Chicago Dogs, Craft Beer, and Mid-West Hospitality

The notes for this story were gathered in September of 2019. A time that seems so long ago as the experiences and people met for this story were curated during a pre-pandemic world. But, I along with so many others had know idea just how much our world was about to change.

In an effort to do some housekeeping on all of the places I put notes and ideas for stories, I began sifting through a myriad of journals, scraps of paper, and electronic notes. In doing so I came across my musings about Chicago and decided to resurrect this story for you. I hope you enjoy.

I have had the privilege of visiting Chicago several times and let me say, every time I am completely blown away. This is an amazing city brimming with fantastic food, a great but somewhat hidden craft beer scene, fantastic bars, beautiful parks and literally some of the nicest people I have met while traveling in a large major US city.

The beautiful Chicago skyline at night

For me, and perhaps many others, my perception of Chicago was hot dogs with bright green relish, deep dish pizzas, and the Ell. But let me tell you, this city has so much more to offer to someone who chooses to visit.

“The Bean” aka Cloud Gate

And while this city is chock full of amazing food (seriously need to try the Italian Hot Beef sandwich from Al’s), great beers, impressive museums, gorgeous parks, and wonderful public art, the one thing that stood out for me in what is one of the largest US cities, are the people. Everyone is genuinely friendly.

So it is this friendliness, coupled with some amazing beers and bacon that I want to share with you a place that I believe embodies all things Chicago.

The Centennial Bar is nestled just off the corner of North LaSalle Drive and Superior Street. This local establishment focuses its efforts on craft beer and high quality food. Having visited twice during our time in Chicago, the Centennial came to embody what is for me a complete representation of all the wonderful things that are Chicago. Great people, great beer, and great food. Like all good discoveries, we stumbled upon this place in the never-ending quest for new beers and unique foods.

The Centennial is carved into a beautiful 4 story building that dates back to 1888 and welcomes the thirsty visitor with an exposed wood, brick and metal design that perfectly complement each other to create a welcome and relaxing vibe in which to enjoy one of the many rotating craft beers on tap or in the bottle. And if you are hungry, the food is of exceptional quality and what one would expect of a gastropub all while not being pretentious, just delicious.

Chris, the bar manager of Centennial who is just as passionate about great beers as I am and is ready and willing to help take you on your journey into delicious beers. If you are new to craft beer, Chris has an ability to help you dial in your flavors and taste to help you choose the best beers to suit your palate.

While Nikki is the kind of great server that has the gift of making you feel comfortable and welcome. Within just a few moments of meeting her we were all talking like friends. Hailing from the west coast, she has made Chicago her home as she pursues her educational endeavors. Also, if she, or anyone suggest that you order the house smoked bacon, do yourself favor and order the bacon. It really is that good and is great as a side to some of the many delicious beers available.

The genuineness of both Chris and Nikki truly embody the spirit of Chicago. So the next time you find yourself in the windy city, stop by Centennial and have a pint or two. You never know, you might just make some new friends. At the least, you will have some great beer and delicious food.

Locals and visitors enjoying the good food and beers at the Centennial Bar

Our stories, and the experiences that write them would not be what they are without the people we meet on our journeys. These once strangers act as the all important thread that holds the tapestry of our experiences together. Without the people that we meet, our travel experiences seem to be more mundane. The great food is no longer an experience, just lunch. The amazing art and architecture, just a painting or mural that we barely notice in or on a building. You see it is the people that we meet that create the connection for us to these things and allow us to truly enjoy them.

Taps just waiting to be pulled to serve a thirsty patron

As I have procrastinated on releasing this story, I know that Chris has moved on professionally, yet continues to stay in touch with the good people of the Centennial. While on the other hand, I’m not sure if Nikki is still working there or not, but because they both were such an integral part in our experience I have left them in the narrative.

Until next time, wishing everyone peace and good vibes.

Cheers!

Welcome to Our Travel Blog

Sunset at Jaco Beach, Costa Rica

Thanks for stopping by and checking out my blog. This is something that I have wanted to do for a while now, and thanks to the encouragement of my beautiful wife and favorite travel companion as well as several friends, I decided to take the plunge. Here you will find short musing and pictures on my journeys across this glorious planet and occasionally my thoughts and ramblings on life and the impact that travel can have on an individual.

But first, a bit about myself. I am a husband to an amazing woman and my number 1 travel partner, Andrea. Second, I am a dad to 4 great kids. It is my hope that my travels inspire my children to pick up the mantle of travel and to discover what this amazing planet has to offer.

My Favorite Muse

My love for travel unwittingly began as a child when my parents moved to Central and South America to perform missionary work. It is at this moment that I know that the seeds for exploration and discovery were surreptitiously planted in my subconscious. Then at the age of 18, I found myself back in Central America as a part of the US Armed Forces. So you see, my formative years were spent seeing and experiencing so many wonderful places, people, cultures, and food.

Evening in London

But enough about the past. Let’s talk about the present. Today I am an avid traveler and lover of new experiences. My goal when I travel is to try and immerse myself into the local culture by trying new foods, drinks, and local customs. My best travel experiences have been afforded to me when I allow myself to simply get lost within a city. Taking side streets that look interesting and sometimes daunting have led to some of my best meals and pictures.

Street artist in Berlin

My hope is that this blog will allow you an opportunity to experience the beautiful art of travel through my writings and camera lens. I truly believe that our planet and the many different people and cultures are connected much more closely than we understand. Yet, the key to that understanding is simple, we must go and experience it for ourselves. And while I know that the cost of travel can be a barrier, I hope that this site provides you with a small glimpse and inspiration into wanting to discover something new for yourself.

Fried shrimp and sardines in Madrid

My goal for this blog is simple, to give you the reader an opportunity to see the world through my stories and photos. I hope that it will inspire you to book a flight or simply get in your car and go see something new and different.

Andrea and I on the coast – Northern Ireland

Peace and good vibes to everyone.

“Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one’s lifetime.”

— Mark Twain