Dear SHRM Members,
Many of you are attending The 2013 SHRM Annual Conference and Expo and will stay downtown. That is not Chicago. Downtown Chicago is where my father used to work at the old phone company. Downtown Chicago is pollution and the spaghetti bowl. Downtown Chicago is a tourist trap.
Much of what makes Chicago “great” happens on the outskirts. Unfortunately, you won’t see it. You might as well stay in Dubai or Grand Cayman because most of the money you spend will leave Chicago ASAP.
But if you want a real Chicago experience, check out these recommendations.
Hot Dogs for Winners!
Meat is murder. But if you’re going to eat a hotdog, do it right. Check out Jimmy’s Hot Dogs, located on the border of Humboldt Park and Garfield Park. Those Chicago neighborhoods might look scary to an outsider. So what? Much of life is scary for no real reason. Do you want a real Chicago hot dog or what? Second runner-up is Superdawg.
Chicago has amazing boulevards and diverse neighborhoods with beautiful homes. Logan Square is one of those places. That’s my backyard, by the way. Back in the 80s, we swam at Kosciuszko Park and my grandmother spent hours at sketchy stores up and down the boulevard. Now? Logan Square is still spotty but it has cool shops, art galleries and awesome restaurants. Let me say it one more time. You can’t go wrong with any of the restaurants.
Drink Like You Mean It!
When tourists visit Chicago, they go drinking in Lincoln Park near DePaul like it’s a quintessential Chicago experience. Or they go to Rush Street. (You heard it here first: stay away from Rush Street unless you like roofies and STDs.) I would encourage you to be adventurous, call Uber and check out the bars in the Ukrainian Village for some fun. And I also have a sentimental favorite called Hala Kahiki, which is closer to O’Hare than to the SHRM conference. Worth the trip.
Go Back to College!
College neighborhoods are awesome. Two of the great Chicago schools (UIC, University of Chicago) are located in the historic neighborhoods of Pilsen and Hyde Park. (Yes there is gun violence in Chicago. And yes I just sent HR ladies into Pilsen. They can take it.) I also like the Andersonville neighborhood for good bakeries and restaurants. There is easy access to both Loyola University and North Park College, too.
I would send you out to Edison Park or Norwood Park for excellent food at a reasonable price, but that is a hike. Jesus, that’s almost Park Ridge and Glenview! Forget it. But if you want a real Chicago beef sandwich, you could do worse than Johnnie’s Beef in Elmwood Park. (But remember that meat is murder.) If you do happen to find yourself driving around, don’t eat at Chipotle. Go to a Taco Burrito King. They are everywhere and have vegetarian options.
One more thing!
I can’t send you off to Chicago without telling you to be safe and don’t embarrass me. Make good choices. Also, don’t use my name if you get into trouble. I can’t help you.
Laurie Ruettimann, SPHR