As I mentioned yesterday, I could not be more thrilled that the UFC is taking over my hometown. Yesterday's guide was for the fighters who need to stay healthy on their trip to the Chi. Today's guide is for the people who are saying "I'm on vacation. Bring on the combo Italian sausage/beef."
Friday: The autograph session, with Clay Guida, Dan Henderson, Rashad Evans and Miguel Torres, is at the Swissotel from 10 a.m. - noon, and the weigh-ins are at the Chicago Theatre at 3:00 p.m. That gives you three hours to sample some of Chicago's legendary food. If you're willing to part with the cash, go to Morton's and get yourself some prime Midwestern meat. It's a nice stroll from Swissotel to Morton's to the Chicago Theatre. For a cheaper, but also amazing meal, take a short cab ride to River North for Portillo's. Their menu is large and varied, with everything from Chicago-style hot dogs and Italian beef to chop salad. No matter where you decide to eat, rest assured that you are feeling better than those fighters who are about the jump on the scale. After weigh-ins, take a stroll through Millennium Park, Chicago's beautiful green space built on top of an old train depot. Before you head out for the evening, have a drink while enjoying a fantastic view of the city at the Signature Room on the 95th floor of the Hancock Center. (Note - the Signature Room is a bit fancy schmancy, so you don't want to show up in your Affliction t-shirt and jeans.)
Saturday: If you want to stay close to the arena, head to nearby Melrose Park for lunch at Danny's. I highly recommend the fried meatball sandwich. To add some culture to your trip, head a few miles east to Oak Park, where you can check out the home of both Frank Lloyd Wright and Ernest Hemingway. You can do a walking tour of Wright's groundbreaking homes, and still have time to head back to Rosemont for dinner. Harry Caray's excellent restaurant is close to the Allstate. It's well known for its chicken vesuvio, but my favorite is the peppercorn steak.
Staying downtown? Pick up some of Chicago's world famous pizza for lunch. Though Pizzeria Uno is the best-known, my favorite is Giordano's. After lunch, avoid Michigan Ave. and the hordes of tourists looking for Garrett's Popcorn and the American Girl Store. Instead, get a view of the city by boat. Check out the Chicago Architecture Foundation's boat cruise. It seems nerdy, but I promise that you'll enjoy it. Then head out to the Allstate to grab some dinner with Harry Caray and go watch the fights.
I realize that I didn't mention all of the wonderful places to visit in Chicago, but this is a nice sampling of what my city has to offer.
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