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Culture Report: 5 Cool Things to Discover in Chicago

From amazing food and beer to stunning street art, here are five cool things to discover in the Windy City

Chicagoans are justifiably proud of their city and its innovations. Never happy with the status quo, the Windy City always puts its own spin on things. From cooking up deep-dish pizza to influencing rock & roll, from spearheading skyscrapers to adding a pickle to a hot dog (but never ketchup) in the Chicago-style frank. The so-called Paris of the Prairie sets itself apart from more famous coastal towns, ranking as one of the country’s most dynamic and multifaceted cities. Besides boasting pricey pads overlooking the Lake, Lake Shore Drive’s public offerings – such as the Lincoln Park Zoo, Navy Pier and of course Soldier Field – are on every visitors list – as the Art Institute of Chicago and the adjoining Millennium Park. Here, we’ve selected some of our favorite spots in the Midwest destination.

Of course, everyone knows about Chicago’s famous pizza, and Pizzeria Uno, founded in 1943, was one of the first to serve up the Chi-Town’s famous deep-dish. But these days, it’s foodie mecca Alinea, chef Grant Achatz’s rules-busting temple of cool, that is on so many people’s bucket lists. But plenty of that restaurant’s former chefs have gone on to colonize the eating landscape. For example, Band of Bohemia serves up crazy flavor combos like lime-leaf lemongrass jasmine or guava pink peppercorn beer paired with equally wild plates of banana curry with roasted cauliflower or sturgeon bacon. Plus, Stephanie Izard’s the Girl and the Goat tops many lists, serving up old favorites with sophisticated twists amidst rustic chic environs (also check out her Little Goat Diner). For something a bit more down to earth, check out the pig-centric Publican to satisfy your meat dreams.

One of the world’s most respected and accomplished graffiti artists, Kane One has been active on the scene since 1989. Now he offers the city’s kids a lesson in spray paint through his Graffiti Institute. But the street art scene continues to thrive thanks to the Wabash Arts Corridor’s ever-changing collection of murals from local and international artists, including Ben Eine, Amuse 126, Czr Prz and Eduardo Kobra.

Music has always been essential to the city’s culture, and the progenitor of rock & roll in the mid-20th century, Chicago Blues still reigns supreme at the legendary Kingston Mines in Lincoln Park. But don’t pass up a visit to the Empty Bottle, one of the last indie rock dive bars. Considered sacred ground to many, the spot opened by Bruce Finkelman in the Ukrainian Village neighborhood has hosted everyone from the Flaming Lips to Uncle Tupelo over the last two decades and helped shape Chicago’s alt-country scene. And if you’re curious how Chicagoans hold their own in terms of street style, pay a visit to shops like sneaker-centric St. Alfred, longtime street wear mecca Uprise and runway-ready RSVP Gallery.

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