My Personal Chicago

10 04 2007

As I mentioned in my last post one reason I haven’t posted here lately is that I’ve been planning a trip. We just got back from a 5 day trip to Chicago. Our total food budget? 118.52 for four people for 10 meals. That works out to be $11.85 a meal for four people or less than $3/person/meal. Of course this was helped by Hilton HHonors and a friend picking up a rather hefty dinner tab (thank you John!). This brings me to two new ways to eat cheap: friends and freebies!

Friends are great-especially when they pick up the tab! John graciously paid for dinner for our whole family which saved us the expense of one night’s worth of food. Was it cheap? No! Was it good? Yes! Do I recommend doing this all the time? No! Friends are great when you treat them like friends and every now and then they might just surprise you with a nice treat.

Freebies are usually free for a reason. Really, how many plastic bags with some organizations logo do you really need or, when it comes to food, how many stale cookies do you really want from the tray at your local bank? When it comes to hotels, though, free breakfasts and manager’s receptions can be great. We stayed at the Chicago Hilton Towers and are Gold members. How did a cheapskate like myself get Gold? The cheap way, of course! Open an HHonors American Express card, spend a certain amount and become Gold. What does being Gold with Hilton Hhonors get you at a Hilton hotel? A free breakfast and nightime appetizers. The first day the breakfast was a wonderful world of omelets, fresh squeezed juices, and an assortment of meats, breads and fruits to fulfill the hungriest of morning persons! After that first day we were relegated to the executive lounge. A traditional continental breakfast, accented by an assortment of hot teas, fresh juices, and coffees. Was it excellent? No, but it was good enough to satisfy us. The nightly reception would not make my cheap eats list based on health, but it sure was good. Nuts, cheeses, crackers, and veggies along with a traditional bar menu appetizer rounded out a filling, but not necessarily exciting meal.

By saving on dinner and breakfast we were able to hit some great restaurants for lunch. The Chicago Diner for vegan/vegetarian cuisine, deep dish at Giordano’s, a world wide delight at Medici’s, and a splurge at the Oak Room at Marshall-Fields (Macy’s).