Tuesday, April 16, 2013

What To Do In Chicago

The Cubs.  The Rangers.  Wrigley Field.

Just typing those words makes me feel better.  In the wake of Monday's events in Boston, a sense of ceremony and the opportunity to take the mind off enormous tragedy is comforting. 

The thought of travel, sports and American traditions does that for me.  I hope this can be just a brief respite for you, as well.

The Rangers begin Interleague play Tuesday against the Cubs in Chicago.  It's their first visit to Wrigley Field since 2002.   Texas returns to play the White Sox in August 23-25th.

Chicago is one of the best cities in America of which I haven't experienced enough.  I spent a weekend there during the famed Chicago Air and Water ShowWhat a sight to see planes flying over Lake Michigan with the beautiful downtown skyline as a backdrop.

My husband and I stayed at the gorgeous Hotel Sofitel Chicago Water Tower, located in the heart of the Gold Coast.  It was a great, stylish base for exploring the city on foot.  This French-owned chain always has deals on rooms.  Check its website, Travelzoo or any of your other favorite travel-related sites.

My friend, Bryan Dolgin, is a Chicago guy.  He was the White Sox radio pregame and postgame show host in 2005.  He later served the Rangers in the same capacity for three seasons.  He has some great tips if you're interested in visiting the Windy City this year for a baseball game or quick getaway.  I second his suggestion on Gibson's Steakhouse.  It's a classic.

Here are Bryan's suggestions:

Chicago is my kind of town, and State Street is not the only great street. 

I grew up in a northern suburb of the Windy City, but I also lived in Chicago for almost a decade before moving to the Dallas-Fort Worth area.  Add those credentials with an appetite for great food, fun nightlife and good times, and you can thank me later for a well-planned trip to Chicago.

Lou Malnati's
Let’s begin with where to eat…and talk pizza.  My favorite is Deep Dish at Giordano’s, but my wife favors thin crust from Lou Malnati’s.  Either way, you can’t go wrong.  Deep Dish, though, will send you into a food coma, but it’s the best pizza you will ever eat.

For the meat eaters…I’m a fan of the Chicago Cut at Gibson’s Steakhouse on Rush Street.  I also recommend sitting in the bar area.  If you have a party of 12 or more, then I recommend getting a private dining room on Gibson’s second floor and that means you can hear the conversation at your entire table.  By the way, Gibson’s shares its kitchen with Hugo’s Frog Bar and that mean’s plenty of seafood selections.  Get the Crabmeat Avocado appetizer.

Pot Roast Nachos/Chicago.Grubstreet.Com
If not Gibson’s, visit Ditka’s just down the street and enjoy Pot Roast Nachos.  Perhaps the best ribs in the country, are at Carson’s which is just a mile from Gibson’s.  Yeah, you read correctly—the best ribs. 

Wrigley Field
Wrigley Field
If you are headed to Wrigley for the any of the three games between the Cubs and Rangers, there are a bunch of restaurants and a million bars to choose from in Wrigleyville.  Try Bernie’s.  It’s just outside the center field bleachers.  Before a Cubs game once, I bumped into NFL football players Ronde Barber and Mike Alstott (retired).  Barber and I had a great conversation about the last college football game I broadcast in college when my Miami Hurricanes beat his Virginia Cavaliers in the Carquest Bowl.  Good times.

U.S. Cellular Field
U.S. Cellular Field
Later in the season when the Rangers visit the White Sox, check out Manny’s Deli on the near South Side.  If you order a corned beef sandwich and replace the bread with potato pancakes, the guy behind the counter might say, “you want the Ohio?!?”  Sure, whatever.  I just wanted a tasty corned beef sandwich the size of my head.  This is an extremely popular spot and usually has a line out the door. 

Bar-wise, visit Cork & Kerry about a block and a half north of US Cellular Field or visit the classic South Side watering hole, Schaller’s Pump.

To Do
Let’s look at some other entertainment possibilities.  I used to live in Old Town on the near north side.  That is where you will find the comedy clubs of Second City and Zanies.  For the guy looking to take his significant other for a nice dinner before or after a show, try Topo Gigio or Trattoria Roma which are both steps away from the comedy clubs.

For music, check out Buddy Guy’s Legends on the South Side, the Aragon on the far North Side or the Metro in Wrigleyville.

Millennium Park
The architectural tour on the Chicago River is a must.  The Lincoln Park Zoo might be one of the last remaining free zoos in America.  If it’s a clear day, head to the top floor of Willis Tower (formerly The Sears Tower) or the 95th floor of the John Hancock Building.  When/if the weather is nice, just relax at the outdoor bar/cafĂ© near The Bean in Millennium Park.   

Chicago is a vibrant city.  Whatever you choose to do or wherever you go when you are there, it’s probably the right choice.  If you want more choices or ideas, send me a message at www.facebook.com/BryanDolgin.  Also, visit my blog: thecoolfactorbd.wordpress.com.

Interested in more Rangers-related road trip tips?  Check out where to eat, drink and play in Houston and Seattle plus places in San Antonio that don't suck
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