Lizzie Smith

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Best Place for Feminists

Chicago Women’s Park and Gardens

Lizzie Smith

 In an otherwise bustling part of Chicago’s downtown-adjacent South Loop neighborhood, the roughly three acres of the Chicago Women’s Park and Gardens provide a peaceful respite for those looking for a break from the hustle while paying tribute to some of the city’s most influential women. 

The park’s centerpiece is a large iron fountain surrounded by a winding path that, according to the website, is meant to represent how a woman “moves in and out of traditional boundaries and roles through the course of her life.”  Two Chicago women, landscape architect Mimi McKay and architect Tannys Langdon, designed the park itself. It features a monument to Jane Addams, a Nobel Peace Prize winner and social activist from Chicago. The granite sculpture depicts hands supporting one another and, according to the artist, is meant to represent the work Addams did to support the diverse range of people and communities she helped.

Today, activities in the park seek to reflect Langdon’s view on women’s influence on the world. The community garden provides a chance to learn about agriculture and nutrition, while the newly renovated field house includes three fitness studios and a science lab where kids can take extra hands-on classes or participate in the twice-weekly STEM workshops during the school year for precocious preschoolers and toddlers, and which can also be rented for birthday parties. The open green space, in addition to being a wonderful place to relax and enjoy nature, is also used for neighborhood gatherings and community-building throughout Chicago’s warm months. (Carly Graf)

Chicago Women’s Park and Gardens. Every day, 6am–9pm.

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Best Place To Upgrade Your Kitchenware

Barbara’s Basement

Barbara’s Basement, also known as The Second Time Around, is logically located in the basement of the historic Second Presbyterian Church at Cullerton and Michigan. During the summer, the secondhand store extends its hours to complement the South Loop Farmers Market, hosted in the church’s parking lot. Take advantage of this for the next few weeks, as normally Barbara’s Basement is only open eight hours a week. 

When you wander into the entrance in the church’s parking lot, you descend a level of stairs to find a narrow, low-ceilinged room filled with planters, glassware, kitchen appliances, and other trinkets. Browse a small, high-quality selection of coats, check out the handmade jewelry, and stock up on full sets of multicolored glassware. With most pieces under two dollars, you have plenty of bandwidth to make your kitchen gleam with crystal. (Jasmine Mithani) 

Barbara’s Basement, 1936 S. Michigan Ave. Tuesday and Saturday, 10am–1pm; after services on Sunday, noon2pm. Through September 26: Thursday, 4pm8pm.

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Best Hangover Cure

Manny’s Cafeteria & Delicatessen

Walking into Manny’s feels like walking into a Chicago time capsule: black-and-white photos, newspaper clippings, and retro menus line the walls. A member of the Raskin family, the founding owners, is almost always there to greet customers. The Raskins have been dishing out delicious Jewish deli food to Chicagoans for seventy-five years, and they’ve been in this location on Jefferson Street since 1964. The menu reflects that same history. It’s simple, with a special focus on classic dishes like corned beef, challah French toast, and their famous matzo brei, all of which can be piled high on your plate as you make your way through the cafeteria line. One word of caution: wear stretchy pants, and prepare to leave stuffed. (Carly Graf)

Manny’s Cafeteria & Delicatessen. 1141 S. Jefferson St. Sunday and Monday, 7am–3pm; Tuesday–Saturday, 7am–8pm. $7–$18. (312)-939-2855. 

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Best Blueberry Scone

Tea Pot Brew Bakery

Lizzie Smith

For the most part, the fine art of tea is lost on me. I’m a coffee head. So when I stumbled into Tea Pot Brew Bakery, I wasn’t really paying attention. I just wanted a cup of coffee and had been meaning to stop at the cute little gray-colored corner bakery with the indigo logo, where I had noticed people always sitting al fresco on warm sunny days. Once inside, everything delighted me right away. I enjoyed seeing a destination owned and operated by a Black family that offers an array of fine teas, including classic varieties like Earl Grey and English Breakfast alongside exotic blends like Cinnamon Plum and Turmeric Mango, combined with fresh baked goods prepared from scratch. Though most visit for a favorite tea served hot or iced, with over thirty to choose from, Tea Pot Brew Bakery also brews a pretty good cup of coffee too. And the place smells like your grandma’s kitchen—the grandma who can bake, not the other grandma! If you do anything before you leave the planet you must have their blueberry scone. Get it warmed for a fluffy melt-in-your-mouth sensation that is the perfect balance of sweetness with an actual blueberry in every single bite. If scones aren’t your cup of tea, there is something that will be, and it’s baked fresh onsite in small batches all throughout the day, I learned from the friendly staff who who helped me. The selection of baked goods varies and things sell out fast. If you can’t get the life changing blueberry scone on your visit, other notable delights are the berry coffee cake and the citrus pound cake. And check this out—anything left over at the end of the day gets donated to the local shelter. Waste not, want not! Tea Pot Brew Bakery also has an extraordinary selection of flavored syrups. For an additional fifty cents add in a splash of rose, or tiramisu, or South Seas—a decadent blend of mango, guava, and ginger. Got a morning staff meeting or need midday snacks for the office? Check out their full catering menu of assorted trays and platters. I’ll be back. (Nicole Bond)

Tea Pot Brew Bakery, 1802 S. Wabash Ave. Open Monday–Friday, 7am–4pm; Saturday and Sunday, 8am–3pm. (312) 966-6001. 

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Best Weekday Steal

Reggies Music Joint

For a performance venue that doesn’t take itself too seriously, this thrasher-meets-indie dive bar is the place to be. It’s perfect for the folks who don’t think life ends when the work week hits, offering a regular lineup of entertainment—bingo, open mics, and musical acts are a few of the offerings—alongside food specials Monday through Thursday and drink specials every day of the week. Go on Mondays for one-dollar tacos and half-price drafts, or Wednesdays for six-dollar margaritas and Long Island iced teas. If the deals don’t tempt you, the menu is filled with comfort-food-inspired dishes that somehow don’t make you feel gross after eating them. The “Veggie Burger en Fuego” with buffalo sauce and melted mozzarella is an exceptionally good opening act to whatever concert you’re planning to see. (Carly Graf)

Reggies Music Joint, 2105 S. State St. Sunday–Friday, 11am–2am; Saturday, 11am–3am. Kitchen open Sunday–Thursday, 11am–11:30pm; Friday–Saturday, 11am–11:30pm. (312) 949-0120. 

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