NYC and Chicago Dopers: recommendations for salsa and jazz clubs, please!

NYC and Chicago Dopers: recommendations for salsa and jazz clubs, please!

A couple of friends of mine will be visiting New York City and Chicago soon, and have asked for my help in finding some cool jazz clubs and places to go salsa dancing.

I’ve already e-mailed them links that I’ve found through web searching (such as the New York page and SalsaChicago, plus some jazz club information that I’ve pulled off the Web), and was hoping that NYC and Chicago Dopers might be able to chime in with some personal recommendations.

They’ll be flying in from Madrid (they’re bilingual Spanish/English, so language will not be a problem) this Saturday, and will be staying near Penn Station (actually at the Hotel Pennsylvania, so I don’t even need to look up their phone number — it’s PEnnsylvania Sixty-Five Thousand!) from Feb 19 through 23rd, then off to Chicago where they’ll be staying just off the Magnificent Mile (N. Michigan and E. Ohio) from Feb 23 through Feb 27.

They’ll be busy during each day (they’re helping to lead a tour of Spanish architects), but will have “free time” in the evenings.

They’ve also asked for restaurant recommendations, although obviously they’ll have hundreds of choices within a few blocks of either hotel. They’re seasoned travelers (especially throughout Europe) but not wealthy, so any unusual eating recommendations would be most welcome! They’re very adventurous and would be up to try anything new.

They’ve been to NYC before, so are aware of what they’ve seen and have yet to see, but this will be their first time in Chicago. They know what architecture they want to check out (the husband teaches the subject in Madrid), and I’ve mentioned special events such as the Christo Gates in NYC (which they’ll probably skip). I’ve sent them a list of “must-sees” in Chicago such as the Art Institute, MSI, Field Museum ,and Adler Planterium, but they won’t have much spare time duing the day.

Any Dopers eaten at the Berghoff in Chicago recently? How about the Sayat Nova East Armenian restaurant on E. Ohio? I’ve put in a word for both of these places to my friends, but haven’t eaten in either in years.

Anyway, thanks in advance for any ideas that you guys can come up with!

For Jazz in Chicago try The Green Mill. It was once a speakeasy where Al Capone used to hang out and the tunnels for patrons to escape raids are still there (although the public cannot go into them occasionally you see a bartender disappear into the floor…they store liquor down there now).

The Green Mill in on the corner of Lawrence and Broadway (north of downtown). It is a 10 minute cab ride from the Mag Mile up Lake Shore Drive (LSD to Lawrence, west to Broadway about a mile in from the lake…simple). The neighborhood is not the greatest but it is not bad and don’t let the outside of the bar fool you…cool place to hang out.

As for food if your friends have a fair amount of $$$$ to spare for dinner they should try out Charlie Trotters in Chicago. It is considered one of the finest restaurants in the country (but it ain’t cheap).

Thanks, Whack-a-Mole!

The Green Mill sounds like exactly the kind of thing my friends would go for – the Al Capone connection is a nice bonus. I’ll credit you in my e-mail to them (although I’ll also have to explain to them what Whack-A-Mole is, lest they think that you’re some kind of animal cruelty advocate!)

Charlie Trotter’s might be a little on the spendy side for them, although with current Euro/Dollar exchange rates, who knows?

Is Morton’s Steakhouse overpriced and touristy, or is it worth the money? Anyone got any better steakhouse recommendations, especially for Chicago?

Smith & Wollensky in Chicago has some good steaks but also is a bit pricey (not as bad as Charlie Trotters though).

Marche is also a fun restaurant. When Michael Jordan was with the Chicago Bull sit was one of his favorite hangouts. Actually, there are several fun restaurants all next to each other where Marche is (many of which seem to be linked to on Marches web site linked below). Again not a cheap restaurant but doable. Marche is on West Randolph which puts it just several blocks west of the Loop (Chicago’s main business district). While steak is not their main thing they have a steak item on the menu that is one of my favorite steaks in Chicago.
I haven’t been in ages but many people still say Gibson’s or Lawry’s is good for steaks. It has been so long since I have been I cannot say one way or another on quality or price but both are easily accessible from the Mag Mile. ← They do not seem to have a web site of their own

I happen to live very near the Green Mill…been there many times. They should have fun. Have them call ahead to see who is playing. Often there is a cover charge so be prepared for that. Usually the “good band” early in the evening is meant to be listened to and patrons can get bitchy at people who talk during the performance. After that a secondary band comes on and then it is drink and be merry time. Not always like that of course (again depending on the band they have) but they should know just the same.

On Sundays the Green Mill does a Poetry Slam that is actually mentioned in many guidebooks. I have never been (meant to but somehow never manage) but it may be something they’d like. Sounds a little strange perhaps but it gets a bigger following than you might think (so I am told).

Hope they have a great time here! Chicago is a great city but not real touristy. Great stuff to do and see with proper direction but without it a tourist can be a little lost as to what to do (not like New York or London or San Francisco where tourist things are obvious).

Thanks again, Whack-a-Mole. Unfortunately they’ll be leaving Chicago on Sunday Feb 27th, so won’t be able to do the Poetry Slam at the Green Mill (sounds like fun though!), but they’ll probably get there one evening earlier in the week.

I know what you mean about Chicago being great but not touristy. In my experience, Europeans who do get to Chicago are more likely to be there on business rather than as a vacation destination (unlike say NYC, LA, SF, or New Orleans). I’ve been trying to think of things that will avoid them going home with the impression that Chicago is “like New York, only smaller”.

They’re going to be spending their days looking at buildings by Frank Lloyd Wright and Mies van der Rohe, so a little Green Mill jazz sounds like a good way to make for at least one memorable evening! Even Madrilenos know who Al Capone was…