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!


  1. LA CONTESSA November 5, 2021 / 8:56 pm


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