vegetarians and diners looking for, say, a low-fat Caesar salad. Diners here can
also choose south-of-the-border dishes, an assortment of Asian fare, and veggie-
oriented, low-fat fare. Special treats include the Miracle Juice Bar's fresh orange
juice and raspberry fruit smoothie, as well as a host of healthy or gooey desserts,
and, at a booth called Sacred Grounds, various espresso-based beverages. A
lunch or a snack at foodlife is basically inexpensive, but the payment method
(each diner receives an electronic card that records each purchase for a total pay-
ment upon exit) makes it easy to build up a big tab while holding a personal
taste-testing session at each kiosk.
In Water Tower Place, 835 N. Michigan Ave. & 312/335-3663. High chairs, boosters. Reservations not
accepted. Most items $5-$10. AE, DC, DISC, MC, V. Breakfast kiosk daily 7:30-10:30am. All other kiosks
Sun-Thurs 11am-8pm; Fri-Sat 11am-9pm. Subway/El: Red Line to Chicago/State.
Oak Tree AMERICAN/BREAKFAST Tucked away on the sixth floor of
the 900 N. Michigan indoor mall (home of Bloomingdale's), Oak Tree isn't
exactly high-profile. But it's one of my favorite places for a meal during a day of
Magnificent Mile touring. The cafe decor is bright and cheery (with nature-
inspired murals to help you momentarily forget that you're inside a mall). If you
can, get a table along the windows that look down on Michigan Avenue. Oak
Tree's draw is the enormous, varied menu. You'll find something for everyone in
the family: a large salad selection, Asian noodles, sandwiches that range from
meatball to duck breast, Mexican quesadillas, and even blue-plate specials such
as turkey hash or a patty melt. The breakfast menu is just as extensive. Oak Tree
can get quite crowded at prime time, with hefty waits, so try to time your visit
900 N. Michigan Ave., 6th floor & 312/751-1988. High chairs, boosters. Reservations not accepted. Main
courses $7.95-$12. AE, DC, DISC, MC, V. Mon-Fri 7:30am-6:30pm; Sat-Sun 7:30am-5:30pm. Subway/El: Red
Line to Chicago/State.
Indulging Your Interest in Baking
While it's not exactly “baking,” Eli's Cheesecake World does enable
dessert fanatics to see the process of baking a Chicago favorite. A visit
to the 62,000-square-foot state-of-the-art bakery starts with a sneak
peek at Eli's bakers busy at work, and ends with a slice of cheesecake.
The bakery also offers a cafe and cheesecake bar, where over 30 dif-
ferent flavors are on sale by the slice each day. The cheesecake you'll
see being made is served up at Eli's, the Place for Steak, 215 E. Chicago
Ave., at Fairbanks Court ( & 312/642-1393 ), a Chicago institution
founded 50 years ago by the late Eli Schulman, who opened a neigh-
borhood delicatessen serving central European comfort foods like
potato pancakes and liver and onions.
Eli's Cheesecake World, located on the city's northwest side at 6701 W.
Forest Preserve, at the corner of Montrose Avenue ( & 773/736-3417 ),
hosts tours Monday through Friday at noon (although reservations
aren't necessary, call to make sure the bakery isn't closed for periodic
maintenance). The 40-minute tour costs $3 for adults, $2 for children
under 12, and special packages are available for groups of 10 or more.
For more information, check out www.elischeesecake.com.