Jaime Haywood’s City Guide

target :: world market :: west elm

When we travel, it is best to know the places where the residents hang out. I asked Jaime of It’s A Jaime Thing to tell us about her favorites places in Chicago. She has been more than generous by sharing her number one places.

At Home with Kim Vallee (AHWKV): What are your favorite home decor shops?

Jaime: I’m a Target girl. Other favorites of mine are Crate & Barrel, Z Gallerie, West Elm, Pier 1 Imports, World Market, Pottery Barn, Restoration Hardware and Hobby Lobby.

AHWKV: What stores do you go for housewares?

Jaime: If I had a million dollars, I’d say Williams Sonoma hands down.  I used to love Marshall Fields (a historical Chicago favorite) until Macy’s bought them out. Macy’s is great too though, I can’t complain.

AHWKV: As far as you know, what are the trendiest shops right now in Chicago?

Jaime: For beauty, I’d have to say Sonia Roselli Esthetique and Asha Salon & Spa. For unique gifts, The Afternoon in Oakbrook Mall.  If you’re in Chicago looking for clothes, we have the best shopping around!  Just take a walk down the Magnificent Mile on Michigan Avenue, but be sure to wear comfy shoes. You’ll be shopping all day.  It’s pure shopping heaven! One of my favorites is Water Tower Place.

There really are too many stores to name. My favorite malls, Oakbrook Center located in Oakbrook, IL and Woodfield Mall located in Schaumburg also have some of the trendiest shopping – if that’s what you’re looking for.  They’re actually well-known tourist attractions, believe it or not!

AHWKV: What are your favorite restaurants in Chicago? It is for the food, the decor, the ambiance, the service?

Jaime: I promise you, the absolute best restaurant in the Chicagoland area is J. Alexander’s in Oakbrook, IL. They serve off of an American menu, with mouth-watering tender juicy steaks and delicious seafood, however you can also get finger foods or a yummy burger there too. The wait staff and bartenders are friendly and always remember you. They give you the best service, even if you’ve been there only once before or never before. The atmosphere has a jazzy contemporary feel with warm dimmed lighting. You can dress up or dress down – everyone is welcome. They pour an excellent drink and their pricing, compared to many “high end” restaurants, is extremely affordable. Seriously, if you go there, you’ll want to move here just so you can eat there all of the time. I know – I sound like a commercial, right? We just love it, it’s our favorite place!

Other wonderful restaurants in the Chicagoland area include Rosebud Restaurant if you like Italian food, The Oven Grinder for their fabulous Chicago pizza pie, Bob Chinn’s 34th Street Fishery in Lisle, IL., if you’re a seafood fan like me, and the famous Portillo’s for Chicago-style hot dogs, beef and Italian sausage! Oh, see now I’m getting hungry!

AHWKV: Which restaurants in Chicago serve the best brunch?

Jaime: I adore La Pinta in LaGrange, IL – it’s a great tapas place. Enjoy “High Tea” at The Four Seasons Ritz Carlton in Chicago – it’s quite lovely!

My absolute favorite place for brunch though is Omega Restaurant in Downers Grove, IL., it’s been around for years, the pricing is super affordable, they are fast, the food is always good and hot and it’s just a classic around here! My family used to take me to Omega Restaurant when I was little for Mickey Mouse pancakes. I still order them! Keep in mind, if you’re staying downtown Chicago, the suburbs are only a very short train ride away – they’re easy and they run all day!

AHWKV: Where do you go on a girl’s night out?

Jaime: Well, in my early twenties, my girlfriends and I would often dance the night away at downtown clubs or even ones in the western suburbs. If you’re visiting Chicago and love the bar and nightclub scene, the intersection of Rush & Division is where it’s at.

My favorite high-end, high-style nightclub right now is Stone Lotus. Just go to have the experience of bottle service. Once. Warning, it’s expensive! Really expensive. Maybe not for Paris Hilton, but for the average girl it’s a little insane.

I really love John Barleycorn, it is also fabulously fun; but a tad bit more down to earth and a lot more affordable. If you’re looking for something a little different, head on over to The Red Head Piano Bar located downtown – so much fun! Of course Navy Pier is great too.

If you are visiting Chicago, it’s fun but drinks are expensive. It is completely normal to expect each drink to cost between $10 to $15 in the city. Once you hit the suburbs though, it goes down a little, around $7 to $10/drink, depending on where you go. Also keep in mind that if you’re driving expects to pay a lot for parking! You’re best to walk or take a cab. We have a million cabs here, no worries – you won’t have to walk too far in those high heels!

Now that my friends and I are getting older and many of us have kids (ok I don’t have kids yet – but hopefully sooner rather than later!), girls night is usually spent at each other’s homes, with good wine and good conversation! Though occasionally we still like to dance our butts off.

AHWKV: Which restaurant do you prefer for a romantic evening?

Jaime: For a romantic evening, the best places are of course, my favorite, J. Alexander’s in Oakbrook, The Signature Room and The Signature Lounge (offer gorgeous views of the city) at the 95th and 96th floors of the John Hancock building in Chicago, IL., Wildfire Restaurant in Oakbrook, IL and Rosebud Restaurant in Chicago. There are so many, those are just a few of my personal favorites.

AHWKV: What are the best places for a family dinner, possibly with young kids?

Jaime: As I mentioned before, Omega Restaurant in Downers Grove, IL is great. Buca Di Beppo is a fun family-style Italian restaurant. You can even request to sit in the kitchen! Another fun place for kids to eat is Gino’s East, for pizza. Great pizza and a fun atmosphere. I haven’t been there in a while, but you used to be able to draw on the walls – what kid doesn’t love to draw on walls?! Too much fun! Though double check that, I suppose things could have changed since then. I also think many of the restaurants at Navy Pier are wonderful!

If you’re planning on staying in the city, there are several kid-friendly places. Your best bet is to ask your hotel concierge and they’ll be able to direct you to the best one nearest you. Chicago is a pretty friendly place, people here are usually happy to help. Just watch where you’re walking, the drivers are crazy here!

Hope that makes you want to come visit my Sweet Home Chicago! You’ll surely find tons to do here if you do. From shopping and restaurants to museums, parks, zoos and the beach, you definitely won’t be bored.

Thanks so much for your interest in my blog, It’s A Jaime Thing. I really enjoyed answering the interview questions and I feel so honored you took the time to read! Have a lovely and inspiring day. Cheers!

1. Budget-happy rugs at Target – starts at $279.99 USD
2. Malika Silk Medallion Print Toss Pillows at World Market – price: $24.99 USD
3. manzanita candelabra + mini taper candles at West Elm – price;$99 USD

  • Julie Richardson
    May 22, 2009 at 12:10

    Hey, just a note – Our favorite place to eat in Chicagoland is Jacks Pizzeria! Their pizza and side dishes are just awesome! Besides CiCi’s, Jack’s is our family’s favorite pizza place anywhere!

    We love the Jack’s that is just down the road from the Navy Base.
    Jacks Pizzeria & Burgers
    1000 N Green Bay Rd
    Waukegan, IL 60085

  • paris travel guide
    June 1, 2009 at 18:04

    I found your blog on google and read a few of your other posts.
    You have a great Blog!!! I just added you to my Google News Reader.
    Look forward to reading more from you in the future.

    Next month I will go to Paris on Vacations and visit Europe for the first time.