Category Archives: Things to Do

New App Sosh Puts Chicago at Your Fingertips

New App Sosh Puts Chicago at Your Fingertips

Want to find out about new Chicago hotspots, where to find the best cocktail, or learn about pop-up events? Be the first in Chicago to use new app Sosh (hint: it launches today!), your pocket guidebook to the fun happenings around the city.


Fueled by the principle that “life is too short to be bored,” Sosh gives you up to the moment recommendations tailored to your preferred neighborhoods and type of activities. If you see an event or business that piques your interest, you have the ability to bookmark it for later and share with your friends via social media.


With success in San Francisco, New York City, Seattle and several other cities, the movement has come to our amazing city to help us uncover the “what’s what” about town.


I had the incredible opportunity to interview Katrina Kurnit, Sosh’s Head of Marketing. Katrina’s passion for Sosh shines through as she describes her experience marketing and engaging with new and existing Sosh users. Inspiration driving the app is the age-old “What should we do tonight” problem. City dwellers often go to the same bars, the same restaurants, and stick to the same experiences, despite being surrounded by thousands of options on any given night.


“Sosh not only helps people find things to do in the city, but also the unique angles and offerings of places they’re already familiar with,” says Katrina. With a powerful combination of technology and people vetting each opportunity, the app serves up an interactive list of options both popular right now and off the beaten path. Up to date “Here and Now” and “What’s Hot” sections are supplemented by ongoing categories and collections such as “Get Cultured,” “Grab a Brew,” “Under $30” and “Open Late.”


“To get the most benefit from Sosh, the app works off of the interests and types of activities you’ve chosen. Recommended events will be filtered based on day of the week and time of day.” With a goal of expanding to more cities and making the service “smarter, more proactive and more predictive,” Katrina sees limitless potential for city residents across the country.


Katrina commends Sosh for allowing people to “experience real world life in a way that previously seemed impossible.” Users can expand their city boundaries and take advantage of much more that Chicago has to offer.



Click here to join Sosh Chicago today.


Taste Test: Fulton Market Kitchen

Taste Test: Fulton Market Kitchen

Looking for a new and innovative restaurant that carries a creative attitude across food, drinks and décor? Newcomer Fulton Market Kitchen combines superb flavors with a bold new atmosphere. I had the pleasure of dining there this weekend – here’s the scoop on this new hot spot.


First – to get there, you’ll step outside the boundaries of Randolph’s “Restaurant Row” and head deeper into the Fulton Market warehouse district. Situated behind a row of parked trucks, you’ll see a black painted building marked with “Post No Bills” signs – don’t get scared away too quickly because you’ll be glad once you step inside.


Dining Room Entrance



The sunlight spills into the main dining room, lighting up the incredible murals on the walls for the hour before the sun sets and the lights are dimmed for the evening. Featuring a combination of illustrations, portraits, and cartoonish-images, the walls are quite a sight. Textural components such as exposed brick and mini boats hanging from the ceiling round out the décor. Seating in the dining room is a mix of against-the-wall bench seating, high-top tables in the middle, bar seating, and for a lucky large group, a traditional dining table topped with a candelabra. Upon being seated the hostess will hand you a historic storybook, inside of which is your menu.


Dining Room and Menu


The menu consists of small, medium and large plates, and there are equally as many unique cocktail options. I started with the Light from the Left, a combination of Bourbon, Cynar, blueberry, lemon and Thai basil. Bright and crisp, this is the perfect drink to kick off the spring. The contrast of the berry-colored drink against the deep green basil garnish made the drink both delicious and picture-worthy. Other cocktails on the menu feature flavor combinations such as carrot, ginger, lemon and tarragon (What’s Up Doc) or red pepper, lemon, orange and BBQ bitters (Never Trust a Spaniard). If you try this drink – please let me know what the BBQ bitters taste like!



Light from the Left Cocktail


Our choice on the First Canvas (small plates) menu was the Ravioli and Foie, which was so melt-in-your mouth delicious that the pair dining next to us ordered it just based on the looks on our faces. The house-made pasta was so light, in perfect pairing with the rich mushroom, veal and foie gras flavors.


With encouragement from our waitress, we ordered the Two Tails from the Second Canvas (medium plates) menu. Imagine an entire lobster tail (cut in half for easy sharing) surrounding crisped pig tail, which tasted like part pork belly and part pork shoulder. Each of the accompaniments – melted leeks, artichokes and burgundy sauce – worked together to enhance and deepen the flavors of the pork and lobster.



Ravioli & Foie and Two Tails


After two great starters we couldn’t wait for our entrees to arrive.  The Skate was a nice, light white fish surrounded by a spring sampling of asparagus, mushrooms, fennel puree, parsley pesto, and a sweet and tangy bite of candied lemon.


The Lamb was elegantly presented with cucumber garnish and dots of mint and feta cheese. The spiced cauliflower puree tasted like a comforting cheese sauce, which I spread on every savory bite of the lamb. I typically like meat cooked medium, and the lamb was perfectly cooked inside even though the outside looked a little more red.


For dessert, rather than offering a standard menu, several special options were presented to us, and we chose a hazelnut tiramisu. The soft creaminess of the top layers were offset by a crunchy bottom akin to a candy bar. The hazelnut, cream and chocolate combination didn’t hurt either.



Lamb and Menu


We couldn’t leave without taking a peek into the other rooms in the restaurant. Behind the dining room is a lounge area with pin-tucked leather benches and a separate bar topped with pieces of dining chairs adhered to the wall. The murals in this room feature a sultry-eyed lady and pops of bright colors that stand out in the dim lighting. I will definitely be coming back here for drinks to try more of the creative cocktail menu. Beyond the lounge area sits a private dining room, filled with luxurious velvet high-backed chairs, a sturdy dining table and a gorgeous chandelier, set for a king and queen. This would be a great spot to host a private party and impress your guests.



Lounge and Private Dining Room


I would recommend Fulton Market Kitchen as a great place to amaze your visual and taste senses alike. Make sure you add this restaurant to your “must go” list to experience the combination of great food and artistic flair.



What’s Up This Month: April 2014

What’s Up This Month: April 2014

With the sun starting to shine, the weather heating up, we can finally come out of hibernation! Plan your social calendar with these top picks for April:



Fondue Cooking Class at Geja’s Cafe
Time: 1 – 3 p.m.
Location: Geja’s Café (340 W. Armitage)
Cost: $25 (proceeds benefit Greater Chicago Food Depository)


To celebrate National Cheese Fondue Week, you have the pleasure of learning the decades-old artistry of Geja’s swiss fondue. Learn from the best and enjoy wine pairings, and even take home samples of the fondue!



4/11 – 4/12
Dance Shelter Performance at Stage 773
Time: 8 p.m.
Location: Stage 773 (1225 W. Belmont)
Cost: $15


In honor of Chicago Dance Month, go see the performances directed by risk-taking choreographers at Stage 773. This contemporary dance show features the work of six choreographers.



Pastoral Artisan Festival
Time: 11 a.m. – 3 p.m.
Location: Chicago French Market (131 N. Clinton – in Ogilvie Train Station)
Cost: Free


Discover new artisanal meats, cheeses, craft beers, liquors and more directly from their creators. Held at the French Market, this festival allows you to taste lots of local treats for free!



Grapes to Bottles Wine Tasting Party at Floating World Gallery
Time: 3 – 6 p.m. or 7 – 10 p.m.
Location: Floating World Gallery (1925 N. Halsted)
Cost: $38


This month’s innovative wine tasting is held at a unique gallery in Lincoln Park. Surround yourself with art at this urban loft space while tasting wines and bubbly in the social bubble wine room. Of course, the cheese plate will be a main feature.



Minds Matter Spring for the Students Gala
Time: 8 – 11 p.m.
Location: Chicago History Museum (1601 N. Clark)
Cost: $95


Party for a cause at the Spring for the Students Gala, benefiting Minds Matter, an organization that pairs students from low-income families with professional mentors, helping them achieve their college preparation and acceptance dreams. Money raised covers the students’ educational needs such as Kaplan prep books, summer school programs, and college application fees. The party features a DJ, open bar, appetizers and desserts as well as a silent auction and raffle.



Sign Up for Chicago Sport and Social Club Volleyball


Work on your tan all summer with your friends by joining Chicago Sport and Social Club’s volleyball leagues on North Avenue Beach. With options for all skill levels, the volleyball league is a great way to meet new friends and get some fun in after work. While there is no deadline to sign up, registration is open now and will sell out.



Baconfest Master Class at Whole Foods Lincoln Park
Time: 7 – 8:30 p.m.
Location: Whole Foods Lincoln Park (1550 N. Kingsbury)
Cost: $5


Join in the #BaconMonth craze at Lincoln Park’s flagship Whole Foods while Barn & Co.’s Pitmaster Gary Wiviott demonstrates new ways to enjoy bacon. The chef samples are paired with Lagunitas beer samples. Follow the link to buy tickets or call 312-587-0648 to reserve your spot.




Ravinia tickets go on sale at 5 a.m.

Time: 5 a.m.

Cost: Varies


The ultimate summer concert venue, Ravinia encourages long nights of picnicking on the lawn with friends. An easy train ride from the city, Ravinia features hundreds of concerts throughout the summer season. Some of this year’s headliners include One Republic, ZZ Top, Rufus Wainwright, and Willie Nelson. Tickets go on sale at 5 a.m. – headliners sell out quickly but many concert options are open throughout the summer.



Wine and Wildlife at Lincoln Park Zoo
Time: 6 – 8 p.m.
Location: Lincoln Park Zoo Regenstein Small Mammal – Reptile House
Cost: $17


Enjoy a glass of wine while learning about the zoo’s conservation efforts with rare prairie and reptile species.



4/25 – 4/27
Gilt City Warehouse Sale
Time: Shifts vary
Location: MCA Warehouse (1747 W. Hubbard)
Cost: $10 – $20


Get your high-end fashion fix at this annual warehouse sale hosted by Gilt City. Expect racks of clothing, shoes and accessories to choose from. Hint: go early before all the good stuff is gone.



Triathlon Gear Swap
Time: 2 – 5 p.m.
Location: Centered Chef (177 N. Ada Suite 101)
Cost: Free admission


Runners, bikers and swimmers alike can browse and buy used gear at the Triathlon Gear Swap. Suit up for your next race or just your summer workouts. Curious about competing in triathlons? Come early for the “Tri 101” class and meet athletes who are happy to share their tips with you.



Enjoy Chicago this April!



5 Ways to Ensure St. Patrick’s Day Shenanigans

5 Ways to Ensure St. Patrick’s Day Shenanigans


St. Patrick’s Day is one of Chicago’s favorite holidays – so big in fact, that the city drops 45 pounds of vegetable dye to color the Chicago River the honorary emerald green. With crowds spilling out into the streets, St. Patrick’s Day is one big party you do not want to miss. Here are the top 5 things you need to do to make your holiday complete:



1. Toast your friends with a green drink in hand

In true Irish fashion, St. Patrick’s Day should be enjoyed with a drink (or many). Join your friends early in the day (by 10 a.m. is recommended) and enjoy some breakfast favorites along with these themed drinks:


Green Jell-O Shots (make the night before)

Green Jell-O Shots









  • (4)  0.3 oz. packages lime Jell-O (sugar-free is better so your friends don’t have a sugar crash)
  • 6 cups chilled vodka
  • 2 cups boiling water

Pour the gelatin mix into a large bowl. Add the 2 cups boiling water, stir until completely dissolved. Stir in the 6 cups chilled vodka. Arrange 1 or 1.5 oz. plastic shot glasses on a tray. Use a liquid measuring cup with a spout or a funnel to carefully pour the mixture into the shot glasses. Chill in the fridge overnight and enjoy in the morning!


Irish Coffee

In a mug, drop in 1 tablespoon of brown sugar. Pour 1.5 oz. Irish whiskey over the sugar. Fill the remainder of the glass with coffee, stirring as you go. Top with fresh whipped cream and optionally, shavings or sprinkles of chocolate.



2. Head to the river to see the green dye (but don’t fall in!)

After your morning breakfast and drinks, gather up your crew and head to the river. The 50-year old tradition of dyeing the river green draws approximately 40,000 people, as it’s definitely a sight to see! The best places to see the green river are over the bridges between Columbus and Wacker Drive. The riverwalk between Michigan Ave and Columbus is one of the best viewing spots. The dyeing begins at 10:45 a.m. and is visible for about 5 hours, so catch it while it lasts.

This year, the polar vortex weather has called into question whether the frozen river can actually be dyed green. According to the parade coordinator, if there’s a will, there’s a way! The plan is to send a large tugboat through the river to break up the ice. Even if there are chunks of ice floating on the surface, the river can still be dyed. This may be the first time in the history of the tradition that weather has impeded the process. No matter what happens, St. Patrick’s celebrations will carry on.



3. Feast on corned beef and cabbage

After you’ve had your fill of the green river, head to River North to continue your spirited adventures. Most bars and restaurants will have food and drink specials, and the trick is finding a place to convene that isn’t already spilling out into the streets. I can’t go a year without tasting corned beef and cabbage, and as luck would have it, many restaurants are serving this year!

  • Green Door Chicago (678 N. Orleans) – Serving up corned beef and cabbage and offering prizes for the best outfit
  • Rockit Bar and Grill (22 W. Hubbard) – St. Pat’s Burger topped with corned beef, bacon, sauerkraut, 1000 Island dressing on a pretzel bun, also serving Guinness Potato Cheddar Soup
  • Harry Caray’s (33 W. Kinzie) – Everything from Beer Cheddar Soup to a Corned Beef Sandwich to Fish & Chips



4. Take part in a mid-afternoon dance party

Once you’ve refueled, heat things up with a dance party – the following bars are hosting music all afternoon:

  • The Grid (351 W. Hubbard) – 4 DJs all day, live band The Hot Sauce Committee playing 1 – 4 p.m., Irish stilt walkers, bagpipers and more
  • Timothy O’Tooles (622 N. Fairbanks) – Events will feature beer chugging contests, bagpipers and an Irish-inspired menu all day
  • D4 Pub (345 E. Ohio) – Celebrate in heated outdoor tents, with a $10 cover you will receive a t-shirt and party favors



5. Find a leprechaun

You will see many a St. Paddy’s fan dressed up – in the bars, on the streets, and maybe even swimming in the river. If you see your favorite leprechaun costume, take a picture and post it to Instagram – make sure to tag thechicagolifestyle!

Are You a Foodie? Experience these 11 Foodie Adventures in Chicago

Are You a Foodie? Experience these 11 Foodie Adventures in Chicago


Chicago features some of the finest food in the world, and offers many experiences beyond your typical lunch or dinner. Expand your gastronomic boundaries with these 11 foodie experiences in (and around) Chicago this spring. Learn to assemble the perfect cheese platter, join a Secret Supper club, learn to butcher a hog and more. Experiences are listed in order of cost (low to high). Bon appétit!


1. Watch Local Chefs Demonstrate their Talents at the Green City Market



Do you want free food samples? From some of Chicago’s best chefs? Held indoors at the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum (2430 N. Cannon) October through April, the Green City Market hosts local chefs each week on Saturdays at 10:30 a.m. They set up a mini kitchen with all the ingredients to demonstrate the creation of some of their favorite dishes, and share those samples with the audience. You can learn the insider secrets that make up the menus of your favorite restaurants. Last year I had the opportunity to see Chef Heather Terhune of Sable give a demonstration, and I benefited from the tasting of cheddar grits topped with grilled pork belly and a maple gastrique.


Upcoming chef demonstrations include:

  • March 15: Leonard Hollander of Marion St. Cheese Market
  • March 29: Heather Terhune of Sable
  • April 5: Peter Klein of Seedling
  • April 19: Abraham Conlon of Fat Rice



2. Shop Kitchen Gadgetry at Northwestern Cutlery


Looking for a hard-to-find kitchen gadget or a unique gift? Shop where the chefs go for their kitchen supplies – at Northwestern Cutlery (810 W. Lake). The company has been sharpening knives for over 50 years and sells many items to fill out your kitchen supply. Bring your knives for sharpening while you browse this warehouse store in the West Loop for items such as:

  • Rice cube sushi former
  • Double-handled cheese knife
  • Lattice-dough cutter
  • Chicago-style deep dish pizza pan
  • Zucchini/carrot ribbon curler



3. Pair Beer and Bacon for a 5-Course Tasting at Paddy Long’s



Can’t get enough bacon? Appreciate craft beer? Pair the two at Paddy Long’s (1028 W. Diversey) infamous beer and bacon tasting. Sign up with a group of friends and compete for who can down the most bacon (many of their menu items feature bacon as well). Each slice is served with a description – different cuts, different curing styles, and different toppers such as brown sugar – and the seasonal beers that best complement the tastes. Paddy Long’s features a selection of their 18 beers on tap, which rotate frequently.

Most tastings are Saturday evenings and Sunday afternoons, and spots fill up quickly. Tickets are $36.



4. Assemble the Perfect Cheese Platter with Pastoral



Want to know how to select the perfect cheeses for your next cocktail party? Pastoral, one of Chicago’s finest cheese, bread and wine shops, is hosting “Cheese 101” at their Lakeview location (2947 N. Broadway). On Saturday, March 29 from 12 – 1 p.m. the master cheese mongers will give a thorough introduction to different varieties of cheese, giving you the know-how to select a well-rounded sampling next time you shop. Tickets, $45 include a glass of wine or beer, with additional drinks available for purchase.



5. Explore Bucktown’s Favorite Tastes, Architecture, and Hotspots with Chicago Food Planet


Chicago Food Planet has been hosting walking tours since 2006, highlighting Bucktown, Old Town and Chinatown’s delicious treats. Part neighborhood tour and part food sampling, Chicago Food Planet tours are led by knowledgeable guides adding local flavor and tidbits to your repertoire.


I had the pleasure of taking this tour and was turned on to restaurants I had never visited before, which are now some of my favorites in the neighborhood. Start your tour with the iconic Chicago-style hot dog at George’s (and show your trivia knowledge of all the original toppings), the newest deli recipes from local artisan shop Goddess & Grocer, a falafel pita sandwich from Sultan’s Market, pizza and beer samples from Piece, fully customizable liquid-nitrogen frozen ice cream from iCream, and more.


Since the tours are on foot, they begin in April, and are held Tuesday-Saturday at 11:30 a.m. Tickets are $47 and include all food. You will definitely not leave hungry!



6. Sneak into a Secret Supper with Dishcrawl


Secure your spot in Chicago’s first Secret Supper, where you’ll meet with other mysterious guests at an undisclosed location on Tuesday, April 1 at 7 p.m. Held in cities around the country, Secret Suppers bring together a roster of in-the-know guests to be served by a chef creating a unique menu in a secret location. The event is hosted by Dishcrawl, an organization that brings together friends and strangers alike for progressive dinners, chef encounters and more. With rotating upcoming public events, the Secret Suppers take a special spin on the concept by keeping the menu and location hidden for an air of surprise. Tickets, $89 plus optional wine pairings, will sell out very quickly. This will definitely be an experience you can brag about to your friends!



7. Speak Italian while Savoring Umbria’s Finest Delights


Known for its restaurants, markets, Nutella and Coffee bars and much more, Eataly (43 E. Ohio) also features a cooking school, La Scuola. During a 90-minute demonstration, Eataly’s chefs will take you on a voyage through Umbria, featuring regional ingredients and the basic language related to the culture and gastronomy.


Your menu will feature Insalata di Zucca (Butternut Squash Salad), Strangozzi con Burro al Tartufo (Strangozzi with Truffle Butter), Porchetta con Lenticchie (Roasted Umbrian Pork with Lentils), along with a two glasses of wine (red and white).


The class is held on Thursday, March 27 at 6:30 p.m. Tickets are $95 and you can register through the link above. The next Italian language class features the Lombardia region, and will be held on Wednesday, April 30.



8. Eat Seasonally with Custom Cocktail Pairings at The Drawing Room


Situated in a secluded location in the Gold Coast, The Drawing Room (937 N. Rush) serves up award-winning meals and equally impressive cocktails. Their menu, changed seasonally, currently features winter flavors such as Winter Squash Crepes with red quinoa, parmesan mornay, charred scallion and crispy sage, and Braised Short Rib Risotto with red wine braised short rib, maitake mushroom, and blue cheese espuma. The richly combined flavors are matched with unique hand-crafted drinks. As the drink menu offers some incredible options, it is best to ask your waiter and Master Bartender to devise the perfect pairing for your meal, and even for each course. This will round out your experience in the subterranean lounge space.


The drink menu currently features concoctions such as:

  • Orange is the New Black: Cointreau Noir, St. Elizabeth Allspice, North Shore Sirene, fresh sour
  • Return of the Mac: Macallan 12, Cointreau, habanero shrub, maple
  • Casa de Martin: Remy Martin VSOP, Galliano Ristretto, xocolatl mole bitters, maple



9. Butcher a Hog at Butcher and the Burger


Meat lovers only – if you want the full experience on how your meat is prepared, reserve a spot in one of Butcher and the Burger’s (1021 W. Armitage) hog butchery classes. Chef Al will show you how to prepare the animal for cooking. Classes are BYOB and feature a full meal, so come hungry!


Upcoming classes are on March 13th and 27th at 6:30 p.m. Call 773-697-3735 to make your reservations.



10. Enjoy a Farm to Table Dinner Under the Stars at the Botanic Garden


For the fifth year, the Chicago Botanic Garden (1000 Lake Cook Road, Glencoe, IL) hosts three farm-to-table dinners, bringing together farmers, chefs, winemakers and more to serve you a locally-grown meal. You will be seated within a vine-covered trellis in the Regenstein Fruit and Vegetable Garden while learning about how the food is planted, organically grown and harvested.


Award-winning Chef Cleetus Friedman orchestrates the multi-course meal. Tickets, $220, feature cocktails and hors d’oeuvres, a tour of the garden, and the multi-course meal, as well as support to the Green Youth Farm program, providing students with opportunities to learn about organic farming. Make your reservations now for this exclusive dinner, held on three dates in 2014: July 16, August 13 and September 3, from 5 – 8 p.m.



11. Create Your Signature Wine Label at City Winery



Looking for an even more exclusive experience? You could create your very own wine blend, in your very own oak barrel, with your very own label. Right in Chicago’s West Loop, you could be sampling and serving your own wine. This special program is offered by City Winery (1200 W. Randolph) with customized consultations throughout. You will select which varietal of grapes and vineyard you prefer, and will have the opportunity to get hands-on during the crushing and maceration process after the grapes have been harvested.


Based on your specifications, the wine will be aged 6 – 24 months, with visits at your preferred frequency. Once your wine has reached its desired age, you will have the option to blend with other City Wineries, or maintain your own varietal selection. Then comes the fully-customized bottle and label design. The in-house designer will craft the perfect label for your personal brand, and the result will garnish 250 bottles for you to enjoy.   



Have you tried any of these experiences in Chicago? Leave a comment and let us know how they were!


Check the Events Calendar page to keep track of these events and more.

5 Things You Need to Know Before You Sign Up for the Chicago Marathon

5 Things You Need to Know Before You Sign Up for the Chicago Marathon

Is this your year to run the marathon? After running in Chicago for several years, I’ve experienced the joys and challenges marathons offer. One of the most popular marathon destinations in the country, Chicago hosts a flat and fast course that appeals to those from hilly climates. Not just a tourist attraction, the Chicago marathon is great way for locals to take advantage of Chicago’s natural beauty and friendly spirit.


Sign-up begins Wednesday, March 5. Here’s what you need to know for the 26.2 mile race on Sunday, October 12:



1. Registration is now lottery based.

Unlike the guaranteed pre-sellout signup of previous years, you’ll submit your registration on March 5 at 12 p.m. (up until April 7 at 12 p.m.) on the Chicago Marathon website. Runners will be chosen at random to fill the 45,000 spots, and will be notified via email on Monday, April 14. Make sure your credit card is in good standing, as you will be withdrawn if your card doesn’t run correctly on the 14th! While your registration cannot be refunded or transferred to anyone else, if your plans change you have the ability to defer your entry to the 2015 race (but will be charged both years).

The only way to guarantee entry (if you’re not a super-fast runner who has done the marathon a hundred times) is to sign up through a charity… and fundraise at least $1000 (fundraising amount varies by charity). If you’re great at collecting money from your friends and family, make sure you go through one of the Chicago Marathon’s official charity partners (list coming soon).


2. You will have no social life from April through October.

This is not necessarily a bad thing, as the glory that comes with a marathon finish is worth it. First, set your training plan. Utilize resources from sites like Runner’s World or Nike’s Chicago-specific plan to map out your weekly runs and cross-training. Long runs are, well… long, so set expectations with your friends and family that you will be MIA for months on end. Through the summer, you’ll embark on your long runs early Saturday mornings, as the heat (hard to imagine at this point) creeps up early in the day. Friday night drinking is not advisable before your critical training runs, so you might be more of a Sunday Funday-type this year.


3. You will see more of Chicago’s beauty than you ever imagined.

While there are many parks, roads and routes to run in Chicago, I prefer to stay away from intersections and crazy drivers and therefore take all my training to the lakefront path. With 18 miles of gorgeous views of the lake, the trail runs from 5800 North all the way to 7100 South. Seeing the skyline from many miles south as well as many miles north of downtown is incredibly breathtaking, and puts in perspective how far you’ve just run (those skyscrapers look really small from far away)! In addition to the scenic beaches, gardens, museums, boat harbors and more that you’ll come across, you’ll also see the beauty of Chicagoans out and about enjoying the city. 

During the race, I had the pleasure of seeing neighborhoods I’d never been to before – the dancing dragons and golden red gateway to Chinatown, the Mexican artwork along the streets of Pilsen, and more. The race itself is a true tour of Chicago and the many faces cheering along the course make up a diverse network of Chicago’s citizens.


4. You will meet lots of cool, passionate people.

Runners love talking about running – about their experiences, insider tips, and what to expect on race day. The supportive community you will meet when training for a race is incredible, and it’s an easy way to build a network. Shopping for new shoes at Fleet Feet? The salesperson will be happy to tell you about the races he or she has run. Join up with CARA or another runner’s group to have side-by-side support during your training runs. If you sign up with a charity, you’ll also have a network of like-minded people all running for a cause. Not to be overlooked, the pre-race expo (held at McCormick Place) is an opportunity to learn about sponsoring businesses, new products and others who share your passion for running. 


5. Your bucket list will thank you.

Running a marathon is quite an ambitious goal – one that many set out on their “bucket list” to accomplish in their lifetime. Signing up is the first step. After months of training, not without its pains and challenges, the joy of streaming through the finish line in Grant Park is completely earned, all on your own. You now have the right to wear your shiny medal all day long – to brunch, to walk your dog, etc. – just not out for another run! You’ll need time to rest and recover and reflect back on what you’ve just accomplished.



Good luck to all the runners out there!

Get Healthy for Free (Almost!) This Sunday

Get Healthy for Free (Almost!) This Sunday

After all that weekend partying, are you motivated to get healthy on Sunday? Take advantage of these low cost healthy activities on Sunday, February 23:


9 a.m.Basics of Juicing Demo at Sur La Table ($5) – Located in 900 N. Michigan Bloomingdale’s Building. Watch the techniques of a Sur La Table chef creating healthy juices using fast or slow juicers, and learn the benefits of using seasonal vegetables.

11 a.m.Exhale Power Yoga Flow class at Lululemon (free) – Located in 900 N. Michigan Bloomingdale’s Building. Take part in a free Sunday yoga class led by Jenny Finkel of Exhale Spa.

12 p.m. – Refuel at Freshii with a quinoa bowl (approx. $11) – Located in 900 N. Michigan Bloomingdale’s Building. Add protein such as salmon or chicken to power you through the day.

1 p.m. – Pick up a healthy dinner at Goddess and Grocer (25 E. Delaware). Choose from deli items, salads, sandwiches and more to takeaway for an evening dinner.


Now go get some rest and relaxation to wind down your week!

Dance Your Heart Out – This Month’s Fire Dancers, Salsa Lessons and More

Dance Your Heart Out – This Month’s Fire Dancers, Salsa Lessons and More

“You better move, you better dance…” Despite the cold, there’s still plenty to do in Chicago this month! Spice things up with these dance-worthy events and festivals.


Flirt with Flamenco

Kicking off Friday, February 14, the Chicago Flamenco Festival treats you to the talented performances of flamenco dancers until March 22. The opening ceremony on Friday features international flamenco dancers and serves up bites and beers from Taco Joint and Lagunitas. The performances are followed by an after party led by DJ Soulphonetics. Check the website for times and locations of performances happening throughout the next month.



Meet the Dancers of the Joffrey Ballet

Inspired by the beautiful dancers in the Olympic opening ceremony? Catch Chicago’s local interpretation of contemporary dance in this month’s performances at the Joffrey Ballet (Friday, February 14 through Sunday, February 23). Also this month, Joffrey offers a unique opportunity to meet the artists behind the scenes. In advance of the performances on the 15th, 20th and 22nd, come in early for a discussion with the dancers, visiting choreographers and members of the creative team.



Groove to Motown Beats

Shhh – this event is top-secret! Featuring live soul and Motown performances, Speakeasy Chicago partners up with RM Champagne Salon to host their first monthly “The Green Street Social Club.” On Monday, February 17 at RM Champagne Salon (116 N. Green St.), enjoy craft cocktails while listening to some of Chicago’s hottest new musicians. Call 312-243-1199 for more details.



Play with Fire and Ice

Longing for the hot days of Pride Fest, boystown is keeping up the momentum at the Northalsted Winter Fest. Designate Sunday, February 23 (12 – 6 p.m.) a “Sunday Funday” highlighted by ice sculptures, drag queen contests, a 3D light show and even fire dancers! Events are held on the 3300 – 3700 blocks of north Halsted, with surrounding businesses on side streets lending their patios for the festivities. Stay warm with bowls of soup served up by local restaurants.



Learn to Salsa Dance

To celebrate Brazil’s famous Carnival, Chicago restaurant Nacional 27 (325 W. Huron) hosts events all weekend (February 27 – March 1). Kickoff the festival on Thursday, February 27 with complimentary salsa dance lessons at 7:30 p.m. The weekend’s events also include samba performances and conga lines. Fuel up with beachy cocktails and Hurricane fish bowls. Book reservations online to join in on the fun.



Reserve Tickets Now for the Hottest Dance Music Artists

Buy your tickets before they sell out to see the award-winning electronic music producer Armin Van Buuren at the United Center on Thursday, April 17. Only landing in eight cities, his tour will showcase his latest album, “Intense,” which includes songs such as “This Is What It Feels Like.”


Avicii is selling out concerts world-wide – buy yours now for his performance at Allstate Arena on Thursday, May 15.  Featuring collaborative songs such as “Wake Me Up” and “Hey Brother,” Avicii continues to provide new and innovative music extending beyond the EDM genre, providing a taste for everyone.


Photo credit: Edinburgh International Festival

Sync Up with The Chicago Lifestyle’s Favorite Songs

Lauren’s Spotify Playlists: Winter Edition


Every moment in life requires a playlist, right? Songs set the right mood, emotion and attitude to your everyday – your ups, your downs and your in-betweens. Looking for a little musical inspiration? Check out The Chicago Lifestyle’s hand-picked playlists to supplement your life in Chicago. Hosted by Spotify, an online music streaming service. You can access these songs by signing into your Spotify account or signing up for free access. Playlists are designed to be played in order, not shuffled. Enjoy!


  • Hibernating from the Polar Vortex: Cozy up with a glass of wine and a blanket (near your fireplace, if you should be so lucky). A bit upbeat, a bit relaxed, this playlist helps you unwind when you’re stuck indoors. Featuring big names such as Lorde, Avicii and Ellie Goulding mixed with indie artists such as Matt and Kim, Vampire Weekend and Young the Giant. Inspired by soulful voices and positive beats, you’ll warm up your winter by listening to “Hibernating from the Polar Vortex” (23 tracks, 1 hr 25 min)




  • Hosting a Speakeasy Cocktail Party: Impress your guests with a little glitz and glam, jazz and blues with a party-pleasing mix and a few dance-worthy numbers. With songs across the eras, this playlist is inspired by the 1920s-era speakeasies and the essence of exclusive parties through time. Featuring artists from Louis Armstrong to Justin Timberlake, you can focus on your flapper/gangster costume and prohibition-style cocktails and rest easy with the “Hosting a Speakeasy Cocktail Party” playlist (29 tracks, 1 hr 42 min)



What songs keep you going through the winter months? Post a comment!

Taste Test: Fried Chicken, Sage Butter Pasta, Caramel Bread Pudding and More…

Taste Test: Fried Chicken, Sage Butter Pasta, Caramel Bread Pudding and More…

I love that Chicago is one of the best cities to eat in. Any style, flavors or price tag you’re looking for, it’s all here. I had the pleasure of dining at several food establishments lately and will tempt your taste buds with my thoughts and imageries here…


And – lucky for you – many Chicago Restaurant Week locations are extending their special menus through February 13 or even the end of February! Check out my Twitter feed for the listings.



Nico Osteria (1015 N. Rush)

I have been dying to try this Gold Coast newcomer to see what all the raving is about! Now I understand – Nico Osteria checks off all the boxes that comprise a great dining experience. Located adjacent to the Thompson Hotel, the restaurant boasts a fun atmosphere, an open view to the food prep area and a look out to the snowy passers-by. Greeted with warm service by each staffer, all of our needs were attended to. Most notable was our waitress, Lynn, whom we were so pleased is a true foodie. You can tell true foodie passion when you ask what to order – the taste descriptions and suggestions were spot-on.


To start us off right, my Dad (my wonderful dining partner) called over the sommelier to figure out which varietal would pair best with our planned menu. We began our meal with the Grilled Octopus Fettuna, a bruschetta of sorts topped with a tasty combo of caramelized shallots, white beans and olives. The pasta menu looked so good that we had to order two – the Fontina Scarpinocc and the Rigatoni with Ragu. For the first – imagine the swirl of sage, cinnamon, almonds and butter – such a delightful combination delicately topped with diced butternut squash. Don’t shy away from the butter – it really brought out the flavor! For the Rigatoni – true comfort food that warms you up on a night like these. Because Nico’s true passion is seafood, we ordered the Salt Crusted Branzino, which was a nice, light fish topped with the unique flavors of white clamshell mushrooms and zante currants – adding a refreshingly unexpected sweetness.


From start to finish, Nico Osteria provided a great experience, and I can’t wait to go back!


Nico Osteria Cocktail Lounge

If you venture just past the restaurant entrance and deeper into the Thompson Hotel you’ll come across a cocktail lounge bustling with Saturday-night vibe. Upon entering, let your eyes flow up past the wall of liquor to the wall of plants, adding greenery and character to this indoor space. There is a lounge niche to the back, and veering left into the Thompson Hotel lobby you can take the stairs up, past the rustic antler chandelier, to the upstairs bar, which has a great view of the mixings below. Over the sounds of cocktails being shaken and fancy people chit-chatting, you can order off their cocktail menu. For an after dinner drink, I selected the “Gilder,” a mix of vanilla, lemon and blood orange that turned out pink and frothy but was quite delicious and surprisingly not too sweet. Come check out this new spot after your dinner at Nico Osteria or when passing down Rush Street.



Nia Mediterranean (803 W. Randolph) – Participant in Chicago Restaurant Week

One of the cornerstones of the West Loop’s Restaurant Row, Nia provides a fresh look at Mediterranean comfort food. For my first voyage on Chicago Restaurant Week, we opted for lunch and beat the crowds, resulting in dedicated and personalized service. Pulled in by the prix fixe menu (on which everything sounds delicious), I was pleasantly surprised to learn that their prix fixe menu is a regular fixture to provide their guests with a wide variety of Mediterranean tastes. With the option of six tapas or eight tapas, we obviously chose eight. The part that’s both the most fun but also the hardest is narrowing it down to just one choice per category! Read on for my favorites…


Of course, saganaki was one of my favorites. The classic savory Greek cheese, often lit up in flames, adds a special touch to a meal out. Served with a squeeze of lemon, so good! The wild mushroom risotto was a warm and nutty winter favorite, with each type of mushroom adding its own uniqueness to the flavor. For our seafood course, we chose the crab cakes topped with an artful drizzle of yellow saffron aioli. The perfect little bite-sized crab cakes were just the right texture and perfect for sharing. After much debate over the meat course, the lamb and feta meatballs came out a winner. Served with a pomodoro sauce and of course more cheese, the meatballs were a satisfying finale to our savory tapas. To quench the inevitable sweet tooth, order the bread pudding. Served warm, topped with caramel and vanilla ice cream, this is the most delightful bread pudding you will ever have.


With great options for sharing among large and small groups alike, check out Nia for their tasty tapas in the West Loop!


Pump Room (1301 N. State) – Participant in Chicago Restaurant Week

Nestled inside the Public Hotel, the Pump Room greets you with lovely décor and smiling faces. Taking you back to the old school Hollywood glamour, the space carries a beautiful esthetic – a series of round booths topped with unique round lanterns. In the downstairs area (near the restrooms), the walls are lined with black and white photos of fabulous guests from the past. People-watch the patrons to see who is the most fancy, chic or even famous. Not to be overshadowed by the décor, the food presented a wide range of flavors, textures and even temperatures.


As the Pump Room was participating in Chicago Restaurant Week, we opted to choose our meals from the special menu. Each of the first course options was a refreshing taste to kick off the meal. We tried the carrot and avocado salad, which was tossed with sprouts, a bright vinaigrette and topped with a dollop of sour cream. The salmon and rice sushi was a crispy little bite of deliciousness with multiple textures and flavors. For my entrée I ordered the fried chicken with spinach and buttery hot sauce. So yummy! The chicken was perfectly done with a light, crispy shell, mounted atop sautéed spinach as the green contrast to the spicy sauce below. Each bite was better than the last. Until….we received dessert! Cooling down our palates with a cup of ice cream, we were surprised to find all the little treats at the bottom of the cup – popcorn, candied peanuts and a layer of hot fudge. This was a great closeout to a beautiful meal. Looking forward to checking out the Pump Room’s other spots including the Library Bar and the coffee shop.


Watch List: Upcoming Restaurant Openings


Leghorn Chicken


In the spirit of fried chicken, get into Leghorn Chicken as soon as it opens its doors. Their luscious but simple menu serves up fried chicken on a buttermilk biscuit accompanied by toppers such as fried green tomatoes and housemade ranch. With some of their guiding principles in contrast with Chick-fil-A’s philosophies, Leghorn Chicken provides a breath of fresh air to the city.




Opening soon next to Bub City in River North, Bottlefork is slowly leaking photos of house cocktails, smoked meats and scratch-made desserts, but won’t give any concrete details. Watch for more info!