Killing Time in Chicago

That job interview I mentioned elsewhere is coming up next week, so I’ll be in Chicago from Wednesday to Saturday. Any recommendations for particular sights to see, places to eat, things to do?

You could try to rebuild the underworld in an atempt to take over the city.

Go to the top of the Sears Tower by walking up the stairs.

Also: run Chicago marathon; swim across Lake Michigan.

Check out the german sub at the science museum.

Chet

Pitch or hit for the Cubs. They need all the help they can get!

If you go see the German sub, you can check out the history of video games exhibit while you’re there: http://www.msichicago.org/gameon/index.html

Go to Millenium Park, although I don’t know if you can see Cloud Gate (aka The Bean) right now or if they’re still buffing out the seams.

Way too many places to eat to suggest, what kind of food do you want? Gino’s East in River North for the deep dish pizza is good, to get the stereotypical (not in a bad way) food. Going to the Signature Room in the John Hancock can be interesting (95th floor and windows all around, good view and not too expensive lunch buffet.) My personal favorite is Heaven on Seven, a Cajun fusion place on the seventh floor of the Garland building on Wabash, across from Marshall Field’s. If you go there for lunch, you may want to get there a little early, as a line usually builds up and you could wait a long time for a table. Sitting at the counter could be faster, and if you sit near the kitchen sometimes they’ll throw a little extra something your way. Cash only at that location, but they’ve expanded into some other locations and take credit cards there.

If you plan on doing some drinking, you’ve got lots of options too. Wrigleyville or Lincoln Park neighborhoods have a lot going on up north, Rush street closer to the Loop and more widely known.

All this advice is from a guy who hasn’t worked in the Loop for about 3 years and for whom going out with the boys means taking my 4 year olds to the park in our suburban glory, so what do I know :)

Have fun though, there’s definitely fun to be had.

Definitely see Millenium Park.

Gino’s East and Pizzeria Uno and Due have great pizza, but they’re not true Chicago-style, and they’re not the best. What you want is Giordano’s. The best branch (surprisingly) is the one right near Uno, among all the tourist traps by Navy Pier.

Good “real” restaurants: Mas, on Division; Dish, on Southport; El Tinajon, on Roscoe. El Tinajon is Guatemalan. Try the Moza Dark beer, it’s the shit.

If you want a tall building experience, the John Hancock’s viewing deck is better than the Sears Tower’s. I read that security there had gotten super tight, even for residents, after 9/11; I don’t know if that’s changed.

The Art Institute is world-class, and is full of hot Euro chicks at this time of year.

If you want to see bands, check the Empty Bottle, and take a cab. Do not walk around near there, no matter what.

If you want to hit on clueless Midwestern blondes, any bar in the areas mentioned above will do. Get a Big Ten baseball cap and T-shirt before entering. If fat Goth girls are more your taste, head to Neo on North Clark Street and dance very slowly. If you want to listen to genuine hipster chicks unsmilingly dropping names of local non-celebs, seek the Rainbo Club on Damen south of Division. Do NOT smile yourself, except ironically.

If you want to contract HIV from a streetwalker, get on North Avenue downtown and drive west until you pass under a bridge. Then just slow down. Pick a really fat one, as she’s less likely to be a cop.

If you want to gamble your rental car in illegal street races, cruise Kedzie after midnight between roughly 55th and 75th. Keep your doors locked, and if anyone tries to flag you down, run them over and floor it out of there.

If you don’t want to pay for a hotel, enter the enormous Rosehill Cemetery shortly before the gates are locked and hide in the tall grass. Behind a triple-trunked tree near the center of the grounds you’ll find a grave marked “JOHN MANY JARS, MUNDUS VULT DECIPI.” Sleep on the grave. At midnight you will dream of a seven-foot-tall gentleman in black. He will offer you your heart’s desire in exchange for a seemingly innocuous service. Keep him occupied with knock-knock jokes until sunrise, and you will go to Heaven when you die.

Take it from a local, dude.

What, proper fucked?

What, proper fucked?[/quote]

Whatchoo talking 'bout RyWillis???

Waitaminit.

From 1998 until 2002, I lived very near the Empty Bottle and walked there at least 2-3 times/week to see bands and hang with the folks who ran the place (happened to be friends from college). It’s not nursery room safe, but for a big city it isn’t bad. Never had my house broken into, and the one time I had my car busted into, it was because I was stupid and left a cd player on the front seat. Duh.

The best Chicago-style pizza in the world can be found at a place near Lincoln Park, in the “Clybourn Corridor”. It’s called Pequod’s, and I was steered there by locals and long-timers who all swear it’s the best on the planet. I’d have to agree with 'em. What’s also validating is that anyone I’ve ever taken there comes away a true believer as well. Look for the big Moby Dick sign…

Violent crime, especially by teens, is way up citywide in 2005, after many consecutive years of decline — no one really knows why. It started in January, when it’s usually too damn cold, and has continued unabated. Maybe it’s some kind of astrological thing. :(

What, proper fucked?[/quote]

Whatchoo talking 'bout RyWillis???[/quote]
That’s my too-obtuse way of saying that telling someone to drink a dark brown liquid because “it’s the shit” is probably not the best way of putting it.

I generally agree with Mr. Many Jars’ advice (although I can’t vouch for that last bit about the cemetary). However, I’m at a loss as to how he arrived at the conclusion that Uno and Due don’t serve “true Chicago style” pizza, as Uno was the place where the deep dish style was first created. In any event, if you want to sample deep dish-style pizza, you can’t go far wrong with either of these or Giordano’s.

As others have pointed out, Chicago’s a big city, and there’s way more than you can explore in that limited amount of time. Of the museums, the Art Institute is the only one located in the immediate Loop area and is walkable from Leo Burnett’s offices and in all likelihood from whatever hotel you’re staying at. The others, including the Field Museum, the Shedd Aquarium and the Museum of Science and Industry require transportation to get to. The CTA and free, trolley-type shuttle buses all go to these from the Loop, ask at your hotel for specifics. However, if you decide to go the Musuem of Science and Industry, make sure you take transportatin that goes directly there. Unfortunately, that’s not a neighborhood that you want to wander around in.

As umpty-ump natives sternly explained to me when I arrived for college in 1988, “real” Chicago-style means “stuffed,” not merely deep-dish, pizza. Giordano’s, Edwardo’s, and a lot of little places serve stuffed pizza, (though they also refer to it as “deep dish” on their menus). I’ve never seen stuffed pizza outside of the city, whereas great deep-dish pizza like Gino’s and Uno’s can be found in a lot of places.

In a stuffed pizza, the toppings aren’t on top, but are layered between the crust and a second crust made of a solid disc of cheese, and most of the sauce is on top of the second crust. The result is like a thick, dense pie — in the sense of apple pie — made with pizza ingredients.

The natives I met also lectured me about how “you don’t put ketchup on a goddamn hot dog.” I try not to be too passionate about such things myself, since I’m not a native and never will be, but if someone coming to town wants something unique and regional, I always take them to Giordano’s. :)

I guess it depends on the natives. My understanding is that both “deep dish” and “stuffed” are Chicago creations, and, therefore, both properly identified as “true” Chicago style. Deep dish was created at Uno’s and stuffed by Giordano’s. In any case, I’m not a “true” native, having lived here for 15 years, which, alas, is only a fraction of my old fart existence. Anyway, like many Chicagoans native or otherwise, I prefer thin crust.

As for the Chicago-style hot dog, they put that god-awful yellow mustard on it. That’s all I need to know. It proves that there are some things that Chicagoans don’t know as much about as they think they do.

Excellent suggestions so far.

One I would add is to take an Architecture Cruise.

If baseball is your thing, the Cubs are in town all of those days (unfortunately, the Sox are not). The games are most likely sold out . . . but tickets are always available, if you know what I mean.

As for food, I suggest trying an italian beef sandwich. I miss those things more than I do the pizza.

Thanks for all the suggestions so far, keep 'em coming if you have more. I’m going to put in Project Gotham 2 and brush up on my own knowledge of the city.

Hey to all you natives and ex-natives, drop me PM or something if you’ve got more in depth info on living in Chicago in general. In the event of a job offer at this interview, I need to know what I’m going to be dealing with for getting on my feet in a new city. What’s a good area to get an apartment? I would assume some suburb somewhere is best, and then ride the train in to work (Leo Burnett’s office is on “the loop” I keep hearing people refer to, wherever that is), but I’d have no idea which suburb. It’s just me on my own, so a decent single bedroom apartment or whatever is what I’d be looking for. I need to figure out roughly what moving expenses would be, that sort of thing.

Better yet, anyone in Chicago need a roommate?

One last dining suggestion: If you like Mexican food, Chicago is the home of Rick Bayless and his Frontera Grill, and it’s walkable from Leo Burnett’s offices.

“The Loop” is a term generally used to describe the downtown Chicago business district. It derives its name from the elevated rapid transit tracks (“The El”), which form a “loop” around most of the central downtown area.

As for where to live, as an old, married fart, I’m strictly a suburban guy. Most singles would probably identify the Lincoln Park area of the city, north of downtown, reachable by public transportation, as among the most desirable places to live. However, it’s expensive. Singles are also to be found in the rehabbed buildings of the South Loop, especially the section known as Printers Row. Also expensive.

Price-wise, you can certainly do better in the suburbs, at the cost of having fewer, if any, single neighbors. There a fine, suburban areas in just about any direction from the central city (except due east, that’s Lake Michigan :wink: ). However, if you look to that option, I would probably stick with an arc from the north to the west of the city, along the commuter rail lines. There are lines that go south, but the service is generally spottier. I would not want to live where I’d have to drive into the Loop every day.