It all started with a debate among geographically diverse and well traveled friends. What city truly laid claim to the country's best pizza? What about barbeque? Roast beef sandwiches? Don't forget a summertime favorite, bratwurst. Thus began the great debate that heralded the birth of the first annual "Cruising Chicago Cuisine" tour.
Thirty seven friends, brilliantly synchronized to land at Chicago's O'Hare airport over a two hour period, boarded our Chicago Charter Bus Rental to begin our culinary adventure.
Day #1, boarding our charter bus with an armload of data pulled from the internet we set out to debunk the Chicago pizza myth. Pizza preference, it turns out, lies in the taste buds of the beholder. Votes split along regional lines with winners Ed & Joe's Restaurant, representing traditional Chi-town pizza and the trendy thin crust, wood fired version served up at Trattoria DOC.
Day #2, with the Chicago Charter Bus Rental idling at the curb, we pile into our seats with visions of sauce-laden ribs and hindquarters dancing in our heads. Joe, our bus driver needed no directions, as the aroma of barbeque seemed to guide us onward to our eventual, hands-down winner - Gale Street Inn.
Day #3, after talking with Windy City locals, we quickly were enlightened to the existence of a Chicago specialty - the Italian Roast Beef sandwich. There is no place we were more enlightened, reaching a culinary epiphany, than at Johnnie's Beef in Elmwood Park. Au jus soaked Italian bread, piled high with tender slivered roast beef. Add a touch of marinara sauce, caramelized onions and green peppers, and you have a near-orgasmic taste sensation.
Day #4, when we filed out of our hotel, to once again board our Chicago Charter Bus Rental, sporting our mix of Chicago Cubbies wear, Joe was smiling from ear to ear. In an all knowing tone he simply said, "Awww...Chicago dog day, huh?" Partaking of dogs from the simple to those so embellished that you need a knife and fork, we settled instead on food chain relative -the Bratwurst. Found at Hot Doug's, a mouth-watering brat known as the "Paul Kelly" won us over with the first bite.
Four days, a million laughs, and several pounds later, our charter bus now burgeoning close to its weight limit, delivered us back to O'Hare for our travel home. What's a few extra hours on the treadmill? Chicago - it was worth it!
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