My Kind of Town.

I was lazy when coming up with a title. I went with the classic song by Frank Sinatra about you guessed it, Chicago.

I had a great conversation today with my good friend form class Zoe. As we talked about our hometowns, Chicago and L.A., Zoe mentioned she had never been to Chicago.

Of course I got so pumped and probably had diarrhea of the mouth talking about it and talking about it.

But before I could get 1/100th of what I wanted to out, we had to start class. So in class I was inspired to give my own Chicago tourism guide and post it here. But first a couple things:

-fellow Chicagoans, feel free to correct me, or add your own things in comments

-I’ll be studying Spanish here in Ann Arbor this summer during July/August and will be in Chicago during May/June. Point being if anyone visits Chi-city and wants to meet up for lunch or a baseball game, feel free to contact me!

-Here is a quick background of my Chicago credentials so that way you can decide if I’m legit or not. My family on my mom’s side grew up and lived in a North side neighborhood called Lincoln Park. The neighborhoods near downtown are really expensive and drive a lot of the blue collar families north or south. So they moved to a town called Park Ridge that is the first burb outside city limits. I’ve made it to the Lakefront from my house in 18 minutes. At 14 I took the Metra train and then a CTA (Chicago Transit Authority) bus to get to high school – a prep school on the near west side, St. Ignatius. I was on the crew team there and the first two years practice was on the North side and the next two years on the South side. After high school I’ve worked construction all over the downtown area every summer. So I guess I think I have my Chicago chops from growing up near the city, taking all forms of public transportation, (even the El train), driving on the Kennedy Expressway every morning, driving all over the grid system downtown and rowing on the nasty ass Chicago river and watching the sunrise from a view not many Chicagoans have seen. But ultimately, my Chicago chops are determined by my readers.

So if you get a chance to come to Chi-town, here are some places I think you gotta go to:

Cubs game. It kills me to say this, because I am a White Sox fan but if you want the Chicago experience, tourist style hit up a Cubs game. Sure there will be some old timer die hard fans there who have been waiting 96 years for a World Series, but mostly Wrigley is a big beer garden party for younger people and just an overall good time. I would argue theĀ real Chicago experience is taking the red line (El train) to 35th and going to a Sox game. That’s the blue collars who are hootin an hollerin all game and will talk your ear off about anything from Mayor Rahm to the great Chicago fire and more. White Sox games are cheaper and the park is more modern, but Wrigley is just a national treasure. It’s like the freakin Colosseum. The ivy, Old Style beer, and they do have great french fries there. Plus Wrigleyville (the surrounding neighborhood is vibrant and lively and has plenty of bars you can go to before and after the game.

Navy Pier. Not a lot of out of towners know what this is. But it’s pretty fun. There’s a huge ferris wheel, funhouse, and millions of boats dying to take you out on the lake so you can get a view of the whole skyline. Just eat before you go here, food is pricey and mostly chain restaurants.

Sears Tower (not Willis Tower, that’s so dumb) or John Hancock building. Either are great for views of the city, but the Hancock is closer to the lake and on a perfectly clear day, you can see the opposite shores of Michigan. At least that’s my experience. It be Indiana though, but either way.

-Michigan Ave. So this is called the Magnificent Mile and is full of all kinds of shops and restaurants and places where if you have money to spend, you’ll spend it here. Something on Michigan Ave that’s cool is ‘the Bean’ which you should take your picture by. It’s at Millennium Park and is just pretty neat. It’s also like 200 yards from the Art Institute of Chicago which has some really cool shit.

-I think that’s it. I mean there’s really an infinite amount of things you could do or places you could go. You could take your picture with the Michael Jordan statue outside the United Center, you could go to the Shedd Aquarium, the Adler Planetarium, the Field Museum (with Sue the dinosaur) or the Science Museum (which has a German U-boat). You could eat at Ditka’s, go to North Avenue beach for the day or even find a bar or restaurant since they’re everywhere and for the most part all of them are good.

-As for food, I’ll give you only a few because there is a million places. Chicago has this thing called the Italian Beef sandwich. Now, there is a chain in Chicago called Portillo’s and you can get it there and it’s decent but it’s not the best beef in Chicago. There are two places I’d recommend for a beef sandwich. Mr. Beef on Orleans St. and Jonnie’s Beef on North Ave. in Elmwood Park (a neighborhood north of downtown). So amazing. Jonnie’s has great fries and also Italian ice. But the best Italian ice is a place only open during summer on Taylor St. called Mario’s. It’s this little shack that has like 20 flavors and they’re all good and refreshing. For a Chicago style hot dog, you’ll want to check out Wiener’s Circle on Clark or actually Portillo’s, I gotta give it up to them they make a mean Chicago style dog. For non carnivorous options, you can check out so many pizza places. Chicagoans don’t really eat Deep Dish, because it’s just something we’re used to. But if you’re visiting you gotta try it. You’ll laugh next time pizza house tries to say they are serving Chicago pizza. You can go to Pizzeria Due or Gino’s East or Oven Grinder’s. All solid choices for pizza. For those over 21, you have to try Old Style beer, 312 beer and if you are an east or west coaster you have to try Summer Shandy – so good.

 

Sorry for the super long post, but if you’re ever traveling to Chi-City, check out some of this stuff and I know you won’t be let down. There’s really something for everyone and there’s so many unique things, just like every city or town. They all have great things to offer and I’m glad I got to share some of Chicago’s with you.

 

-Matt

(Go White Sox)

One thought to “My Kind of Town.”

  1. I’m from Wilmette, so I found your post to be particularly intriguing. You mentioned that you asked others to determine whether you were “legit” or not. I think this is a uniquely big city thing. No one questions whether I’m “a legit Wilmette resident.” However, New York, Chicago, and Detroit residents look down on people who are from the surrounding suburbs. I think there’s a strong sense of pride among urban residents, and they dislike the suburbanites thinking that they’re from their city.

    I absolutely agree with most of what you’ve said–Portillo’s and Cubs games are awesome. However, I disagree with your choice in pizza. Burt’s Place in Morton Grove has, hands down, the best pizza in all of Chicagoland–dare I say world. You really need to check it out.

    I really like what they’ve done with Millennium Park. It’s a very nice area to take out-of-town guests and spend the afternoon there. I’m going to be back there in May, and I will likely be hitting up that area. I can’t wait to dive into Lake Michigan once it starts to warm up too!

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