Top Ten Chicago Activities: Part 2

Yesterday, I talked about five of my favorite activities to do in Chicago. Today I take a look at my Top 5.

5. Chicago Sport and Social

If you’ve never been on an intramural team while living in Chicago, what the heck else are you doing? Chicago Sport and Social organizes everything from basketball to badminton, and they do it well for a reasonable price. Sure, you don’t always get the call in the fourth quarter when you’re hacked by a small girl while going over the top of her for a layup even though her feet were CLEARLY moving, but it’s still a great time. Most of these intramural sports revolve around drinking, so don’t think this is an exercise/health activity. Like most of the other items on this list, it’s about indulgence, and Chicago is a great place for indulgence during all seasons.

4. Cooking Class at Kendall College

I love food, and I love making things – so naturally cooking is one of my favorite things to learn and do. Kendall College is not that well known outside of the cooking community, but it should be. It’s a first-class culinary institution (not elite, but first-class) that offers Saturday classes for everyday kitchen hacks like myself. They offer classes throughout the week and on the weekends on everything from knife skills (highly recommended to almost anyone who cuts any food ever) to ethnic  cuisine. The classes are amazingly affordable ($40-$70 per class) when you consider that they provide everything and you get to eat there and take home a meal. Sign up early, as the classes fill up because they are fun and you learn something you will use every day for the rest of your life (assuming you care about health and food).

3. Blackhawks + Billy Goat

The Blackhawks are Chicago’s hockey team that no one outside of Chicago really cares about and most people in Chicago couldn’t name a player on – there, I said it. That being said, the United Center is an awesome place to see a game that has 2 sure things: 1) you can always get tickets (harder lately but still very possible) and 2) you will always get drunk if you drink enough United Center beer. The Billy Goat and the hockey game need to be combined to maximize your entertainment. The Billy Goat provides logistics, sustenance, and atmosphere at a great price. It is located within walking distance of the United Center, making it a great place to park and to get toasty drunk before the game while enjoying great hamburgers and a hamburger condiment bar, and it offers great people watching. Order the SPECIAL! and be merry.

2. The Publican

The Publican is my favorite restaurant in Chicago – and I am going broke trying to make it to every restaurant in Chicago (impossible). It’s my favorite for a variety of reasons: Most obviously, the food is amazing, interesting, modern, and creative while still being rustic. These traits are often correlate to pretentiousness, especially in the West Loop, but this is not the case for the Publican. At this German beer hall-themed restaurant, you have the option of sitting at one of the long wooden tables (next to other guests) or in an awesome custom-made closed-off booths. The beer selection is amazing. You will usually have your first round at one of the standing tables while you wait for your table (no need to wait out in the cold). I like to go with a few people so we can order family style; although this is not the theme of the restaurant, this gives me an opportunity to try as many dishes as possible. I recommend the truffle fries, the suckling pig, steak tartare, liver, and any oysters – I prefer a medium sized body with a creamy finish and plump texture, and I usually just ask for that. No matter your taste in food – high- or low-end palate – The Publican will serve you well. The Publican focuses on local Illinois livestock and sustainability, so although you will leave there with a full stomach, you won’t have a guilty heart.

1. Green City Farmers’ Market

This market is possibly my favorite recurring summer activity in Chicago. The Green City Farmers’ Market, which sets up in Lincoln Park on Saturday mornings, is the largest sustainable farmers’ market in Chicago. Farms send their employees and products here to set up a tent and sell their wares. Think of a Trader Joe’s atmosphere outside on a beautiful Chicago summer morning with farm fresh food instead of pre-packaged goods. You can make a day of this activity by finding an interesting recipe, going to the market to learn about and purchase the ingredients, and then going home and cooking up your haul. This is the definition of good clean fun, and the fresh natural foods hit the spot after a long Friday night.

I hope you enjoyed my top 10 Chicago activities. If you have others you think I missed, let me know in the comments!

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