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Chicago: Goldilocks Bed

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Editor Deb Schimmel sits with LBB to chat about how Chicago is the Goldilocks of the creative world. Check out the piece as part of LBB’s Chicago series and read below for Deb’s tips & tricks for a great trip to the Windy City.

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How long have you lived in Chicago and what area of Chicago do you live in now?

I’ve lived in Chicago all my life, the suburbs as a child and the city as an adult, and I’ve been in the Ukrainian Village neighborhood specifically for almost 20 years. It’s the perfect location – close to everything while still having a low-key neighborhood vibe. People have finally figured out my secret, though – everyone’s moving over here and trendy restaurants are popping up all over the place!

Where are the good restaurants in town?

There are great restaurants EVERYWHERE in town–Chicago is a world-class dining destination that can hold its own with any city I’ve visited in the world.

The most popular areas these days are probably Randolph Street/Fulton Market and Logan Square, but honestly you can find an excellent meal in every neighborhood, and it seems like there are 10 new restaurants opening every weekend.

Some favorites include Bavette’s (French-influenced steakhouse with excellent cocktails), Mott Street (imaginative twists on Asian street food), and Avec (Mediterranean/Midwestern shared plates with a fantastic wine list).

Big Star is great for cheap tacos, good whiskey, and people-watching. My all-time neighborhood favorite is Lula Cafe, which has a creative, eclectic, and locally-sourced menu that never disappoints.

Any good galleries or museums we should go to?

I love to visit the MCA (Museum of Contemporary Art)–it’s the perfect size and centrally located, so I can hop over for an hour or two when they have a cool new exhibit (such as the current Takashi Murakami show). Of course the Art Institute is amazing–I think sometimes I take it for granted since I grew up here, but the collection is pretty astounding, and the Modern Wing always has something interesting going on.

Where are the places of cultural interest? Chicago has a history of food, like deep dish pizzas and sandwiches, theatres and a strong liberal arts community – are there any events or places that food fans and art lovers have to visit?

If I have a friend visiting from out of town, I always take them to Murphy’s, which is, hands-down, the best Chicago-style hot dog in Chicago. I will fight anyone who challenges me on this! I also highly recommend seeing a show at Steppenwolf or Lookingglass, or one of the smaller local theaters–our theater scene is really unique.

In the summer, we have about 50 neighborhood street fests & art fairs each weekend, which is a great way to get a feel for the different communities.

Chicago is a North American business hub, third largest, outside of New York and Los Angeles. What is the pace of the city like compared to these cities?

I’ve always felt that Chicago is the “Goldilocks Bed” of the industry–not too manic & cutthroat, not too chill & laid-back. There is a strong Midwestern work ethic that permeates our business–everyone takes their job seriously, works really hard, and doesn’t make a big deal out of it. The people are down-to-earth, fun, smart, and easy to collaborate with. I feel very fortunate to have built a career here.

If I was going to be in Chicago for one night, where would I go?

Put your name on the list at Au Cheval on Randolph Street. While you’re waiting (and there will be a wait) have a cocktail at the Betty or a beer at Haymarket Pub nearby. After enjoying the best burger of all time at Au Cheval (seriously, a French restaurant flew their employees here to learn how to make it), head to Bucktown and end the night at Danny’s, one of the few bars in town with a dance floor.