Walking The Loop

My last interview was this past weekend, and while I enjoyed jet-setting somewhere each weekend this past month for the sake of school, my body is exhausted, and is telling me so through cyclic fevers (every night!) and I most likely have a bacterial sinus infection…great.

Even though I wasn’t feeling my best, I did my best to enjoy some good eats in Chicago, which included the following…

When I landed, got myself to the hotel, and by the time I reorganized myself, it was 2PM local time. Even though it was raining outside, that wasn’t going to keep me from getting to Native Foods in The Loop.

After walking across the River Walk, I did my best to follow a picture of a map I saved on my phone. It took some time, but about 45 minutes later, I found the entrance I was looking for…

Native Foods Cafe Chicago

Native Foods Cafe in The Loop, Chicago

To say I was excited would be an understatement. This location was smaller compared to the Culver City one I ate at last year, but I liked the cozy feel it had. And for being a rainy Thursday at 3PM, there was still a moderate crowd.

InsideNativeFoodsCafe_Chicago

table for one | fun posters | display case

I ordered the Chicken Run Ranch Burger with a side of veggie gumbo. I didn’t come in knowing that that was what I was going to order, since if I went with what I knew would be tasty, I would have ordered the nuevo native nachos. But I did want to try something new, and ranch seemed to be appetizing at the time.

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I just got water, but their drinks are refreshingly good too :)!

The wait was about 10 minutes, and then my waiter brought this over:

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Chicken Run Ranch Burger – Crispy battered Native Chicken, ranch dressing, romaine, carrots, and onions. What everyone would eat if chickens ran the ranch!

Hard to see, but the bun with the “chicken” was coated with ranch underneath it—YUM! The veggie gumbo had the right amount of rice mixed in, and I loved the earthy green hue it gave off (though it looks brown in the photo?)!

demolished all of that gumbo | full bowl of gumbo topped with brown rice | close-up of burger

demolished all of that gumbo | full bowl of gumbo topped with rice | close-up of burger

After consuming my late lunch, I layered up and braced the rain once again. I made my way to West Madison to find, and try, my first cupcake from a Chicago Crumbs Bake Shop. Obviously the cannoli one I had in NYC did not annihalate my Crumbs cupcake craving—it only made it stronger!

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Walking on West Madison in the late afternoon.

I finally found it, and was not attacked by falling ice:

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Crumbs Bake Shop, West Madison – Chicago

This shop was smaller than the location I visited last, and there was no seating.

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Back of Store

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Front of store—lack of seats

The selection was smaller as well. Notice the featured cookie dough colossal ;).

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The smallish cake display.

I decided to go with the Milkshake flavor, and it was packed in a box and bag for to-go consumption.

I didn’t want to risk losing a single crumb, so I knew that eating on the go wasn’t going to be an option. Instead, I found a huge glass-walled building with benches near the walls (or windows?), and thought that would be the perfect place to enjoy my cupcake, as I could people watch at the same time.

Crumbs Milkshake Cupcake

The Crumbs Milkshake Cupcake—cream-filling!

It figured to be an awesome decision, and choosing this flavor was a success as well! After scraping up the very last chocolate sprinkle, I headed back to the hotel since recruitment weekend was starting with an event that evening.

If I said that my foodie adventures ended there, however, that would be a blatant lie. Along with being well-nourished by the program I was interviewing with, I knew I could not avoid making a second Crumbs Chicago stop—the Water Tower Place location was steps away from the hotel I was staying at, and had to be visited.

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menu sign | shoppers getting their sugar fix with cupcakes | people ahead of me making an order | counter for pick-up

I went with the red velvet cupcake for no specific reason, and it took me about ten minutes to find a place to sit down and dig in! Water Tower Place was extremely busy on Saturday afternoon, and even though I wouldn’t have usually given any mind to it, I was starting to get warm and feel sick, so finding a seat somewhere was an unpleasant task.

When I finally found a spot on the fourth floor, I ate my way from the center out, hoping that there would be a cream filling in addition to the mountain of frosting. Unfortunately there wasn’t, and this cupcake wasn’t anything special compared to the milkshake and cannoli flavors I tried previously. Oh well, 2/3 isn’t so bad.

How to eat a crumbs bake shop red velvet

How to eat a Crumbs cupcake…

But then again, I probably couldn’t taste the true flavor due to my sinus infection.

Do you seek out unique places to eat when visiting some place new, or do you seek out “chain-like” places and compare them to other locations you’ve visited?

Native Foods Cafe on Urbanspoon Crumbs Bake Shop on Urbanspoon Crumbs Bake Shop on Urbanspoon

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10 comments

  1. Ashley says:

    I love Native Foods! I’ve been to both Colorado locations and I’m always happy to see that they’re usually pretty busy. I’ve mostly tried the salads there but when my sister gets the nachos, I always have to steal a few because they’re so good!

    • P says:

      Their salads sound awesome but I always get sidetracked by their entrees. I love ordering meat-free versions of otherwise meat-centric meals!

  2. Irina says:

    I’m loving your Chi city adventure! I’ve never been to Native Foods Cafe (it was always on my bucket list though), but I’ve tried the Chicago Diner (another vegan restaurant) and loved it. Next time you’re in Chicago (wink, wink ;) ) we can go!

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