NFT Travel Guides: Chicago

Ed Forteau's picture

One of our travel guides partners, Not For Tourists, has several unique offerings for travelers on their website this week. Check out the following highlights from their Chicago correspondents this week...  

Beautiful Pizza By: Jill Jaracz

Great Lake

If you want to get people in an argument quickly, get them talking about pizza. You'll find that everybody has a passionate opinion, and passion about pizza is what you'll find at Great Lake, where their crust has been carefully perfected. It's thin with a puffy, bubbly edge that's delightfully chewy when warm. It's so good, you almost don’t care about the toppings, but you'd be wrong not to. Toppings are regionally sourced, with cheese from Wisconsin and spinach from local growers. Of course, what's available has an impact on the menu, which changes monthly, with only four to five pizzas offered at any given time. A basic cheese usually has a spot, but other options can include mushrooms and spinach. And if that wasn't quirky enough for you, the tiny storefront location only seats fourteen, mostly at a communal table, and has irregular hours, so it's best to call ahead.

3rd Coast Cafe & Wine Bar

3rd Coast is one of those delightful little bistros that someone needs to introduce you to--because it's tucked into a large apartment building, you may not notice it on your own. However, it's not a well-kept secret, because this is one of the area's best (and busiest) brunch spots, and you may find yourself waiting a little while for a table on Sunday mornings. It's worth the wait though, for fresh omelets or Texas cut French toast. Breakfast isn't its only specialty, even though it is served all day. The lunch and dinner menus also have some great dishes, and they're open until midnight, if you get the urge for a late dinner. Another bonus: a bar with a decent wine list. Plus, if you can't finish your bottle of wine, they'll cork it up to take home. With its high ceilings, beautiful woodwork, and friendly staff, this cafe definitely should go on your regular restaurant rotation.

Belly Up to The...  By:  Lisa Siciliano

The Counter

The Counter on Diversey in Lincoln Park is the Chicago spot of a custom built burger chain that is popping up in all sorts of hip locales across the nation. It’s quite possibly the coolest restaurant I've been to in a long time. The place looks like a futuristic diner with stainless steel chairs and a huge, fully stocked bar. Ordering your meal is a deliciously fun game of picking and choosing that completely depends upon your mood and taste buds. You can decide the type of meat you want (beef, turkey, chicken, veggie), the cheese that will be melted on top, four or more regular and premium toppings including guac, fried onion strings, and honey cured bacon, the sauce you'll slather on like ginger soy glaze and roasted garlic aioli, and the kind of bun that will hold it all together in one gigantic piece. Pair your one-of-a-kind creation with onion strings, sweet potato fries, or cheese fries and a drink from the bar or a shake, and you've created your very own personal masterpiece. The service is fast, the prices relatively cheap for Lincoln Park, and the experience one you'll want to repeat over and over again.

Comedy Competition  By:  Lisa Siciliano

Comedy Sportz

On your mark, get set, ComedySportz, yet another one of Chicago's big improv establishments. This one is housed almost directly next to the Belmont El Station and differentiates itself from other comedy houses by making the improv games a competition between two rival teams of players all vying for a trophy and the title of winners (for that evening!) ComedySportz has a no swearing, no dirty topics rule for both the actors and its audience. If anyone gets naughty, a brown paper bag is placed on their head by a referee who is the emcee for the event and keeps the performers and audience in line. The audience is included in all the night's proceedings from determining which team wins each game with clapping measured by an applause meter to offering suggestions for almost every game played. The great part about ComedySportz is that you'll rarely see the same people play on the same teams with the same games twice. Every single show is new and different and depends as much on the audience as it does on the chemistry of the team players.

Thursdays at 8 pm; Fridays at 8 & 10 pm; Saturdays at 6, 8 & 10pm

Viennese Verve By:  Jill Jaracz

The Julius Meinl Café

Chicagoans can be grateful that Julius Meinl made Chicago its first foray into the North American market. Julius Meinl isn't your standard coffeehouse (i.e.--Starbucks). This Viennese outlet is coffee drinking at its finest. If you've ever luxuriated in a Viennese coffeehouse, you'll understand being seated, having table service, and getting your order on a swanky silver tray. As in Vienna, all drinks come with a glass of water and a piece of chocolate. It's all very elegant, and it makes the experience one you want to have every day. Julius Meinl also has a basic food menu with breakfast, sandwiches, soups, salads, and European specialties, not to mention phenomenal pastries. Grab a newspaper, engage in some lively discourse, or enjoy a first date--this place is perfect for all of that. On the weekends you can enjoy live music. Owing to the success of this outpost, a second location opened in Lincoln Square.

Check out their website  - they have free downloadable guides, maps, gear, and of course, the travel guide books. Not to mention, they are pretty funny people. I am always laughing when I visit their site, or read their newsletter.


They also have sections of their guidebooks available for download at only $1.50.


Not For Tourists has offered a coupon for Wandering Educators - please use the coupon code: WE for a 10% discount.

Comments (1)

  • Sam Pounder

    13 years 11 months ago

    The NFT guides are ideal for people moving to a new area, or planning a long-term visit.  I purchased one, and they are very well written. 

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