Two weekends ago, I ventured with my new friend Ian Fullerton to the land of CHIC-a-GO, for a little vacation from Cleveland, and to see what different neighborhoods looked like and more importantly what they tasted like.
To begin with, we decided to take the Megabus. This proved to be very cheap, as well as equal parts entertaining and irritating. Also, the megabus only makes two stops between Cleveland and Chicago, one is in Toledo where there is no option to eat, the other is right outside of Ohio at a McDonald’s/Dairy Queen/Diesel/Chotchky/Gas’nGulp thingy. As I was very hungry I was already ready already to break my moratorium on McD’s, but our bus let off at the same time as another bus, this one full solely of hungry teens, all aglow with whiteness, Clearasil, and sports tans. 60 or more. So combined with our bus’ contents, and the threat that we would be leaving in exactly 15 minutes or we would be left behind, my chances of grabbing a Mcmeal died very quickly. I opted for jerky, but then abandoned that too, and settled in to let my stomach grumble till Chi-town. Ian however opted for Dairy-queen, and a picture perfect chocolate dipped ice cream cone. When we got back on the bus, our Bus driver informed us of a little known fact, that he was a Published Poet! Joy! and that he would love to recite some of his stuff for us for the next 40 minutes or so… “show of hands?” Great. Ian says he sounds like Langston Hughes. I agree.
When we arrived in Chicago, tired and hungry but none the worse for wear, we immediately find Shawneecee, and head to Santullo’s Pizza in Wicker Park for a slice of feta, Gorgonzola, and mozzarella pizza. Slightly overpriced at $4.50 per , this was still a damn fine slice of pizza.
After that we headed to Piece for a lovely house brewed stout, this place collegy as it was was really good, and the beer was awesome. PLUS they offer their beers to go AND in Growler size. If you don’t know what that is… it the big brown jug of awesome that lots of breweries offer these days. After that we decided on a little dancing and reunion at the Hideout. On the way there we saw quite possibly the best outside of a bar/venue/restaurant ever.
This place is called “slow down, life’s too short” is an incredible sight, reminding me of something out of a fun house fever dream, Shawneecee quickly brought me down from my cloud to inform me that it is both closed and infamous for being a total hole. *Suck sound* Check out the link for more info. The hideout, while nothing to write home about, was full of friends and decent music. YEAH!
The next day we met the Grand Manor and all of it’s inhabitants. All of these kids are bike riding crazies, with more shit going on that i can realistically describe here, let’s just say these kids live in a collective house in the middle of a mildly ghetto area in Chicago, with 7-8 members, 4 hens and an active band schedule in tow, they get down on home brewed wine and beer, and don’t mind garbage picking for side dishes. Get into it. So, Ian and i dined on some simple bruchetta style open faced sandwhiches and coffee supplied by Shawneecee, and geared up to meet up with James Murray at the International Mr. Leather Competition in Downtown Chi-town. While Shawnee fixed up directions for us we met a fellow guest-of-house-mate, who is also a foodie…check out this AMAZING tattoo. Total “stick and poke” or jailhouse, this tat pretty much describes this girl’s (on the right) seriousness about foodness.
After this we headed to downtown on bike, but i blew a flat almost immediately, so Shawnee and her man friend Drew carted us to the Hyatt Regency with urgency. We were in luck because, James and the other half of his DJ act Decoy6, JC were waiting outside amid a sea of leather daddies and cubs.
Unfortunately there are no photos from the inside of this leather convention/pageant, as i felt it rude to ogle people anymore than I already was. Non participatory is one thing, making a freakshow of someone is another. This being said, I HAVE NEVER SEEN SO MANY DILDOS. There was a dildo here the size of a small road cone, made to look like a mountain of fists. nuff said. But, as this is not food, I digress.
After a totally forgettable trip to Halstead Cafe in Boystown, the premiere gayborhood in Chicago, Ian and i parted ways. James and i went to join his parents for a very fancy meal at Cafe 28.
This cuban cutie was more than i asked for. I chose the baked chicken, with beans and rice, topped with a plantain chip. Simply amazing. And on the bone. We were all very happy with our choices, and whatever wine we had helped also.
Thanks Ma and Pa Murray!
Later on I met up with Ian and Shawnee and Drew and we headed to yet another delightful dive to see their housemate, Al Scorch perform an event celebrating the release of a book about Johnny Cash’s lyrics and their relation to major philosophical writings. WOAH. a little labored honestly, but Al was great. He was like a banjo and punk fueled version of Lightning Bolt, or Cleveland’s own Clan Of The Cave Bear. AKA, a drummer, a string instrument, possibly some vocals. But good either way. Afterwards we headed for some late-night Mexican at Los Comales. This place rocked my world. Styled like a 50’s-ish diner, complete with chrome and tile, this place was cheap tasty and staffed by friendly pregnant young ladies. I had a torta, and couldn’t have been more pleased. They also had big scary vats of pickled stuff on the tables, complimentary. of course. However, among the veggies, carrots, and peppers, were giant stalks of cauliflower. I fucking hate cauliflower. Except that it reminds me of Bunnicula, and that makes me smile. So I got over it pretty quickly. All in all i have to say Los Comales is VERY VERY GOOD.
That was all that we needed to head off to bed happy and full. The next day Ian Shawnee and I headed off to Lincoln Square towards Shawnee’s work, but on the way we stopped off for brunch at Tre Kronor.
Have you ever had a Swedish breakfast? Well think richness, eggs, fish, fruit, and coffee, and you’ll be almost there. Complete with murals of gnomes, and a Swedish pancake special, and a staff as white as Los comales’ staff is Mexican, this place is the real deal. They even had advertisement for Merimekko luggage on the table.
Shawneecee enjoys her coffee with cream and friends. And her pancakes Swedish style; thin and stuffed with strawberry preserves.
I enjoy my heart-stoppers fancy and fishy. I got the Eggs Hollindaise over Crabcakes. Eat it.
Ian enjoys his omlettes with tobasco and a side of browns. He is also sort of sleepy here.
All in all a flavorfull experience. SO flavorfull we decided to move there!!!!
So come check us out in Chicago-town (sometime after August 1st) Thanks again Shawneecee, Drew and all of the folks at Grand Manor!!