As a former speakeasy, Burwood Tap has learned to suck up to the local brass. The bar is filled with memorabilia, including a prominently displayed poster supporting Richard J. Daley’s candidacy for mayor. Free buffets and open-bar specials attract coeds from nearby DePaul, but locals often come here to enjoy a cold one with good company.
During her rotations as a pastry chef in culinary school, Uzma Sharif caught the eye of her head chef by drizzling chocolate with the same technique she used to decorate hands with henna. “You’re going to be a great success with that someday,” he predicted. The roots of her talents as a chocolatier go back even deeper, however. In Pakistan, her pastry-chef grandfather was well known for his delicate pink macaroons, and her mother and seven aunts each inherited their father’s baking skills. In January 2011, Uzma followed in her family members' footsteps, founding her own shop to purvey her hand-crafted chocolate creations as Chocolat Uzma Sharif.
These confections brim with unexpected ingredients, such as candied rose petals, Kashmiri chai, and cardamom, or glow with floral colors, such as the pinks and blues on the ombre butterflies that are Uzma's current favorite. The chocolatier handpicks the ingredients that go into her sweet creations, choosing all-natural, organic options when possible. Focused on perfecting a small selection of goods, she makes her chocolates in small batches and packages them in eco-friendly boxes she’s designed herself.
During chocolate classes at her Pilsen kitchen, Uzma teaches students about the origins of raw chocolate and the science behind making a bar with the right sheen and snap. Uzma also shares methods for choosing good chocolate from store shelves, starting with deciphering the percentages on the label and asking it whether it’s been naughty or nice.
There’s no Jerry at Jerry’s. Owners Mark Bires and Mindy Friedler chose the moniker as an homage to Jerry Garcia, whose freewheeling spirit they evidently share, given that they’ve traveled the country sampling sandwiches ranging from Chicago's italian beefs to Philly's cheesesteaks, from New Orleans's po boys to New England’s lobster rolls. It’s easy to see the influence of their journeys on the eatery’s menu, a staggering array of more than 100 regional and ethnic sandwiches that could make a magic 8 ball cloud over from indecision. Root-beer-glazed ham, beef tenderloin, and fried tofu are but a few of the sandwiches’ centerpieces, their flavors accented by offerings such as fried green tomatoes and grilled asparagus. Diners can also customize their own creations from a board filled with meats, veggies, and 10 different bread options. Hand-formed burgers, rustic-cut fries, and decadent desserts add weight to the menu like an extra stripe adds weight to a zebra. At the eatery's bar, diners scan rows of roughly 200 American craft beers accessible by bottle or tap, and they savor a selection of 70 American whiskeys. When the digital jukebox needs a break, Jerry's hosts live music, the catchy tunes of which slither through door cracks and out to the outdoor dining area.
One of the few downtown bars to survive the Great Chicago Fire, the Green Door Tavern has also spent time as a grocery store and Italian restaurant. Before heading inside, take a peek from across the street. You might be surprised to notice that the bar’s wooden frame leans visibly to the right.
Marge’s Still operated as a speakeasy during Prohibition; bathtub gin was brewed upstairs and served in the cellar below. The only relic that remains from those lean days is the antique wooden bar, which now hosts hearty plates of pan-seared tuna, baby back ribs, and duck l’orange.
At Tango Che Productions, couple Daniel Noce and Ramona Nita share lifetimes of experience through instruction and foster a strong Argentine tango community with milonga parties. Noce hails from Argentina, where he earned a bachelor's degree in his country's native dances, including tango, before joining the Ballet of the University of Argentina and studying under tango luminaries Rodolfo Dinzel. Nita pointed her feet toward tango at age 12, when she earned a dance scholarship and pair of spring-loaded heels that launched her career as an instructor and performer of Latin and ballroom styles. In 2005, she met tango by way of Noce, and the two have since showcased their passionate embrace and deft footwork as members of the Otero Dance Company.
The pair teaches private and group tango lessons together, imparting the intricacies of leading and following through their own bodies and trails of rose petals they use to mark choreography. During weekly Friday night milongas, a seasoned tango DJ draws couples to the dance floor for a night of traditional dancing. In addition to putting on professional performances for cultural and corporate events, the staff hosts dance-laden on-site wedding receptions for up to 60 people.