Jerseygator's Blog

The Great Western Train Trek: Day 2

Posted in restaurants,travel by jerseygator on October 21, 2010


On our journey from Washington we met an experienced train traveler.  She told us about the “Metropolitan” lounge in Chicago’s Union Station, where sleeper car ticket holders could relax in more comfortable chairs with complimentary coffee/sodas/juice and bag check facilities.  We were happy to learn of this and quickly found the lounge once arriving in Chicago.  After checking our bags we hit the streets for our 3 hours layover.

I’ve been to Chicago many times, but neither my Mom nor McKenzie had seen the city before.  Union Station is downtown, right off Canal Street, so was convenient for a quick tour.  Mid-October I was expecting it to be windy and chilly, but we walked out of the station into mid-80’s temperatures and blue skies.  I asked a local where we could find some good Chicago-style pizza and he directed us to…a mall food court.  After looking around at the Taco-Bell and Subway type stores we walked back out and started walking along the canal.  Another local directed us toward a Pizzaria Uno; a third directed us across the canal where we finally found Lou Malnatis, self-proclaimed “home of the best Chicago-style pizza.”  We ordered a pizza “well done” as opposed to “gooey.”  I’m not a fan of Chicago-style pizza; In the past, I’ve described it as “pizza casserole” because of it’s copious amounts of sauce and stuffing.  However, this pizza was delicious.  It had a bread dough crust cooked to crispiness, a tomato sauce that wasn’t too sweet or too acidic and lots of good mozzarella cheese.  Because each pizza is made to order, the waitress warned us that we’d have a forty minute wait, so we ordered a salad to share.  The salad was also wonderful, with a light, sweet vinagrette and topped with black olives, chopped tomatoes and gorganzola cheese.

After our fantastic Chicago meal we walked back to Union Station where our conductor took our tickets in preparation for boarding.  When we entered the sleeper car we were pleased to find our sleeping accommodations compact but comfortable.  We had booked two sleeper cars, which were across the hall from each other, so we were able to talk back and forth.  The main attraction was privacy and quiet!  As we hadn’t slept the night before I folded out my bed, sent Kenz over to chat with her Memaw and promptly took a 2-hour nap.

Sleeper car reservations include meals.  We made our dinner reservations upon arrival and went in around 7:15.  As there were three in our party we had a fourth addition, Edie from the Chicago area.  She was visiting a friend in Minnesota and would be detraining around 4a.m.  We shared stories about family, friends and experiences and had a fun time while enjoying our dinner.

The dinner itself was quite good.  I had a NY Strip steak, cooked perfectly; McKenzie and Mom both had the chef’s special, BBQ Pork Ribs, and Edie had the oven-baked chicken.  The dinners came with a rather anemic salad (but, hey, we had just had that incredible salad in Chicago!) and rolls.  Everything was pretty tasty and, honestly, much better than I had anticipated.

After dinner we made up our beds and hit the hay.  Kenzie had to “strap in” her top bunk to prevent accidental roll-outs during the night.  As it turned out, this was a good call.


One Response to 'The Great Western Train Trek: Day 2'

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  1. travelingmad said,

    Nice blog. I have never been to Chicago.
    I want to go there at least once, just to try the pizza!

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