I don’t know how I ended up eating so much Mexican food on this trip, but I can count three different times where I was having a burrito or a bowl somewhere. Tom and Kristina (Stina) mentioned that even when they went to LA, they consider their midwest city offers better Mexican food and more variety. Hmm… don’t tell my Internet husband aka LA transplant. Irregardless, here is my break down of ALL IN weekend: food and beverage edition by the days. The following places are in the Logan Square neighborhood, where I spent the majority of my weekend before Saturday’s big match. Also, where I had my first midwest version of a Rainier… Old Style.
Aside from Polish, Chicago’s Logan Square neighborhood is predominantly Puerto Rican & Hispanic.
It even says it on Stina’s wrist: POLSKA, which simply means Poland in Polish. While Chicago is predominantly known for the hearty Polish and Italian-American fare, Logan Square has a very large Hispanic & Latino community. As we walked around the neighborhood from one destination to the next, I noticed several hole-in-the-wall type places that boasted “Authentic Puerto Rican flavor” of the sort. Though we didn’t have any Puerto Rican food, we definitely went to the Latin & Mexican spots that are popular among the young professionals and youth that reside in Logan Square. Oh, and beers!
Day 1: Thursday, August 30th. On little to no sleep, just landed in Chicago at noon.
Like I said in my previous post, I was not all the way awake when we landed. I just got in my cab and somewhat napped till we got to the city. I hadn’t eaten anything yet, but I knew I needed some form of energy to course through me… so give me the BEST DAMN COFFEE AROUND.
Damn Fine Coffee Bar
Honorable first mention to this gem of a coffee shop with a pop culture nod to Twin Peaks, which I can fully get behind. At Damn Fine Coffee I ordered an iced cold brew: Twice the caffeine and to cool me off. Desert heat vs. humid city heat… talk to me about it. This drink instantly cured me and I can once again hang.
The Map Room
I am having the Anderson Valley Framboise Rose Gose. Delightful. Think of it as the rosé, of beer.
Our first stop was around the corner from where we were shopping in Wicker Park, about a 10 min walk from Pro Wrestling Tees. Upon entering, it reminded me of The Diller Room in downtown Seattle, inside historic building known as the Diller Hotel. The Map Room has that similar vibe with an emphasis on their beer selection being more like a library. They feature the best selection of craft, import and limited-release beers. Which makes this heaven for a beer lover searching for an obscure label.
After a few beers at The Map Room, we hopped back on the L train back to Logan Square for some dinner at one of the neighborhood spots that offered some patio seating on the roof top… I’m aesthetically pleased. This lovely place… The Lonesome Rose is a nontraditional Tex-Mex joint that has this LA vibe. Plants everywhere, interior decorated minimally in a warehouse/container building. Very modern. Craft cocktails of course, but let’s stick to classic Modelo. They offered a few entrees and a few different tacos, that you could also make into bowls. Hello! Now your speaking my language. I got the rajas con crema bowl, because poblanos are the BEST and it’s vegetarian.
After dinner and a few more beers, we headed over to Milwaukee Avenue, the main stretch for neighborhood bars and restaurants. Slippery Slope and Heavy Feather were on my list to check out. First impression: Slippery Slope is the downstairs dance floor and I was instructed to steer clear of that vibe. Upstairs is the classy 1970s drawing room/porn set of a gorgeous bar called The Heavy Feather. The glassware was 70s, there’s gold mirrors, actually a lot of gold, walnut bar top and plush leather rolling chairs. It has Wolf of Wall Street written all over it. Even the cocktails were appropriately named. Try the Nine to Five or the Rum Diary.
This is the place I have been hearing about the most, just from my friend’s Instagram feed. They know the bartender, they have bags of tokens, like Ebenezer Scrooge and his money bags. So, we’re just paying for beers. I can get behind that. This place is HUGE! It’s got a warehouse/garage vibe. Probably once was an auto garage, but is now filled with arcade games, pinball, skee ball and air hockey to name a few. Inside Emporium Arcade there is Pacman, Space Invaders and we found the original Crazy Taxi, which I had on PS2 oh so long ago. Colorful murals are splashed on the wall and theres even a food truck INSIDE the building. What?! After many tall boys and feeling mighty buzzed, we headed off to Pink Squirrel, which I’ll get back to later because they were closed for the evening.
Day 2: Friday, August 31st. Brunch & Birthday Sangria
Poor Tom had to work, so while he’s away.. the girls go play. This whole weekend I was staying up late and waking up late, unlike my normal early bird self. So around 10 or 11 Stina and I wandered down to the L train stop intersection where there is your basic no BS diner. Coffee and a veggie skillet for me! Enough food to keep us going all day.
In between watering holes and feeding, Stina and I spent the day exploring. All the way to Lincoln Park where the St. Valentine’s Day massacre took place. Which is no longer a parking garage and is just a lawn and alley way. Still, I thought it was a novelty to observe a piece of Chicago Mafia history. Feeling the muggy 2pm lag, we went to the fanciest 7-11 that was in the bottom floor of this Victorian-esque building… to get Slurpees.
Later that evening… I tag along to a birthday dinner and we go bowling!
Emporium Pop-PUP @ Emporium Popups
Later that evening, we rendevouz at the apartment to gather Tom and head out to Emporium Popups, right next door to Emporium Arcade. This month’s popup is called The Dog’s Day Pop-PUP and Doggo Play Place. They have built a giant dog house inside the bar, including a ball pit, fire hydrant, and funny cocktails aptly named to celebrate all doggos! In partnership with “local canine crusaders” One Tail At A Time, a no-kill shelter in Bucktown dedicated to rescuing and finding homes for all breeds. This building rotates its themes each month bringing in pop culture references (one of them was Stranger Things themed) non-profit collaborations and so much more.
El Cid Mexican Restaurant & Lounge
I love making no plans when traveling because it usually means I’ll tag along with whomever is hosting me. After we left Emporium we headed on a short walk to the main “square” of which Logan Square historically is named after. Surrounding this round-about there are several bars ad restaurants. El Cid would be where all the Chicago friends of MY friends will gather and celebrate. Normally, I would jump on the margarita pitcher, but we all went for several pitchers of Sangria. One pitcher in, it started down pouring outside and I LOVE IT! A little drenched everyone moved inside. The restaurant manager was wound up like a squirrel accommodating everyone he could. We were his favorite table obviously and hooked us up with another pitcher, extra brandy.
Remember how I mentioned Pink Squirrel earlier? Well we finally came back! And it was much more lively on a Friday night. This petite cocktail bar wraps around with pastel, vinyl booths along the wall and a two lane duckpin bowling alley in the center of this exposed brick building. So many retro vibes! It had hints of 60s & 70s in their branding and of course with old school bowling under a neon pink sign… how could you not fall in love? To top it off this place is known for its boozy milkshakes. Fun Fact: The Pink Squirrel is a famous Midwestern cocktail that put Milwaukee’s Bryant’s Cocktail lounge on the cocktail must-see list.
Day 3: Saturday, September 1st. Leaving Chicago proper to head to ALL IN in the ‘burbs.
The Last Breakfast: Revolution Brewing
Photo: @revbrewchicago (my PBR not pictured )
On the morning of ALL IN, I’m saddened to leave the city so quickly, but also excited to witness this monumental wrestling event that has been building up nearly nine months. Initially, our last stop was going to be the Chicago Diner, known for its vegan menu and… a thing of insatiable beauty, vegan milkshakes. Though with notoriety comes the weekend brunch rush. So unfortunately, the wait was long and I had an important date later. Revolution Brewing right next door was a very close 2nd choice and an impressive not-so-basic pub and brewery. With items like a breakfast burger and shakshouka, Bloody Marys crafted with an unexpected ingredient of porter AND a craft beer back, makes this morning classic a must. I had the “breakfast from scratch” their take on the basic breakfast: two organic eggs (your way), potatoes, biscuit with jam and sauteed spinach. Go here!
I bet this made your mouth water a little bit! And this isn’t even half of what was on my list. I guess it’s time to plan another trip… or move here?!
P.S. I’m obsessed with this styling! This t-shirt is from Lonesome Rose and can be purchased online and in store, so I’ve heard. This typeface is nothing like I’ve ever seen either! Designer Eileen T. designed this surreal Tuxedo Mask inspired graphic for Lonesome Rose, and I think we can all agree… there is no lonelier rose than Tuxedo Mask’s single rose he throws when he comes to Sailor Moon’s aid. Go pick one up in store before they run out. Or if your not a Chicago native like myself you can go online to their parent company Land and Sea Department.