Occupation: Perhaps I'm The Cheerleader. Mebbe I could save the world. Hmm. Nah... just an ordinary desk jockey civil servant.
I lived there for: Nearly 8 years
I lived there because: I thought getting a PhD would be a good idea. Little did I know it would eat my soul.
My neighborhood: Lakeview!
My favorite restaurant: Okay, there are really so many options, I might have to mention one for each meal. Breakfast/brunch: Orange. It's a Lakeview hub for fancy-schmancy pancakes and super long lines. The service isn't so great, but the food. Oh-ma-gah. They have a different flight of pancakes every week. If they have it, I highly recommend the coffee flight. Good stuff. Lunch: Either Potbelly or Portillo's. I don't know how "local" either place is, but I'd never had them before I moved to Chicago. Potbelly has sandwiches that they toast. The bread is just good. But really - you've got to go for an Oreo Shake. If you have never been to Potbelly, they SCREAM the order down the line. "Sir, I'd like a chocolate shake." "Chocolate shake!" "CHOCOLATE SHAKE!" It's a little annoying, but tasty. Portillo's is known for their naughty greasy food, but they also have good pastas, grilled chicken and tasty salads. Dinner: This is so difficult, man. But, I'll stay in the Lakeview area and recommend Twist. It's a tapas place that is more fusion than anything. The stuffed mushrooms and the bacon-wrapped dates are incredible. Trust me.
If you go to this restaurant, be sure to order: see above... too much detail, I know.
My favorite museum: Museum of Science and Industry. I love that you can touch things and no one shushes you. The best thing is that MSI has a REAL Omnimax. No, not an IMAX... The Omnimax is a dome and it's how all uber-cool movies should be watched. Great story: The Targo and I try to go to a museum every three-four months. This particular tour of the MSI, we saw a film in the Omnimax where they traced the Nile to its source. The lights went down and we started "flying" over the Middle East. Suddenly there was a heaviness on my shoulder and snoring in my ear. "Targo! Wake up!" It was awesome.
My favorite tourist destination: You may have heard of The Green Mill. It's a jazz joint from the Prohibition Era. Rumor has it Al Capone's henchman owned a share of this place. After 10:00, ladies get in for free. Just a warning: The Green Mill is in a really lousy neighborhood.
Best insider spot: Matisse. This place has the best Sangria I've ever had! They have fabulous outdoor seating and it's in a great location. Also, if you're interested, it's right next to a place that specializes in clams on the half shell. Not my scene, but I thought I'd pass that along.
My favorite area: I love the parks. I've never been to New York or Boston, but in comparison to the other large cities I've been to, Chicago takes real pride in the accessibility of its green spaces. The lakefront is entirely public. It's cool to see people, who may have come from landlocked Midwestern or western states, when they look at Lake Michigan. It looks like an ocean. I can only imagine what Superior must seem like.
Best place to go shopping: I'm not much of a shopper, but of course, the Magnificent Mile would be the place to go. There's always something beautiful on the street. Right now it's the tulips. But there's often a series of art. And, in the winter, there are the lights. So nice.
When you visit, don’t forget to pack: Walking shoes and a jacket! It may be 80 during the day, but it's likely to cool down very quickly.
The one local cuisine you should try when you’re in town is: Of course I'm going to say pizza, because that's what everyone says. The best Chicago pizzas either come from Lou Malnati's or Gino's East. The others are wannabes... and Pizzeria Uno? No. Not Chicago pizza.
The best way to get around: It depends on where you are. Lakeview, Lincoln Park and Wrigleyville are totally walking neighborhoods. But, Chicago has awesome public transportation - whether it's bus or train.
If I had to describe this city in one word, it would be: Yummy? No? How about International? There are several ethnic neighborhoods that you have to visit: Chinatown and its amazing Dim Sum, Greektown has incredible restaurants, Little Italy has an Italian-American Sports Hall of Fame, and Bronzeville is reviving its history as a center of African-American music, culture and art (and now they got rid of their awful alderwoman... I'm sure it will get even better).
I tell my friends to stay at: I invite people to the mole hole, but there are so few takers. Maybe it's the cats and not me? If you want luxury, stay at a downtown hotel. If not? Be on the look out for specials. There's always a deal to be had in the Windy City.
The one thing most outsiders don’t know about this city is: The live theater scene is incredible. You can find major productions of Broadway shows, as wells as independent theatre companies that only do original works. What's your taste? Whether it's comedy (Second City or ImprovOlympics) or serious theater (Steppenwolf or Victory Gardens) or something quirky (Blue Man Group ~ which I would never-ever-ever see), you'll find it!
They say “Virginia is for lovers.” So fill in the blank: Chicago is for people who love to work, play, eat, and enjoy life. The Lake offers natural beauty. The skyline is filled with some of the most amazing architecture. The food? Really... I don't need to say more. There's always something going on: sports, art, theater, music... you name it! Chicago's got it. As much as I fantasize about building a mountain home, I love it here.