Apparently, students at Michigan State University know how to partyand how to eat after one.
The fast-casual restaurant Conrad's Grill ( 1422 N. Milwaukee Ave.; www.conradsgrill.com/ )a staple in the university's city of East Lansing, Michiganhas made its first foray outside that state, selling its delicious ( and very filling ) items in Chicago's Wicker Park area.
And this place specializes in what are called "tot wraps"wraps loaded with meats, cheeses, sauces and, yes, tater tots. It's a twist on the fries that some have stuffed in their wraps.
The selection of tot wraps Is staggering, and intriguing. For example, the O.G.C.T. contains chicken tenders, mozzarella cheese, lettuce, tomato, hot sauce and a choice of sauce; and the Jemalty, a giant wrap laden with grilled chicken, ham, bacon, tater tots, cheddar cheese, sour cream, BBQ sauce and ranch. ( Any wrap can be customizedjust let Cameron and Joe know. As for another question some might have, no, there isn't a cardiologist in the restaurant. )
I tried the Hangover Helper, which contains a sinful mix of scrambled eggs, double sausage, American cheese, mayo and tots; and ( later ) the ever-popular Dweeb, an olio of chicken tenders, bacon, tots, cheddar cheese, mac 'n' cheese bites and extra ranch. These items are so filling that I could only try half a wrap in one sittingmeaning you'll definitely get your money's worth.
But waitthere's more. Sides include pickle fries ( exactly like they sound ), broccoli-cheddar bites, mozzarella sticks, waffle fries and other items. The brownie may seem like an afterthought, but it's actually one of the best I've tried recentlyespecially if it's warm.
If you're hungry, Conrad's Grill is a can't-miss option. And it has the cutest mascot, a dog fittingly called called Tot. ( I'm sure Tot is the reason for the fire hydrant-accented bench in the restaurant. )
Swissotel's Santa Suite
Tis the season: Chicago is now enveloped in seasonal and holiday wonder, with there being some truly memorable offerings to experience.
Take the Swissotel's Santa Suite ( 323 E. Upper Wacker Dr., 41st floor; santasuite.eventbrite.com ), in which a five-room presidential suite has been converted to a seasonal wonderland. The theme "Christmas Around the World" is reflected in the 16 inspirational Christmas trees from countries including Greece, Peru, Germany and Mexico.
And this family-friendly environment has something for everyone, from a bar for adults to activities such as face-painting and letter-writing for kids ( and, ahem, a few "older kids," as this one wished for world peaceand vacation tickets ). Adults and kids also have the opportunity to sit on Santa's lap.
And since this is a food column, it would only make sense to discuss the goodies there as well. The night I went featured waitstaff with pumpkin-bisque shooters and other hors d'oeuvresbut there's also a large table of sweets ranging from M&M-filled cookies to miniature cotton-candy items. In addition, there are ( or were ) 22,000 pieces of candy in canisters and on dishes throughout the suiteand they are for the taking.
The suite offers elf-guided tours and visits with Santa throughout the month on Saturdays from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Sundays from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.
By the way, do you want to stay here overnight? It is possiblefor just $2,500 a night Monday through Wednesday starting this week. Other packages include a Holiday Treats Package starting at $209 a night and the Elf Decorated Room Package starting at $349 a night through Dec. 31. These packages include overnight accommodations, access to the Santa Suite, and milk and cookies before bed.