Jeremy's Weblog

I recently graduated from Harvard Law School. This is my weblog. It tries to be funny. E-mail me if you like it. For an index of what's lurking in the archives, sorted by category, click here.

Wednesday, April 06, 2005


Okay, I think I've been a little harsh on Chicago. I didn't go to the right places, I'm being unfair about the subway, etc. In fairness, I want to provide equal time to people who like Chicago, and, since they actually live there and didn't just spend 4 days wandering between chain restaurants, they're probably right. I just got a really informative and excellent e-mail from a reader named David. He says:

1) I don’t think it’s fair to base any opinion of a city on food that you had at the airport – even it proclaims itself to be famous. I’ve lived in Chicago for almost five years and I’ve never heard of a flatbread salad.

2) For someone that is interested in comedy and theatre, you probably should have gone to the Second City – particularly the free improv shows that start at midnight on Fridays and Saturdays. The place is no secret, but even the worst shows I’ve seen there have still been very entertaining.

3) Yes, Chicago is full of chain restaurants, especially in the touristy areas. But if you know where to go, Chicago has some of the best restaurants in the U.S. I actually like New York style pizza better than Chicago style, but, seriously, there are much better places to get Chicago-style pizza than Giordano’s. And the Mexican food in Chicago is much better than in New York. We also have a great neighborhood on the North Side full of Indian and Pakistani restaurants – I’ve only been to a handful of them, but they’ve all been excellent. If you’re okay with spending a little more, Chicago has some of the best chefs in the U.S. (probably still a little behind New York and maybe San Francisco). Chicago probably doesn’t have the volume of restaurants that New York boasts, but New York is about 5 times the size of Chicago. And the cost of living in Chicago is much more reasonable.

4) Chicago’s public transportation is not great, but it’s adequate. The stop where you got tied up – it sounds like State & Lake – is particularly confusing if you don’t know where you’re going.

5) If you like the blues, Rosa’s Lounge on the West side has some of the best blues I’ve ever seen. It’s a dive and in kind of a dangerous neighborhood, which gives it more credibility in my opinion (I know everyone wouldn’t agree with me on that one). But there’s also Kingston Mines in Lincoln Park, which has different blues acts seven nights a week – sometimes it’s great and sometimes it’s just average. There’s also a very good local music scene in Chicago and because of its central location, nationally touring bands pass through here often, so we have a lot of good clubs for that – it sounds like you saw one of them in Park West.

6) If you like jazz, you should’ve checked out the Green Mill in uptown on the far north side. It used to be a speakeasy during prohibition and was frequented by Al Capone and other famous mobsters. They still have the underground tunnels that were used for smuggling in booze and for escapes when it was raided. They have well-known acts that pass through on weekends, so the cover is about $15. But the house band is awesome and you can see them for free after 2 am. The place is open until 5 or 6 am on weekends.

7) Finally, for a baseball fan, you’ve got to see a weekday afternoon game at Wrigley Field. In my mind, nothing compares to taking the day off and going to scalp some tickets for an afternoon game. Of course, it’s a little more expensive to scalp tickets now than it was a few years ago before the Cubs started playing decent baseball. Nonetheless, U.S. Cellular doesn’t compare.
So, Chicago fans, I offer that as an apology, and, for anyone visiting Chicago, this should provide a helpful start.

One negative that I forgot to write about, though -- what's up with Chicago being pretty much the only major city left to not have an indoor smoking ban? In all honesty, that totally made me disposed to dislike the city right when I realized that. Where I saw the Josh Rouse concert, Park West, it was ridiculously smoky. Same with a restaurant where I ate one night. And there was smoking in hotel lobbies. Ridiculous! If New York and DC and Boston can do it, Chicago can do it too. (And, despite my willingness to backtrack on my overall Chicago-bashing, I'm not providing equal time to any libertarians who want to argue why smoking bans are bad. Sorry.)