My fiancee and I had a great time in your fair city over the weekend and while we didn't get as much time in the city as we'd hoped (family obligations in the 'burbs), we did paint the town red on Friday and Saturday.
Arrived in Chicago on Thursday night, met my friend in West Town, where we stayed. Went to dinner at Sultan's Market on North & Damen. Upon exiting, I noticed an atrocious development-- the Shiphouse-- a condo building that looks like a cruise ship. It was so ugly, it looked like a beached whale. I think Chicago has some best infill I've ever seen but it also has some of the worst. The Ship House is the latter. What made it so bad is that it overshadowed a beautiful old mansion that sat next to it. Dinner was great though, and I love Sultan's concept.
After dinner we met another good friend of mine at his apartment in Lakeview. What a beautiful neighborhood, it looks better and better each time I go back. Hung out there, drank some cognac and reminisced a little. Then it was on to Carol's for Caroloke. Carol's is a country/western bar in Ravenswood (I absolutely hate country, my friend dragged us there to meet some people he knew). We were like fish out of water. The bouncer was this hardcore cowboy from Joliet who looked like a Hell's Angel. We got even more drunk and sang some Caroloke, but I got boo'd off the stage for choosing a Bee Gee's song. Went home and crashed after that.
My girl and I checked out the Body Worlds exhibit at the Museum of Science & Industry and LOVED IT. What an amazing museum that is. I haden't been there since I was in junior high, so I appreciated it much more this time. I highly recommend it to anyone who hasn't been yet. And of course Hyde Park continues to kick ass.
Later went to Lincolnshire to kibbitz with some of my cousins, then came back to West Town and tried lunch at Padlanka's, a godforsaken Polish restaurant that made us both sick. Authentic atmosphere though. Took a nap then went to Atomix for some java (stole a mug from there). Ate mediocre pizza at Pequod's then met some friends at Ten Cat. Off to bed.
Went for breakfast at Victory's Banner in Roscoe Village-- great place. Girl and I went to meet my Aunt and Uncle in Buffalo Grove, then came back to the city and took the El to Chinatown for dim sum (yum). My friend met us there and then we drove all over the South Side. It is absolutely amazing what is going on down there even since the last time I vistited. The projects are across the street from expensive condos. Very interesting contrast. I'm so glad they're saving those monolithic circular highrises near Chinatown. We drove through an interesting development near Bridgeport-- a wholesale market that was being converted to condos. Very, very cool indeed. It was also cool to see the city decked out for St. Patty's Day. Later on we went to my friends office in the West Loop and played ping-pong and watched videos of the shows he edits for WTTW.
That night we had sushi at Hama Matsu in Andersonville-- deeeeeelicious. Ate myself sick. Met some more friends at the Hungry Brain and then at Millie's in Roscoe Village. Got extremely drunk.
Woke up and met my mom's entire side of the family for brunch in Skokie. Enough lox to turn me into a salmon. Got gas and a car wash and headed back to STL. It was a fantastic weekend.
Chicago is as vibrant as ever. There are always new developments going on. It is a city that doesn't talk, it actually acts. If a sign is posted announcing a new development, there is earthmoving equipment on the site the next day. That is impressive. It is so amazing to see the amount of infill, especially on the North Side. There are some 'hoods that look like they've been rebuilt from scratch (these are old 'hoods too). Unreal. I only hope Chicago doesn't compromise its high architectural standards to put up just anything. I noticed more really bad urban design than I remember from last time I was there. At any rate, most cities would die for a tiny fraction of the great infill there. I am sad about the CTA's financial woes, but it's happening everywhere, not just Chicago. Hang in there.
There are so many fucking young people in Chicago. It was very noticeable this time. But I think a lot of them are so into being hipsters that they're not really hip anymore. I saw a lot of those trucker caps, torn jeans and cardigan sweaters-- a bit contrived. But tons o' young people everywhere, which is awesome.
I do not see much integration for a city of Chicago's calibur, especially between blacks and whites. Most of the places I went were overwhelmingly white. The South Side mixes the races better; the popular North Side 'hoods need work. I see more integration in St. Louis, to be honest. There is certainly a big ethnic presence in Chicago, which adds a lot of great flavor. I love all the taquerias and Polish joints that are open all night.
All in all, it was so much fun. I always have fun there. Sorry, no pics because I wanted to absorb as much of my trip as possible without being distracted.