Monday, February 12, 2007

Chicago, Chicago

by Barbara D'Amato

Where shall I go?
You’re planning a trip to Chicago?
You live here and you have your in-laws coming to visit and don’t know what to do?
You live in the suburbs and know you should take advantage of the city but don’t know where to start?

We have the solution.

I have spared no expense to bring you a carefully selected group of Chicago experts to give advice, my fellow blogopolitans.

Michael Allen Dymmoch says, “Depending on the person, The Art Institute, The Cultural Center, The Fine Arts Building (410 S Michigan Avenue), the Holograph Museum, 26th & Cal. We would travel by El of course. And a car trip up Lake Shore Drive. “

Marcus Sakey says, “Two choices leap to mind immediately: the Poetry Slam at The Green Mill, and "Too Much Light Makes The Baby Go Blind," the sketch/improv show run by the Neo-Futurists. And for bars, I gotta go with Jakes (2932 N. Clark), a perfect example of the Chicago tradition of amazing corner bars. Oh, and the Hopleaf. Sheffield's, too. The L& L. And I love Brick's, the subterranean pizza joint, for pitchers and great pie.”

Libby Hellmann says, “The Botanic Gardens... even in winter... they have a lovely greenhouse and usually an interesting exhibit or two... for drinks, I’d go to the Signature Room on the 95th floor of the Hancock... then to the Parthenon in Greek Town for dinner.”

Sara Paretsky says, “In the summer, I always take visitors on the Architectural Foundation boat tour. I think people need to see the Rookery, no matter what time of year. The cultural center does neighborhood tours. Bronzeville is a wonderful trip, a microcosm of African-American history in Chicago and by extension, America. Time at the DuSable museum is included. “

Kevin Guilfoile says, “It depends on the individual, of course, but I'd probably take them to The Hideout or the Beat Kitchen or the Elbo Room or out to Fitzgeralds, depending on who's playing where. In the summer, I'd take them to Wrigley. I love the Sox, but for a neutral party a day at Wrigley is all around more fun. After the game, I'd run up to Sheffield's as well and then maybe over to the Music Box for an old noir film. In the winter it would be burgers at the Billy Goat and then a Hawks game and then Harps at the Brehon Pub (site of the infamous Sun-Times "Mirage" corruption sting). Most folks who come visit me from out of town want pizza and while I'm personally still a NY, fold-it-over pie guy at heart, Lou Malnati's gets my vote for deep dish.”

I have to second Michael’s mention of the car trip up Lake Shore Drive. If you can possibly manage one in the daytime and one at night, you get two splendid, different views of a magnificent city. People who have not visited Chicago before are amazed, looking for steel mills and stockyards and finding a waterside more beautiful than New York, certainly the equal of Rio or San Francisco. I totally agree with Sara on the boat tour of Chicago architecture. Even if the guest doesn’t start the tour with an interest in architecture, he or she will end up fascinated.

And last, Greek restaurants. Friends from New York, San Francisco and Europe have told us that the Greek restaurants in Chicago are the best in the world. My personal favorite is Greek Islands at Adams and Halsted, while Libby favors the Parthenon, but the whole Halsted Street Greektown is good.

Chicagoans out there – what Chicago offerings do you like best?


Rob in Denver said...


Reading all of those makes me nostalgic for days past. I grew up in Urbana, but went to school in Chicago for a couple of years.

It's not like Denver sucks, but Chicago is such a great city. I miss it.

Blind Camel said...

The Architectural Society Boat Tour for sure! I never get tired of it. Also...

A hot dog at Hot Doug's on California...

A veggie burger and fries at George's Hot Dogs on Damen...

A steamed bagel sandwich -- try the Greg-O -- at Chicago Bagel Authority on Armitage.

A beer at the Map Room on Armitage...Sheffield's on Sheffield, of course...Lemmings on Damen...Danny's on Dickens.

A martini at Club Lucky on Wabansia.

A glass of wine at Webster's wine bar, the best low-brow wine bar anywhere.

A trip to Barbara's Bookstore on Wells...then to Quimby's on North...then to Myopic on Damen.

A music night at Schubas on Belmont...or at the Old Town School up on Lincoln.

Breakfast at Lula on Kedzie...or Cozy Corner on Milwaukee...or Salt 'n' Pepper on Lincoln.

Dinner at Green Zebra on Chicago...or at Spring on North...or at Sola on Lincoln...or at Coast on Damen.

An afternoon shopping stroll all around Bucktown/Wicker Park...get a sandwich at Goddess & Grocer on Damen, then start wandering.

The Chicago Botanic Garden -- which I'm looking at out my office window right now -- is indeed way underrated, a total oasis in the middle of the north suburbs...stop by Little Louie's for lunch over in Northbrook, if you happen up this way. Best fries.

Park at the Lincoln Park Zoo, wander through, then take the footbridge across to the lakefront -- after it thaws -- and walk all the way down to Michigan Avenue...have lunch or a drink up at Nomi, perhaps out on the deck...and then wander all the way back to your car. An easy five-hour roundtripper -- or longer, if you want to take your time -- that can include nature, commerce, good drinks and food, and plenty of time to think...

Alright, back to work...but this was fun!

RP said...

My picks:

Garfield Park Conservatory - gorgeous greenhouse, accessible by El

any place where you can see the lake and the skyline

Barbara D'Amato said...

rob--thanks for your nostalgia. Come visit. And blind camel and rp --
great suggestions. The Garfield Park Consrvatory and Barbara's Bookstore and Webster's. And I forgot Millennium Park because it's new, but visitors love it.

Kent said...

A trip to Buddy Guy's Legends before it closes, and, for the best beef brisket in the city right now, a stop at Smoque BBQ over on Pulaski and Grace. And a second on Hot Dougs. My wife created the hot dog man cartoon character.