Thursday, July 31, 2008

Chicago's best northside dives

For each swanky see-and-be-seen Chicago nightclub, there’s a jukebox playin’, bourbon-slingin’ dive just around the corner. When I don’t feel like prancing around in pumps and slinky dresses, I throw on some tattered jeans and head to these neighborhood joints, where I know I can chug at least three beers for the price of one fanciful martini.

Carol’s Pub has live country-western music on the weekends and the crowd here isn’t afraid to show its two-steppin’ roots. The bar is open until 5 a.m. and folks of all ages and races flock to Carol’s after midnight, when things really start to liven up.

The smoking ban has been in full swing since January, but you can still puff away on Edgewater Lounge’s outdoor patio. Recently, the pub’s beer prices increased, but the laid-back atmosphere is still unbeatable. Edgewater Lounge also has a full menu.

Baskets of popcorn at Kitty Moon are always stale, but they’re also always free. The bar hosts live music throughout the week and its jukebox song selection is second to none.

If there’s one place that can turn an epically awful day into a fleeting thing of the past, it’s the Long Room. The bartenders here know their brews and they don’t get pissy when you ask for recommendations. You won’t find any food at the Long Room, but the tamale guys make their rounds after 10 p.m.

Simon’s Tavern is a great spot to wait out long lines at the nearby Hopleaf. Sure, the beer selection doesn’t even begin to rival its Beglian-fueled neighbor, but Simon’s quick service makes up for that.

This article first appeared on
The Whole 9.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Chicago's Signature Lounge

I finally made it over to Chicago's Signature Lounge in the John Hancock building on Tuesday night. After an ear-popping elevator ride to the 96th floor, I stepped inside and was surprised to see plenty of martini-swilling tourists decked out in cargo shorts and flip-flops. I guess I've just always had this impression of the place being so swank as to require some type of dress code. Part of me felt a notch above the gaping tourists in my flowy skirt and arch-killing heels, while the other part wished I had thrown a pair of flats in my bag for the walk home. At least the tourists were using good, commonsense.

It was around 8 p.m. and my drinking companion and I arrived just before a line formed behind us. We were seated in the middle of the room, among a cluster of other tables full of people vying for window seats. My friend noticed that a couple with a killer corner view was about to leave, so we staked out their table and avoided making eye contact with the waitress.

About fifteen minutes later the coveted spot was ours. Well, it was ours if you don't count the camera-toting tourists hovered over us at every angle. One guy even pulled out a tripod and did a full shoot of his fiance while she struck seductive poses near the window. The John Hancock building may be known as the observatory for its brilliant cityscape view, but the real observations here begin with the people inside.

Not even Signature Room's boisterous crowd could compete with my perfect view of the sunset, though. Tack on my carefully-crafted dirty martini with hand-stuffed blue cheese olives (three, for good luck) and the noise around me was instantly dulled.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Save room for dessert

All right folks, it's clearly been a while since my last post. But before you get all accusatory, let me provide you with a sugar-fueled link to some of my latest sweet discoveries. These were all written for and there's plenty more to come.

If you're more into instant gratification (this is America, right?) you can get quick updates on my Examiner articles by subscribing (it's super easy, just click 'subscribe' below any of my Examiner posts). And I promise you won't get any nasty spam notifying you about the latest trends in Viagra or discounts on breast implants. Just a lovely little email each time I write something new.

In the meantime, go enjoy some of these local Chicago treats!