After a Hamilton– and Nick Offerman-laden journey through the rolling hills of Pennsylvania and rather less aesthetically pleasing highways of Ohio and Indiana, 208 has settled back in Chicago. It’s been about a month now of finding a new routine, furnishing a barren apartment (just a dining table away from completion) and navigating the social dynamics of an entirely male office with many an open Trump supporter.
So I haven’t exactly been hitting the town with regularity, but I have been eager to return to some old favorites from my previous Chicago sojourn. Thus far, I’ve managed to coordinate jaunts to two delicious and fatty restaurants that never let me down, pretend I enjoy nature at Millennium Park and fulfill my theatre fix at the Lookingglass.
Food, Glorious Food
Arguably the best characteristic of Chicago is its cost of living. When I first arrived, from my sheltered suburban upbringing, I was shocked at the perceived astronomical prices during my initial grocery shopping. After a year of scraping by in New York, I was nearly brought to grateful tears by the price of cocktails here. Which means I was more than ready and willing to invest my first Chicago paycheck in my stomach.
I indulged in my go-to delivery favorite after approximately 36 hours in the city: Doc B’s. And have continued to indulge far too many times in the following weeks. Ordering a side of sweet potato fries negates all the grease and shame, right?
When I finally managed to venture outside of my blissfully air-conditioned apartment (another delicious Chicago perk) to scavenge for meals, the choice was obvious: Chicago q. Perhaps it’s not the most chic setting for a reunion lady date, but it was beautiful and tasty. I momentarily cast aside my vegetarian transition (I have no will power) to eat all of the meat and did not feel guilty. Apparently brisket meatballs exist and they are everything.
I’ve done Millennium Park, ogled Buckingham Fountain and taken an obligatory distorted selfie at Cloud Gate. But I’d yet to enjoy the free musical offerings of the Grant Park Music Festival. As a musical theatre nerd, it’s no surprise that I skipped my way to their Cole Porter Celebration. With snacks, wine and boyfriend in tow, I greatly enjoyed myself. We were a solid 40 years below the mean age of attendees, which seemed pretty accurate.
Finally, I couldn’t resist an evening at the Lookingglass Theatre, not-so-secretly my favorite of the many high caliber companies here. I was expecting a jolly, entertaining escapade from Thaddeus and Slocum, marketed as a “vaudeville adventure.” And there were certainly moments of marvelous and entertaining stunts and musical numbers, but they were honestly my least favorite moments. Instead, I was pleasantly surprised and moved by the depth and tenacity of the show, which offers a critically honest lens of racism in Chicago in the early stages of the Great Migration – while questioning just how much progress has been made in the following century.