in their front display, so I got a Cadbury Dairy Milk Turkish for an afternoon snack. Not quite as good as a Big Turk (I prefer a higher Turkish Delight-to-chocolate ratio) but still delightful (no pun intended).