This local’s perspective is by Miles Traer. Miles grew up in Chicago’s backyard and so knows the city through and through. He speaks knowledgably- and so passionately about his hometown that he has convinced me to put Chicago at the top of my ‘short list’ of places to visit. Whether you prefer beer and baseball or fine cuisine and architecture, Miles has covered this city as only a local expert can. Enjoy!
1. Give 5 adjectives that you would use to describe the “feel” of Chicago and its residents.
Proud, enthusiastic, sarcastic, jovial, gregarious
2. What is your favorite neighborhood/area of Chicago?
There are so many niche neighborhoods in and around Chicago, but my personal favorite is Wrigleyville. It has everything you want in a Chicago neighborhood: great people, that 1920’s style architecture, great bars, and a ton of places to pick up a polish sausage and watch the baseball game. For something a little more unique to Chicago, check out Greek town. Some of the best hidden restaurants in the city are here.
3. Which cuisine do you think Chicago does best? What is the runner-up?
Chicago is home to some of the best food in the country. But if you had to pick a single style, it would have to be the steak house. Going all the way back to the time of the Union Stock Yards, Chicago has steak down to a true art form. There’s Morton’s Steak House for a fabulous atmosphere and a fantastic meal, or Gene and Georgetti’s for a classic Chicago meal – get the garbage salad! There are too many runner-ups, but I’d be remiss not mentioning Frontera Grill (best Mexican in the country), Pizzaria Uno (birthplace of deep-dish), and the Billy Goat Tavern (home of the cheezborger).
4. What is the best free thing to do?
Provided you can keep your wallet safely locked in your pocket, a walk down Michigan Avenue is the way to go. Otherwise, a walk along Lake Michigan during the summer with a stop by Buckingham Fountain is a beautiful way to spend a day.
5. What is your favorite type of entertainment?
There is nothing that compares to a baseball game during the day at Wrigley Field. After the game, run over to Second City and catch the late-night improv set.
6. List the best family friendly activity in Chicago.
A trip to any of the amazing museums in Chicago. For the kids, the Museum of Science and Industry is amazing – hands on, entertaining, and the coal mine exhibit still gets me.
7. What spot would you send a couple, looking for a romantic weekend?
A stay at the Drake Hotel in a room overlooking Lake Shore Drive is about as perfect a stay that I can imagine.
8. Describe a perfect day…one that captures what your area/city is all about. In 3 sentences or less.
The perfect day starts with a game at Wrigley Field. After that, take a cab over to the Chicago River and take the architecture cruise while catching some sun. Finish the day with dinner at any of the fantastic restaurants and a spin on the Ferris Wheel at Navy Pier.
9. Tell us about a place that you love to go, whether it is in the guidebooks or not.
The Art Institute of Chicago is an absolute must for anyone visiting for the time, and anyone living there for that matter. It houses the most impressive collection of art outside of the Met in the country.
A personal favorite that you won’t find in any guidebook is the midnight show of “Too Much Light Makes the Baby Go Blind” at the Neo-Futurarium (5153 N. Ashland). This is an improv comedy club that won’t kill the wallet the way the top shows at Second City might (just $7 plus $1 times the roll of a die). Hilarious.
Want to share, brag, or tell about your town? If so, send an e-mail or comment on this post–then you can be our next local expert!
Thanks to Laffy4K for the Chicago picture!