The Aromas of the City
Welcome to the SEPTEMBER 2021 issue of MILES PEDDLED (MP). The subject matter of this Month's edition will be THE AROMAS OF THE CITY.
Management at MP recognizes that the September subject matter stated above is not what was promised in the Tease Section of the August edition of MP. Hence, some explanation is necessary.
Recently, management at MP had dinner with two very loyal and enthusiastic subscribers, specifically, FIRST LADY (FL) and her longtime companion THE PUNDIT (TP). Unfortunately, there must have been some confusion regarding the purpose of the dinner. Management at MP was there in an effort to obtain a contribution from FL and TP to help ensure the continued publication of MP. FL and TP, on the other hand, wanted to enjoy their dinner and were only willing to provide feedback and friendly advice to management. MP will take whatever it can get.
In any event, the subject matter of this Month's edition is derived from the suggestion of FL and TP, and as noted above will be THE AROMAS OF THE CITY. Playlist suggestion: LIVIN' FOR THE CITY by Stevie Wonder.
As usual, MP has a postscript regarding components of prior editions; to wit: a follow up regarding WONDER WOMAN and the e-bike; and, a follow up regarding the MAD VIKING's suggestion for an Erotica section in MP.
Please note that the editors at MP intentionally place this section into each issue as a distraction. MP has taken a page out of the pain management playbook. The process of distraction involves competition for attention between a highly salient sensation (pain) and consciously directed focus on some other information processing activity. Attempting to engage the patient (subscriber) in thoughts or activities that distract their attention from the pain that is about to come, is one of the most commonly used and highly endorsed strategies in controlling pain. In other words, the editors believe that by including this section in each issue of MP, they will be distracting the subscribers from the pain that is about to come in each issue. You be the judge. Playlist suggestion: HURTS SO GOOD by John Mellencamp.
First, the E-bike. In the inaugural May 2021 issues of MP, which are now world renowned, Management conclusively established that E-bikes are the future of biking. Well, the future is now!
Recently, Management purchased and picked up an E-bike for WONDER WOMAN. Some loyal subscribers have asked: Why does WONDER WOMAN need an E-bike? In reality, she does not, but a famous quote from WONDER WOMAN comes to mind:
You don’t always know what you need.
Playlist suggestion: YOU CAN'T ALWAYS GET WHAT YOU WANT by the Rolling Stones.
The bike is a Gazelle Ultimate C380+HMB. Gazelle is a Dutch company that has been making bikes for over 125 years. It is a Class III E-bike (28 mph); integrated lithium battery; Bosch mid-engine; carbon belt in lieu of chain; and, internal hub gearing with no derailer. The lack of a chain and an external derailer make the bike virtually maintenance free. The belt and gears will last 19,000 miles before they need any maintenance. This should get WONDER WOMAN through at least the Summer of 2022.
So far so great! The ride is fast, comfortable and it stops on a dime. The bike is a game changer. Playlist suggestion: GAME CHANGER by Marty Heddin.
Second, an update regarding the MAD VIKING's suggestion for an EROTICA section in MP. Management was all for incorporating an erotica section into each issue. In fact, in this September edition there was a very titillating erotica section, but when tendered to the MP lawyers it was stricken. As stated by William Shakespeare in Henry VI, "The first thing we do, let's kill all the lawyers." Please note that management at MP loves their legal department so please do not take this literally.
Now on to the subject matter at hand, AROMAS OF THE CITY. As the loyal subscribers to MP know, Chicago is a city of neighborhoods. Each neighborhood has its own distinct character and personality. This Months' edition of MP will outline 5 very different neighborhoods in Chicago with biking that can be done in and near each neighborhood. You will be able to experience the sights and sounds; but most importantly, the aromas of each neighborhood from the saddle of your bicycle. The 5 fascinating neighborhoods are as follows:
DESPACITO (Remix) by Luis Fonsi and Dandy Yankee – Featuring Justin Bieber.
Pilsen is a neighborhood on the lower west side of Chicago. It was originally inhabited by working class Germans and Irish, later the Czechs. When one Czech Bohemian resident opened a restaurant called "At The City of Plzen" in honor of the second largest city in West Bohemia (now the Czech republic), the residents began to refer to the neighborhood as Pilsen.
During World War I the ethnic composition of Pilsen began to change and working class Mexicans moved into the neighborhood. By the late 1950's Pilsen was predominantly a working class Mexican neighborhood.
18th Street runs through the heart of Pilsen. It has somewhat of a bike lane. It is fun to ride to hear the sounds, see the sights, but most importantly take in the aromas of the neighborhood. If you are up for a little bit longer ride take 18th Street 4 from Halsted on the west all the way east through Pilsen and keep going over the river into the South Loop and eventually you will hit the Lakefront where there is a bridge that will take you over the tracks and onto the Lakefront Trail. If you are lucky the CHAIRMAN OF THE BOARD will invite you to his beautiful abode for an IPA.
In this edition, MP is not going to provide you with the street address of the restaurants. The learned subscribers of MP are capable of using Google maps or the recently introduced DMAPS, both of which will provide you with the specific street address of the recommended restaurants. Use the technology – Management at MP will always follow the technology!
Pilsen has something for everyone. On the high end there is the Asian fusion restaurant S.K.Y. In addition, it has numerous Vietnamese restaurants and some very good barbeque (Honky Tonk Barbeque). In honor of the ethnic heritage of Pilsen, MP will be making two recommendations which are DUSEK'S (Czech heritage) and 5 RABANITOS (Mexican heritage).
DUSEK'S is in the revamped Thalia Hall and serves upscale pub food with a little Czech twist. They also have a very exciting craft beer menu. When you are finished with your retro Czech meal, go next door to the TACK ROOM where they generally have live music.
There are numerous excellent Mexican restaurants in Pilsen, but one that stands out is 5 RABANITOS. It is owned and operated by a disciple of Rick Bayless. The menu has many different types of tacos and also a huge vegetarian section. Management at MP also likes the fact that it is BYOB.
Some subscribers have posited that management at MP prefers BYOB restaurants because management is cheap. Other subscribers chalk up Management's Preference for BYOB's to the fact that Management likes to drink a lot. In reality, both are true. As the NOBLE IRISHMAN says: SLIAINTE! Playlist suggestion: WINE, BEER, WHISKEY by Little Big Town.
2. West Ridge (Sometimes referred to as West Rogers Park)
WEST RIDGE is a middle class neighborhood located on the far north side of the City. It is bordered on the north by Howard Street, on the east by Ridge Boulevard, 5 on the west by Kedzie and on the south by Bryn Mawr. West Ridge is a multiethnic neighborhood of Jews, Germans, Indians, Pakistani and Koreans. It is the home to the Midwest's largest Hasidic community.
To really get the feel and flavor of West Ridge you need to bike down Devon. The aromas will overwhelm you, but be careful, there is no bike lane. Always remember: The third safety rule of biking is safety first!
The best bike ride near the West Ridge neighborhood is the North Shore Channel Trail. Playlist suggestion: CHECK IT OUT by Oh The Larceny.
The south end of the North Shore Channel begins at Lawrence near River Park and runs parallel to the North Shore Channel for the next 6 miles to Emerson Street in Evanston. Along the way in Lincolnwood you will go through the SCULPTURE PARK, this is why you should CHECK IT OUT. When you finish at Emerson Street in Evanston, head east over to Sheridan Avenue and ride North through Evanston and you will get an indication as to how the upper 5% live.
As stated above, the aromas on Devon will place you in the Indian-Pakistani region. Hence the recommendations of the following restaurants. For those that are new to Indian-Pakistani food start simple at GHAREEB NAWAZ which is popular for 3 main reasons: the food is excellent; it is cheap; and, it is open 24 hours a day.
For those that are a little more experienced in Indian food try out UDUPI PLACE which is pure southern Indian vegetarian cuisine. You will not miss the meat. UP specializes in Indian crepes (Dosai) and Indian pancakes (Uthappam) which come in many varieties and with many toppings. They are all delicious. UP also has many different types of curry. To wash down all of this great food, bring your own selection of beers and wine because it is BYOB. Again, one of Managements' favorites.
CHINATOWN MY CHINATOWN by Louis Prima.
Chinatown is on the southeast side of Chicago just south of the South Loop area. The northern boundary is Ping Tom Memorial Park just north of 18th Street. The boundary on the east is South State Street; the southern boundary is 26th Street; with the western boundary being the south branch of Chicago River from 6 approximately Wallace Street all the way back up north to Ping Tom Memorial Park.
The first Chinese immigrants arrived in Chicago shortly after the Civil War. They established a very prosperous business district and became very influential in Chicago politics, to the point where Chinatown has its own Honorary Mayor. Currently, approximately 10,000 people of Chinese heritage live in Chinatown which represents approximately 2/3 of the population. The balance is mostly Italian-Americans.
The best way to get a feel for Chinatown by bike is to ride down Wentworth Avenue. This takes you right through the gateway to Chinatown.
You must also visit PING TOM PARK. You can bike north from Chinatown up State Street to 18th Street then head west on the bike lane and then to the park. There is a boathouse in the park, and you can rent a kayak and paddle north up the south branch of the Chicago River to the main stem. Please see the July 2021 Red, White, and Blue Edition of MP which describes this wonderful journey in greater detail.
A fun way to experience a full emersion into the culinary and ethnic pageantry of Chinatown is to take a Chinatown walking food tour. This can be done by booking a trip through Chicago Food Tours.
Everyone has their favorite restaurant in Chinatown, and since no restaurant has made any contribution to MP, the loyal subscribers will be getting the full unsauced recommendations, specifically, TRIPLE CROWN and LAO SZE CHUAN.
TRIPLE CROWN serves dim sum all day long. The salt and pepper soft shell crab and the pan fried oyster with egg come highly recommended.
For something a little bit more on the sophisticated side try LAO SZE CHUAN which has attained international acclaim for its Sichuan dishes. The restaurant is known for its flavorful sauces, dry roasted chilis and fiery spices. The signature dish is the 3-chili chicken.
4. Logan Square
SMOOTH by Santana featuring Rob Thomas.
Logan Square is named for General John A. Logan, an American soldier and political leader. At the center of the Logan Square neighborhood is the Illinois Centennial Monument, built in 1918 to commemorate the 100th Anniversary of Illinois statehood. The monument was designed by Henry Bacon who also designed the Lincoln Memorial in Washington DC. Roughly speaking, the boundaries of Logan Square are Diversey Parkway on the north, the north branch of the Chicago River on the east, the 606 on the south and Pulaski Road on the west.
Logan Square was originally settled by immigrants from Scandinavia, mostly Norwegian and Danes, in the 1830's. Today, the neighborhood is home to a diverse population including a large Latino population primarily of Puerto Ricans, Mexicans and some Cuban residents.
The diverse and multicultural heritage of Logan Square manifests itself in Humboldt Park which is named after Fredrich Alexander Von Humboldt, a German naturalist and explorer. Inside of Humboldt Park there is a statute of Von Humboldt and also Leif Erikson, the Norse explorer and idol of the MAD VIKING. If you visit the Leif Erikson statue in Humboldt Park it will actually talk to you via your cellphone.
While the inside of Humboldt Park may harken back to its Scandinavian heritage, the entrance to Humboldt Park is pure Puerto Rican. As you enter Humboldt Park you will travel under a metal sculpture in the shape and colors of the Puerto Rican flag.
If you want to capture all of Logan Square on your bike ride, then start your trip at the corner of Milwaukee and Bloomindale Avenues. Ride Milwaukee Avenue northwest (okay bike lane) down to Diversey; head west on Diversey to Central Park; ride Central Park south down to the 606 and take the 606 east back to the corner of Bloomingdale and Milwaukee Avenues. When you exit the 606 at Milwaukee you will be right near SMALL CHEVAL where you can get one of the best cheeseburgers and spiked shakes in Chicago. If you happen to be gluten free like WONDER WOMAN, in lieu of a bun they will wrap the cheeseburger in lettuce.
There are many great restaurants in the Logan Square neighborhood. For example, for an authentic Cuban meal in a lively outdoor setting, try 90 MILE (MP favorite BYOB). For an authentic Greek meal try ANDROS TAVERNA which is in the center of Logan Square. They make all of their Pita bread in-house and cook it in a wood fired oven. Please be forewarned that ANDROS TAVERNA 8 is the site of the infamous dinner with FL and TP that led to this now legendary September edition of MP.
In honor of the ethnic heritage of Logan Square, MP is going to specifically recommend 2 restaurants those being ORKENOY and PAPA'S CACHE SABROSO.
In honor of the Norwegian heritage of Logan Square MP recommends ORKENOY which specializes in Smorrebrod which are traditional open faced Norwegian/Danish sandwiches served on buttered rye bread with your choice of toppings including cold cuts, fish, cheese and spreads. They also have an interesting beer and cocktail menu. Ride your bike down the 606 and stop at the outdoor seating area at ORKENOY and share a couple Smorrebrods.
In honor of the Puerto Rican heritage of Logan Square head on over to PAPA CACHE'S SABROSO and try one of their Jibaritos. A Jibarito is a sandwich made with flattened green plantains instead of bread and contains your choice of fillings including meat, cheese, lettuce, tomato and aioli. They originated in Puerto Rico but were perfected in Chicago. Papa Cache's has many different types of Jibaritos including steak, chicken, and vegetarian. In addition, they have a full Puerto Rican menu with whole chicken, ribeye steak, pork chops, shrimp, and tilapia. They have a patio area and best of all they are BYOB.
5. River North (RN) & Fulton River District (FRD)
MY KIND OF TOWN by Frank Sinatra.
The biking through RN and FRD is done on Kinzie, Hubbard and Dearborn, all of which have bike lanes. For a more extended ride make your way over to the Lakefront trail and you will be at the midpoint, and you can go either north or south – MP recommends heading south due to the fact that is generally less crowded.
Restaurants - Vistas:
There are numerous restaurants in the RN and FRD neighborhoods which have wonderful views and vistas, but two which stand out are RPM SEAFOOD and GIBSON'S ITALIANO. Both restaurants have inside and outside vistas that overlook the Chicago River. The views are spectacular. Playlist suggestion – MEET ME IN CHICAGO by Buddy Guy.
Restaurants – Food:
RN and FRD are a foodies' delight. Unfortunately, to date, none of the excellent restaurants in these two areas have made any contribution to MP to warrant a special mention. Thus, the recommendations set forth herein are made solely based upon the experiences of management at MP. Hopefully in the future, this will change, and the recommendations of MP can be influenced by monetary contributions. In any event, the 3 recommended restaurants are as follows:
− FORNO ROSSO PIZZERIA:
FRP has the best Neapolitan pizza in the City of Chicago. As an aside, as most of the loyal subscribers to MP know, WONDER WOMAN, is gluten free. FRP has the best damn gluten free pizza crust in the City, State, Midwest, or US – bar none. If you are interested in trying their gluten free crust, you must call ahead and let them know how many GF pizzas you will be ordering due to the fact that they make it fresh every day. Playlist suggestion – THAT'S AMORE by Dean Martin.
− THE PUBLICAN:
The Publican's website states "an homage to oysters, pork and beer…" Any restaurant that incorporates the word "homage" into their restaurant description is worthy of an MP recommendation. The food is fresh, the meats are from SLAGEL FAMILY FARM, and they make their own bread. You can enjoy all of this at an outdoor table on Fulton Street. Playlist suggestion: THE PUBLICAN by Gus Elen.
− BAVETT'S BAR AND BOEUF
Question: What do you get when you cross an upscale French bistro with a classic American steakhouse? Think Simone De Beauvoir and her torrid love affair with Nelson Algren. Book recommendation: THE MAN WITH THE GOLDEN ARM by Nelson Algren, National Book Award winner in 1949 later a 1955 movie directed by Otto Preminger starring Frank Sinatra.
Answer: A Chicago steakhouse that has the chops (pun intended) to stand up to any steakhouse in the world.
Pro Tip: Bring your own wine. There is no corkage fee if you are willing to share a glass of your vino with another patron in the restaurant. Pair your wonderful red with the beef cheeks.
Now onto this month's Trivia/Quiz section. Again, it's a twofer, with the first question being How Many Neighborhoods are There in Chicago? The second question is: What is Unique to Each of the Following Streets: Elston Avenue; Wacker Drive; and, Western Avenue?
Please note that in the proposed EROTICA section of MP there was another question regarding certain streets in Chicago which, as previously noted, has now been stricken. If you happen to run into management at MP and their lawyers are not around, they will provide you with the question and maybe you will know the answer.
Question Number 1: How many neighborhoods are in the City of Chicago?
Answer: As usual, MP will use the well-known plagiarizing source of DMANOPEDIA to answer the trivia questions. In Chicago there are 77 officially defined community areas, but there are over 200 distinct Chicago neighborhoods. Many of the community areas are immediately recognizable (i.e., Lincoln Park); whereas others are less well known (Montclaire). Check out this historical picture of the Chicago neighborhoods.
Question Number 2: What makes each of the following streets unique?
Answer – On the northwest side of Chicago, Elston begins at Milwaukee Avenue. It then travels southeast and ends in West Town at Milwaukee Avenue. You can ride your bike the entire length of Elston. When you get to Elston and Milwaukee, proceed southeast down Milwaukee in the bike lane until you come to the corner of Milwaukee and Ogden. Pull your bike over and head into the MATCHBOX BAR where many famous actresses such as LILY OF THE FIELDS enjoy a cocktail. Try their own unique take on a margarita.
Answer – Before answering this question management requests that you revisit the very informative June Edition of MP wherein you will be reminded of Charles Wacker, the namesake for Wacker Drive. There are many things that make Wacker Drive unique. For example, it is a double decked road. It now is bounded on the north side of Wacker Drive, south side of the river, by the Riverwalk, but the thing that makes Wacker Drive most unusual is that it has street addresses that are north, south, east, and west.
Answer – From 1850 to 1870 Western Avenue delineated the western edge of the City of Chicago. Western is approximately 27.5 miles in length of which 23.5 are contained within the City limits of Chicago. Thus, Western is the longest street in the City of Chicago.
Tease time. Just in time for the fall colors, the October of issue of MP will present the long promised BIKING AND HIKING COMBO ADVENTURES.
Finally, for this Labor Day Management will leave you with the following quote from Ralph Ransom – Before the reward there must be labor. You plant before you harvest. You sow in tears before you reap joy. Once you have completed your labor, then remember to go R, R & R!