Tag Archives: Food & Drink

Kuma’s Corner “I’ll take the check and a bypass, please”

Dare you to finish.

Say what you will about the lines at Kuma’s Corner.  If you go on a Thursday, Friday, or Saturday around actual dinner hour, chances are you will be waiting an hour or possibly more (especially if you want to sit out on the patio).  But go early (say, around 5) on a Wednesday and have a beer at the bar first.  Or, if it’s a cold afternoon, you might want a whisky, which they have ON TAP (contain yourself though, there’s a lot of eating to be done).  Bottom line, if you get there early for dinner, you’ll be able to sit down without much of a problem at all.  Lunch is murder.  I say don’t even attempt it.

And why go in the first place?  This heavy metal-themed spot in Avondale serves up arguably the best burgers in town.  Usually, I am opposed with the force of religious conviction to the idea of complicated burgers.  Give me something with lettuce, tomato, onion, and ketchup, and I’ll be good to go.

But that’s because accouterments are expected to mask a sub-par burger.  If your friend is mixing chopped onions and tomatoes into ground meat, chances are she is afraid to let the burger stand on its own.  The thinking is often: if you can put enough sh*t on the plate, people will forget what the beef is actually supposed to taste like. Continue reading

What the Natives Drink

Social Hour every Friday in fall is a great way to avoid getting started on a weekend full of work, but sometimes a body gets tired of drinking High Life (I know, perish the thought).  In other words, you might consider heading over to Kimbark Beverages or Binny’s (where, incidentally, August is “Midwest Craft Brew Month” [!!!]) to pick up some of the Midbest’s finest beers.

But alternatively, if you’re not some kind of rockafella, you can stick to these tried and true  nectars of true Midwesterners.  I’m talking of course, about the best canned beer this great nation of ours has to offer.  There’s a time and a place for delicious and expensive Spotted Cow, Two Brothers, Three Floyds’, and certain kinds of 312 (I’m partial to the Honker’s Ale, and on nights for celebrations, Matilda).  I’m not incredibly partial to Great Lakes Brewery (Ohio, please–though I do have to say Quitness Ale is one of the funniest sports-related beverages in history).

NB: I’m missing SO many here.  I’m from New York, after all.  We know nothing of cans.  Comment on some of your favorite “old man beers”–we all want to try more.

Old Style: The Shield of Chicago

If I ever see you drinking Old Style out of a glass, we’re no longer friends.

Baltimore may have Natty Bo, “a beer best consumed by the case”  (as described to me by a 45-year-old divorcee who subsequently, and with a straight face, lamented that he couldn’t imagine where his marriage had gone wrong), but Chicago produced its own magical lager in 1902 when the Pabst Brewing Company introduced Old Style.  That’s right, hipsters.  When you’re scoffing at Old Style drinkers as you swill your PBR, you’re just scoffing at yourself, and usually paying more.

Feel that?  It’s egg.  All over your face.

Do Chicago a favor and have an Old Style as soon as you arrive.  As of 2009, taking a cue from its cousin and arch-rival Schlitz “The Beer that Made Milwaukee Famous,” (after the jump) Old Style had returned to an older formula.  And I say Amen.

Why drink it?: Because you live in Chicago, want to drink local, and have no money.  Because there’s a sign for Old Style on every blue collar bar in Bucktown and you can’t resist.  Because it tastes just good enough.  Because you earned it, but just barely.

Where to drink it: Bear’s games, The Cove, Lincoln Park flip cup tournaments, your drab university studio apartment staving off apocalyptic loneliness and horror,  in Regenstein when you’re trying to read Lacan, out of a brown paper bag at The Point, anywhere. Continue reading

And in case you’re thirsty…

Phil here, the mentor in the purple shirt in that photo of the three of us; I’m the one in the middle.

I’m just popping into let anyone who’s already here know about the best place to drink in Hyde Park if you’re new in town and not yet equipped with a Student ID, namely, Jimmy’s Woodlawn Tap at 1172 E 55th Street (and Woodlawn Ave).  Jimmy’s is the perfect mix of a student and a local bar: comfortable environment, friendly people, $2.50 pints of Miller Light, cheap bar food until midnight, and the music isn’t too loud to have a conversation.

There’s also The Pub if you’re willing to pay 3 big ones at the door.  The Pub is the official student bar for the U of C, located on campus in Ida Noyes Hall, at 1212 E. 59th Street, on the Lower Level.  When you get your Student ID you can pay $10 for the year and never worry about the cover again.

Finally, AJ wouldn’t let me get away with failing to mention The Cove, located at 1750 E 55th St (between Everett Ave & South Shore Dr).  The Cove, AJ’s favorite bar in Hyde Park, is a well lit establishment frequented by locals and stocked with two electronic dart boards.  It’s fairly cheap, fairly friendly, and a great place to watch any sport that happens to be on at the moment given its several TV screens.

Looking to drink-in?  Check out Hyde Park Liquors located in the Kimbark Plaza at 1214 E 53rd St (between Woodlawn Ave & Kimbark Ave).  This place is cheap and huge.  That’s basically all there is to say about it.

Please drink responsibly!


You’re in Hyde Park!…now what?

Winter?  Please.  Right now, it seems a thousand years away.  Hyde Park in summer is about as sweet as neighborhoods in Chicago get.  During the day, there’s plenty to keep you busy, and at night either check out one of the few local restaurants and hangouts, or hop the Metra or #6 Bus up north (it will get a bit harder to justify escaping for the evening as work heats up and the temperatures plummet this fall).

Here are some basics to keep you busy in Hyde Park as you rest up before the year starts.  And set a bookmark for Hyde Park Progress to get info on cool festivals and events in HP that you won’t have time to attend.

The Point, as viewed from the MAPH Helicopter

1) Promontory Point: The 57th Street Beach can get a little crowded, so head over to the north side of “The Point” to check out MAPH Beach–unofficial meeting place of the unofficial “MAPH Swimming, Diving, and Sunbathing Team” (Season: May-June, tryouts in December). New Yorkers, get ready for a shock: you can swim in the water in Chicago.  The Lake will be at its warmest between mid-August and mid-September, so jump in before Core starts.

There will be a post on vegan options soon….

2) Cafe Valois: Chicago is a breakfast town, and Hyde Park has its very own breakfast gem in “Val-OYS” (Francophones beware, say Val-WAH and you’re likely to get some angry looks as you eat your delicious pancakes).  Keep the line moving: Valois is an old-school cafeteria-style restaurant.  A bacon, egg, and cheese sandwich with coffee will set you back no more than $4.00.  Bypass surgery charge covered by your University of Chicago Student Health Plan. Continue reading

Las Tapas de Chicago!

I love tapas, and there are a surprising number of tapas restaurants in Chicago. I’m going to review a few of them here, for your general amusement and, perhaps, to entice you to try one of them.

Tapas (as I’m sure you know) are small plates from Spain, which are typically shared.

Cafe Iberico

439 N. La Salle Street (Red Line Chicago Stop)

Ok, you walk into a wall of people and yell something at the hostess, hoping she will hear you.  She yells something back and, if you’re lucky, will start walking you to a table.  If not, you stand around waiting and staring at your hostess, who might literally explode at any second.  (No reservations on the weekends, you see).  If it seems from various hand signals and garbled exchanges that you will need to wait for some time, you hit the bar.  Which bar, you ask? Take your pick- there are three in the restaurant.  After some sangria you are feeling much more jovial and you approach the hostess once again, eyebrows raised, hopeful smile… YES! You are seated!  And then the real fun begins.

This place is a strange hybrid of disco (Spanish music videos blare from oversized TVs), bar, and restaurant.  It is loud and vibrant. The food is really delicious.  I actually adore coming here because you can’t help but enjoy the crazy atmosphere and get carried along in the rush for an hour or two.  It is an excellent place to go for dinner before doing something else later in the night- all that energy should at least get you dancing for a while.  If crowds are not your cup of tea, try this place on a weeknight when it will be much quieter.

The food it typical and tasty.  The tortilla expañola (a potato omelette) is the best one I’ve had so far in Chicago, and the mejillones (mussels) are absolutely fantastic in their garlicky broth.  Prices are reasonable, though alcohol will quickly add to your bill.

Mercat a la Planxa

638 South Michigan Ave

This new restaurant gives a more upscale take on tapas.  Located in the Blackmore Hotel, Mercat focuses on tapas from Barcelona and the surrounding area of Catalonia. Accordingly, many tapas on the menu are listed under their Catalan names, while only the traditional tapas from Galicia and Andalucia retain their Spanish names.  The specialties are, of course, the seafood and meats grilled “a la planxa”: seared at high heat on a hot plank over the fire.  The scallops done in this way are phenomenal.  Mercat also offers a great selection of vegetable dishes, making this a great spot for a group comprised of vegetarians and non-vegetarians alike.

This place is more pricey than most tapas places.  It is an ideal spot for a fancy date, a celebratory dinner, or a place you might want to get your parents to take you when they come visit.  The atmosphere is more laid-back and feels more like a restaurant than Iberico.  The sangrias here are also pretty tasty- rather than the fruit-laden winey punches, they involve only a few complimentary flavored fruit and are often steeped with herbs for a more complex flavor.

Emilio’s Sol y Nieve

215 E. Ohio St.

Emilio’s is located conveniently close to Navy Pier, making it a good place to go post IMAX (or post tourist-posing) that is not completely overrun.  While enjoyable, it was not as memorable as either Iberico or Mercat.  One huge exception to the mediocrity were the datiles con tocino: bacon-wrapped dates.  Even if you think you don’t like dates, you have to try them.  They will blow your mind.

I am also including this place because it has outdoor seating in the summertime.  I went in the winter, so I couldn’t experience this but I have a feeling that the deck would add exponentially to your dining experience.  Tapas, wine, Chicago sunset…

Happy eating! If you try these places out, let me know what you think!


The University of Chicago's first Coffee Shop

The University of Chicago’s first Coffee Shop

We’ve got you covered for coffee in the MAPH office, and the food at social hour is always plentiful, but it can be tricky to find out where to get a good lunch on or near the University of Chicago campus. If you bring your own food, you can always heat it up in the office microwave, but chances are there will be at least a few days where you look in your fridge and spy absolutely nothing worth carting to campus.

The University has created a helpful page listing all of the on-campus coffee shops, dining halls, and restaurants, but while helpful, it’s a bit overwhelming. Here’s a condensed version that doesn’t include things like the cafés in the hospital and the undergrad dining halls (though I know a few people who did eat there periodically, I never found their food to be particularly worthwhile). I’m also listing a few options that are just barely off campus, for those of you who don’t mind a bit of a walk.

Classics Cafe: Just upstairs from the MAPH office, the Classics Cafe is extremely convenient, offering coffee, tea, panini sandwiches, cookies, and a few refrigerated sandwich and salad options. If you like the selection here, but want a quieter area where you won’t run into your MAPH buddies all the time, try the coffee shop in the basement of Stuart, which has similar food, but is slightly harder to find.

Cobb & Swift: I’m grouping these two together, because for me, the stand out thing about them is the same. Both cafés bring in lunch options from many Hyde Park restaurants, so you can choose from a wide variety of warm lunch options, ranging from hot soups and pizza to delicious Thai, Mediterranean, or Indian food. These two cafés are in the basements of their respective buildings, and have excellent coffee in addition to a wide range of lunch options.

Ex Libris: Coffee, tea, refrigerated sandwiches and the like. The key here is that it’s in the basement of the Regenstein, so it’s ideal for a quick study break. You have to exit the part of the library where the books live, so you may need to disassemble your study area and check out your books, but it’s still much faster to duck down here than to go anywhere else.

The Law School & The Business School: Though both of these options are a bit out of the way (across the Midway for the Law School, across University Ave for the Business School), and full of people wearing much posher clothes than the average humanities grad student, they can be great lunch spots, if you want something a bit different. The Business School has a worthwhile salad bar, and the sandwiches at the Law School are excellent.

University Market, Medici, and The Medici Bakery: The Medici family owns this block of restaurants and markets, all Hyde Park classics. Medici is a sit-down place, with pizza, pasta, salads, burgers, milkshakes, and desserts. The Medici Bakery is their take-out option, with a wide array of breads and other baked goods as well as fantastic chili and ice cream. University Market is more of a convenience store, but serves excellent made-to-order sandwiches in the back, all on Medici-made bread, of course. These can all be found on 57th St., just a few blocks east of campus.

Noodles Etc: Just a little beyond the Medici complex lies Noodles Etc., a sit-down restaurant where you’ll find an assortment of Asian dishes, including delicious fried tofu appetizers, lots of noodle dishes, and rich, sweet Thai iced coffee. They do also offer take-out.

There are, of course, plenty of other places to eat in Hyde Park, but many of them aren’t quite close enough to campus to be convenient for lunch, or are the Starbucks at Barnes and Noble, which is only worthwhile because they have ice cream sandwiches and take credit cards. Their non-ice-cream sandwiches? Totally not worth it.

Food, Glorious Food! Hyde Park Farmers Markets

Summer and fall are great times to be in Hyde Park, if only because of the two weekly farmers markets brimming with amazing, organic and inexpensive produce. Go to one of these markets, take home a bundle of healthy, tasty produce, and try making something new!

61st Street Farmers Market

-Saturdays, 9:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.

-61st Street and Blackstone Ave.

-Open from the first week of May through December

This great market brings healthy produce to Woodlawn, an area that was marked out as one of America’s “food deserts” in Mari Galligher’s “The Impact of Food Deserts on Public Health in Chicago.”The market includes several stands that proffer organic fruits and vegetables, and also organic meats and homemade cheeses, eggs, flowers, and baked goods, as well as hand-made soaps and candles.I had forgotten what real farm eggs both look like and taste like before buying a dozen and taking them home to poach: the yolks of these tiny eggs are actually deep orange and are incredibly delicious.

Aside from the great produce, this market is a fun excuse for the community to come together.On nice Saturdays people come to relax, eat, shop, play music and enjoy each other’s company.For more information about the market, go to http://www.experimentalstation.org/about/farmersmarket.

Harper Square Farmers Market

-Thursdays, 7:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.

-52nd Place and Harper

-Open from early June through October

This market is a bit smaller than the 61st market, but the produce is outstanding and the selections vary each week due to what is in season.Sometimes there is a vendor who just sells different types of mushrooms, and another vendor who specializes in garlic.Don’t think there are different types of garlic? Buy a few heads and find out! This market is especially convenient to those who live in northern Hyde Park/Kenwood and who have Thursday mornings free.For some reviews of this market, go to: http://www.sustainlane.com/reviews/hyde-park-chicago-farmers-market/US8FR9731TQ98XCSBZPQ79KZ2O3A.

Don’t live in Hyde Park? No worries! Since I live here, these are the markets I am familiar with, but there are many, many farmers markets all over Chicago.For a listing by neighborhood check out: http://abclocal.go.com/wls/story?section=news/local&id=6812915

Get Ya Caffeine On at the GSB and the Bourgeois Pig

Get Ya Caffeine On: The GSB and the Bourgeois Pig

On Campus:

The Business School Cafeteria:

Officially called the Everett Kovler Café (A hidden GOLDMINE!!), this cafe is located inside the Business School on 58th and Woodlawn and is a large, atrium-style cafeteria. During the week the cafeteria is open until 10pm and until 3pm on Saturday.
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Get Ya Caffeine On at the Reynold’s Club

Get Ya Caffeine On
This Week: The Reynold’s Club

The Reynold’s Club is on the corner of 57th and University and is a student union of sorts. It’s got several offices, study areas, and places to eat and get coffee. On the weekends they have copies of the NY Times hanging around (not that Linda has ever taken a Sunday edition home before, or every Sunday…). Here’s the run down Linda and Margaret style:
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