Still think all the fun in Chicago only happens between the Water Tower and Grant Park alongside Michigan Avenue? You just need to walk a little farther south to discover what you’ve been missing. The Museum Campus area slightly south of Grant Park is a gem that deserves more attention. And it’s definitely more fun than the name sounds, especially if you’re not in the mood for extra learning in a museum on a Saturday afternoon. Besides featuring the Adler Planetarium, the Shedd Aquarium and the Field Museum of Natural History, the Museum Campus area is surprisingly also a great place for beautiful scenery, relaxation and, of course, food that may just blow your mind.
If you take a walk down Michigan Avenue towards Museum Campus, you’ll realize that there’s much more green space than just Millennium Park. Formal Gardens is a narrow stretch of lush grass alongside Michigan Avenue, just south of Grant Park, where the sculptures of people walking in this green oasis seem to be at odds with the modern, urban buildings all around. Yet, they tempt passers-by to pause and take a closer look, wondering if they look exactly the same as the sculpted crowds rushing by in this fast-paced world without paying attention to what they might miss along the way.
If rice-wrapped cucumber and fish rolls are the only images that come to mind when you think of sushi, then Niu B will redefine the word for you. Here, sushi comes in forms beyond the imaginations of those only used to C-store sushi. At Niu B, a variant of sushi called “Mango Tango” is made of mango slices wrapped around rice rolls delicately placed on a pool of bright yellow mango sauce. “Cherry Blossom,” made of a big scoop of spicy tuna covered with a generous amount of sliced avocado in the form of a green ball-shaped “blossom,” tastes as tantalizing as it looks. And there’s more than just sushi here. Sashimi platters, Japanese ramen, western lamb chops and Chinese sesame chicken are all highly-rated dishes. Niu B may have a humble appearance from the outside, but the delicious cuisine that it offers will challenge anyone who merely judges it by its looks.
It can sound ridiculous to travel an hour from campus just for brunch, but Yolk may be well worth it, especially if you want to treat yourself with a fancy, innovative, yet well-priced brunch to kick-start your day. Yolk is an expert at breakfast food. The restaurant offers traditional comfort foods like eggs Benedict and pancakes. However, if you’re feeling adventurous, challenge yourself with a waffle covered with sausage gravy or tortilla chips for breakfast. While these recipes may seem a little nutty, they’re all tried and true dishes that are popular among regular customers. Omelette fans can indulge in five different types of omelettes with names such as “Iron Man Omelette” and “My Big Fat Greek Omelette.” Plus, if you’re feeling extra creative, you can build your own skillet or omelette. Who says breakfast food has to be the same everyday?
The Burger Bar got its name for a reason. Their huge and juicy burgers are guaranteed to satisfy anyone’s burger craving. You can easily find different types of burgers ranging from bison, lamb and shrimp to a traditional beef burger. Still, most diners choose to build their own burgers by adding their favorite ingredients. Burgers without fries are incomplete, and the special truffle fries here are the perfect side for a flavor combo like no other. Expect the bar to be a little noisy and crowded over the weekends, but keep in mind that if you need to wait a while for your order due to the crowd, the waiters will bring you fried pickles.
Aurelio’s really emphasizes its family pizzeria concept by advertising its original family recipes, in contrast with other chain pizzerias. The spacious dining area and the outdoor seating on the second floor are perfect for large groups looking for refreshing and fun dining experiences. It may be slightly pricier than pizza places in Evanston, but Aurelio’s is known for its generous dosage of cheese–a blessing for cheese addicts. Also, if you order the extra crispy thin crust, the crispness will be an addictive contrast to the thick cheese on top.