Punk Rock Nerd In Chicago

By brother is cool. Always has been. He started playing guitar when he was about 11 or so, and just hasn’t put it down since. Now, he plays many other instruments as well, sings, raps, and writes his own music. He is amazing. He music favors classic punk, but he might balk at that categorization. That’s part of what makes him so cool. He is a collector of things. He loves kitsch in all forms, is an avid reader, adores video games, various types music, and movies. Chicago has so much to offer him! However, he has yet to come and visit me in Chicago. However, I think that him and his gorgeous wife are planning to come soon. When they do, here is the weekend I have planned:


Chicago Deep Dish Pizza and a movie – of course! There is much debate over the best deep dish in Chicago. I say – there really is no way to go wrong. They are all big slabs of cheese pie. How can that be bad? Gino’s East is a Chicago institution, and has some really amazing Deep Dish.

Gino's East

Afterwords, we can enjoy a movie at The Music Box Theatre – a piece of Chicago history that opened in 1929. It is now the premiere venue in Chicago for independent and foreign films.

Music Box Theatre

SATURDAY: We will start our day by taking the Red Line El train to Belmont and have some brunch at a sweet little retro diner that I know he would love.

Clark's Diner

Afterwords, we will start our Lakeview/Boystown area shopping spree by heading across the street to the Belmont Army Surplus with gobs of sweet used, vintage, and consignment wares on the top floor. My fashionista sister-in-law will love the massive shoe collection and designer threads on the floors below.

Belmont Army Surplus

Next up: Down the street to the Hollywood Mirror. The endless supplies of vintage clothes and pop kitsch will surely delight my guests! Selfishly, while we are there, I will be checking out their reasonably priced selection of second-hand mid-century modern home furnishings

Hollywood Mirror

Then, onto The Alley, a fun punky, gothy shop chock full of odd odds and ends.

The Alley

Next up: dinner at a spot I have been dying to try: Kuma’s Corner – home of some apparently very loud music and a-mazing burgers.

Kuma's Corner (photo from chicagomag.com)

Now that our bellies are full and our ears are broken in – it’s time for some live music. GOOD live music. I cannot predict where we will go – as I don’t have any dates as yet, but here are some spots you can bet I will be checking in with to see who’s playing:

Underground Lounge

Empty Bottle

Double Door



SUNDAY : Off to Roscoe Village today! We’ll start with some yummy brunch at Kitsch’n on Roscoe – home of the Green Eggs and Ham washed down with a Tang Martini.

Kitsch'n on Roscoe

Afterwards, we will head on over to everyone’s favorite (well, ok – my favorite) Windy City Roller Derby girl: Broken Cherry’s Boutique. It’s her design studio and she sells custom apparel there, too.

Broken Cherry Boutique and Design Studio

How can we leave Roscoe Village without first stopping by the Bleeding Heart Bakery for a quick treat? Vegan and organic punk rock pastries? Yes, please!

The Bleeding Heart Bakery

Now we take our leave of this ‘hood, and scoot quickly into a few others that have stops that must be made. First off: Lincoln Square to an old school music store – Laurie’s Planet of Sound, where you feel happy just walking in, the staff knows music and can answer any question you have, and the music selection is curated and organized beautifully.

Laurie's Planet of Sound

While in The Square, there are a few other spots worth stopping in. My sister-in-law loves beauty products, and so she might find the 135 year old (!) Merz Apothecary pretty cool. They carry holistic and homeopathic products along side a great selection of natural health and beauty products from around the world

Merz Apothecary

This next one, I know nothing about, but the interwebs seem to highly recommend it. It’s called People Play Games and has an assortment of vintage video games and hard to find vintage systems. Could be fun for my bro. We will head over to Lakeview to check it out.

Yelp review for People Play Games

Now time to head back up north to Uptown for some dinner and some music. This may be a reach for my brother and sister-in-law, but for dinner, I am going to suggest going to my favorite Ethiopian restaurant. One of my favorite things about a city of this size is the melting pot of culture it provides. Ethiopian food is delicious, but also feels exciting to me, as well. I would love to share it with them at one of my absolute favorite restaurants in the city: Demera.

Demera Ethiopian Restaurant

As long as were are trying some new and different things, and because I know that my brother loves music of many genres, I would like to end our journey at one of, in my opinion, the coolest venues in the city: The Green Mill. Everyone from Al Capone to Frank Sinatra have visited this jazz club. When I took my father, he said, “Man, they really made this place look like it belonged back in the day.” I explained to him that it wasn’t made to look like that. It is the epitome of ‘back in the day.’ You really can feel the history of the joint.

Green Mill Cocktail Lounge

Ahhh, so there you have it. I am looking forward to this visit very much. This is a North Side, and often Far North exploration, as I am keeping the plans to a short weekend visit. There are so many great Chicago places and things that we’ll have missed, but those will be for the next visit.

4 thoughts on “Punk Rock Nerd In Chicago

  1. Oh my goodness, that would be so fun! And it really is just far enough off to be doable. I will consider it very seriously and see if it could work.

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