Chicagoans - Another thread looking for recs! Yay!

My friends and I are traveling to Chicago over the Memorial Day weekend. One of our travel rules is no food we can get at home. (Well, it’s more of a guideline, really… ). So, here’s your chance to recommend some restaurants/cuisine we are unlikely to find in Omaha or Charlotte (where we are from)! I’ve never tried Ethiopian, for example. Anyone know a good Cuban restaurant? Russian? Regional food - besides Chicago style pizza - that you’d recommend? We’re willing to explore foods for all three meals of the day.

One of us tries to avoid MSG. Not a deal breaker, but a head’s up would be awesome.

Comedy - we’d love to go see a comedy show. Recommendations? How is Improv Olympic?

Any other recommendations for things to see and do? We go to Chicago almost every year and try to hit the Art Institute and Millenium Park. The Aquarium, Planetarium, and Natural Museum we’ve alll done. I would love some out of the way or unusual recommendations, if you have them.

Thanks, all.
(Also, if you know how to delete the thread title from the OP, could you tell me? That drives me batty and I don’t know how to make it not be there… )

Pretty sure VBulletin does that automatically, and that there isn’t any way to make it not be there.

Lincoln Park Zoo is a nice “quickie” zoo (as opposed to Brookfield Zoo, which requires two days and Sherpas to see properly).

Hmmm - Comedy - how about Second City?

Food - absolutely can’t help you - I’d just tell you to make sure you hit Portillo’s, Hot Doug’s, maybe Carson’s, Weber Grill, and Morton’s (and Garrett’s Popcorn too) - but I’m not all that fancy when it comes to restaurants. Or rich. So someone better than I can make better recommendations.

Places to go? Did you do the Museum of Science and Industry? There’s always Water Tower Place for shopping if you’re into that.

I agree with Ducky - definitely go with Lincoln Park Zoo - it’s nice but it’s not overwhelming like Brookfield. And I wouldn’t know where to get a Sherpa anyway.

Stay away from Navy Pier. It’s a tourist trap with only two redeeming features - it offers a nice view once you’re waaay out at the end, and the ferris wheel is probably cool, though I’ve never been on it myself.

Strangely, Navy Pier is now the #1 tourist attraction, and I personally think it stinks.

Museum of Science and Industry is cool. A little out of the way, but cool. If you do head there, consider making a trip to the Oriental Institute in Hyde Park (near by). It’s a museum and part of the University of Chicago. Here:

Any other specific questions? I was born and raised here, and still live right near the Loop, don’t even own a car. Ask away.

Three redeming features- they let you salmon fish from shore and park in their lot for free as long as you’re history before 9:00am. Awfully nice of them.

Are you limited to the Loop, or you wanna come north where we keep it, as they say, a little more real?

There’s a great late night show called Too Much Light Makes the Baby Go Blind that’s an awesome time. 30 plays in 60 minutes - some comedy, some dramatic, some just freakin’ bizarre - and they change every week. Admission varies (based on the roll of a die) from $8-$13. Cash only, and they mean it! It ain’t polished pretty Andrew Lloyd Weber type theater, it’s gritty and cheap and laugh your ass off funny until you’re suddenly crying with the pathos of it all. Kinda like Chicago.

Beforehand, if you want some good food and local music not too far away, you can check out Heartland Cafe and its attached but separate bar Red Line Tap .
This is the kind of “local scene” that you’re not going to find in the glossy adverts with pictures of the museums and Navy Pier. You’ll thank me later.

Nice suggestion, WhyNot. Also, you could walk up and down Clark street (Andersonville neighborhood) before and after the show. Great restaurants and bars.

You could do an architectural tour - here’s some info.

I think a ghost tour would be cool too.

Awesome suggestion by WhyNot. I’m often amazed at the number of small theater going on pretty much every night of the week. Definitely will be more interesting IMO than the big travelling companies.

Fitzgerald’s is my fave place to see live music, if you can make your way all the way out to Berwyn.
I see Lonnie’s boy is playing the Friday you’ll be in town.


Yeah, I’m going to speak for the group and say we’re willing to be adventureous. I lived in Chicago for a bit and we’ve all been many times. We love Chicago, it’s why we keep going back!

What do you think is the best way to the Museum of Science and Industry? Should we take the El, or do you suggest a cab? (Yeah, I’m concerned about the Blue Line stop there. And planning in advance an August trip to the MoSaI with kids.)

PS - Bless you, pranky. I hate Navy Pier, too. Another vote for a puke smiley.

This is right up our alley. We’re all recovering theater geeks. More like this, please. I like the idea of wandering Clark Street.

Is the Frank Lloyd Wright house(s) worth going to see?

I also like edgy comedy. I have seen Second City and would do it again, but am more tingly at the idea of an improv group Chicagoans/Chicago artists like.

Our only two goals entertainment-wise are one night of theater (which, frankly, is going to be the show whynot recommended AFAIC), and one night of comedy.

Any good brunch spots? Local bars where I can get beer, my friend can get good wine, my other friend can get a good Cosmo, and my last friend can keep us out of trouble?

Oh, PERFECT! (Me too.) You’ll love it. You’ll love it so much you’ll spend the next three weeks depressed that you’re not doing theater any more.

Ah, the passion and the pathos… It burns with a distant familiarity…

I’ve been pimping this place to people in the mood for Cuban food. As a bonus, they also have live music!

Can anyone recommend someplace for jerk chicken? Caribbean food? Cafe Trinidad looks interesting but too far south.

If you decide to go to TMLMTBGB, check out The Hopleaf - it’s right around the corner on Clark. It’s crazy busy, but they have an astounding number of great beers on tap.

For good Ethiopian, I like Ras Dasheen - 5844 N Broadway.

For the MoSaI, the easiest way (i think) to get there is on the #6 bus. It runs along State St. in the loop, and drops you off less than a block from the museum.

I’m going to really press for TMLMTBGB, so I’d love to check out The Hopleaf. I love good beer. My buddies not so much.

If I end up at Jersey Boys instead of TMLMTBGB, I’m going to need to be drunk. Blech.

If you’re in Hyde Park anyway, it’s worth stopping by. They have tours and stuff.

Try The Original House of Pancakes for brunch. There are several scattered throughout the city.

OOoh, I’m giddy about this thread. I’m planning a two-day-trip to Chicago the day after Memorial day…

Are you talking about the Robie House, or the FLW home and studio, which are in Oak Park? Either or both are worth a visit if you enjoy architecture, FLW, or Prairie style.

Another breakfast choice that is all Chicago is Lou Mitchell’s just west of downtown.

Oh, and no sweat taking the el to the MSI. Heck, even take advantage of the opportunity to stroll thru Jackson Park. Site of the Columbian Expo and all. Might enjoy reading The Devil and the White City before/during your trip.

Yes, the Robie House. The ones in Oak Park are also nice, but there’s not much else to do there. There’s a handful of stuff to do in Hyde Park (UChicago campus, several museums, Seminary bookstore).