Red Rock Saloon's Takin' Care of Business wings come with an unusual warning: "Please no bull riding or swimming two hours after eating." That's because the T.C.B. wings, which you must sign a waiver to eat, torch taste buds with a combination of ghost, habanero, thai bird, and jalapeno peppers whose heat could burn up any important documents you're hiding in your cheeks. And if eating those on their own seems impossible enough, imagine downing them as part of the Unforgiven Challenge?six of them serve as a side to a tower of two half-pound burgers, fried chicken, and a basket of fries. Local eating champ Jeremy Wheeler became only the second person to complete this challenge, under the guidance of Man vs. Food Nation's Adam Richman.
Of course, you don't have to have a superhuman appetite to enjoy a meal at the saloon. The rest of the menu features more traditional Southern BBQ fare, such as baby-back ribs and an award-winning Texas red chili with steak, bacon, and bourbon mixed in. The food jibes with the rest of the ambience, which includes a stage for local and nationally touring musicians and a saloon with a mechanical bull.
Actor and comedian Russell Brand frees chortles from belly prisons with his unique style of manic, irreverent humor. Riffing on the nature of fame and celebrity, Brand regales audiences with edgy observations and outsized characters to delight audiences grown bored with tamer comedians and telephone time-of-day services. Visiting a series of colleges, the tour filters the eccentricities of American universities through Brand's singular wit. George Mason University's recently renovated Patriot Center contains the glee in arena-style seating, ensuring everyone has a clear view of both Brand and the cricket whispering jokes in his ear.
The beaming vertical letters of "C-H-I-C-A-G-O" ascend six stories high on a sign that seems to be the establishing shot for any movie set in the Windy City. Tourists and natives often stand outside snapping pictures of the marvelous marquee, where the biggest names in music, theater, and comedy are writ large under a miniature replica of Paris' Arc de Triomphe. The Parisian aesthetic continues inside The Chicago Theatre’s grand lobby, which recalls the Royal Chapel at Versailles with its gallery promenades. The staircase ascending to the Grand Balcony resembles that of the Paris Opera House, rounding out a French Baroque architecture that would cause Louis XIV to do a spit-take. Inside the seven-story high 3,600-seat auditorium, terra-cotta tiles, crystal chandeliers, and luxurious drapes give audiences visual overtures before every show. As vital to Chicago as hot dogs and mustard fire hoses, The Chicago Theatre was America's first munificent movie palace upon its 1921 unveiling, where it was declared "The Wonder Theatre of the World." Beyond its silver screenings, the theater became a beacon for live entertainment, as artists such as John Philip Sousa, Duke Ellington, and Benny Goodman filled its first 40 years with oompah and swing. After a multimillion dollar restoration in 1986, the landmark venue remains the heart of art in the city, attracting the world's most popular entertainers to its stage almost every evening of the year.
Groundbreaking Canadian chanteuse K.D. Lang has always been ahead of her time. During the late '80s, while country music was busy trying on rock 'n' roll britches, K.D. moseyed in with a voice as pure as a Mountie's heart, giving honky-tonk purity back to the airwaves while curing the cowgirl blues. Her striking stage presence and ability to lasso Patsy Cline’s poltergeist with her herculean larynx led to multiple Grammy awards, and her sound branched out into lush pop territories in hits such as “Constant Craving” and “Miss Chatelaine.” With the support of her first backing band in 23 years, Siss Boom Bang, K.D. yowls and purrs with grace and intensity through a live set of twangy barnburners and heart-tugging torch songs in support of her latest album, Sing it Loud. From comfy and wide lumbar-supported seats, fans savor the majesty and opulence of Overture Hall, where the exemplary acoustics allow K.D.’s unmistakable voice to reverberate like whale calls through the Grand Canyon.
Madison's is an aptly named establishment dedicated to crafting a casual, comfy, and classic atmosphere full of good vibes and tasty comestibles. Sate burgeoning grumbles with upscale appetizers like coconut shrimp ($11) and goat-cheese crostini with caramelized onions ($9.75), or keep it classic with a helping of savory cheese curds ($7.75). Bask in the extensive menu en route to exquisite entrees by nibbling on portabella-and-prosciutto flatbread ($10.50), a flavor-packed barbecue-chicken-ranch salad ($8.75), or savory sandwiches such as the six-ounce grilled yellowfin ($13.50) or the bacon, guacamole, and pepper-jacked Isthmus burger ($9). The hearty entrees are as strapping and enjoyable as a forest jaunt atop Paul Bunyan's shoulders, and come in classically refined shapes like the 6-ounce tenderloin filet ($20), served with mashed potatoes, or the salmon piccata ($16), laid atop a bed of wild rice and drizzled in a white-wine cream sauce and capers.