So I’m a week behind on my recaps, but I was just too exhausted after my Labor Day adventures to type it all out in a timely fashion. Last weekend was my best ever Labor Day, because one of my best friends, Karin, came to visit from New York. Both of us being the most Type A, we had a set itinerary in advance, and it played out almost perfectly in a packed weekend of adorable reunions and alcohol-induced affirmation sessions.
Karin arrived on my doorstep at 8:14 in the evening, which gave us just enough time to squeal and embrace on repeat before throwing on some heels and hobbling out the door. Feeling very much like a proper city-dweller, I had booked us a late-night dinner at the mysterious Untitled Supper Club. There isn’t much Chicago offers that you can’t find in New York, but a cavernous quasi-speakeasy certainly does the trick. Untitled had been on my list of must-try Chicago speakeasies,which are having quite the revitalized moment in the city that thrived during Prohibition, so I was eager myself to check it out. I was in awe of the spacious underground space, which was smokey and sexy and definitely much too cool for us. The New York prices were not enjoyable, but everything was more than delicious, from the bacon fat fries to the tastiest Brussels sprouts I’ve ever consumed, lathered in a harissa aioli. We were also pleasantly surprised by the live entertainment factor, an amazing band with, inexplicably, a burlesque intermission number.
This was the day of being tourists. But first, we needed more nourishment. Naturally, I took Karin to my favorite healthy neighborhood breakfast joint: Firecakes. By which I mean, we devoured gourmet donuts and felt not at all guilty about it. Properly fueled for the day, we decided to take a leisurely stroll from River North to Navy Pier, stopping at the massive Nordstrom off Michigan Avenue for a break and Tribune Tower for a photo-op. By the time we arrived at the tourist nightmare that is Navy Pier, we felt we had walked off the donut calories and began to eat our way through the new, relatively trendy food hall. From shaved snow to burgers, we were bursting by the time we were joined by a mutual friend from school. We then passed several pleasant hours at the Navy Pier beer garden, despite the food and drink there being rather lackluster.
After ensuring we had taken sufficient reunion photos along the gorgeous Lake Michigan, we all set off to walk back to my apartment as a means of easing our calorie regrets. We then passed several more perfect hours lounging around the rooftop fire pit with crackers and wine, before the discovery of my Buffy the Vampire Slayer virginity, at which point we queued up Netflix and set to work reveling in ’90s nostalgia.
By 9, we managed to pull ourselves away from Buffy so that I could show off my recent discovery of Ace Bounce, a hip British import in the form of a ping-pong bar. Despite being horrible at anything related to hand-eye coordination, I still adore the space, which is expansive and quirkily decorated. Even better, staff are constantly gathering and refilling the supply of ping-pong balls, so I don’t need to spend the majority of the game chasing after shots I had no reason to miss. We played two-against-one, in which we two ladies were still unfairly matched and lost spectacularly in full gender stereotype.
Our morning plans for Sunday were slightly altered, in that instead of doing anything at all, Karin and I powered through several more episodes of Buffy. By noon, we were out of the apartment and en route to Lakeview for a cheeky jaunt to the Chicago Tattoo and Piercing Co. After much hand-holding and interactions rather similar to those during childbirth, we emerged an hour later ravenous and walked across the street to the apartment of one of my rare Chicago friends. She led us on a marvelous tour of the neighborhood, during which I absolutely fell in love with the quaint streets and narrow houses, finishing at her favorite restaurant, Farm Bar. It’s the ultimate hipster farm-to-table restaurant, so naturally we also adored it. The highlight of the meal was the day’s special, a lemon pie which we devoured between the three of us in seconds.
After some more wandering and café-hopping, Karin and I dropped my friend at her front gate and took the subway two stops early, so we could walk down the entirety of Michigan Avenue. I promised Karin shopping, although she soon understood why I’d been so reluctant to battle the hoards of tourists. Empty handed, we arrived back at my apartment ready for a quick nap and foot soak in the tub. At 9, we headed out in red lips and the tightest dresses we were willing to wear post-graduation, to meet a group of school friends at Three Dots and a Dash. Another one of those Chicago speakeasies, I’d been wary to visit this tiki-bar themed venue, because of the eye rolls that always accompanied any mention of it. Yet I had a genuinely good time. It also definitely helped that I booked a table reservation weeks in advance (I know, I have no life). We got to skip the line and reside in a secluded booth to happily consume our two giant rum-based drinks; one of which arrived aflame. That being said, I’ve now had my Three Dots experience and feel satiated for the foreseeable future.
There was only time for a quick brunch at Beatrix, before Karin had to head to the airport and I immediately headed to bed for a three-hour nap.