Chicago is a city that I have learned to love over the past 7 years. In 2008 I left Rio de Janeiro, Brazil in the Summer, and arrived smack in the middle of a Chicago winter. Let's just say it was not necessarily love at first sight. But Chicago is so beautiful and sexy, it is very easy to fall in love with her. Over the past 8 years I have found some amazing places to practice yoga, eat clean, run, and drink amazing coffee. In fact, the food scene in Chicago is so amazing and the yoga teachers so great that when I travel you will often see me complaining that the food/ yoga scene is not good enough. I know, I have become a Chicago snob. I hope you enjoy my Chicago guide and it helps you fall in love with the city like I did... Even if in the middle of a February 'snowmaggedon'.
Where to Practice Yoga in Chicago
Chicago is a very yogi friendly city with studios sprinkled all over the city. I have a personal relationship with Moksha and Yogaview. Moksha is where I went for my teacher training and Yogaview is where I currently practice. There are also other amazing studios in the city. Here are the ones I highly recommend.
Moksha - Moksha is a gem in the middle of a busy city and its location in West Bucktown is very close to my favorite coffee shop, Ipsento (see the review below). Moksha is a studio with a lot of heart. All of the teachers chant, pranayama is taught in classes, and so is meditation. The studio offers free community classes several times a week in all of their 3 branches. Their Riverwest location is close to the tourist center of the town, so it is easy to reach if you are in town visiting the bean. All of the teachers at Moksha are top notch. I particularly love the classes the owner, Daren Friesen, teaches. I also highly recommend the beautiful and skilled Shanna Linn for begginers. She is very knowledgeable of the human body and she is great with injuries. If you would like to relax, I recommend Mia Park's yoga Nidra. It will probably be the most relaxing 1.5 hours you will ever have in your life. The studio has mats and props available, so you will not have to lug yours around. One of my favorite things about this studio is that it is unpretentious. No need to wear a full face of make up upon getting off bed. Yes - feel naturally beautiful and head to yoga class. No one cares at Moksha.
Yogaview - Yogaview is a beautiful studio in West Lincoln Park. It is a little bit harder to reach if you are visiting the city and staying downtown. However, it is worth the trip if you have the time. It is close to little beans - a great kids play cafe. So, you can drop off your husband and the kids and head for your hour and a half of serenity. The only thing I don't like about Yogaview is that I feel really out of place if I am not well dressed and pretty. It seems like every woman there took at least half hour getting dressed before going into yoga class - something I never do. By the end of class, with my crazy yoga hair I feel really awkward and out of place. But, I keep coming back and I really enjoy Ashtanga with Alexia Bauer every Tuesday, Wednesday, and Friday. She teaches on weekends too, but hey - Chicago is too amazing to be practicing yoga indoors on weekends!
Where to Run in Chicago
If you want to see a beautiful skyline picture of Chicago, start your run in Lincoln Park by the Lincoln Park Zoo's farm. There is a bridge nearby that will take you to the Lakeshore trail. There you can run towards the downtown area - Riverwest. You will see the most beautiful and amazing picture of Chicago's famous skyline. If you go in the morning you will see the sun behind the skyline which makes a beautiful picture. The Lakeshore trail is very long (18 miles) and you can run past Soldier Field. This is my favorite scneic route of Chicago and it is prefect for tourists.
If you want a shorter run or don't want to brave the winds, a good alternative is to run through Lincoln Park. You can start at the south end of the park and run North passing the Farm, the Zoo, the Lincoln Park conservatory, the Alfred Caldwell Lily Pool. You can continue North to the Nature Museum. The park is gorgeous and worth the exploit.
Clean Eating and Green Smoothies
Karyn's Raw - I shouldn't be allowed to review Karyn's raw. This place is located on Halstead in the Lincoln Park neighborhood. I actually moved two streets down so that I could walk to this place every morning for a green smoothie, and every afternoon for a raw chocolate soft serve. Yes you heard me right. R-A-W C-H-O-C-O-L-A-T-E S-O-F-T S-E-R-V-E ! And the owner is a beautiful 69 year old woman who does not look a day past 23. So you go there, eat wonderful food, and get to talk to this amazing woman. My favorites are the green meal smoothie with added spinach, the raw spring roll with peanut sauce, the raw soft serve (chocolate or mint are my faves), the vegan veggie coconut curry bowl, the coconut pie, and the raw vegan apple pie. The only thing you have to watch out for in this place is whether they are using the homemade almond milk on your smoothies. Even though you pay the premium for homemade almond milk, they often use the pacific brand almond milk. Pacific brand is not bad, but it is no raw almond milk and if I am paying 9 bucks for a smoothie it better be RAW! So ask your server.
Chicago Raw - Chicago raw is a hip little tiny restaurant which is really well located if you are a tourist. It is just three blocks away from Michigan avenue so located right in the tourist center of town. The owner is Polly and she is often at the store. She is really nice and loves to talk to her clients and serve them delicious samples! Everything here is top notch and the products she uses are amazing raw brands. Her items are pricey, but you pay for the amazing quality you get. I absolutely love her spirulina and grapefruit and the Macca Pichu smoothie. Cute names, even better taste. This is a must try.
Mana food bar - If you are a vegetarian or vegan this is a must eat. The food here is delicious and the ambience is super cool. It is located in the hip and up and coming neighborhood of Wicker Park. The food is delicious with both vegan and vegetarian options and the drink menu is also outstanding. You can get some tasty green juices, and healthy cocktails. I love the mushroom polenta and the sliders.
Coffee Bars in Chicago
I have a serious coffee addiction. Most days I try to just have my homemade coffee with coconut butter (see recipe here). But, on some days you just need that barista made, specialty coffee. Those strong bold flavors that just swipe you off your feet and wake you up. If that is what you are looking for, Chicago has some great places with some great tasting brews. Here are my favorites:
Ipsento - 2035 N Western Ave, Chicago, IL 60647
This is my favorite coffee place in the whole wide world. It is not located in the Tourist part of town and it may require a 20 min uber ride, but it is totally worth it. The coffee here is amazing, the staff is friendly, and the coffee house is cozy. All regular coffee is direct trade. If you are not familiar with direct trade, it is better for the farmers than fair trade. Fair trade pays 1.50 per pound, while direct trade pays around 4 as they negotiate directly with the farmers themselves. All traditional 8oz drinks use grass-fed rgbt free dairy. It is included in the price, you don't even have to order the RGBT free dairy! This is unheard of in most coffee places out there. If you are like me and you don't drink milk, they also have soy and coconut milk alternatives. The only downside of this little gem is that they only use 365 products and I am not a big fan of the 365 brand. They also have No almond milk alternative, which is my favorite milk alternative for lattes - after all it foams better than coconut milk and tastes better than soy. I highly recommend you get their Nitro Brew Coffee (It's like a beer, but just coffee!) and if you want to try a latte, make sure you get the Ipsento latte..... Best... Latte.... Ever... I had never had cayenne with my coffee, but now I miss it when I don't.
Bowtruss Coffee - Several locations in the city. Check out their website : http://bowtruss.com/
A fellow coffee addict took me to this place recently and I loved it. The coffee is bold, but not too rough. Their drinks are really well made by experienced baristas. The place has a hip feel to it - so don't forget your hipster clothes... The great thing about this place is that there are locations all over chi town, so you are likely to run into one of their coffee houses. If you are vegan like me, they have almond milk (silk brand). My friend is addicted to their flat whites. I had one with almond milk - it tasted amazing. I recommend this place if you can't make it to Ipsento.
Elaine's coffee call - 1816 N Clark St, Chicago, IL 60614
If you take a run in Lincoln Park, make sure you stop here first for coffee. Located at the Lincoln Hotel, I love this hip coffee shop that is filled with local products and amazing fare. The food is produced by the same chef of the Perennial Virant - the amazing Michelin guide restaurant. The coffee is sourced from La Colombe - which is a great local coffee roaster. They offer soy from Organic Valley and almond milk from the Pacific brand - this kind of quality is unheard of in coffee shops.
Big shoulders - 1105 W Chicago Ave, Chicago, IL 60642
If you like strong coffee with bold flavors, I highly recommend this coffee shop. They roast their own beans and their baristas are amazing. I love their almond milk cappuccino, but if you are not a fan of bold flavors I the Marshmallow latte. They also have coffee tastings