Celebrating Saint Paddy

Chicago turns its river green in honor of St. Patrick's Day and the Irish. (Photo courtesy of City of Chicago)
Chicago turns its river green in honor of St. Patrick’s Day and the Irish. (Photo courtesy of City of Chicago)

On Tuesday, March 17, 2020, claim a little Irish blood. Wear something green. Say Sláinte for cheers and toast Éire go Brách! (Ireland forever). But you don’t have to wait until March 17, the commemorative date of St. Patrick’s death to celebrate his feast day.

Chicago celebrates this patron saint of Ireland with parades, multiple pub toasts, Irish dancing, music, special boat cruises and of course, the famed turning of the Chicago River green several days before the official date.

The festival, concert and river scene

Siamsa Na Ngael celebration at Symphony Center, 220 S.. Michigan Ave. brings Celtic music, dance and stories to the Chicago symphony’s home, March 11.

House of Blues, 329 N. Dearborn St., Chicago, features the famed Gaelic Storm on March 13-14.

March 13-15 Cruises take off from Navy Pier and Michigan Avenue docks to the sounds of Irish music and tour the Chicago River or watch it turn green. For March 14’s river dyeing event check with Wendella for a 21 and older cruise and a kids cruise.  Or visit Shoreline Sightseeing’s Architecture River Cruises that celebrate Saint Paddy’s weekend by also learning about Chicago’s buildings. Other cruise choices are to see what the Spirit of Chicago Lunch Cruise has on the menu for March 14 or consider the inaugural St. Patrick’s Day Clover Cruise to watch the river change color, March 14.

Irish American Heritage Festival  is the annual popular place to head for food, drinks, good Irish dancers and good bands when the City of Chicago parade is over on Saturday. The Heritage Center is at 4626 N Knox Ave. Tickets are needed for the festival which goes from 1 to 11:59 p.m.

Shamrock on the Block is another popular post Saturday parade spot for food, drinks and entertainment. It’s like a large block party outside Old St. Pats Church at 700 W. Adams St.

River Dyeing happens at 9 a.m. March 14 along Wacker Drive between Columbus Drive and State Street. To watch from the Michigan Avenue Bridge or the walkways, get there early because the event normally attracts crowds.

The parades

City of Chicago St. Patrick’s Day Parade is considered the largest of its kind in the U.S. Beginning at noon, politicians, floats, bagpipers, dancers and bands take three hours to go north on Columbus Drive from Balbo to Monroe Drives.

Southside Irish Parade on March 15 is a neighborhood, family-friendly parade that draws from other areas. Once canceled because of drinking there is a strictly enforced no drinking policy in the neighborhood and along the parade route which  goes along Western Avenue from 103 rd  St. to 115th.St. The parade steps off at noon.

Northwest Side Irish Parade starts at noon at the William J. Onahan School then goes south on Neola Avenue to Northwest Highway then north to Harlem Avenue. Parade watchers often go to a post parade party at St. Thecla Falcon Hall, 6725 W. Devon Ave,. for food, drinks and entertainment from 1 to 5 p.m.

Sláinte

Jodie Jacobs

 

 

How to sample great dishes and where to make a reservation

 

First Bites Bash at the Field Museum is a fun, yummy way to sample Chicago restaurants' fare. (Choose Chicago photo)
First Bites Bash at the Field Museum is a fun, yummy way to sample Chicago restaurants’ fare. (Choose Chicago photo)

Foodies, listen up. First Bites Bash, the yummy event that annually kicks off Chicago Restaurant Week. will be at the Field Museum Jan. 23, the night before Restaurant Week begins.

The event is a chance to sample dishes that will be on more than 60 Chicago Restaurant Week menus. Plus there are always wine tastings from different countries and restaurants’ specialty cocktails.

Several ticket levels are already sold out so to snag a ticket go now to  firstbitesbash.com

A portion of the proceeds from First Bites Bash will go to the James Beard Foundation’s Chicago EATS Week Scholarship Fund that provides financial assistance to a Chicagoland student seeking a culinary arts career.

Celebrity chef/director/owners this year are Thai and Danielle Dang of the award winning HaiSous Vietnamese Kitchen and Cà Phê Dá in Chicago’s Pilsen neighborhood.

“First Bites Bash is an amazing opportunity for Chicagoans to meet many of the most celebrated chefs in the city and to preview a range of exciting flavors that will only be found during everyone’s favorite culinary moment of the year, Chicago Restaurant Week,” said Chef Dang. “We are also very passionate about the cause it supports, which bolsters opportunities for our next generation of culinary leaders.”

Visit First Bites Bash for list of participants.

Co-organizing agency Choose Chicago’s President and CEO David Whitaker pointed out that First Bites Bash celebrates Chicago as a “culinary destination.”

“The breadth of both neighborhoods and cuisines represented at this event and throughout Restaurant Week provide an unparalleled opportunity to make memorable dining a part of an amazing Chicago experience,” said Whitaker.

Chicago Restaurant Week, showcasing more than 400 restaurants actually takes place for well over a week. Going from Jan. 24 through Feb. 9, it features restaurants across Chicago neighborhoods and culinary styles.

Operating with prix fixe menus, it’s a chance to dine at upper-end restaurants for $24 at brunch or lunch and $36 or $48 for dinner. Reservations can be made at eatitupchicago.com

Jodie Jacobs

 

 

Three fun festivals and shows start 2020

 

Enough of looking back at 2019. Instead, start putting some of the great shows, exhibitions and festivals of 2020 that you’ll want to see on the calendar. To start with, here are two biggies at McCormick Place (2301 S .King Drive) and a festival that takes place all across the city.

Dream and have fun at the Chicago Boat, RV and Sail Show at McCormick Place. (Photo courtesy of the Chicago Boat RV and Sail Show)
Dream and have fun at the Chicago Boat, RV and Sail Show at McCormick Place. (Photo courtesy of the Chicago Boat RV and Sail Show)

Chicago Boat, RV and Sail Show

The Chicago Boat, RV and Sail show celebrates 90 year anniversary at McCormick Place, Jan. 8-12. Sponsored by Progressive® Insurance, the show features more than 700 of the newest power and sailboats and 100 RVs.

Along with oohing and dreaming while meandering the aisle, there are fun activities including learning to sail with the Chicago  Sailing’s Sail Simulator, fishing in the Huck Finn Trout Pond, remote control sailboat racing and a chance to build a boat with aluminum foil (see if your design can hold golf balls and not sink). For more information visit www.ChicagoBoatShow.com

 

Larey sets the table for Chicago Restaurant Week. (Photo courtesy of Lawry's)
Larey sets the table for Chicago Restaurant Week. (Photo courtesy of Lawry’s)

Chicago Restaurant Week

Chicago Restaurant Week, Jan. 24 through Feb. 9, is a chance to experience a restaurant at a favorable price. For example, The Signature Room with great views from the 95th floor of what used to be called the Hancock Building (875 N. Michigan Ave), will offer a special three course dinner (includes coffee or tea) for $48 and Lowry’s Prime Rib in the historic McCormick Mansion (100 E. Ontario), will have also have a dinner for $48.

Actually going for 17 days one week really isn’t enough to visit even a few of the 400 participating restaurants. After all, Chicago really is a foodie town with new restaurants constantly coming on the dining scene. For more information visit and restaurant choices visit  Choose Chicago Restaurant Week. For participating restaurants visit Chicago Restaurant Week restaurants.

 

Subaru press conference at the 2018 Chicago Auto Show. (CAS photo)
Subaru press conference at the 2018 Chicago Auto Show. (CAS photo)

Chicago Auto Show

The Chicago Auto Show, the country’s largest display of what’s coming in design and technology, is at McCormick Place Feb. 8-17. First staged at the Chicago Coliseum in 1901, the show features everything from what was, what is, what will be and what may be categorized as science fiction in some minds.

In 2020 look for concept cars, super cars, sedans, sport utilities, hybrids, crossovers, electric vehicles, minivans, luxury cars,, sports cars, convertibles, pickups, minivans, economy vehicles, hatchbacks, sporty coupes, vans diesel vehicles and wagons. Of course there will be interactive displays, test drive opportunities and simulators.

For a fun look back visit Chicago Auto Show history. For interactive displays, see Chicago Auto Show Interactive.  For tickets and general information go to  Chicago Auto Show.

Jodie Jacobs

 

Where to find unusual gifts

One of a Kind gift show at theMart includes a good gourmet food and candy section. (J Jacobs photo)
One of a Kind gift show at theMart includes a good gourmet food and candy section. (J Jacobs photo)

 

Shopping the old fashioned way, leisurely browsing in person without worrying that the items will be gone by 8 a.m. or that the internet will be overloaded, can be a treat at museums and annual gift shows.

Listed here are two examples of excellent gift shows and really good, large  museum shops. They are likely to take a while to explore and are fun excursions while filling the gift list. Continue reading “Where to find unusual gifts”

Holiday Happenings Part Three

 

Skating is fun at the McCormick Tribune Ice Rink where you move to music, grab a hot chocolate and skate against a backdrop of the Chicago skyline. (City of Chicago photo)
Skating is fun at the McCormick Tribune Ice Rink where you move to music, grab a hot chocolate and skate against a backdrop of the
Chicago skyline. (City of Chicago photo)

 

Around Chicago it’s that time of year to see such holiday shows as those listed in Holiday Happenings Part One and walk paths of twinkling, colored lights highlighted in Part Two.

Holiday Happening Part III brings you places for fun holiday shopping, ice skating and traditional events. Continue reading “Holiday Happenings Part Three”

Dinner and a show from a theater reviewer

Goodman Theatre (Photo courtesy of Goodman Theatre)
Goodman Theatre (Photo courtesy of Goodman Theatre)

Theater critics tend to return to the same places before covering a show. They are not usually the upscale places gone to for a special occasion or the newest eatery with a gourmet menu or “in” vibe.  They have good food and are convenient to the venues.

Here are my recommendations based on experience for two downtown theaters ( I use theater spelled er) and two places in the northern suburbs. More areas later.

Downtown-Loop

When going to the Goodman Theatre  170 N Dearborn St. or James M  Nederlander Theatre, a Broadway in Chicago venue at  24 W. Randolph St., I reserve a table in the bar at Petterinos (312-422-0150, 150 N. Dearborn St.) at the corner of Dearborn and Randolph Streets.

The bartenders here are terrific. They serve their patrons quickly when they know they have a show. And I like the fried calamari when looking for something light and the amazing chicken pot pie when cold weather calls for a dish to warm the insides.

The restaurant is literally next door to Goodman and just a few steps across Dearborn to the Nederlander (former Oriental). I take public transportation but Petterinos has a valet service for customers who want to park there and see a show.

Downtown – Mag Mile

There are lots of places to dine on and near the Magnificent Mile. But when reviewing a show at Lookingglass Theatre, 821 N Michigan Ave. in the historic Water Tower Water Works  on the east side of the Water Tower campus or at the Broadway Playhouse at Water Tower Place, 175 E. Chestnut St., I reserve a table at Mity-Nice Grill on the Mezzanine Level of Water Tower Place (835 N. Michigan Ave., 312.335.4745).

I like their veggie burger and their salads and that they bring tiny Yorkshire pudding bites to start the meal.

North Suburbs – Lincolnshire

I look forward to dining at the Three Embers Restaurant in the Marriott Resort, 10 Marriott Dr., when reviewing a show at the Marriott Theatre in Lincolnshire.

Executive Chef Pierre Daval and Chef de Cuisine Jesus (Chuy) Medina are currently showcasing their Harvest Dinner. At Three Embers, diners get honey butter for their rolls that is a taste treat made with honey from Daval’s beehives on the property. I also love the Honey BBQ Brisket with smoked grits. But I’m thinking of trying the Sea Scallops dish with butternut squash and a maple glace when I go for the next show because squash and maple are too seasonal to pass up.

North Suburbs – Skokie

Across the road from Northlight Theatre at the North Shore Center for the Performing Arts, 9501 Skokie Boulevard, Skokie, is a small strip mall that contains the popular Bonefish Grill at 9310 Skokie Blvd. Yes, you need a reservation and tell the waitperson you are going to a show.

I like the restaurant’s bread and dipping oil, its Caesar Salad and any shrimp dish with a variety of sauces.

Feel free to leave your own recommendations.

Jodie Jacobs

 

 

 

 

Around Town mid-September looks up and down

 

 

Birds Eye cafe at Lincoln Park Zoo. (J Jacobs photo)
Birds Eye cafe at Lincoln Park Zoo. (J Jacobs photo)

For kids, there’s a redone, restaurant up at tree-level in Lincoln Park Zoo. For adults, there’s an art show to view high on a building on Wacker Dr. And for adults who want to relive a kids-experience, there’s a museum field-trip night that will take them down a shaft.

 

Restaurant at Lincoln Park Zoo

When entering the main entrance at Lincoln Park walk straight ahead and look up, tree-level for the Bird’s Eye Bar & Grill perched above the gift shop. There is a ramp around the side for strollers and folks who can’t do stairs.

Formerly the Café at Wild Things, the space is geared to families with Foosball and air hockey tables, and games such as Jenga plus a menu that includes burgers and BBQ sandwiches. But there are also salads and flatbreads.

Recently opened, the restaurant is seasonal with hours from 11 a.m. to 4 p., Monday through Friday and from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.  However, the space can be booked for private events. Lincoln Park Zoo is at 2200 N. Cannon Dr., Chicago. Admission is free. For more information visit lpzoo.org.

Coal Mine at MSI. (Photo courtesy of Museum of Science and Industry)
Coal Mine at MSI. (Photo courtesy of Museum of Science and Industry)

MSI adult field trip

Adults get to go down to the popular Coal Mine, board the U-505 Submarine and visit Colleen Moore’s Fairy Castle and other stuff at the Museum of Science and Industry after hours (age 21+) on Sept. 20 from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m.

Some things they didn’t have when on a kids’ field trip is Improv Comedy iO Theater Chicago doing behind-the-scenes MSI stories  and a chance to play such board games as Clue, Operation, and Guess Who (courtesy of Lakeview’s Bonus Round Café). Plus take part in a scavenger hunt.

Try hands-on experiments. And, oh yes, receive “boozy”juice boxes and “grown-up” lunchables.

Admission is $30 (MSI members: $25). It includes free parking in the underground garage, coat check, light snacks, a complimentary drink, and access to select exhibits. A cash bar will also be available. For more information visit msichicago.org/fieldtripnight

 

Art on theMART starts new projects. (Photo courtesy of theMART)
Art on theMART starts new projects. (Photo courtesy of theMART)

Mart art

New art projected on theMART (former Merchandise Mart) kicks-off Sept. 21 with food trucks and a DJ on Wacker Drive at 6:30 p.m., the projection starting at 7:30 p.m. and fireworks at 8 p.m. The projections feature works by Charles atlas and Petra Cortright. For more information visit visit artonthemart.com.

 

Jodie Jacobs

 

 

Around town this weekend and next

 

Chicago Riverwalk (Photo courtesy of City of chicago and Dept. of cultural Affairs and special Events)
Chicago Riverwalk
(Photo courtesy of City of Chicago and Dept. of cultural Affairs and special Events)

Of course you know the Chicago Air and Water Show haappens across the city’s near-north lake front Aug. 16 (practice) then Aug. 17-18 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

But there is also a yummy food fest throughout Chicago from Aug. 14 through Sept. 1 and an interesting theater festival up in Skokie Aug. 16 to 18.

 

If your attention span stops you from seeing plays that are three hours long, Skokie Theatre has the answer in its Fifth Annual Short Play Festival.  Six,15-minute plays take the stage beginning at 7:30 p.m. each night. The low ticket price of $15 shouldn’t dent the culture budget.

They run the gamut from a woman who makes a strange request while planning her father’s funeral in “A Funeral Home in Brooklyn” to What happens in an antiquities gallery stays in an antiquities gallery in “Museum Piece.”

Skokie theatre is at 7924 Lincoln Ave., Skokie, IL. For tickets visit OvationTix.

 

If you count yourself a foodie and also like the idea of meeting different chefs, trying different cuisines and giving back to the community check out the Chicago Tribune Food Bowl. It takes place at restaurants throughout the city, Aug. 14-Sept.1, 2019.

Then, if you like to see how the Riverwalk has developed with restaurants, bars and pop-up places, go down and over to the area from 201 West to 305 West Riverwalk South where you see Art on theMART at the Confluence and the Jetty for the Food Bowl Night Market, Aug. 23-25. (Franklin/Orleans Streets to Wells Street).

For more information visit Food Bowl events/calendar.

Jodie Jacobs

Around town from an art fest and Ravinia to Edge Fest and Egypt

 

The Martin Theater is near the Ravinia Festival Gate at the Metra train stop, accessible by St. Johns Avenue and the Green Bay Road parking lot plus Ravinia bus shuttles. (Photo by J Jacobs)
The Martin Theatre  is near the Ravinia Festival Gate at the Metra train stop, accessible by St. Johns Avenue and the Green Bay Road parking lot plus Ravinia bus shuttles. (Photo by J Jacobs)

 

Celebrate summer while it’s here.  This weekend, art booths fill downtown Glencoe and Renee Fleming is doing Stoppard’s “Penelope” at Ravinia. Next week the Oriental Institute in Hyde Park has Hieroglyphics for kids and the Edgewater neighborhood celebrates summer with food,beverages and music

 

What: Festival of Art

When: July 27-28 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. both days.

Where: Center point is 700 Vernon Ave. near Park Avenue west of Green Bay Road in north suburban Glencoe.

Admission: free

Info at: Amdur Productions/Glencoe.

 

What: Renee Fleming and actress Jennifer Ehle perform Tom Stoppard’s and Andre Previn’s “Penelope” (based on Homer’s Odyseey) at Ravinia Festival.

When: July 28, 4 p.m.

Where: Martin Theatre and carried on large screens on the lawn at Ravinia Festival Park in north suburban Highland Park between Green Bay and Sheridan Roads north of Lake Cook Road.

Admission: Lawn $10 (as of this printing the Martin is sold out)

Info at: Ravinia Festival/Renee Fleming

 

What: Intro to Hieroglyphs Family Workshop with an Egyptologist (recommended for ages 8-12), then go into the Oriental Institute’s galleries to translate artifacts.

When: Aug. 1, 10:30a.m. to 12:30 p.m.

Where: Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago, 1155 E. 58th St., Chicago

Admission: Registration needed. General $14, members $10 (child and one adult)

Info at: Intro to Hieroglyphs

 

What: EdgeFest, a music, food, brews party thrown by the Edgewater Chamber of Commerce

When: Aug. 3-4 from noon to 10 p.m. Saturday and noon to 9 p.m. Sunday (Pet Parade Sunday 4 p.m.

Where: Broadway from Thorndale to Ardmore

Admission: Suggested $5 donation at gate (donors receive community discount Edge Card.

Info at: Edgewater/Edgefest.

 

Jodie Jacobs

 

Around town it’s food fest time

 

Hey Chicago foodies, this weekend is about putting off the diet until Monday because there’s a yummy snack o scarf down or a different cuisine  to try out in the neighborhoods and downtown.

Taste of Chicago July 10-14 in Grant Park. (Photo courtesy of Choose Chicago, the city's visitor bureau)
Taste of Chicago July 10-14 in Grant Park. (Photo courtesy of Choose Chicago, the city’s visitor bureau)

TASTE OF CHICAGO

You know this is the biggie, the one that requires good walking shoes and lots of hollow-leg room to visit the dozens of restaurant booths lining Grant Park. Taste runs July 10-14. Hours are Wednesday – Friday: 11 a.m. – 9 p.m., Saturday and Sunday: 10 a.m. – 9 p.m. Admission is free but you have to buy tickets to use at the booths to get any food and beverages.

Along with the regular booths check out the food trucks, pop-up restaurants and chef demos. Also stop by the Petrillo Music Shell to hear who’s entertaining the day you’re there.

Some streets will be closed (or clogged with traffic) behind the Art Institute and around Jackson for Taste so take public transportation.

For the specific booth layout, chefs and entertainment schedule visit Choose Chicago/Taste

 

WINDY CITY SMOKEOUT

It’s about really good barbecue. Well, it’s also about good beer. And of course, it’s a about great country music.

What you need to know is that this year, Windy City Smokeout has moved from River North to the United Center Parking Lot at 1901 w. Madison St., that the dates are July 12 – 13, 2019 and that gates open at 2 p.m. Friday and at noon on Saturday and Sunday.

Also, get tickets ahead of time. For ticket information see Windy City Smokout FAQs. For entertainment and other information visit Windy City Smokeout.

 

Edgewater Greek Fest

The annual festival benefits and is at the 92-year-old St. Andrew’s Greek Orthodox Church on Chicago’s Northside in the Edgewater neighborhood. Celebrating Helenic heritage, it features Greek food, music, dancing and band plus has artisans and kids’ activities.

The festival is  July 12-14. Hours ate Friday 5-9 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday from noon to 10 p.m. at5649 N Sheridan Rd. For more information visit Events/GreekFest.

 

 

Roscoe Village Burger Fest

More than a block party but just as friendly is Roscoe Village’s Chamber of Commerce’s annual Burger Fest. The place to go for great burgers, music on two stages and artisan booths is 2000 W. Belmont at Damen Avenue, July 13-14 from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. B TW you get to vote on Chicago’s Best Burger.

A suggested $10 donation supports the Chamber’s activities. Find more information at Roscoe Village Burger Fest.

 

Jodie Jacobs