Greg Birman's Guide to Chicago

We always love discovering new artists and photographers by seeing what comes through the warehouse. And when Greg Birman's photos came though we had to pause and reach out. Turns out, this photographer also happens to be a Chicago culture expert. So, we've enlisted him to give us the dish on the coolest places to eat, stay, and shop. With photos to match. Take it away Greg.


Stay

Photography by Greg Birman

Photography by Greg Birman

 

"Recently named best travelers choice hotel by Conde Nast, The Thompson appeals to me, given its dark interior tones and musky scent."

 

Out-of-towners stay at central boutique hotel. Originating on Thompson St in New York’s Soho neighborhood, this recently renovated boutique in Chicago is located in the heart of the Gold Coast, regarded for its high fashion, rare cars, and photo ready crowds. While The Thompson is in the epicenter of the decorated district, it is barely noticeable above Italian dining gem Nico Osteria and its modern, velvet lined lobby bar. Recently named best travelers choice hotel by Conde Nast, The Thompson appeals to me, given its dark interior tones and musky scent.

Coffee

"...new heroes stepped in to restore the decrepit landmark to its prime."

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Start with coffee inside the new Restoration Hardware. For a decade, the Three Arts Club building had been an abandoned property, dominating a highly visible corner on one of Chicago’s elite neighborhood streets. It was founded one hundred years ago by Jane Addams for women studying music, painting, and theater but saw its demise to poor management. Today, new heroes stepped in to restore the decrepit landmark to its prime, creating a jaw dropping Restoration Hardware flagship with five floors of showroom, casual dining, and the Three Arts coffee bar.

Vintage

 

"...you’ll find what seems like a time capsule of everyone’s favorite memories at Brimfields."

 

Head north to browse holiday antiques. The last several holidays in Chicago have meant a trip north of downtown. Among the numerous specialty shops in the heart of Andersonville, you’ll find what seems like a time capsule of everyone’s favorite memories at Brimfields. The three story shop is filled floor to ceiling in plaid and classic American lodge vibes, which Owner Julie Fernstrom handpicked and upholstered with her husband. Brimfields is an essential destination during this time of year, if not for gifts and home décor, then just to take in the pine and campfire scent and get lost in nostalgic miscellany.

Brunch

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"...a breath of fresh air compared to overly hyped brunch diners."

Southern fare in light filled Ukrainian Village brunch spot. Upon entering The Winchester, any trip taken off the beaten path is instantly justified with pouring light, minimal décor, and a laid back local crowd. It’s easy to spend hours enjoying the calm southern vibe and affordable menu in what’s known as Chicago’s Ukrainian Village. Generous portions and the comfort of a quiet neighborhood make The Winchester a breath of fresh air compared to overly hyped brunch diners. To complement the pristine atmosphere, plates like the burger, spiced avocado toast, and the grits are easy picks to go along with a bloody.

Shop

"...the shop feels more like an old news stand with a new cool."

Small boutique on the lower level of grand hotel Madison Hall is a highly curated selection of small gifts, travel accessories, and rare apothecary by Lance Lawson and Jim Wetzel, who have previously succeeded with similar inventory of things you don’t need but would love to have in their original Space 519 (also highly recommended). Given that Madison Hall is situated at the lower level of Chicago’s latest grand hotel, the shop feels more like an old news stand with a new cool. Ties by Drake’s, apothecary from Aesop, watches by Tsovet and last minute travel essentials will make for fantastic gifts this year!

Dinner

"I always have my guests try the “Pobre” neguiri, made of skirt steak, quail egg, chalaca, and house ponzu sauce, paired with the best Pisco Sour in town."

Dressed up Asian and Peruvian fusion in River North. As is widely known, Japanese and Chinese culture is deeply ingrained in Peru, and in the tools, techniques, and methodology that Chef Jesus Delgato incorporates into various iterations of Tanta’s menu. Sushi happens to be a key element of the modern menu at Tanta, a name which means nourishment. To understand the connection between sushi and Peruvian cuisine, I always have my guests try the “Pobre” neguiri, made of skirt steak, quail egg, chalaca, and house ponzu sauce, paired with the best Pisco Sour in town.

Entertainment

 

"The show is free, the bar is cash only, the drinks are strong, and the comedy is not appropriate for children under 17."

 

Legendary neighborhood bar hosts Thursday night stand-up Created by Chicago native comedian Matty Ryan, Parlour is a stand up show that features reputable comedians from all over the country and packs the vintage velvet couches in the back of one of Chicago’s legendary neighborhood bars for a hysterical night. The show is free, the bar is cash only, the drinks are strong, and the comedy is not appropriate for children under 17. Once the show is over, the back room returns to its original dance floor and the photo booth erupts with more laughs.


What are you waiting for? Book your plane or train, and get yourself to Chicago. Don't forget to share your journey with us! And for more inspiration from Greg follow along on Instagram.