Archive for January, 2011

More New Ideas for the Chicago Bucket List


Sitting back at Mirabell on the northwest side at FeliciaCago’s tweetup, I got to meet some new characters and pick their brains on Chicago’s best things. Here are some of their ideas:

Padrak (@PadConnelly) from Daytona Beach, Florida

1. Chicago Tunnels Tour

2. Next Restaurant

3. A pint at the Berghoff

4. Play the Wurlitzer at the Chicago Theatre

5. Expresso Macchiato at Intelligentsia

Next is coming soon brought to you by the wizards of Alinea. Will it cost any less? No doubt the food will be just as good. I have yet to try the legendary Berghoff and will need to stop by and investigate why so many people love it. Intelligentsia? I always thought it was some Seattle brand coffee, but looks like Intelligentsia is a pure Chicago invention if you could believe it!

Sean (Princess_Sean) from Seoul, Korea, Columbus, Ohio, Minneapolis, Minnesota, Pohang, South Korea, Chicago Suburbs, Champaign, Illinois and Chicago, Illinois

1. Run the Chicago Marathon (or be a spectator)

2. Architectural boat tours

3. Go to the Signature Room ladies room

Every year the Chicago Marathon hits town, my parents decide to close their nail salon for half of the day. They tell me that they number of people in the street just ruins business, so maybe I will join them next year to watch. I’ll always have a friend running so that means I’ll always have a horse in the race! Sean says word on the street is that the best view in the city is in the Signature Room ladies room – now the question is can a man go in and not get arrested or thrown out?

Tony (@TheTonyHam) from Chicago, Illinois

1. Eat at Alinea

2. Cubs game at Wrigley Field (playoff game!?)

3. Charter fishing off Lake Michigan

4. Italian Beef tour

5. Eat at Harold’s Chicken Shack

Going to a Cubs game is a great idea but now I am reminded that they have tours of Wrigley Field during the season. I will make sure to sign up for one of these stat as it’s about $25 to catch a tour of Wrigley. Tony made charter fishing seem super exciting, so it will be worth it to round up some people who love to fish and hit the lake to catch some salmon. The Italian Beef Crawl is always a blast but a self-organized beef tour to try the best Italian beefs in the city is manageable. Harold’s chicken rules – added to the list.

Mitch (@refrigeration)

1. Danny’s Tavern

2. Japanese Garden (Osaka Garden)

3. SushiSamba

4. Buckingham Fountain

5. Blues Fest

Danny’s is a great spot in Bucktown/Wicker Park to get your dance on and I’ve always had a great tiem there. I have no ventured forth to Osaka Garden but can make this trip in the spring. SushiSamba is interesting since I’ve always gone there for cocktails and still haven’t eaten there yet!!

Tammie (@tamj) from Des Plaines, Illinois

1. Maxwell Street Polish at Express Grill or Jim’s Original

2. Go to Lincoln Park Zoo

3. Check out an event or concert in Grant Park

4. Architectural boat tour

5. Shopping on Michigan Avenue

6. A night out in Viagra Triangle

7. Kit Kat Lounge in Boystown

8. Cubs game and barhop in Wrigleyville

9. Visit Bahai Temple in Wilmette

10. Get a Chicago style hot dog at Portillo’s

11. Have pizza at Pizano’s

12. Skydeck at Sears Tower

13. The Signature Room at the Hancock Observatory

14. Tea at the Drake Hotel

15. Great America

16. Random casino junket thingie

This is an impressive to do list covering food, the arts, shopping, and random adventure. Have I have a Jim’s Original Maxwell Street Polish Sausage? Ashamedly so, I have not and it’s been added to my list! A trip to Lincoln Park Zoo would probably give me the opportunity to try out my telezoom lens. I have seen the Bahai Temple at night in Wilmette, it had a pristine look to it with the lights shining directly on it, maybe they have tours for the interior.

That’s all for today’s Chicago Bucket List suggestions, please send more in if you have any great ideas!

New Ideas for the Chicago Bucket List


Having the chance to meet quite a few people last week, I took the opporunity to pick their brains and get more ideas for the Chicago Bucket List. There’s nothing better than learning about new in Chicago that I didn’t know about before!

Gina (@gLorinJewelry) from Wisconsin:

1. The Matchbox – drink the Pineapple Gimlet

2. Lill Street Art Center pottery lesson

3. Jump in Lake Michigan

4. Mirai Sushi – Eat the makimono which is spicy octopus and spicy tuna

5. Richard’s – dance and drink margaritas, eat the boneless chicken dinner, and have a hard boiled egg.

I have tried only jumping in Lake Michigan. A trip to Mirai might be well warranted, but where is the best sushi in Chicago without spending $100? I’ve also been over at Ricard’s very briefly but didn’t have ID so I didn’t get a chance to check it out for very long.

Mary (not_contrary) from Louisiana:

1. Eat at Kuma’s

2. Ice skate at Millennium Park

3. Take a boat ride (either architectural boat tour or a sail boat)

4. Go to a Bears / Cubs / Sox game

5. Throw a big party on a roof!

I have eaten a Kuma’s burger and gone skating in Millennium Park. I fell too many times to count and won’t be looking to ice skate anytime soon! It’s funny, every year I tell myself I’m going on a boat tour and totally forget. I’m going to have to take care of this once the weather warms up. Now, where to throw a party on a good roof….

Jeanelle (@chowbelle) from Chicago:

1. Eat at Alinea

2. Eat Mario’s Italian Lemonade

3. Go on the Chicago Architectural Foundation river cruise

4. Sit at the 50-yard line of a Bears game

5. Dance at a set with DJ Kwest-on

6. Listen to jazz at The Green Mill

Alinea, Alinea, Alinea. I’ve the scratch for this but would feel terrible going through so much money for dinner. The juice is likely worth the squeeze but I will have to arrange a crew to go for it. Jazz and slam poetry can be achieved on Sundays at the Green Mill.

Lisa (@Lisa_Pugliese) from Chicago Suburbs:

1. Mario’s Italian Lemonade

2. Architectural river cruise

3. Italian restaurant crawl

4. Italian Beef at Serelli’s

5. Ice cream at Capannari’s in Mount Prospect!!

It’s looking like this Mario’s Italian Lemonade has got to be excellent or something since I’ve heard from no less than half a dozen people about how good it is. Is Serelli’s better than Mr. Beef & Pizza or Jay’s? I may have to go investigate.

Tom Rubin (El_Chorizo) from Oak Forest

1. Pizano’s Pizza

2. Skydive in Sandwich, Illinis

3. Chocolate Bar at the Peninsula Hotel

4. Chicago Ghost Tour

5. Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse

6. Bachelor’s Grove

With the Peninsula winning some Michelin stars, the Chocolate Bar there should be worth taking a close look at. Sandwich, Illinois frightens me but I have survived a trip out there before. Pizano’s is an unknown but I’ve had the luck to go to school right by one and enjoy their great pies.

Thanks everyone for your ideas, I still have more to post up this weekend!

#11 – Turtle Races at Big Joe’s

Big Joe's 2 & 6

Big Joe's 2 & 6

Big Joe’s 2 & 6 in Lincoln square hosts one of Chicago’s most unique events: Friday Night Turtle Races! Yes, you’ve heard right – turtle races in the bar! I don’t know who came up with turtle races, but Big Joe’s takes it to a whole other level with some All-American fun. What are the turtle races? How do these turtle races work? Well let me just tell you!

Rule #1: Buy Beer to Receive Tickets

Did someone say $8 pitchers?

Did someone say $8 pitchers?

Big Joe’s features pitchers of Bud, Bud Light, PBR, and MGD for a mere $8. For a few dollars more you can fill up with good old Stella Artois and the like. With every drink, the bartenders will give you a big strip of tickets and tables across the bar have all of their strips lined up ready to go.

Rule #2: Keep Your Tickets!

Tickets, please!

Tickets, please!

Tickets are not to be thrown out since there are six races during the course of the night and then a special race at the end of the night with all of the winners. The winner of the seventh race gets entered into a raffle for a free trip to Las Vegas. Six races with six turtle jockeys means thirty-six people will be chosen. I have yet to go to the turtle races and not had a friend or myself step up to be a turtle jockey.

Step 3: Wait for the Emcee to Call Your Number!

The Man with the Turtle Hat

The Man with the Turtle Hat

With thirty-six turtle jockeys needed, the raffle tickets are called one by one for each race. All raffle tickets are placed into a giant green bucket and numbers are read as they’re drawn. If the number called is not claimed, the crowd erupts in cheer as the holder of the ticket with the number that is closest but still under (Price is Right-style) is now the turtle jockey.

Step 4: Pick your turtle!

Pick Your Turtle

Pick Your Turtle

Everyone’s who’s ever gone to the turtle races knows that Yolanda is the slowest %#@%#!’n’ turtle in the world! Given this knowledge, Big Joe’s will have you randomly select from the tupperware to figure out which turtle you will be jockeying. There’s Lola, Lucky Dan, Swifter, Doozy, and Yolanda. Each turtle has its own personality and you’ll have to watch the races to find your favorite.

Step 5: Let the Races Begin!

Let the Turtle Races Begin!

Let the Turtle Races Begin!

Turtles begin in the center of the ring with a cake lid covering them. The winner of the turtle race is the first turtle to get to the edge of the table. Usually the turtles will quickly move out of the orange ring (except Yolanda, who is stubborn as a mule) and then the waiting game begins! The kicker here is that the first turtle out wins you a t-shirt and gets you into the winner’s bracket for the final race. On the flip side, the last turtle out also wins you a free drink so there is still a reason to go wild for every turtle race.

So there you have it, turtle racing a true piece of Americana right in Lincoln Square on 1818 West Foster Avenue. Big Joe’s Turtle Races are a spectacle to see and every person should stop in once just to get a feel for them. Everybody’s a winner when it’s turtle racing night!

#18 – Brunch at M Henry

M Henry Fried Egg Sandwich

The M Henry Fried Egg Sandwich

Living on the north side has its perks, there’s always great ethnic food, unique mom and pop shops and of course the All-American brunch venues. I first heard about M Henry from friends who transplanted to New York who were in town for the holidays a few years ago. We all agreed to meet up and were met with an hour long line and little possibility of being seated with a party of twelve on such short notice. I never held it against them and got the chance to stop in during the summer and rock some great Eggs Benedict.

Recently, I stopped by with my cousins to enjoy some fried egg sandwich. You’ll be surprised to find that M Henry is BYOB which means it’s a perfect place to grab some champagne and manufacture some mimosas. My cousins ordered salmon omelete, quiche, and another had a fried egg sandwich and we went with some legendary blackberry blisscake. Not having a sweet tooth, I have to say that the combination of firmness along with the fresh fruit and savory sauce did the trick to be delightful. If you can stand the line, you’ll find M Henry to serve up interesting organic spins on favorite classics, good service, awesome sweet tea and desert worth taking home.