Ranked as some of the Best Barbecue in Chicago by CBS News, Honky Tonk Barbecue is the brainchild of pit-master, chef, and owner Willie Wagner. Within the Pilsen space, Wagner rubs and smokes his famous pulled pork for 17 hours, using the same recipe and technique that won him third place at the world Championship Barbecue Cooking contest in 2008. Barbecue-loving Midwestern crowds—and celebrity chef Guy Fieri—flock to Honky Tonk for not just the pulled pork, but also to sample bacon candy, beef brisket sandwiches, and bold slabs of dry-rub St. Louis ribs.
A top-5 rating from TripAdvisor.com doesn't happen overnight. Just ask Dave Samber, whose Polo Caf? and Catering Bridgeport U.S.A., a mile west of U.S. Cellular Field, currently ranks among Chicago's most popular restaurants. Since opening in 1990, the restaurant has earned a reputation as an adventurous spot where guests can feast on lamb chops and sandwiches served on warm French baguettes. On weekends, the restaurant also opens its doors early for two signature brunches: Saturday's Bloody Mary Brunch pairs horseradish-dosed bloodies with tasty takes on classics like Polo Caf? favorite Eggs Benedicto XVI and french toast, while Sunday's Gospel Brunch treats diners to a soulful serenade from singers backed by a live organ.
Samber and his dedicated staff share their delicious food served with Chicago hospitality amid the green and white diner's tin ceiling, tufted booths, polo-green tablecloths. The vintage glamour is only interrupted by framed accolades and a colorful 12-foot chalkboard created in 1986 to welcome guests to the historic Bridgeport neighborhood, home to five of Chicago's mayors. The adjacent Old Eagle Room, a repurposed theater built in 1914, accommodates up to 100 banqueters on its main and mezzanine levels. These guests enjoy entertainment from a Rodgers 360 theater organ or a 20-channel audio system after storing cars in free lighted parking lots.
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Like many people, Kenneth Geary had a childhood nickname. “Skinnie Piggy.” The moniker was bestowed upon him by his grandmother due to his large appetite and high metabolism. The name has stuck, as Kenneth and co-owner, Monica Rodriguez, have not only dubbed their sweets shop "Skinnie Piggy" but have also incorporated its meaning into the concept of the store. Executive chef Elizabeth McCabe handcrafts a daily menu of freshly-baked pies, poundcakes, and cupcakes, most of which come in Hog (huge), Skinnie (regular), and Piglet (mini) sizes, an innovation that gained praise from ABC7, Chicago Magazine, and Pop Sugar. Amid pink polka dotted walls decorated with local artwork, customers can dispense gourmet treats such as Jelly Belly’s from clear containers, and peruse more than 25 types of nostalgic candies, from Fun Dip to Zotz Fizz. The sweets boutique also caters special occasion parties and business meetings with confectionary bouquets and candy boxes.
In 1976, busy California mother Joan Barnes wanted nothing more than to find a play place where she and her kids could enjoy age-appropriate, educational activities. Finding none, she developed her own innovative play environment within a developmental-based program structure now known as Gymboree Play & Music. Today, kids tumble and learn in more than 650 locations in 33 countries around the world, engaging in open play and classes designed to build cognitive and motor skills. As parents participate in their children's development, their kids learn to paint, play music, and interact socially outside of their preschool knitting circles.
SwiftDates founders Adam and Shannon host casual-speed dating events that give people an opportunity to meet new friends or potential soulmates. At these events, singles start off by grabbing a cocktail or coffee and mingling. Next, ladies sit down to meet up to 20 guys in five-minute increments. Couples chat during those 300 seconds, while taking notes about each other on their match cards. Later, this information helps them recall their first impressions but also helps them tally up the total number of people there who own a pet chimera. At the sound of the bell, guys excuse themselves and hop to the next table, ladies remain seated, and the process repeats.
After everyone has met, participants can pair off to talk more or call it a night and head home. Before they leave, however, they’ll hand in their match cards to Adam and Shannon. When two parties request to be matched up with each other, Adam and Shannon will pass along their email addresses and phone numbers. Then it’s up to the couple in question to schedule a dinner date or a meeting at the library computer lab to cowrite the next great American novel.