We left town around noon and tore out of town. We arrived in Chicago around dinnertime, checked into our hotel near the airport, and then headed into town. We hadn’t counted on the ridiculously insane traffic, so we were near starvation when we finally arrived.
We’d planned on Kuma’s Corner, but there was a line out the door, so we chose Abbey Pub instead. Matt need to try their curry fries, anyway.
After eating and watching some baseball there, we headed over to give Kuma’s Corner a try. We were way too excited that they had Buffalo Trace (that’s bourbon, for those not in the know) on tap. The place was still insanely crowded, and at least 150 degrees inside, but it was still awesome. We managed to fight our way to the bar to order, and grabbed a couple of sittin’ spots on the front windowsill. We’d put our names in for a table, but decided to leave long before they came up. Before we left, though, we found this in the bathroom:
We decided to head down to Wicker Park, near Lauren’s work, so we could meet up with her when she was done at 1am. We found a spot after much searching, and then had to stop in to pick up a parking pass from her, because god forbid you just park on the streets in Chicago. The good thing was that we could leave the car there overnight, if necessary.
The streets in Wicker Park were crawling with a hipster infestation. Their numbers were kind of unbelievable. I’ve never seen so many kids who all look exactly alike while at the same time believing themselves to look very unique. We rushed through the thronging masses in search of the Violet Hour, which was owned by the same people who run Bradstreet 601 here in Minneapolis. It’s a bar known for very creative mixology and awesomeness, and we knew we could count on Bradstreet’s recommendation.
Having the address for the Violet Hour was no help; we realized that most likely it was the plain, windowless, whitewashed building with a single yellow light over the door, but we weren’t sure. We decided to go in anyway, and found a few people standing in a dark entryway, reading the rules for the place. They included things like ‘no cell phones’. There was dress code, too, though no one there was even close to fitting it. We didn’t, either, but we figured that must be ok.
The host came in shortly and grabbed Matt and I, the lucky party of two who got to go ahead of everyone else. He asked if the bar was OK, and obviously that was what we preferred anyway. The cocktail standards at the Violet Hour were definitely the same as Bradstreet, though it was a little disappointing that they were way too busy to have a conversation with any of the bartenders. That’s one of the best parts.
We left a bit later, and still had some time to kill before meeting Lauren. We decided that food was the best choice, given our current state, so she pointed us toward Flash Taco down the street. It was bad; slow, packed with hipsters, and the food was terrible. Based on about three hours of experience with it, we decided that Wicker Park sucked a lot. Regardless, I’m pretty sure we’re right.
Finally, Lauren was done with work. We met up with her there, and went to the nearest bar, directly across the street. The Flat Iron seemed to be an exception to Wicker Park’s lameness, or at least there were enough non-hipster people in the crowd there that it was tolerable. We had an awesome time.
Round about… well, I really have no idea. 3am? 4am? We walked Lauren back to her apartment, stopping at Dunkin Donuts on the way. I think I ordered three beverages. Matt and Lauren had them some very patriotic donuts!
We made it back to the hotel after 5am, and crashed. It had been a very long day.
We got up at the crack of noon (haha), and got ready to head downtown. We were smart this time, and took the hotel shuttle to the train station at O’Hare. It was a big day!
We intended to go to Hot Doug’s to get some food, so we hopped off the train at the appropriate stop and headed east. Most people would’ve taken the bus, but we insist on walking. After a mile or so, we arrived to find a line two blocks long. I’m sure Hot Doug’s is awesome, but we couldn’t wait that long.
So we kept walking. And walking. I have no idea how far it was, but it was a lot. Finally, we found ourselves at Wishbone, one of my favorite places. It was 3pm. Perfect time for brunch, if you ask me.
We revived ourselves with lots of coffee and grits, and then headed up to hop on the El. Someone on twitter had told me about the crazy paintings at the Old Town Ale House, so we had to check that out. Well, the paintings were amazing. How can you go wrong with creepy naked Sarah Palin? The bar itself was kind of scary, though: we walked in and everyone turned at stared. That’s because everyone else lived there, and we were strangers. At least the bartender was nice!
We rode downtown and walked over to Millennium Park, because no trip to Chicago is complete without a visit to Cloud Gate, aka the Bean. There were Honduras soccer fans everywhere. So awesome.
We still had a bit of time to kill before the game (and we were alarmingly sober), so we set off in search of Matt’s dad’s favorite bar. It was easy to find, and was crowded with fans. We found spots at the most oldschool bar ever, and I ordered a Manhattan and a piece of spanakopita. That’s just how I roll.
Matt went out to smoke, and came back in with Robin in tow. He’s one of Kris’ friends, and we run into him at every soccer-related event in Minneapolis. We finished our drinks and decided to head down to Soldier Field.
Even though I grew up in Chicago, I’d never been to Soldier Field!! It’s amazing, and so was the crowd.
There were a few sections of US fans at either end of the stadium, but it was at least 80% Honduras fans. That was a little intimidating, but the atmosphere seemed friendly. The US fans seemed to be doing most of the taunting, of course.
We got to see Landon Donovan:
And Jozy Altidore:
And, of course, Tim Howard. I love Tim Howard. A lot.
The game was pretty stressful, but the US team managed a win! Towards the end, some of the Honduras fans in the upper deck started throwing their beer cups onto the US fans. We were pretty glad to be in a sheltered area.
The entire crowd poured back into Chicago together. Despite the taunting and such at the game, everything was very friendly again. It was also the only time I’d be comfortable chanting “U.S.A.!” Usually that kind of behavior makes my skin crawl.
It was worth it for the deep dish.
I was pretty much dragging at that point. We wanted to go hang out somewhere for a bit, but didn’t want to make a lot of effort doing so. Thankfully, the blue line helped us decide; it was closed for several stops between downtown and O’Hare, so we decided to take the shuttle up to the part where it was back in service, and find somewhere to drink right near the stop. Then getting back on the train and to the airport when we were about to fall asleep would be as easy as possible.
The offerings at that stop looked a little bleak when we got there, but we managed to spot a couple places, and decided on the one called the Green Eye. This, it turned out, was the right choice.
The crowd reminded me of a cross between Grumpy’s and Triple Rock, which was immediately appealing. The bartender was gruff and hilarious. After we’d had a drink or two, he came over and excitedly started telling us about the movie they were about to play; apparently they have a trashy horror-film tradition on Saturday nights. It was called Poultrygeist, and it was a Troma musical. Rather than try to explain it, you should just go read about it.
Poultrygeist was as great as it sounds. The entire bar sat there watching it, breaking into hysterics and groans. We really need to get a copy so we can spread the love.
Eventually, Matt and I made our way back over to the train, and from there to the hotel shuttle stop at O’Hare.
Sunday morning, we got up bright and early and headed out for the most important Chicago tradition. It doesn’t matter that I don’t eat donuts; they many awesome breakfast foods. And good coffee.
We did some shopping at CB2, one of my favorite stores, and then it was time to head homeward. With a stop for lunch at the Great Dane in Madison, of course!
I miss Chicago! We used to go there all the time. That high-speed train between there and the Twin Cities needs to happen.