Magnificent Mile

Staying downtown Chicago for work? One of my favorite things to do when I’m in the Windy City and find a spare moment or two is to walk down Michigan Avenue’s “Magnificent Mile.” I love to wander into the three story, sports-themed NikeTown, or the open, airy Apple Store (one of just a few flagship, stand alone locations in the country). You don’t even have to go into any of the shops to enjoy this walk – the window shopping at the more than 450 upscale department stores and boutiques such as Neiman Marcus, Bloomingdales, Sax Fifth Avenue, Gucci, Coach, and Ralph Lauren is awesome. Take in the atmosphere of this gorgeous, bustling street, melt into the crowd of beautiful people and forget all about work – for a little while anyway.

Go to http://www.themagnificentmile.com/ to see where it is, get a list of shops and restaurants, see what’s happening/special events, etc.

A Fave Mag Mile Activity:
If I have time, I love to take the elevator up to the Signature Lounge on the 96th floor of the John Hancock building for a cocktail or soda (open 11am – 12:30 weekdays/1:30am weekends) It’s free to ride up the elevators that are dedicated to the restaurant and worth every penny of the slightly elevated price of your drink to enjoy it in front of floor to ceiling windows getting a bird’s-eye view of the city.
(Note: The building is located at 875 North Michigan Avenue – However, the elvator to get to the restaurant/bar is located on the south side of the building) http://www.signatureroom.com/

Get Your Irish On

The James Joyce Irish Pub, is in the growing Harbor East neighborhood of Baltimore and has a very cozy and authentic Irish Pub atmosphere (or what I assume is authentic as I’ve never actually been to Ireland…yet) Typical “pub grub” is bountiful (burgers and fries, sandwiches and wraps) but the best bets are the traditional Irish dishes. Listed on the menu as “Irish Favorites” these include offerings such as, Fish and Chips, Shepards Pie, Corned Beef and Cabbage, and Irish Lamb Stew.
I actually just sat at the bar last time I was there (it’s my usual spot at this venue and many others) and had a delicious steaming bowl of hearty potato soup and bread with a pint of Guiness. Hardly gets any better than that.

Menu: Casual “Pub Grub” and traditional Irish fare (casual prices)
Faves: Potato soup and anything on the “Irish Favorites” menu, and last but not least, the Guiness
Extras: Besides the cozy atmosphere and hearty food, I love the very Irish bartender (old enough to be my father) who has a tendancy to call me “darlin'” and “luv” (I realize this is not necessarily a plus for my male readers :>)

James Joyce Irish Pub
616 South President Street
Baltimore, MD 21202
410.727.5107
http://www.thejamesjoycepub.com/

Little Italy in Baltimore

Cafe Gia’s is right on the edge of Little Italy on the East side of Baltimore’s Inner Harbor. The food is good and the prices are moderate which makes it a great option for business travelers. But it’s the bright, fun atmosphere including huge murals of old-fashioned Italian posters painted directly on the walls and tables of this small Italian restaurant that makes it one of my favorites when I’m in Baltimore.

Menu: Italian (Lot’s of pasta and other hearty, traditional dishes)
My Faves: Eggplant Parmagian (Slices of eggplant are the thinnest I’ve ever had.)

Cafe Gia
410 South High Street
Baltimore, MD 21202
410.685.6727

Bon Apetite!

La Bonne Soupe is a cozy little bistro in mid-town – just perfect for solo dining or a casual dinner with a colleague. You walk down the stairs into a small dining room that’s bursting with energy. (Note: There’s seating upstairs too with choice seats on a small balcony outside in the summer.) I generally prefer to be seated on the first floor amid the hustle and bustle with tables crammed so close together you almost don’t feel like you’re dining alone.

Menu: French bistro fare
Faves: The house special – A bowl of hearty soup that comes with salad, bread, drink (house wine, beer, coffee or soda) and dessert for under $20.00.
Recommendation: If what you order doesn’t come with fries – get some -You won’t be sorry! (yum!)

La Bonne Soupe
48 West 55th Street (Between 5th and 6th)
NY, NY
212.586.7650
http://www.labonnesoupe.com/

A Walk To Bryant Park

I had about an hour and a half after my last meeting ended and before my colleague was meeting me for dinner so I answered a few quick emails, put my cell phone in my pocket and headed out of my mid-town hotel. Since I didn’t have a lot of time I decided to make Bryant Park my destination and so I headed off toward Times Square, took a left on 42nd Street and made my way over to the park.
For those who’ve never been, Bryant Park is a lovely mid-town oasis between 5th and 6th Avenue and 42nd and 44th Street. There are numerous tables and chairs scattered throughout the park where you can unwind with goodies from one of the 4 ‘wichcraft kiosks (each kiosk carries different items from sweets and coffee, to sandwiches etc.)
There are also events in the park year round – concerts, theater in the park, ice skating and from early November – early January you’ll find “The Holiday Shops at Bryant Park” which features over 100 boutiques, artisans, designers and food merchants from around the world.
You can go online http://www.bryantpark.org/ or you can follow them on Twitter (BryantParkNYC) to see how to get to the park, find out what’s going on and where you can grab a drink or a bite to eat and then next time you’re in mid-town and find yourself with a few spare minutes — take a walk and experience this lovely NYC park.