Great Finds: Chicago

I've lived in Chicago for 10+ years and would like to share some of my great finds with visitors to our fair city.

Lula Cafe

Member Rating 5 out of 5 by pj1465 on January 9, 2007

This popular Logan Square cafe is always busy, and there's a good reason for that... it provides imaginative, organic, well-prepared fare at reasonable prices.

Logistics: You can easily get to Lula from downtown Chicago by taking the CTA Blue Line north to the Logan Square stop. Lula is across the street from the train station on Kedzie Blvd. Because of its popularity and relatively small size, it is not uncommon to have to wait briefly for a table.

Menu: Lula offers an eclectic menu of organic fare. They have a standard menu that offers many dishes under ten dollars, including a Morrocan chick-pea tangine and a fabulous roasted turkey sandwich. Vegetarians can find a plethora of choices, such as the shiitake mushroom quesadilla. The ever-changing daily dinner menu offerings can be pricier, but includes standout choices such as a cumin-crusted snapper with roasted fennel. Lula is also a hot spot for weekend brunch goers. Expect everything from a simple but delicious BLT to the more elaborate but also delicious pan-roasted sea bass eggs Florentine. What makes Lula special is that the chefs use the freshest local organic ingredients available.

Atmosphere: Lula has the feel of a small neighborhood restaurant and features artwork by local artists on the wall available for purchase. The decor is minimal, but funky and inviting.

Lula Cafe
2537 N. Kedzie Boulevard
Chicago, Illinois, 60647
(773) 489-9554

Rinconcito Sudamericano

Member Rating 4 out of 5 by pj1465 on January 11, 2007

This Peruvian eatery is located in a modest storefront in Chicago’s Bucktown neighborhood. Potted plants, photos of Chicago and native artifacts adorn the dining room, providing a casual, yet festive atmosphere. The extensive menu and reasonable prices make this the best known Peruvian place in town. Most entrées are under $15 dollars, and specialties include lobster in garlic sauce and arroz con pato (duck with spices). Many offerings are cooked in either a white or red wine sauce. Everything I’ve tried here has been delicious, but the dish I return to again and again is the spaghetti with beef cooked with Peruvian spices. I don’t know what constitutes Peruvian spices, but the dish melts in my mouth! For those more adventurous than me, there are plenty of unique dishes to try (rabbit with peanut sauce, anyone?) The portions are huge, and I always leave with leftovers.

At peak times, the wait for a table can be long. I suggest heading to the bar to check out the wine list, which features several South American wines at affordable prices. Service is leisurely like in South America, so that could pose a problem for those in a hurry. Strict vegetarians will have a hard time here, as the menu focuses largely on meat and seafood.

Street parking is generally available with a little effort. The restaurant is four blocks north of the CTA Blue Line Damen stop (walk North on Damen to Armitage).
Rinconcito Sudamericano
1954 W Armitage Ave
Chicago, Illinois, 60622
(773) 489-3126

Wrigley Field

Member Rating 5 out of 5 by pj1465 on January 8, 2007

I like to call Wrigley Field Chicago's largest beer garden. Indeed, it is a popular spot to spend a summer afternoon despite the Cubs' less than stellar performances in the last, oh, 99 years. In fact, the Cubs haven't won a World Series since 1908.

Not that it matters. Droves of fans visit Wrigley and claim almost every seat in the stadium each year. Although many games sell out early, tickets are often released on game day or can be bought outside the stadium. Surrounding Wrigley are a variety of restaurants and sports bars to enjoy before or after a game. If you want to avoid crowds, I suggest you leave the area, however.

You can reach Wrigley fairly easily by taking the CTA red line to the Addison stop. Street parking is hard to find and the lots are expensive. If you don't mind walking or taking a bus, you could park a mile west of Clark street on Addison with little problem.

While there are a few seats with an obstructed view, most of the seats offer a great view of the field. Some people love to sit in the bleachers, but be warned... the Bleacher Bum crowd can be loud and unruly.

The stadium itself is beautiful, with its ivy covered outfield walls and old fashioned scoreboard. After the passing of legendary announcer Harry Carey, a guest celebrity usually carries on his tradition of singing "Take Me Out To the Ball Game" during the seventh inning stretch.

Souvenirs are aplenty at the ball park, but you'll find more reasonable prices at the souvenir shops near the stadium.

While a variety of food and drink options are available, I recommend the traditional hot dog washed down with an Old Style beer. Oh, and bring your own peanuts. They're cheaper outside the stadium.
Wrigley Field
1060 West Addison Street
Chicago, Illinois, 60613
(773) 404-2827

© LP 2000-2009