BuddyRoadhouse and I have gone over the notes I wrote up for this trip and have come up with some loose plans.
Wisconsin people, your input is going to have a lot of influence over what we do here. As I’ve stated before, I am highly recommending you take Metra to get into the city. But where you start from could significantly determine the timing and length of our day.
Catching the Union Pacific-North train in Kenosha has obvious advantages because it’s closest to you. To make it into the city (Ogilvie Transportation Center) by 10:16am, you’d need to get on the 8:34am train. Getting home at the end of the day presents more complicated options and you may decide to catch the train in Waukegan instead.
If you start from Kenosha, there are two return trains in the evening. The first leaves Chicago at 5:45pm and arrives at 7:25pm, which could cut short our day. The next one doesn’t leave until 9:35pm and arrives in Kenosha at 11:15pm, which might be too late for some folks.
If you start in Waukegan you could catch the same train into the city at 8:55am and still arrive at 10:16am. The biggest advantage is the additional option for a return train, leaving Chicago at 7:35pm and arriving in Waukegan at 8:50pm. Another plus is that you can take 94/41 to Waukegan and still avoid any tolls!
Buddy also made the case for everyone meeting at his house in Des Plaines at 9:30am and then carpooling to the local Metra station to catch the 9:44am train on the Union Pacific-Northwest line. That way we all ride down together and arrive together. Plus, there’s more flexibility for return trains. One leaves the city at 6:30pm and arrives in Des Plaines a little after 7pm. There’s also an 8:30pm train that gets in just after 9pm.
The Wisconsin folks are most affected by the schedule as they have the longest trip home. Once we settle on those logistics we can back into the timing and itinerary for the rest of the day.
Whichever starting point you decide on, make sure you get the $8 Metra Unlimited Weekend Passes available for purchase on the train. Normally it’s $9.75 each way
from Kenosha. Those passes are non-transferrable and there needs to be one per person.
Our first stop will be The French Market inside the Ogilvie Transportation Center. From there we’ll take the Water Taxi to multiple stops in Chinatown.
There are several potential Chinatown stops after we’re dropped off at Ping Tom Memorial Park: BBQ King House
2148 S Archer Ave
(#1 on the list): “Feast like a king but dine on a dime at this Chinatown Square restaurant. The family-style dinners provide more than enough food and value for the cost. Like Sun Wah’s popular Peking duck dinner, the one offered here—for $33.88—serves 3-4 people and includes crispy duck bao sandwiches, duck bone soup, shredded duck and fried shrimp. Or if you’d rather order a la carte items, there’s also whole roasted pork, soy sauce chicken and more.” Qing Xiang Yuan
2002 S Wentworth Ave
(#13): “What started as a Chinatown food court stall is now a full-fledged restaurant. The specialty here is made-to-order soup dumplings filled with a number of options including lamb, pork, beef, chicken and seafood. The dumplings are served without broth but each one holds soup-y goodness inside and makes for a delicious snack or meal. Oh and don’t forget to order some of the well-seasoned skewers either.” Chiu Quon Bakery & Dim Sum
2253 S Wentworth Ave
We’ve been here on a few past tours and it’s always a favorite, especially the pork buns.
(#4): “Buns and pastries are just as important to Chinese cuisine as any savory dish so you’ll definitely want to grab some from Chiu Quon. The sweet and savory buns are inexpensive and make for a quick snack, while other popular items include egg tarts, sesame balls with bean paste, almond cookies and more. Stop in and you might walk out with a box of treats you never even knew about.” Little Lamb Hot Pot
2201 S Wentworth Ave
(#10): “For a more hands-on meal, head to this Mongolian chain for some hot pot action. Pick a broth and then select meats, seafood, veggies and more to cook tableside. It’s a communal dining experience that gets only better with a large group, giving guests an opportunity to try a sampling of items.” Xi’an Cuisine
225 W Cermak Rd
Just read this nice little review
from Kevin Pang of the Chicago Tribune (he’s the same guy whose guidance we used on the Fox Valley Taco Tour that Buddy organized last year.) Slurp Slurp Noodles
2247 S Wentworth Ave
in the Tribune, but from a different writer.
Hing Kee (website seems to be down)
2140 S Archer Ave
(#7): “With an extensive menu that covers Chinese, Japanese, Thai and Vietnamese fare, Hing Kee is certainly not short on options. We recommend skipping the spicy tuna rolls, though, and sticking with the traditional hand-pulled noodles and xiaolongbao—tasty soup dumplings that are among the best in Chicago.”
From Chinatown, we’ll head back north on the Water Taxi to the still-developing Riverwalk area. There are different vendors depending on the season. Most of the vendors we know about tend to be on the touristy side, so I am seeing it mostly as an opportunity to view some of the world’s most incredible architecture from a unique vantage point while doing some people watching and working up an appetite for our last stop, Eataly.
It’s about a half-mile walk from the Riverwalk to Eataly. We should plan on spending a solid two hours or more at Eataly. When we’re ready to leave, it’s a short walk back to the Water Taxi which will take us right back to the Ogilvie Transportation Center and the trains back home. Here’s an interactive map
of our potential stops for the day.