I have asked my friends to share their favorite local spots and started a series of Independent neighborhood businesses a couple of weeks ago and since tomorrow is Small Business Saturday I wanted to continue that theme today with my neighborhood. There is a tiny district on the Near North Side of Chicago called Streeterville, I’m going to concentrate on the area which sits just East of The Magnificent Mile. Let’s look at its “folkloric” history…it’s quite a story!

An article published in The Chicago Tribune in 1988.
“Streeterville is now a posh lakefront area bounded by Lake Michigan to the north and east and, roughly, Rush Street to the west and the Chicago River to the south. But 100 years ago, it was a wasteland that gave rise to pitched battles and legal skirmishes between the authorities and the eccentric man who gave it his name, “Cap” George Wellington Streeter.
Streeter served a spell in the Civil War before embarking on a colorful career as showman, circus promoter and Mississippi steamboat operator. Coming to Chicago in July, 1886, he bought a rickety old schooner, called it the Reutan and made frequent excursion trips between the city and Milwaukee. During one of those trips, a fierce storm led his passengers to take the train instead of the Reutan back to Chicago, leaving Streeter; his wife, Maria; and several crew members to sail on through the storm until, late at night, the boat ran aground just north of Chicago Avenue.
At daybreak, the captain found himself on a sandy, barren stretch of shore land. Judging it to be an ideal place, he and his wife decided to stay put, making their stranded boat their home and receiving permission from N. Kellogg Fairbank, the wealthy businessman who owned the land, to remain there until their boat was fixed.
At what is now the Northwestern University downtown campus, Streeter built a shack, named the surrounding area the “Deestrict of Lake Michigan” and, from an office he opened in the Tremont Hotel at the corner of Lake and Dearborn Streets, sold parcels of it to gullible buyers. The area, he said, owed allegiance only to the federal government, basing his claim on an 1821 military survey, squatters’ rights and some dubious documents allegedly signed by President Grover Cleveland.
Offended by Streeter’s shabby shack and his land-grabbing scheme, his lakeshore neighbors began to take steps to get him out of potentially valuable lakefront property. In July of 1888 five constables came with an eviction order but were driven off at gunpoint. The next month several officers in a surprise visit caught the rifle-toting Streeter off guard. “Now we gotcha,” said one officer triumphantly. But just as they were about to lead him away, Maria emerged and threw boiling water from a kettle at the bluecoats. Streeter then grabbed his rifle and sent the lawmen fleeing.
streeter boatAnother time, Streeter’s self-appointed “military governor,” William Niles, fired several shots at the buggy of a police captain. The next day a contingent of 500 officers came to arrest the old man once and for all, but the officers were met by an “army” of hobos and squatters who tried to repel the attack with rocks, stones and clubs. Streeter was eventually arrested, but he was released the following day because, according to historian Emmett Dedmon, firing at a police officer was not then considered a crime.
Two years later Streeter was found guilty of killing John Kirk, a night watchman, for allegedly trespassing. After serving his nine-month sentence in the Joliet penitentiary, he went right back to his shanty, and the struggle to evict him began all over again.
By then Streeter’s Deestrict had become a favorite watering hole for a number of Chicagoans seeking to quench their thirst with booze supplied from his shack – even on Sundays. Invoking Sunday closing laws, Mayor Bill Thompson ordered a raid that ended up with the police seizing hundreds of beer bottles and burning the shack to the ground. “This here is an outrage,” said Streeter. “It’s worse than the Kaiser ever did. I’ll have the law on ’em.”
Streeter then turned to the courts to win legal recognition of his claims to his Deestrict, continuing his struggle until he died of pneumonia, at age 84, on January 24, 1921.
Picking up the fight, his second wife, Elma (Marie died in 1903), in 1924 filed a claim of a billion dollars against 1,500 lakeshore property owners for the loss of what by then had become known as Streeterville. By the time she died in 1936, many other Streeter heirs had also submitted their own claims. Not until 1940 did Streeter’s fight finally end when the last of the claims were dismissed in federal court.”
from Chicago Tribune Magazine, “Way We Were” section, Dec. 18, 1988, by June Sawyers

I have always loved this story! Now within this unique part of Chicago are many landmarks but also small shops, restaurants, a local library in the historic Water Works which also houses The Lookingglass Theater, which is now presenting HER HONOR JANE BYRNE. Take a stroll through Seneca Park and Eli M. Schulman Playground, just renovated, visit the unique gift shop at The Museum of Contemporary Art, and the SOAR Farmer’s Market every Tuesday from May through October….the list goes on and on…..

An interesting stop I wanted to feature today is SPACE 519 and THE LUNCHROOM, located at 200 East Chestnut Street. There is always something exciting going on in this carefully curated store featuring the newest trends in women’s clothing and accessories, a green apothecary, unique home goods, books, and fabulous gifts. The owners, Lance Lawson and Jim Wetzel, partners in business and life, know exactly what works for their clientele and share their taste perfectly with them. A personal touch is essential to Lance and Jim and is obvious in their expertly trained staff. A true specialty shop, based on European-style boutiques, the gentleman travel the globe to find exclusive items to share with their loyal followers. There is always something special happening, personal appearances by designers, book signings and other special events many exclusive to the shop. Add to the mix the extraordinary, charming 40 seat restaurant, THE LUNCHROOM, it is THE place to see and be seen for, breakfast, lunch and brunch or plan a special get together. The wine list, another carefully curated collection, is also noteworthy (my favorite the Sancerre, yum!). The menu features locally sourced ingredients, vegetable based and is California style…the bakery goods are extraordinary. THE LUNCHBOX was added during the Pandemic and continues for grab and go items. One of my favorites featured on the menu is the Pimento Cheese Spread, featured below. And did I mention the always abundant florals….exquisite.

And, of course, one of my favorite gifts, to me very personal, is a gift card.

Please support your local independent businesses throughout the year, now more than ever they need us and we need their creativity, their exclusives, their personal attention and service. It’s a great way to keep our City (and Cities throughout the States) vibrant and, obviously, in business…let’s not lose the individuality of these stores, restaurants, booksellers and charming, sometimes hidden, gems of our wonderful neighborhoods!

A reminder this is not a sponsored post, I don’t have sponsors.


I will be posting unique, one of a kind experiences to celebrate the holidays in Chicago and begin by featuring the creativity of the Uber talented Chef Carrie Nahabedian. Each meal at Brindille is an occasion to remember and the exquisite creative menu experience is enhanced by the service, the wine and the unbelievable friendliness of Chef Carrie and the impeccable staff….where the front of house and wine program are supervised by co-owner, cousin, Michael Nahabedian.

Chef Carrie was always a huge supporter of many of the charity events I planned at Saks Fifth Avenue, Chicago when I featured the top Chicago Chefs and their restaurants. The Chefs did their own table decor, always quite elaborate, along with tastings of their signature dishes. I would say to them, “This isn’t a competition”, to which they answered…”To us it is”! But always a friendly camaraderie, their presentations were spectacular and made the events!

Michael Nahabedian

Personalized Holiday Gift Baskets…I asked, how does a person personalize their baskets this year…..

“Each basket is custom made based on your request. Simply, send us the profile of the recipient, their preferences and we will curate a basket that will be sure to impress friends, family, co-workers and loved ones!”

A quote from Chef/Co-Owner Carrie Nahabedian on the Gift Baskets on how they came about and an example on what one can find in their baskets….

“I am a traveler in my heart and was Inspired by the hampers from London and Paris food halls––these beautiful baskets are filled with Epicurean delights, and adorned with festive holiday decorations.”

“Examples of what can be in each personalized basket that range in price from $250-$1500: Jams, confitures, chocolates, cookies, White Alba and French Black Perigord Truffle products, Greek EVOO, honeys, hot chocolate, nut spreads, Locally sourced Farmstead items and cheeses, crackers, vinegars, preserved fruits in alcohol and syrups, Holiday Panettone, candied nuts, maple syrup, Satsuma mandarin oranges, Dried fruits, charcuterie, Jambon de Bellota, mustards, Medjool dates, Hand batched cocktails, vermouths, and wines”.


In addition….how about a unique Holiday experience when… “Brindille kicks off French Afternoon Tea, in honor of Marcellas Reynolds: Author of Supreme Models and (just released) Supreme Actresses. Enjoy a beautiful afternoon of delicious frivolities, as Marcellas shares his inspiration behind writing his two acclaimed books. Vogue named Supreme Models “one of the nine best fashion books of 2019” and Town and Country named Supreme Actresses “one of October 2021’s best books”. We are thrilled to welcome our friend and Chicago native into our home for this two day event. Grab a reservation today and spend a day with Marcellas as he shares his personal inspiring story along with witty anecdotes from his “behind the scenes” adventures. Both books will be available for purchase along with a signing…this is a special event you won’t want to miss!”

December 10th + 11th: 2p-5p
Arrival: 1:45p | Conversation: 2:30p
Pre-Paid Event on Open Table: $90: excludes tax + tip

Questions: | 312-595-1616
…save-the-date for their upcoming Festive Holiday Teas:
December 17 + 18
Sunday, December 19th: Takeaway tea | $70 pp for pick up between 10-12p.

I have always enjoyed my visits to Brindille and put the Holiday Teas at the top of my annual Holiday tradition list….I hope you will too. (As usual this is not a sponsored post, I don’t have sponsors!!!!). The photos are courtesy of Brindille.



More goodies to add to your Cookie Collection…..



Bring to a boil and cool 1 cup honey

Stir in:

¾ cup brown sugar

1 egg

1 TBSP lemon juice

1 tsp lemon zest

Sift together:

2 ¾ cup flour

½ tsp baking soda

1 tsp cinnamon

1 tsp cloves

1 tsp allspice

1 tsp nutmeg

Stir into honey sugar mixture

Mix in:

1/3 cup chopped citron

1/3 cup chopped pecans

Put in jelly roll pan and bake 25 to 30 minutes in 350 degreeoven

Score into squares while hot

While hot glaze with lemon glaze

Beat 1 egg white slightly add 1 ½ cup sifted powdered sugar & 1 TBSP lemon juice beat until smooth.


My favorite Christmas Cookie is a Biscotti flavored with anise seeds and anise extract, pistachio nuts and dried cranberries.
It’s a delightful combination of flavors that reminds me of my childhood Christmases. It’s festive looking as well.
It’s baked twice at 350 degrees, once in 3 log forms for 30 minutes and once after cooling for ten minutes and
cutting diagonally into 1-inch thick slices for 10 – 15 minutes.

They will keep in an airtight container 1 week or frozen 1 month. So delicious!

The ingredients are:

4 1/2 cups flour,
1 teaspoon each baking powder and baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
1 3/4 cups sugar
3/4 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup sour cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon anise extract
1/2 teaspoon anise seeds
1/2 cup shelled pistachio nuts
1/2 cup dried cranberries
egg wash

Christmas in Italy doesn’t end at New Years. It goes deep into January. Decorations don’t disappear. You really get to engage the festive beauty of the season from the Vatican to small precious churches. These anise biscotti reveal the grandeur of Christmas Holy Season for me. And I treasure the memory-ladened mystery they always reveal.

Two more to add to our growing collection…..I can do a Part 3…..just saying…..


I have, once again this year, asked some of my friends to share their favorite holiday cookie recipes. I am sharing them as they were sent to me. There is still time to send me your favorite….I can do 2021 PART 2!

My Mom, Ruthy, and I made Christmas cookies for many, many years and I have saved recipes since I was a child…many clipped from magazines and now from the Internet using my New York Times Food App…love it! In addition, I collect cookbooks and have amassed a great variety…I am as eclectic in my book collections as I am in the objects in my home! Here is one from the 1950’s that has many of the cookies we included each year

We did dozens of cookies each Christmas for our holiday entertaining, trays for parties at work and tins full for gift giving. We looked forward to this tradition each year and added new ones to our tried and true favorites.

I’ll start with one of my most favorites….LIZZIES….I still make these each year along with RUSSIAN TEA CAKES….both last a long time if you can resist stuffing them into your mouth!!!!

1/4 cup butter
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
2 eggs
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 1/2 teaspoons ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
3 cups raisins
1/2 cup bourbon
4 cups pecan halves
3 cups candied cherries
1/3 pound diced candied lemon peel (optional)

Soak fruits in bourbon at least 1 hour to plump.
Preheat oven to 325 degrees F (170 degrees C). Grease cookie sheets.
Cream butter, gradually adding sugar and eggs. Add dry ingredients, then fruit and nuts. Mix well.
Drop from teaspoon onto greased cookie sheets. Bake for 15 minutes. Cool and store in an airtight container.


When we lived in Old Town, we hosted yearly Christmas parties. My neighbor Stefani Turken, made these cookies and when she brought them in, I fainted they were so cute! They were darn tasty too but it was hard for me to eat these little works of art. Anyway, if I had a favorite cookie, this would be the one!

Preparation Time–1 hr

Cooking Time -27 min


  • 2 sticks (1 cup) butter, softened
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ½ cup confectioners’ sugar, plus more for dusting
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 cup finely ground pecans
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • Chow mein noodles
  • Mini-chocolate chips
  • Sliced almonds


  1. Heat oven to 350 degrees. Beat butter and vanilla in bowl of electric mixer until light and fluffy. Add sugar; beat until combined. Mix in flour, pecans and salt.
  2. Shape dough into 1-inch ovals, tapering one end. Bake 15 minutes. Remove from oven; insert noodle at tail end and 2 almonds about 1/3 of the way from pointed end for ears. Return to oven; bake until slightly browned, about 12 minutes.
  3. Remove from oven; immediately place 2 chocolate chips in front of ears for eyes. (Chocolate will melt slightly and stick to cookie.) Dust mice bodies with confectioners’ sugar. Cool on wire rack.

PAMELLA CAPITANINI Italian Cannoli Cookies ! makes 2 dozen


  1. 1 cup chopped pistachios
  2. 1 10 ounce bag mini chocolate chips divided
  3. 1 cup unsalted butter softened
  4. 1/2 teaspoon salt
  5. 1 teaspoon baking powder
  6. 1 cup granulated sugar
  7. 2 large eggs
  8. 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  9. 1 teaspoon fresh orange zest – optional
  10. 1/2 cup ricotta cheese
  11. 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  12. 3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  13. 2 cups all purpose flour


  • Number One, In a large mixing bowl cream the butter and sugar together with an electric mixer until light and fluffy. Mix in the eggs then ricotta cheese until well combined then mix in the vanilla extract, cinnamon, and fresh orange zest.
  • Number Two, Next, mix in the baking powder, baking soda, and salt until well combined. Mix in the flour. Stir in 1 cup of chocolate chips and the pistachios. Cover and refrigerate the dough for at least one hour.
  • Number Three, Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Line baking sheets with parchment paper or lightly grease.
  • Number Four, Using a medium cookie scoop or spoon, drop about 1 1/2 tablespoons of cookie dough for each cookie leaving about 2 inches between each cookie.
  • Number Five, Bake cookies at 375 degrees F for about 8-11 minutes or until golden brown around the edges. Cool slightly then move to wire racks to cool completely.
  • Number Six, Microwave remaining chocolate chips on high in a small microwave safe bowl in 20 second intervals, stirring after each interval until melted and smooth. Spoon melted chocolate into a small resealable bag, clip one corner slightly, then drizzle melted chocolate over cookies. Let cool for chocolate to set.



I don’t know about you but I need to get my supplies and get baking…..ENJOY!


Marshall Fields Walnut Room Tree, many years ago
This years’s Walnut Room Tree Macy’s 2021

Tomorrow begins the traditional Chicago, and the Chicago area, Holiday celebrations returning from their hibernations….first up the Magnificent Mile Lights Festival for its 30th Anniversary…did you know that Saks Fifth Avenue, Chicago started the tradition of lighting the trees many years before when they first were discovered and the tiny lights brought to Chicago by Mr. Silvestri from Italy and shared with Saks Visual Display Director, Joe Kreis.

Can that be possible? Let’s take a brief look back even further to see where it all began. I was sitting in the office of the General Manager of Saks Fifth Avenue, Hal Clyne, in a meeting with the Display Director (would now be called Visual Merchandising Director), Joe Kreis, discussing the upcoming Holiday season. At the time, and for many years, I managed the Holiday Boutique which housed the best of the best of the Store’s merchandise that I personally edited and styled for the shop. It started the day after Thanksgiving and went away on Christmas Eve. Joe was very excited about new information he had just received. He used a display company to buy props and have props made for the many windows we had on Michigan Avenue (the Store was then located on Michigan Avenue and Erie Street it moved to 700 North Michigan Avenue in 1990). The company was Silvestri. Joe and Mr. Silvestri were fast friends and Mr. Silvestri had told him about a discovery he had made while in Italy. Strings of tiny lights… At the time we had a lighted outline of a Christmas tree that went from the main floor to the fifth floor (the addition hadn’t been built). This tree was sold to Charles A. Stevens on State Street. What Joe wanted to do was festoon the elm trees in front of the Store with these lights….well the rest, as they say, is history, to say the least! Hal said go for it although he hesitated about the cost if memory serves me correctly, each tree was around $250, but it might have been less. The year, 1959!!!!

The Chicago Tree is brilliant in Millennium Park….

And there is SO much more….

Navy Pier 2021

Check Lincoln Park, Chicago Botanic Garden…etc…etc…etc…and then there is Christmas in Blue Island

And the return of RandolphStreet Market Holiday as a Popup for three December weekends….hurrah!


By now you know my obsession with books…I’ve had it since childhood, I wasn’t able to participate in gym activities in my elementary school and spent that time in my Evanston, Illinois, Oakton school, in the library…I was in Heaven. I had been exposed to books from infancy and lord knows I’m WAY beyond that now. Finding new books is a passion and those who know me well feed that interest. You also know I host a monthly nenasnotes The Fashion Book Club and have featured many exciting books on the intricacies of the genre. In addition, I never do negative reviews, what would be the point. I am, therefore, fascinated when a subject, or in this case, a personality comes to my attention that is totally new to me, my antenna goes up! When my dear friend, the Renaissance Man and member of TFBC, Jeffrey Banks, tells me I need to know about a book, I listen! Today’s review is such a book and when you give just a bit of thought you might think it ironic that I’m featuring it. I am, indeed, featuring it because it is a superbly written account of an amazing woman who at the beginning of the 20th Century truly set the standard for specialized service in retail. Let’s learn a bit about Carrie in the riveting story written by her grand niece, Jerrie Marcus Smith, whose father was Stanley Marcus!

Carrie Marcus Neiman, along with her husband and brother, had a dream, no, a vision, early in the 1900’s to create a specialty store devoted to service. Let’s turn our thoughts back to 1907 and visualize, if we can, what opportunities presented themselves to women…not many. This didn’t, for an instant, stop Carrie from creating a store that would cater to not only the new wealthy women but to any women who wanted style and individual attention.

Think about it very carefully, a women in her 20’s with no formal training, Jewish, married and divorced who would create the first specialty store and become its CEO…just imagine! Also envision Dallas, Texas in the early days of the new century…certainly not the Metropolis it is today….never mind, Carrie wanted to offer the high fashion of New York and Paris and offer it she did in what became the arbiter of style, Neiman Marcus!

She not only brought the fashion capitals to Dallas, she also brought her special clients to those capitals where she outfitted them head to toe. She had an eye and instinct that her clients trusted and depended upon for all their wardrobe needs. It wasn’t long before Carrie and Neiman Marcus became highly respected in the New York and Paris fashion salons which she regularly frequented. She produced fashion shows in the Store and was instrumental in creating their legendary Christmas Catalog, which we all eagerly look forward to each year. She along with Stanley Marcus started, in 1938, The Neiman Marcus Awards for Distinguished Service in the Field of Fashion Service which became known as the Oscars of the world of fashion!

She was quiet and unassuming but don’t let that fool you, she knew exactly what would be becoming to each individual. (A Nenas Note….those of you who know me know I’m not found of the term “Influencer” I’ll break that feeling by saying, I would consider Carrie one of our first Influencers!)

The book is truly a love letter exquisitely written by Carrie’s grandniece, Jerrie Marcus Smith, you will want to savor each and every word and let your eyes feast on the fabulous photographs which include an insight into Carrie’s home which was as enticing as her store. Do get the book, enjoy it and add it to your library. And, by the way, Jerrie and her daughter, Allison V. Smith, will join me in conversation about the book for nenasnotes The Fashion Book Club on February 22nd…it will be a not to be missed event!

Jerrie Marcus Smith

Photos from the book which will be published on November 30th available now for pre-order….it would make a perfect Holiday gift, not only for the fashionista in your life but also for those, on your list, who are interested in family histories, it is a gem!



Today I am starting a series of posts that has been forming in my mind for quite a long time….highlighting their independent businesses that make up the specialness of our City’s 77 official neighborhoods (and many, many more unique individual districts). We need, no, we must support them…they are what make Chicago and it’s suburbs meaningful. During the past months many have shuttered, not only is that devastating to those businesses but to the neighborhoods themselves. We are the City that rebounds….think back 150 years to The Great Fire, we not only rose from the ashes but became bigger and better than ever….we can and shall do that again!

So, dear readers, I challenge you to support the independent businesses in your neighborhoods as well as investigating other areas that might be new to you. Restaurants, booksellers, small theater groups, florists, hair salons, boutiques, the list goes on. I’m purposely not including chain stores, big box stores, multi-plex theaters, restaurant chains…not that they aren’t important, of course, they are…however, in my opinion, what makes them strong is the individual businesses that surround them. It’s like recycling…it’s something we MUST do to survive, and survive we will!

Okay enough preaching…I have asked a bunch of my chums to talk about their picks and I was going to start with my own favorites but I just received a very timely answer from MARCELLAS REYNOLDS, why timely you might ask….several reasons. First of all his brand new book SUPREME ACTRESSES, get it from your Independent Bookseller of choice (mine, by now you know, is The Book Stall in Winnetka, Illinois) it s quite an exquisite followup to his SUPREME MODELS. I will be doing a review soon.


He is joining me in conversation next week for this month’s nenasnotes The Fashion Book Club and is making several more local appearances in Chicago. Next, one of the most interesting of those appearances, again, in my opinion, will be at two of the BRINDELLES Annual Holiday teas. If you haven’t enjoyed their teas you are in for a truly exceptional afternoon of Carrie’s culinary creativity. I’m taking the liberty of reposting their announcement followed by Marcellas’s neighborhood favorites….enjoy. I’ll be doing a separate post on BRINDELLE unique Holiday offerings soon…stay tuned.

Welcome, Marcellas!

Join us for the season’s very first French Afternoon Tea, in honor of Marcellas Reynolds: Author of Supreme Models and (just released) Supreme Actresses. Enjoy a beautiful afternoon of delicious frivolities, as Marcellas shares his inspiration behind writing his two acclaimed books. Vogue named Supreme Models “one of the nine best fashion books of 2019” and Town and Country named Supreme Actresses “one of October 2021’s best books”.

We are thrilled to welcome our friend and Chicago native into our home for this two day event. Grab a reservation today and spend a day with Marcellas as he shares his personal inspiring story along with witty anecdotes from his “behind the scenes” adventures. Both books will be available for purchase along with a signing…this is a special event you won’t want to miss!

* Cant make the event? Click the link below to order your copy today.

December 10th + 11th: 2p-5p

Arrival: 1:45p | Conversation: 2:30p

Pre-Paid Event on Open Table: $90: excludes tax + tip

Questions: | 312-595-1616

…save-the-date for our upcoming Festive Holiday Teas:

December 17 + 18

Sunday, December 19th: Takeaway tea | $70 pp for pick up between 10-12p.PRE-ORDER BOOKSRESERVE YOUR TABLEBrindille, named “Best New Restaurant in 2013” by Chicago Tribune, offers a glimpse into refined Parisian cuisine and atmosphere from the James Beard-award winning team that brought you NAHA. Enjoy Chef Carrie Nahabedian’s classic French fare in a refined setting, with delicate china, French linens, and fine art. The wine list, selected by Michael Nahabedian, highlights his most beloved regions of France and the Old World. Tasting menus available upon request. Click to RSVP or call 312.595.1616

MARCELLAS REYNOLDS FAVORITE CHICAGO THINGS….I’m reprinting his exact comments, just received this morning….it’s an eclectic assortment.

“My favorite places in Chicago are all over the map. They are little glimpses of the past that created me. I grew up on the Southside, went to high school in Hyde Park, and got my first job at fifteen on Michigan Ave in Water Tower Place. Until I moved to Los Angeles in 2002, I lived all over Chicago, from the South Loop to River West to Lincoln Park. I love Chicago.
The Silver Room: The Silver Room is legendary in the Black community. It’s one of the best-curated gift stores in Chicago for art, jewelry, books, candles, and fun tees. They do an annual Block Club Party, and everyone in Hyde Park and South Shore attends. Side note: they were on Milwaukee Avenue back in the day.
The DuSable Museum: I love museums. I’m a member at LACMA here in LA. Though I never joined DuSable, what they mean to Black culture in Chicago can not be underestimated. I’ve gone many times to be in the space of art and history from an African and African American perspective.
The Field Museum: In 2002, I lived with my sister, who resides in the South Loop. She is within walking distance of the museum, so I decided to volunteer. Museums are magical places. Boy, do I have some stories about the Field Museum.
Do-Rite Donuts: I love a donut, and Do-Rite, just off the Magnificent Mile, is one of my favorite donuts in the world. They also serve real food like breakfast sandwiches and the best fried chicken ever. I go here for the CBR, chicken, cheddar, bacon & ranch sandwich served with a side of hand-cut fries, and leave with a Michigan apple fritter. Or two.
Garrett’s Popcorn: When I was little, I would go shopping with my mom on weekends. After shopping, if I were good, and I was always good, she would take me to Garrett’s where she’d buy me a small bag of the Chicago Mix, a combination of caramel and cheese-covered popcorn. I can’t come to Chicago without having Garrett’s. Actually, you can get it at O’hare Airport in Terminals 1 and 3.
Pilsen Community Books: As an author, I love a good bookstore. I can spend hours in the stacks, getting lost in the prose. I discovered PCB while on location shooting an editorial for Grazia. We had the incredible new model, Anisa Dagher, up a ladder in a ball gown, reaching for a book. It was epic. I left with four new novels recommended by the staff.

Here’s my Top 10 List of My Favorite Foods Ever in Chicago

1. Garrett’s Popcorn, the medium Chicago Mix with more caramel than cheese, please

.2. Dock’s on 87th St, a Fishwich with cheese. No cheese and fish don’t vibe together, but this deep-fried sandwich is a thing of beauty and culinary delight.

3. Italian Fiesta, a medium, thin-crust sausage, and cheese pizza from the location at 1919 E. 71st not that bougie one on 47th St.

4. White Castle, the 43 E. Cermak location, double cheeseburgers with no onions, which they just scrape off anyway, so onions are cool.

5. Fred and Jack’s, at 7600 S. Yale. Their giant double cheeseburgers with everything are, in fact, everything!

6. Blade and Spade, which once was on 79th St, just west of Jeffrey Bl, had a chopped steak sandwich that I’d order with extra sauce, extra cheese, and sweet peppers. It was the greatest thing I’d ever tasted.

7. Marshall Field’s Frango Mints—a decadent symbol of a bygone era.

8. Ribs N’ Bibs, 5300 S Dorchester Ave, is sadly closed. I loved the rib tips with extra sauce. I’d order a side of fries with bbq sauce on them, too.

9. Salt & Pepper Diner was at 2575 N. Lincoln Ave. I lived within walking distance here. S&P was my Cheer’s. All the waitresses knew me and my order; four pancakes with extra butter and syrup, side of hashbrowns well done. I got teary when it closed years ago.

10. Lawrence’s Fish and Shrimp at 2120 S Canal St. I’ve been going here with my family since I was a child. My grandmother and papa loved LFS. We’d get pounds of fried shrimp and fries with hot sauce on the side and eat them with our fingers, laughing. I loved it.


Sadly some of these places no longer exist. I’d love nothing more than to be home in Chicago right now eating any of these things with my family & friends.”

I think an excellent beginning to my posts…I hope you do as well and will join me in the series by sharing your thoughts on your favorite Chicago special treasures. Email me at As Marcellas has stated many of his favorites no loner exist…let’s make sure that doesn’t continue!