If Green Mill’s walls could talk, they’d probably run out of breath before they could divulge all the stories they’ve witnessed over the years. The jazz spot’s history, which teeters on the edge of believability and local lore, began when the bar originally opened as Pop Morse’s Roadhouse in 1907. After undergoing a transformation in 1910, the newly renamed Green Mill Gardens began attracting visitors from nearby Essanay Studios, including Charlie Chaplin. Perhaps its biggest claim to fame is serving as a hangout for the infamous Al Capone, who frequented the club while his right-hand man, Jack “Machine Gun” McGurn, ran the show. While some of Capone’s favorite performers took the stage, Green Mill’s network of hidden underground tunnels were used by mobsters to transport illegal booze, facilitate law-evasion, and play cruel games of Marco Polo with new recruits. Eventually Prohibition ended and propositioning gangsters gave way to upscale crowds, a badda bing vibe, and Frank Sinatra visits. During this time, the surrounding Uptown neighborhood deteriorated, but somehow the club survived and eventually underwent a restoration in the mid-‘80s. Over the years it has appeared in films such as Thief and High Fidelity, but patrons today aren’t as concerned with keeping track of all the history as they are with kicking back and soaking in the music or slam poetry. During a typical visit, Jazz musicians tickle their instruments late into the night as well-dressed guests stop in, sidle up to the bar, and converse in respectfully hushed voices while downing stiff drinks.
At Agami, Executive Chef Kye is not just interested in the taste of food, but in the complete sensual experience of eating it. Those who order the garlic delight specialty sushi roll will feel the warmth of the Bacardi 151 flame it's served upon. Meanwhile, those biting into a salt sun flower roll will hear the crunch of sunflower seeds, and those admiring the wild fire roll will see a colorful combination of red snapper, guacamole, and mango pico de gallo. Sushi is certainly the restaurant's specialty, but it's not all that's served here?in addition to specialty maki, nigiri, and sashimi, there's also sushi-inspired entrees as well as a kitchen menu with dishes such as steamed dumplings and teriyaki chicken.
The attempt to create a wholly experiential dining experience doesn't stop with the food. The modern restaurant was designed with high ceilings, textured walls, and seaweed sculptures, all to create the feeling of being under the sea. Underwater scenes are projected on video screens, and a lucite bottle rack behind the bar resembles bubbling ocean waters. Concentric half-circles separate the traditional dining room, lounge area, and bar, the latter two of which are open until 1 am on Friday and Saturday nights.
An avid supporter of "local jazz and world music like few others," according to Time Out Chicago, Katerina Carson's eclectic arts hub is part jazz club, part restaurant, and part tavern. Inside, cozy up at the couch and mismatched chairs in the front window, or post up at the 30-foot-long copper-topped bar to snack on homemade taverna meatballs. The Chicago Reader notes that, beyond the hodgepodge of furniture and intimate environs, "Katerina herself "always makes you feel right at home" during nightly musical performances from a wealth of Chicago legends.
In the heart of Wrigleyville, diners savor Raw Bar’s namesake plate—fresh, raw oysters amid 40s and 60s art deco. However, the eatery’s seafood offerings encompass cooked cuisine as well, such as clams, lobsters, Dungeness crab, and octopus. Grilled frogs’ legs complement the aquatic eats, along with alligator meat smothered in creamy Louisiana mushroom sauce, and ostrich, a lean red meat discovered by far-sighted farmers who mistook ostriches for chickens. Mediterranean and Persian offerings, such as hummus and Persian chicken potato salad, round out the menu, and diners can wash down their meals with pours from the oaken bar, such as beers and hand-crafted margaritas.
At The ComedySportz Theatre, audience suggestions keep an all-ages, family-friendly and fast-paced vortex of scenes, games, and songs spinning in competitive shows that pit two improv teams against each other. Inside the intimate, 149-seat theater, spontaneity rules as a referee moderates the all-ages-appropriate hilarity pitched between the Chicago Bosses and The Evanston Express. At the end of each comedic duel, the points and audience votes are tallied to determine the winning team, sentencing the losers to feed the doves that live inside the winners' top hats.
The ComedySportz Training Center's seasoned instructors also teach six-week courses in the art of improvised hilarity and the essential virtues of spontaneity, risk taking, and engagement with the moment. Through scene work, ComedySportz games, and short- and long-form improv, students learn to keep audiences roaring in order to jump-start a career or become a more affable bank robber.