Four years ago, I spent my summer in Chicago, working for a small paper company as an “interactive marketing associate.” I lived with four other girls (my aunt helped me set up my living situation because I didn’t really know anyone in Chicago) and it was the first time I lived without my family being an arm’s length away. Everyday, I’d walk to the El and do the reverse commute to my office, work for 10 hours, and then head home and place tennis with one of the neighborhood girls. It was a pretty great summer – I had some friends from college living nearby and we would explore Chicago, I was being independent and making money, and I was in really great shape because I played tennis all the time. After long nights of tennis, we would walk to Taylor Street to Mario’s Italian Lemonade stand and pick up large cups of Italian ice – I’m a big fan of Italian ice and Mario’s Italian ice/lemonade is the best I’ve ever had:
I’m not positive what Mario’s background is, but I’ve been told that Mario was just a guy from the city that didn’t graduate high school, but opened up a shop near UIC and has been there for over 50 years. His ingredients are simple but good – fresh fruit, real lemon juice and lemon peel, ice, and sugar. My favorite lemonades are the watermelon and cantaloupe:
They use huge chunks of fruit in all of their Italian lemonades/ices – the fruit is partially frozen and tastes really good with the lemony ice. The only thing Josh didn’t like about the Italian lemonade was that there were huge chunks of lemon peel in the lemonade as well (I like eating it but he wasn’t a fan and spit it out).
Mario’s isn’t open year round – they open in mid-May and close after Labor day (I think). The lines are really long during the summers, but it’s worth the wait!