What
  • BEST HOTELS
  • BEST RESTAURANTS
  • THINGS TO DO
  • RUNNING STORES
  • RUNNING & TRAVEL GEAR
Where

Author: Coach Denise Sauriol

Coach Denise Sauriol

Joined In Aug 2019

About Me

Legacy Ambassador

I have been running since the first grade. Running is still my BFF! The 2018 Chicago Marathon was my 100th marathon and my 24th time running Chicago. (And during my first one, I thought, "Never again." After I finished, I changed my tune to, "What else can I do?") Since then, I've competed in marathons all over the world and I'm a huge proponent of racecations. I believe the best way to see another city is on your feet. I most recently published my first book, "Me, You & 26.2: Coach Denise's Guide to Get You To Your First Marathon." The book echoes what I tell my coaching clients, whether I've been helping them get to their first mile or their first 100 miler. (As an Amazon Associate, Racertrips LLC earns from qualifying purchases.) I'm fueled by pizza and doughnuts, which you'll see on our Best Restaurants in Chicago page.

Activities

Wide Selection of Traditional & Vegan Pizzas
5.0

My body would freak out if it ate a vegetable! But when I tried Dimo's, it was so good I couldn't even tell it was vegan!

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Go-to Spot for Italian
5.0

One of my favorite Italian places in the whole city. It's my go-to spot for Italian, and I've never had a bad meal there. This is the wine bar and small plates spin-off of Riccardo Trattoria, which is a fine dining restaurant across the street.

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Scrumptious!
5.0

Stan’s Donuts is scrumptious. I love ALL doughnuts, but my doughnut of choice at Stan’s is the cherry old-fashioned. Although Stan’s has multiple locations around the city, the one on Michigan Avenue is centrally located to where many of you will be staying. Do you love doughnuts as much as much as me? You may be interested in the Stan’s Donut 5k in August. In addition to water stops, volunteers help you “refuel” on the course by handing out doughnut holes. There are also doughnuts at the finish line!

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A Scent You can Smell for Blocks
5.0

It is soooo good. You can smell it for blocks. My favorite flavor is the Caramel Crisp—you get sweet and salty all in one bite.

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Enjoy Two Chicago Favorites in One Visit
5.0

3 Greens Market is part coffee shop, part food buffet, and part cafe serving burgers from a favorite Chicago spot. You can dine outside or inside at traditional tables or choose a more relaxed seat on a large sofa or armchair. It’s a casual but nice place, and it’s near the kayaking outfitter I recommended. It offers a way to enjoy two other Chicago favorite’s in one visit and without the wait: juicy burgers from Au Cheval and doughnuts from the Doughnut Vault.

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Yummy Burgers Paired With House-made Sodas
5.0

DMK Burger Bar is my favorite burger place! I highly recommends the guac burger. It’s yum in the tum! The burgers are made from grass-fed beef, and you can pair them with house-made sodas, specialty shakes or a craft beer.

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Funky Tiki Cocktail Bar
5.0

A trip to this funky tiki cocktail bar will make you feel like you’re really “in the know.” Three Dots and a Dash prides itself on being a secret hideaway: The entrance is literally in an alley. Once you find your way there, you’ll find yourself choosing from a selection of more than 200 rums and exotic cocktails like Too Many Chiefs, Idle Hands and the Zombie (which appears on the menu with two skulls next to it for its potency), the (enterand on its unique cocktail concoctions. It was even named one of the World’s Best 50 Bars by Drinks International. Food wise, there are small plates and appetizers. If you are looking a full meal, maybe stop here for “dessert”! Note: You must be 21 or older to enter. Not a good place to bring the kids!

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Enjoy the Riverwalk Without Worrying about Snow
5.0

Outdoor dining is hugely popular in Chicago, but unfortunately, our summer season is way too short. That’s presumably why City Winery at the Riverwalk has embraced a clever new way to extend the al fresco dining season: river domes! These river domes are climate-controlled outdoor bubbles that allow you to dine outside, enjoy beautiful views of the city and the river, and not worry about rain, snow or wind. The only downside is that they don’t return for the season until Oct. 10. If you’re here for a few days after the marathon and the temperatures drop, you know where you can head to still be able to enjoy the Chicago Riverwalk and surrounding scenery!

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One Word: Yummy!
5.0

The steak at Chicago Cut can be summed up in one word: Yummy! In addition to the tasty food, there’s a great view of the river.

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Fun, Lively Atmosphere
5.0

Quartino’s is an Italian restaurant ideal for groups and families. The fun, lively atmosphere makes it a great choice for families with young kids: The kids can be loud and won’t be disrupting anyone. The restaurant serves up heaping plates of tasty Italian food family style. You may not want to dine here the night before the marathon, however, because they’re also generous with the butters and oils.

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Don't Try to Tackle Dessert by Yourself!
5.0

I go here for the steak and the ginormous macadamia nut ice cream cake. Don't try to tackle this dessert by yourself!

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Comedy and Improv at its Finest
5.0

This is comedy and improv at its finest, and Second City helped to launch the careers of countless famous alumni. They do have several shows and multiple theaters. Their shows change regularly, so I recommend going to the newest show on the Mainstage Theater. The theater itself is intimate with individual chairs placed around small cocktail tables. Expect to be sitting close to the people around you. While you can order food and drinks, you don’t have to. (There is no food or beverage minimum.)

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Budget Friendly Hotel on Wolf Point of Chicago River
5.0

If you’re looking to save a few dollars on your lodging, consider the Holiday Inn Chicago Mart Plaza River North. It’s a nice hotel located on Wolf Point of the Chicago River, and it’s not terribly far from the starting line (1.3 miles). Taking the El or a bus from here to the starting line isn’t a straight shot, so on marathon morning, you may find it easier to grab a cab, Uber or Lyft to at least get you closer.

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Cozy, Intimate Blues Experience
5.0

If you want a cozy, intimate blues experience, this is the place to go. There isn’t a bad seat in the house in this small, authentic venue, which has music 6 days a week (closed Mondays). Doors open at 8 pm, and the music starts at 9:30 pm. B.L.U.E.S. is also located across the street from Kingston Mines, so if you’re up to for two places in one evening, it doesn’t get any more convenient.

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Complete your Chicago Trip
5.0

The facility is fairly large compared to the many smaller, intimate blues bars. This can make it easier to get a seat (especially at the end of a set), although there’s no guarantee. I’m not sure how this fits into your plan to be well-rested for the marathon, but the music plays on into the wee hours. The cover charge is also fairly reasonable.

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Beautiful View of Lake Michigan
5.0

For a beautiful view of Lake Michigan, walk all the way to the end of Navy Pier. The wind picks up here, but it’s worth the chill to take in the view. This end of the pier also features the 8-ton anchor from the U.S.S. Chicago, a warship that was funded by the citizens of Chicago and that saw action in World War II, Korea and Vietnam.

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Enjoy Lite Fare and Gorgeous Views
5.0

Café Brauer is a Prairie-School-style architectural building completed in 1908 and listed on the National Register of Historic Places. While the building itself is a special events venue, visitors can enjoy lite fare and gorgeous views of Lincoln Park and the city skyline on the patio restaurant.

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Crowd Pleaser for any Pizza Eater
5.0

This Chicago favorite is a crowd pleaser for any pizza eater. Gino’s East offers delicious deep dish pizza in a setting that encourages kids and adults alike to write on the walls—literally. Bring your favorite pen or Sharpie. You can’t go wrong with any order here, but if you’re going to the location near Michigan Avenue, I strongly recommend going early or coming prepared to stand in a long line for a table. Not much for standing in line? Reserve on OpenTable for their River North location (address below), which is also home to Gino’s Brewing Company and The Comedy Bar.

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Best Spaghetti and Meatballs in the City
5.0

A hidden gem! They have the best spaghetti and meatballs in the city. The owner, Mario, will even come out and greet you at the table. This cozy, neighborhood favorite is located on the first floor of an apartment or condo building on a residential street in the Gold Coast. With only 25 tables, I recommend reserving a table in advance.

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