Local Guide to Chicago
Local Guide – Chicago
This local guide was written by Nick Huggett and Tania Munz. The PSA offers its thanks to Nick, Tania, and the rest of our local arrangements team of Ken Alder and Bob Richards for their work on this year’s conference. We are grateful for the many hours they have devoted to the 2014 HSS and PSA meetings.
- Walk - Chicago is remarkably flat (though one of the few “hills” is the ramp up to and down from the Michigan Avenue Bridge over the Chicago River).
- Bike - If you don’t bring your own, the extensive Divvy Bike system (https://www.divvybikes.com) gives unlimited biking (in 30 minute blocks) for a day for $7.
- Taxi - Chicago taxis are very reasonable and plentiful downtown – if you are daring, download a rideshare app, such as Uber, and it’s even cheaper (and perhaps easier if you are further from the center).
- CTA (Chicago Transit Authority) - http://www.transitchicago.com. Public transportation in Chicago is very useable. $2.25 for a ride in cash (beware – no change is given), and multi day passes $10 for one day or $10 for three days (at some stores, or at the stations). There are many buses traveling along Michigan Ave., and the hotel is not far from the State and Chicago Red Line stop; both buses and station are wheelchair accessible. (In Chicago the lines are named for colors. Also be aware that the street name alone may not individuate a station: for instance the Chicago Avenue Red Line and Brown Line stations are distinct.) Unfortunately, the Blue line, which runs to O’Hare, does not come very close to the hotel.
Chicago is on a grid system: 0 N/S and 0 E/W is at Madison and State, in the Loop. In each compass direction the street numbers increase by exactly 400 for every half-mile: so, for instance, the hotel (at 909 N Michigan Ave.) is just over a mile north of Madison. Major streets (best for buses and taxis) are every half-mile (so multiples of 400).
From the Chicago Symphony Orchestra to Steppenwolf Theater, from B.L.U.E.S. Chicago to the famous improv theater Second City there’s a lot to do if you take a night off from the meeting. The Chicago Reader (http://www.chicagoreader.com), Time Out Chicago (http://www.timeout.com/chicago), and NewCity (http://newcity.com) should cover what’s on. Also, this year’s conference coincides with the Chicago Humanities Festival, one of the largest such festivals in the world: http://chicagohumanities.org/.
What follows are a few subjective recommendations for eating and visiting, culled from various locals – though of course there are many other options.
Streeterville, Gold Coast and Magnificent Mile
Museum of Contemporary Art - 220 E. Chicago Ave. (just around the corner from the hotel). The blockbuster show “David Bowie Is,” will be on during the meeting.
Oak Street Beach - Just north of the hotel on Michigan.
Shopping – Lots of it. Everywhere.
John Hancock Building - The observatory 360 Chicago has probably better views than the Willis Tower, but so does the Signature Lounge on the floor above, and a drink there is probably cheaper than admission to the observatory.
$ - In addition to the usual Starbucks, Corner Bakeries, Chipotles, etc., the following are quick and reasonably priced, in the general area of the hotel.
Foodlife - In the Water Tower Mall, at 835 N. Michigan. A quick and cheap(ish) place right by the hotel. Cafeteria-style, with a variety of options, including vegetarian (open 8:00-8:00 most days).
900 North Michigan Shops - 900 N. Michigan Ave. A bit fancier than a food court, but with several options from Freshii and Potbelly for take-out, to Thai and pizza sit-downs.
West Egg Café - 620 N. Fairbanks Ct. A popular, fancy diner (open 6:30-3:00 most days).
Dao Thai - 230 E. Ohio St. Good, convenient food (open 11:00-10:00 most days).
Epic Burger - 40 E. Pearson St. Craft burgers at slightly more than fast food prices (open 10:00-9:00 most days).
Le Pain Quotidien - 10 E. Delaware Pl. European-style sandwiches, quiches, salads, and baked goods.
Eataly - 43 E. Ohio St. An Italian food court on steroids from Gelato to cheeses to a sit-down Mario Battali restaurant, there is something for everyone.
Oak Tree Restaurant and Bakery - 900 N. Michigan Ave. All-day breakfast and lunch (open 7:30-5:00, bakery open until 6pm).
Karyn’s Cooked - 738 N. Wells St. A little bit further, but strictly vegan. (The sister restaurant, Karyn’s on Green is a little further, but also recommended.)
Sayat-Nova - 157 E. Ohio St. Terrific food (Armenian – think Russian meets Mediterranean) and a wonderful, intimate atmosphere.
Slurping Turtle - 116 W. Hubbard St. Funky Japanese.
Puck’s Café – Wolfgang Puck’s café inside the Museum of Contemporary Art. Closes with the museum (admission not needed), but excellent food and service in a stunning space.
Cicchetti - 671 N. St. Clair St. Trendy, very highly rated Italian restaurant. (Another excellent fine Italian restaurant nearby is Café Spaggia, at 980 N. Michigan Ave.)
Le Colonial - 937 N. Rush St. French Vietnamese fine dining, lovely atmosphere, good food. There are a number of superb restaurants in the same area.
Loop (and around)
Millennium Park - 201 E. Randolph St. Mayor Daley’s legacy project is a beautiful and popular park along Michigan Ave., well worth a walk around. Stop by the fountain, see the Frank Gehry band shell, or take a picture with the Chicago skyline reflected in Anish Kapoor’s Cloud Gate (affectionately known as “The Bean”).
Art Institute of Chicago - 111 S. Michigan Ave. The Art Institute houses a world-class collection that any city would be proud of. Visitors are often especially amazed by the many major works from the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, but the collection also covers antiquity, and American and non-Western art. If you do one thing in Chicago, visit here.
Museum Campus - Michigan Ave. and Roosevelt Rd. The Field Museum, Adler Planetarium, and Shedd Aquarium are all located just north of Soldier Field (the Bears will be playing out of town the conference weekend). The 146 bus will take you there along Michigan Ave. from the hotel.
Architecture Tour - http://www.architecture.org/tours. Run by the Chicago Architecture Foundation, the boat tours along the Chicago River are an excellent and popular way to see some of the amazing buildings in the city – a museum of architecture since the great fire of 1871. It will still be running during the meeting. (If you make your own architecture walk, be sure to include Dearborn St. from Washington to Adams to see the monumental Picasso, Chagall, and Calder public works.)
Roti Mediterranean Grill - 33 N. Dearborn St. and 200 W. Randolph St. Very tasty and filling wraps.
NafNaf Grill - 309 W. Washington St. A Middle Eastern chain.
Native Foods - 218 S. Clarke St. A national vegan chain.
Pastoral Artisan Cheese - 53 E. Lake St. ‘Awesome’ for lunch, great sandwiches: clever and fresh ingredients.
Caffe Bacci - 20 N. Michigan Ave, 2 N. LaSalle St and 231 S. LaSalle St. Fresh Italian cafeteria-style food.
Wildberry Pancakes and Café - 130 E. Randolph St. Good breakfast place.
Ceres Café - 141 W. Jackson Blvd. A dangerous happy hour and American food spot.
Terzo Piano - 159 E. Monroe St. On the roof of the new Modern Wing on the Art Institute, the food and location are equally spectacular. Mostly for lunch, but well worth the (not so big) splurge – a good place to celebrate a successful symposium!
tesori - 65 E. Adams St. Classy and delicious Italian.
• Northwards Lakeview and Boystown
Lakeview - Other than the ebullient Boystown club and bar scene (3200-3600 N. Halsted St.), this neighborhood is a little more sedate and family oriented but has many great bars and restaurants, without downtown prices. The Chicago Diner (3411 N. Halsted St.) is a busy and famous vegetarian restaurant (with another location in Logan Square). A fun kosher restaurant is Milt’s Barbeque for the Perplexed (3411 Broadway). Also excellent is the long established Yoshi’s (3257 N. Halsted St.), which serves Japanese-meets-French food (including vegetarian options). For drinks try Minibar (3341 N. Halsted St.) or Elixir (3452 N. Halsted St.). Take the Red Line to Belmont.
Andersonville - Another family and LGBT-friendly neighborhood, perhaps a little more youthful and edgy with lots of terrific places to eat in a very compact area: 5200-5600 N. Clarke St. All very good are Reza's (5255 N. Clark St.) for Persian, Lalibela (5631 N. Ashland Ave.) for Ethiopian, Sunshine Cafe (5449 N. Clark St.) for homestyle Japanese, and Hamburger Mary’s (5400 N. Clark St.). Beer enthusiasts should check out Hopleaf (5148 N. Clark St.), and Acre (5308 N. Clark St.); while for something stronger there are martinis at Marty's (1511 W. Balmoral Ave.). The area’s Swedish heritage explains the Swedish-American Museum (5211 N. Clark St.), and Swedish Bakery (5348 N. Clark St.); less explicable, but excellent, is Vincent (1475 W. Balmoral Ave.), which serves American Bistro as well as Indonesian-Dutch food. Finally, in the area is the legendary Big Chicks (5024 N. Sheridan Rd.), Chicago Reader’s best Gay Bar and best Lesbian Bar for 2014. Just two blocks east of Clark on Broadway are some of the city’s best Vietnamese restaurants, especially the delicious and inexpensive Tank Noodle (4953 N. Broadway St.) for Pho and Ba Le for banh mi sandwiches on crusty French baguettes (5014 N. Broadway St., a Michelin Bib Gourmand pick) as well as the legendary Green Mill Jazz Club (4802 N. Broadway St.). Take the Red Line to Argyle or Berwyn.
Little India - A trip to Devon Ave. is worth it for authentic Indian food; you will be spoiled for choice. Unfortunately it is not conveniently reached by public transportation, and a bit of a way from downtown: but take a taxi to Devon Ave. and Western Ave. (6400 N and 2400 W).
Bucktown/Wicker Park - A buzzing neighborhood, with small galleries, bars, clubs, live music, and restaurants. The pole opposite of some of the fun dive bars, is the super-trendy mixology haven Violet Hour speakeasy (1520 N. Damen Ave.) if you can find it – the line after 7pm will help. Eat at Handle Bar (2311 W. North Ave.) for vegetarian food, or Trenchermen (2039 W. North Ave.) for American food in an ex-Turkish bathhouse. Irazu (1865 N. Milwaukee Ave.) is vegetarian-friendly Costa Rican café. And try Antique Taco (1360 N. Milwaukee Ave.) for tacos amidst antiques! On the way out west is Green Zebra (1460 W. Chicago Ave.), primarily vegetarian, and one of the best restaurants of any kind in the city. For Wicker Park take the Blue Line to Damen.
Logan Square - Reputedly the Williamsburg of the Midwest, a fun place to explore. Some interesting places to try are: D'Noche – Café con Leche before 4.30pm – (2710 N. Milwaukee Ave.) is a good Latin American restaurant. The wine bar Reno (2607 N. Milwaukee Ave.) serves all three meals (it’s famous for Montreal-style bagels). Michelin starred Longman & Eagle (2657 N. Kedzie Ave.) is a highly rated whiskey bar with rich and fancy pub food. Cafe Lula (2537 N. Kedzie Ave.) was one of the first places in Logan Square’s “renewal” and is everyone's favorite for spectacular brunch as well as lunch and dinner. The Whistler (2421 N. Milwaukee Ave.) is a hole in the wall, a quiet and relaxed speakeasy, with amazing cocktails. To get there take the Blue Line.