Digital Multimedia Design Major. Computer Programmer and IT in the making. Lover of Ranzuki, Egg, and Popteen Magazine. Reblogs Amekaji, Sweet, B-gal, Hade (flashy and colorful), Used Mixed Style and American Casual Mix Style. Obsessed with idiosyncratic character designs.
Hey! Nice to meet you. This list includes a bit of everything and most of these places I’ve mentioned extensively in essays and stories.
- Caffe Streets is my favorite coffee shop in the city. Here’s the thing: I don’t drink coffee. I know. I used to be somewhat addicted to it in high school, then went cold turkey upon entering college. But I’ve always loved the atmosphere of coffee shops and the smell of coffee beans is still a favorite. Caffe Streets is NOT cozy. It is chic and unique. There are neon bull skulls on the walls and the ceiling is carved to look like a topographic map. There are wooden benches to sit on, very few electrical outlets. For a while, they didn’t even offer wi-fi. But that turned it into a different kind of space, one where people were free to have loud, boisterous conversations with each other. I’ve yet to find a place that knows how to brew a pot of oolong or green tea quite as well as they do. But also, everyone who works there is fantastic. Every barista is sweet and cool, not off-putting like you’d find at other places. And Darko, the owner, is one of the nicest people you’ll ever meet. I love it so much, I even asked to be photographed in it for this award.
- Smart Bar is my favorite escape from the 9-5. The music is loud and the room is dark and the people are more or less excellent. It is one of the few places I feel most as home and least judged. I can go there with friends or I can go there alone and it still feels great. My favorite Smart Bar moment was Four Tet’s 3+ hour set. I stayed until the lights went up. And then he kept playing. So they turned the lights off again and us weird stragglers kept the party going. I’ll be there tomorrow night for Jessy Lanza and my friends from The-Drum.
- Iguana Cafe is one of those places that has been around forever, but most Chicagoans have never even heard of it. My mother and I used to drive by it during my monthly trips to the dermatologist in the West Loop and I always fell in love with its signage and its strange location. Dubbed a “European coffeehouse,” Iguana Cafe serves delicious and cheap food and even cheaper glasses of wine and beer. In college, it was a perfect place to study away from the crowded campus. Currently, it is a nice place to be solo and a nice place to gather with friends. It is loud and often rowdy, just how I like it.
- I am a member of the Museum of Contemporary Art, so I go there probably more than your average museum goer. I’ve always found museums to be very comforting. Their ability to make the museum goer feel small and alone is something that I cherish in a crowded city and especially after spending nights in bars full of peers I’d rather avoid. The first floor exhibition rooms are my favorite. They feel extra large and the exhibitions tend to be more challenging, thus letting the general crowds stream upstairs to the fourth floor. When I worked at the MCA, I used to go downstairs and sit in a room full of William Kentridge videos projected against the wall. It was very dark, but very calming. I miss that exhibit (Production Site) everyday. During the summer, it is cool and bright. At times it feels like the perfect secret.
- I first went to the South Garden at the Art Institute the day after my 19th birthday party. I purchased a new dress the day before and felt proud. There were so many leaves on the ground and on the trees. So much orange and yellow and gold. It felt unreal and surreal. The garden is right on Michigan Avenue, but the noise and the congestion seem to disappear whenever I am there. I often go there to write. Writing in complete silence has never worked for me. I need some stimulation, whether it is with music or just the sounds of the city as it works. Often times, I’ll catch AIC classes in progress and sneak in just because. I went back recently and I was shocked by how small it felt. Maybe I needed this place of escape to be grand when I was younger, but now, it’s normal size will do.