Many of you will be descending upon the great state of Illinois today or tomorrow to cheer on your Virginia Cavaliers as they take on the Iowa State Cyclones in the Sweet 16 in Chicago. We hear Chicago is a lot of fun, and there's a lot of great food and drink options. Obviously, you can Yelp the best pizza places in town, and people are not short on opinions there.
We decided to kick it up a notch and reach out to Ashok Selvam, the senior editor of Eater Chicago, and ask what his thoughts are. Here's the conversation:
Streaking the Lawn: Let's start with food. At UVA, there is a renowned burger known as the Gus Burger. It's a simple cheeseburger with a fried egg on it. Any ideas where we can find such a thing? This, as you might suspect, is best eaten at approximately 3:30 a.m.
Eater Chicago: Chicago's a formidable burger city with our legacy of meat packers; it's why the Bulls are named the Bulls. Some say Au Cheval's thin-double patties make up the best in the country. Others swear by Kuma's Corner and Kuma's Too with their heavy metal blaring in the background (also amazing beer). The burgers are unlike anything you've tried. If you want a late-night burger, I suggest you hit the world-famous Wiener's Circle in Lincoln Park. Be prepared to order the "chocolate shake." Here's Eater Chicago's burger map.
STL: What about bagels? While we're in Chicago, we're going to miss our dear Bodo's Bagels, which makes the best dang New York-style bagels in the world.
Eater: East Coasters - you're probably not going to find a bagel spot comparable to home in Chicago. But for a solid bagel, try BroBagel in Wicker Park or NYC Bagel Deli in River North or Lincoln Park. Here's our bagel map.
STL: Let's say, without jinxing anything, awesome things happen Friday night such that Virginia fans will want to stay until Sunday...maybe to face your alma mater, even. For a finer dining, celebratory experience, where should Cavalier fans go for a great meal? No fair sending us to a place that will give us food poisoning so that Syracuse might have a home court advantage.
Eater: Chicago's got some of the best fine dining in the world. But many of those spots will be booked. Try Intro Chicago, Fat Rice or Girl and The Goat if you're lucky. If you really want to spend like a baller, Maple & Ash in Gold Coast (Viagra Triangle; where old men fancy younger women) is up your alley with some sick steaks. My fiancé even met Chloe Bennet (Agents of SHIELD) there. Everyone loves Grace, Boka or Next Restaurant. Next is crazy. It's like going to a show, but with food. You have to buy tickets, and the entire restaurant â-- not just the menu -- changes four times a year. But honestly...Chicago's street food: Hot dogs, Italian beef, polish sausages aren't to be missed. Our quality, affordable food gives our food scene an staunch advantage over every city in the world.
STL: Let's talk drinks. Virginia is known to be a wine and cheese school, and oftentimes, reputations are earned, not given. For those of us who enjoy a nice glass or bottle or bottles before a game, without breaking the bank, where should we go?
Eater: Near the United Center, there's the Chicago location of City Winery which feels like a very UVA spot. You folks should feel right at home along Randolph Restaurant Row. There's Maude's Liquor Bar, a sleek French-style bar with great small plates. My three fave wine bars in the city are Bin 36, Pops For Champagne and Glunz Tavern. None of them are very sports-centric, but they'll treat your right.
STL: But what we all really love is a good bourbon or whiskey. What's the best whiskey bar in the area?
Eater: Whiskey? No. What you really want is Malört. No, really...if you don't try Malört while you're in Chicago you're just big poseur who likes Applebees and Sizzler. What is Malört? Well, smartypants, figure it out. I'd send you down to Delilah's, (http://chicago.eater.com/tags/delilah's) where they're a Buffalo Bills bar and have a soft spot for the Cuse, but you folks might not know how to use Uber or public transportation. I'd say Old Fifth would fit your bill. Or Lone Wolf. Lone Wolf features Three Floyd's Beer, and that's hard to find outside of Chicago.
STL: Evening festivities! Which bar is most likely to play Dave Matthews? He got his start in Charlottesville, you know.
Eater: An old friend would say DMB+U=DUMB, but I'm not here to judge. Except "Dave" is responsible for crapping on our city. No really. Look at this story that another Dave Matthews wrote. I'm going to pass on this one; I can't fake it anymore. I would never recommend any place that played DMB.
STL: Are there any bars that might play "Proud to be an American" while letting us sing and dance on top of tables and chairs to salute the American flag? No? OK well at least, what are some fun places that will play Wagon Wheel a couple dozen times for us?
Eater: I actually saw this happening on a Fourth of July at Sheffield's (http://chicago.eater.com/tags/sheffield's) one of the only good bars in Wrigleyville. I don't want to insult you fine folks too much, but I'm thinking you will find yourselves in Lincoln Park and Wrigleyville a lot. That's great, but if you limit yourselves to that, you're really missing out on a real Chicago experience. Despite the reputation, Chicago is a safe city and extremely easy to travel. Take advantage, and have fun. Oh, and I like my shade of Orange more than yours.
Ashok Selvam is Eater Chicago's senior editor, a Chicago native and Syracuse grad. He enjoys long strolls along Lake Michigan, the 2-3 zone and drinking Malört. Follow him on Twitter @shokdiesel.