Chicago Meetup Friday March 24!

Dear readers,

We promised more meetups, and now that Trump madness is settling down to a dull roar, it appears to be the time to start scheduling them.

So you humble blogger is coming to Chicago on Friday March 24, arriving early PM. A Chicago buddy has recommended a hotel in the Loop, so I’d welcome venue recommendations near there. We’ve gotten 30+ people in Washington and Dallas, so I’d assume 20-35 for Chicago. So we need a spot where a group that large could mix reasonably well.

I prefer starting early, 5:00 PM, so as to spread the crowd out and also give the bar/restaurant more patrons at pre-peak hours.

So I hope to see you Windy City residents soon, and do please pipe up with suggestions in comments.

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  1. Isotope_C14

    Well, you guys are in for some fun.

    Richard’s Bar allows smoking of all types. That’s pretty unusual and has a particularly eclectic juke box, fully corrupt for local laws, complete with ex-cop doorman (65+). I’d suggest it for the late pipe/cigar/cigarette joint.

    The Redhead piano bar has poor reviews on yelp, but I’ve not met a boomer + that didn’t just love the place. Complete with obnoxious musician playing the songs us X’ers never want to hear. Billy Joel was never meant to be copied. He’s a once in a lifetime vocalist. Piano player is pretty good though. He’s not incredible, but truly consistent. And honestly, a better voice than mine so that’s something.

    The Berghoff restaurant has a mess of somewhat private events, it’s an ok place to start up a meeting like this. You don’t really have to call them in advance, just show up and grab a table. If you had 20 responses, this would be a good meetup place. 40 might need reservations.

    Most places that kick-ass are outside of the loop, like Davanti Enoteca, Francesca’s etc, around little italy.

    Remember, the blue line and red line are 24 hour. A ventra pass purchased smartly can get you pretty much where you want to go. Smartly, meaning are you going to use pub-tran 24/7, there are apps, and even dumb-phones work for it. Chicago is the #1 best city in the US for Bus/Train service. Very cheap too.

    If you want truly interesting food you look to places on the brown line (not 24 hour) like Jibek Jolu, though it looks like they have a new downtown location which they are now calling “asian fusion” hat’s off to the Dems demonizing everything Russia.

    Have an Italian beef for me. Hot peppers, wet. No napkins, thanks I know how to eat it.

  2. Arizona Slim

    Maybe it’s the science geek in me, but I am wary of any place called Enoteca. That’s acetone spelled backwards.

  3. Toni Gilpin

    I was super excited to see this would be happening — often wondered why NC devotees never gathered in Chicago — but then super bummed because I may be downstate that day for a union event (not sure yet). But in terms of venue — though Chicago’s dining options are second to none (no more Second City for us!) since this is largely a socializing event you may as well stay in the Loop. Depending on where you are staying your hotel bar could be a good option. But otherwise one good choice would be The Drawing Room, which is beautiful, perfectly located, and historic. I’ve only been there during the day, though, and don’t know how crowded it gets, but maybe they’d reserve some space for a group. I’d be happy to check into that if you’d like.

  4. j84ustin

    I don’t live or work in the Loop but I would agree it is likely the best place due to transit options. That being said, I don’t have any suggestions… unless it’s off the blue line in Wicker Park or Logan Square.

  5. jp

    Great to hear this, will be there. Downtown Chicago is a place to avoid though, expensive/overpriced and a tourist trap. A short ride on the L going north gets you into great neighborhoods with real restaurants and bars.

    I will contact my friends here who follow NC, though not on a daily basis.

      1. Jeff N

        actually, a Loop meetup is great for suburban residents. all Chicagoland public transportation points towards there.

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      That’s great, thanks for the offer!

      I am first going to look into where I am staying, which is the Marriott. I didn’t realize when I posted that it has a large lounge that might work. But these other suggestions are very helpful.

      Next time we can do at O’Hare for those who find that easier (it would certainly be easier for me!). I though the Loop would work for many in terms of logistics, although I understand the tradeoff re the more fun venues.

  6. Atypical

    Unless there are many who would find a Loop location convenient, the O’Hare area has many hotels and good restaurants and is rather central to metro Chicago. Obviously, no travel would then be needed by YS and potential restaurant congestion might be reduced.

    Is the downtown choice locked in?

  7. Nitesh

    The W on Adams in the loop is fairly roomy; another place to check out would be Cindy’s rooftop bar: its bar with a view of the Grant parks.

    Totally excited to be there!

  8. Left in Wisconsin

    I’m not sure how many might be parachuting in from outside or if it makes sense to specially accommodate us but if it did, O’Hare environs would be way easier. My recollection is that heading into the Loop on Friday afternoons is brutal. Yes, I could have trained it if Scott Walker The Genius TM wasn’t in control in these parts. But now car or bus are only options and they are both freeway dependent.

    OTOH, if I was Yves and my hotel was in the Loop, I would meet up down there.

  9. Clark Landwehr

    I think we should emulate the Masters of the Universe and hold our meetup at Polekatz in Bridgeview, a very fine stripclub. We could spend $10,000 each on Cristal and full-contact lapdances!

  10. Toni Gilpin

    Re O’Hare: admittedly it would be easier for folks coming from north of Chicago, but unless you are right downtown or will be otherwise close to a blue line stop, it’s pretty inconvenient for Chicagoans or suburbanites to get out to O’Hare at 5 on Friday coming from the city. And much as I strongly encourage tourists to get into the neighborhoods to really know the city, the loop is probably most convenient given that most people will be coming from work somewhere in Chicago or close by. Just my two cents.

    It occurred to me that it would be ironic for this group to meet at Trump Tower, for the obvious reason but also because it is just across the river from what was the 2008 Obama HQ (233 N. Michigan). But I don’t really mean that because it is too expensive at the Trump bar (though it has a fabulous view) and I for one would not patronize the place, even if NC folks were inside.

    But another option that would put you in the vicinity of those landmarks (just north of the Loop, at the river) would be the iconic Billy Goat Tavern (the original subterranean Michigan Ave. location), which thanks to SNL is now a tourist destination but is firmly rooted in Chicago history, as the old newspaper hangout for Trib and Sun-Times reporters (those that are left do still patronize the place). The food is not great but is cheap, and they do take reservations for big groups, I think. No fancy beers and cash only, though. (Full disclosure that I haven’t been there after hours for years, so don’t know what it’s like these days.)

    1. HarrisonBergeron

      That’d be decent, I think the west loop might have good options as well. Getting in and out of O’hare late on a Friday is a nightmare and the restaurant scene there is dominated by chains. One of the hotel bars near or in the Marriott is probably a good bet because all more local options are going to be mobbed, there are 3 Marriott hotels downtown so which one we’re taking about would be a good start.

    1. OIFVet

      Jimmy’s is so close to me. I loved it ever since high school because they never carded me. Not so sure about the UChicago kids swelling the attendance, though having the event in Obama’s neighborhood, two blocks from Axelrod’s Institute for Politics and three blocks from the MBA diploma mill and Milton Friedman’s shrine would add a certain delicious irony to the meetup :)

  11. LeftBereft

    Yes! Long time lurker here who has been waiting a while for a Chicago meetup. Excited to attend!

    As for suggestions for a good place, I can echo the sentiment of a lot of the other commenters here; the loop may not have the best venues for a big meetup, though I understand people commuting from the suburbs will have a much easier time in that area. Also, public transportation (primarily the red and blue lines) are easy to use and very efficient.

    Yves, in another comment you mentioned that you’re staying at a Marriott hotel in the loop–I’ve been to a few of those bars and while they are bigger they tend to be rather narrow, not a lot of open space for groups to congregate. If you’re looking for some options with good food and drink selection and an accommodative floor plan, allow me to put forth some suggestions for your consideration:

    Green Street Smoked Meats – West Loop, just over the river on a popular restaurant stretch. Has a lot of open space for people to gather and great food (the one drawback is it’s not very vegetarian friendly).

    The Hopleaf – this bar has great food and a varied selection of foreign beers on tap, they also have a private room that hosts up to 40 people. The one drawback here is that it’s at Clark and Foster, a bit north of downtown and not directly off of a train line.

    Delilah’s – a favorite of the Lincoln Park neighborhood, two floors and lots of great beers to choose from. I believe the second floor can be reserved.

    Timothy O’Tooles – throwing this one in here so you have a downtown option to evaluate. This is a big pub with lots of space and standard bar fare. Located in the Streeterville north of the loop.

    Within the loop itself your best bet would be to find a hotel lounge with adequate meeting space, but hopefully the above helps out somewhat.

    Looking forward to it!

  12. Mike

    Still haven’t received an invite to this yet and it starts in 30 minutes. I don’t see a post update either. If you don’t want us regular folks going, please just send out e-mails next time.

  13. P.D.F. Rafferty

    First time posting in the comments here. Can attest to the atmosphere of Richard’s. It’s a great place for a consummate nicotine addict such as myself but might be off-putting to non-smokers and, perhaps moreso, ex-smokers. That being said, as a smoker, I have no qualms with the place and recommend it wholeheartedly. The Loop, as others have mentioned above, is probably the most convenient area as far as accessibility goes. There are more interesting locales but it can’t be beat for sheer convenience (so long as one is not commuting from the suburbs, or driving — parking downtown is an expense). For quite selfish reasons I would simply recommend any location within walking distance from an El station.

  14. Joseph Conn

    Just north of the river on lower Hubbard Street right off (and below) Michigan Avenue and Chicago’s “Magnificent Mile,” the Billy Goat Tavern has been the traditional meeting place for Chicago journalists from the Mike Royko era on. And, of course, it was the inspiration for the iconic Saturday Night Live comedy sketch, “The Olympia Restaurant.” It’s original owner, William “Billy Goat” Sianis,” supplied the goat that figured in the 1945 curse that seemed to dash the hopes of Cubs fans for more than half a century — until last year.

    There’s a back room that could accommodate about 20-30 at a squeeze.

    The double-cheese burgers are “the best,” and you can’t get Coke or fries, only Pepsi and chips. It does have a full bar with the old recipe Schlitz among the beers on tap.

    If you’re looking for fancy or snooty, this definitely isn’t it. If you’re looking for a quintessential Chicago bar oozing with history, good burgers and cold beer downtown just a couple blocks from the Mag Mile Marriott, accept no substitutes, this is it.

    1. run75441

      Like that idea. It is right under the Wrigley Building. When I would be a laborer passing 5 gallon of buckets of water to tuckpointers cleaning the white terracotta, they would eat and drink in the Billy Goat. Boilermakers for them and a coke for me as I was 16 then.

      With you . . .

  15. HJ

    Count me in. Some very good eateries and bars in West loop – i.e. areas of Greek Town and Fulton Market (Haymarket Pub & Brewery?) – but may be difficult to converse in any of these establishments given expected high noise levels on a Friday night.

  16. Carla

    Really fun reading about all these iconic Chicago watering holes!

    (…she writes wistfully from Cleveland…)

  17. run75441


    Stay close to the hotel you are in and we will come to you. I will drive in from Ann Arbor. I grew up in Chicago went to USMC departing from McAfees in 68, after graduating Lane Tech HS. Came home with a wife from NYC and graduated City colleges and universities.

    I would be honored to meet you. Please let me know where.


  18. Toni Gilpin

    Incidentally Yves and anyone else in Chicago in the next few months — I highly recommend an exhibit at Chicago’s Cultural Center (a landmark building on Michigan Avenue in the Loop, which has an incredibly beautiful interior and is worth going inside just to see that) devoted to the Wall of Respect, an enormous mural created by a group called The Organization of Black American Culture in 1967. The Wall was a very significant outgrowth of the black liberation movement; it was controversial from the start and was removed a few years after it was installed. But those who saw it (I did, as a child) haven’t forgotten it. It’s the 50th anniversary of the Wall and this is one of several exhibits in the Chicago area this year devoted to it. Definitely would be worth your time.

  19. Susan C

    As a native Chicagoan who has spent many a fine hour doing the bar scene in Chicago, I would recommend going to a place on Rush Street. That is the place to go to for drinks and get togethers. That would be about a mile up from the Marriot Hotel. I recommend Tavern on Rush – maybe they could accommodate the group on the second floor where they have a large room – might be worth a phone call to find out. For afterwards if hungry there is Lou Malnatti’s for some pizza right across the street – another Chicago treasure. Have fun everyone!

  20. Bob N

    Coming from Wisconsin and seeing the previous suggestions, I would suggest the following:

    (1) downtown: the Berghoff or Billy Goat. Chicago landmarks with their own unique traditions.
    (2) Chicago O’Hare area: a number of hotel choices, just easier for those travelling from outside the downtown area.

  21. Neil in Chicago

    There’s a Mariott on W. Adams, another on Hubbard, and another on N. Michigan Ave. To an out-of-towner, all might look like “downtown”. Which is yours?
    The Loop proper is mostly nine-to-five. North of the river there’s much more going on at dinner time and after; and there are restaurant strips very near west, too, Greektown on Halsted and trendy on W. Randolph.
    So most of the best options are likely to be a short bus/cab ride. Any problem? (My bus pass will take me anywhere.)
    And what is *your* taste? (And do you have any time to be shown any of Chicago?)

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