Chicago Insider: Philip Stone on tacos at Big Star and perusing Reckless Records
Concierge at the Embassy Suites downtown
How long you’ve lived here: On and off for three decades.
What you like best about Chicago: I love our varied seasons. Nice weather is much sweeter after surviving the brutal humidity of summer or the cruel, icy winds of winter.
Best meal you’ve had recently: Brunch at The Publican.
Favorite big-name restaurant: Lou Malnati’s. Did you see Mark Malnati eviscerate Bobby Flay on Throw Down on The Food Network? That was a proud moment for all Chicagoans.
Favorite “hidden gem” restaurant: It’s hardly hidden, but I’m shocked One Sixty Blue’s $4 burger night isn’t the most popular event in the city.
Best sports bar to catch the game: Until the weather finally goes foul, I love the Packing House in the West Loop. The rooftop deck and outdoor beer garden are great spots.
A great night out with friends usually includes… a trip to Wicker Park/Logan Square, where the nightlife and restaurant scene has become very impressive.
Favorite store or best shopping area: Reckless Records on Milwaukee Ave. in Wicker Park. Visit it before it goes the way of the dinosaur.
The best way to spend a fall Saturday in Chicago: Take the train somewhere and eat everything you see. Get coffee at Intelligentsia, cupcakes at More, tacos at Big Star, beer at Goose Island, hot chocolate at Hot Chocolate, whiskey at Longman & Eagle, cream puffs at Beard Papa’s, burgers at Kuma’s, hot dogs at Hot Doug’s, Tums at Walgreens.
One thing every visitor must do here: The architectural river tours should not be missed by anyone.
While in Chicago, don’t bother… waiting for the free Navy Pier trolley. Life’s too short.
Secret Chicago spot: The dry-aging room at David Burke’s Primehouse. Did you know there’s a temple of high-quality meat under River North?
Underrated activity in the city: Touring the businesses along the Brown Line. You’ll find the Second City off Sedgwick, great shopping along Armitage or Southport, North Center’s bars and restaurants off Irving Park, Margie’s Ice Cream and Glenn’s Diner off Montrose, The Brauhaus off Western and some amazing Persian/Lebanese restaurants surrounding the Kedzie stop. The city is much bigger than most visitors realize.