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A couple of football specials to pass along, in case you’re looking for somewhere to watch the game tonight:

Longtime radio personality-turned podcaster Steve Dahl takes his show on the road to Trader Vic’s for Aloha Monday Nights. He’ll be hanging out with everyone at the Gold Coast bar offers up $3 domestic and import bottles, $5 Bear Bombs and a $12 Pigskin buffet.

Jake Melnick’s Corner Tap is running a season-long “coin toss” special. Each table will get a chance to flip a special Melnick’s coin to win prizes like food specials and discounts. You can also get half price Rogue bottles all night long.

Looking for more? Find plenty of NFL game-day specials here.

I just got my first taste of the Gaztro-Wagon, Matt Maroni’s much-discussed venture into mobile food options in Chicago, as the wagon made a visit to the Merchandise Mart for lunch today. First reaction: Well worth the hype.

What struck me most was how low-key the operation really is. It’s just Maroni and an assistant slinging sandwiches out of a truck. A hand-written menu lists the half-dozen or so “Naanwich” (basically sandwiches made on homemade naan bread) options on a chalkboard, you pick one, and 30 seconds later, it’s yours.

(More photos after the jump)

Tall Ships Chicago

Through Sunday at Navy Pier; $9-$19

Find ships of all shapes and sizes, but mostly big, pirate-like vessels rolling in on Lake Michigan this weekend. In addition to boarding the ships, there are also plenty of kids activities on Navy Pier.

Phenomenal Phantasmagoria

Through Saturday at Excalibur; $20

The best way to describe this performance is freaks, aerialists and burlesque artists, putting on a show in a nightclub shaped like a castle. "Phenomenal Phantasmagoria" comes with a Vegas-sized load of glitz and kitsch, but its ingredients are 100 percent pure Chicago. Don't miss guest artists like sleek, sly stripper Lady Jack or world-conquering show-woman Madam Barker (aka punk clown goddess Molly Brennan).

Bucktown Arts Fest

Friday-Saturday at Senior Citizen's Park; free

Fight the (gentrification) powers that be with a hearty roster of local bands, art, performances and local food. The event has drawn upwards of 30,000 people to the Senior Citizens Park (at the corner of Oakley and Lyndale) in recent years. Not just because it takes place in a park is this event grassroots; unlike many such fairs in the city, put on by commercial production companies, volunteers proudly run the fun.

The Original Wailers

8 p.m. Friday at Beverly Arts Center; $25-$27

Although this may not be the Wailers we all remember, this incarnation has proven that they have the ability to continue the traditions laid down by the legendary Bob Marley. Session players Junior Marvin and Al Anderson, who both appeared on Natty Dread and Exodus, have done a masterful job of reinterpreting Bob’s classic work, yet they still manage to honor his integrity by not straying too far from the original compositions.

Taste of Greece

Noon-11 p.m. Saturday-Sunday in Greektown; free

Find Greek food (gyros, saganaki, lamb chops, baklava), music (from the Hellenic Five and Hellas 2000), belly dancing, the Jesse White Tumblers, kids' activities and more on Halsted Street in Greektown. Plus, you can learn the sirtaki (it's a dance) and possibly win a free trip to Greece.


Rock Your Heart Out Volume II
8:30 p.m. at Bull & Bear; $15
“Bachelorette” star Ed Swiderski hosts this event to raise money for his new organization, the Global Education Open Technology Foundation ( American Idol’s Jeffrey David Goldford will play a set, to go along with a two-hour cocktail reception with appetizers and drink specials. A raffle includes tickets to see Dave Matthews Band at Wrigley Field.

Leon Russell
8 p.m. at SPACE; $35
Session guru Leon Russell has credits with everyone from Eric Clapton to Frank Sinatra, flanked by gigs with Phil Spector’s Studio group, and later his own Church Recording Studio. This tour will probably showcase more of his country side, the kind he used to light up the Billboard charts with Willie Nelson duets in the late 70s. (Gavin Paul)

5-11:30 p.m. at various locations; $40
More than 35 bars and restaurants throughout Lakeview, Lincoln Park, Andersonville, River North and even Oak Park participate in this annual event to raise money for AIDS research. Most places offer drink specials, and a raffle includes prizes like tropical vacations and spa packages. Check out a list of participating places here.

Sweet Talk in the City

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Single City is a twice-weekly blog about the Chicago dating scene written by Sun-Times Media Wire reporter Sally Ho. Got a question? Email her!

Here is June's roundup of the 10 best, worst and most hilarious verbal exchanges I've been blessed to witness:

3 Things To Do Today

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Edible Audible Picnic and New Music Monday
Noon and 7:30 p.m. at Millennium Park; free
See two great shows for free today at Millennium Park. First Martin Dosh (known just as Dosh to his fans) takes the stage at noon for an Edible Audible picnic. Then, at 7:30, The Books, Via Tania play this week’s New Music Monday show. So much music for just one day. Good thing it’s the longest day of the year!

First day of summer party
11:30 a.m. at Hub 51
Celebrate the first day of summer (and the longest day of the year) with half-priced drinks off of Hub’s new cocktail menu. Our pick: Pomegranate mojitos for four bucks.

34th International American Spanish Dance Festival
10 a.m.-9 p.m. at Northeastern Illinois University; 5500 N St Louis Ave
Choose from a number of Spanish dance classes, or just come and watch, as this two-week festival put on by Ensemble Español continues. If you can’t go today, be sure to make it to the festival’s “Flamenco Passion” gala this weekend.

Remember when foie gras was illegal in Chicago? Seems like a long time ago. Now, not only will you find the controversial delicacy on menus all over town, but there's actually a Chicago Foie Gras Week (June 11-19) and a Foie Gras Museum opening on Friday. Ok, they're both associated with the same place (Cyrano's Bistrot & Wine Bar), but still. During the promotion, Chef Didier Durand will prepare some of his favorite foie gras dishes in addition to recreating signature appetizers from chef friends including Michael Tsonton (Hotel Sax), Mark Gross (Oceanique) and Michael Lachowicz (Restaurant Michael).

Here's are the special events in store for all you liver lovers:

Friday, June 11
- The opening of the Foie Gras Museum (basically a lot of information posted on the walls of Cyrano's).
- Guest chef Kent Kaufman

Tuesday, June 15
- Mark Caro, author of The Foie Gras Wars, makes an appearance at 6 p.m.

Thursday, June 17
-Guest chef Michael Foley

Can't wait for the annual Taste of the Nation event (August 12 at Aragon Ballroom)? Get a sneak peek with tonight's preview party at SUB 51 (beneath HUB 51), featuring open bar, passed appetizers, desserts from Mindy Segal of Hot Chocolate and more. Best of all, your $15 ticket purchase will go toward your Taste of the Nation ticket, so it's almost like it's free! The event runs 6-8:30 p.m.; check out the Facebook page.

triple Pig_Lo.jpg
The Three Little Pigs burger will have you huffin' and puffin'.

How does a burger sound for lunch today? How about a different burger every day this week? Your cardiologist may not approve, but Rockit chef James Gottwald won't tell. His restaurant's annual Burgerfest returns to both the River North and Wrigleyville locations today. In addition to the usual Rockit burger, and turkey, angus and lobster versions, Gottwald will offer a different specialty burger each day through Friday. Take a look at the menu below and take your pick. Each is $12, including fries. Shakes and root beer floats are also available for $5 each.

Three Little Pigs Burger
Ground pork patty, pulled BBQ pork, sugar-cured bacon and cheddar

Fruit de Mer Burger
Shrimp, scallop, salmon and lobster with tobiko caviar aioli

Turkey Dinner Burger
With all the fixins’, including turkey gravy and cranberry relish

Black Angus "Oscar" Burger
Black angus beef, lump crabmeat, asparagus, with a béarnaise sauce

Chicago Style Burger
Seven traditional toppings of a Chicago-style hot dog but on a burger

Here are some recent Chicago restaurant (and bar) openings and closings.

Pour Drinks & Eats -- Joe Parra, the general manager of this Lakeview spot, took the garden concept up a notch with moody lighting, cozy seating, flat screens and a thought-out menu of affordable fare.
FreshBerry -- Yet another frozen-yogurt chain has set up shop in Chicago, this time in Streeterville.
Donatella Mediterranean Bistro -- Donatella Majore, owner of the now-closed La Cucina di Donatella, is back for more, opening this Mediterranean-inspired spot in Evanston.
Jimmy Green's Bar & Grill -- This self-described "all-American sports bar" serves up everything from pizza to hummus in the South Loop.
City Provisions Deli -- Gourmet catering company City Provisions (headquartered just up the street) offers up gourmet sandwiches, sides and a small selection of groceries at this shop.
Ojo de Agua Taqueria -- Get tacos, burritos and quesadillas on handmade tortillas at this taqueria on the border of Bucktown and Logan Square.
Kim & Scott's Cafe Twist -- The folks behind frozen-food brand Kim and Scott's Gourmet Pretzels now have a storefront restaurant to call their own.

Marche -- Got a steak frites craving? Better get there fast. The French West Loop spot plans to close its doors on June 13.

Martini Park -- No more adults will be playing at this River North lounge.
Sugar Syndicate -- One third of Lincoln Square's "Sweet Collective" has come down from its sugar high.
Purple Haze – The Northwestern-themed bar didn't last long in what seems to be a cursed space in Lakeview. The new inhabitant: Beer.
Shallots Bistro -- Apparently, gourmet kosher fare wasn't for everyone.
Shrimp Walk -- The Highwood Thai spot remains open for private parties.
Viet Bistro -- The Rogers Park restaurant stayed classy 'til the end.
En*Thai*Ce -- Andersonville just lost a favorite pad see eiw purveyor.

Check back here every week for more openings and closings, and be sure to check out Centerstage Chicago's lists of new restaurants and bars.

Ah, the good old days.

Aspiring Playboy Bunnies (and the oglers who love them), make sure to clear your schedule for the next couple of weeks.

On June 10, The Venue at Horseshoe Casino in Hammond, Indiana will host the 50th Anniversary celebration of the original Playboy Clubs. Among the festivities will be the selection of a single girl to feature on (and have her photos submitted to Hef for consideration for Playboy magazine). Where will those girls be found? All over Chicago, of course. Here's the schedule for upcoming Bunny search events over the next two weeks (find full details here):

Friday, May 28, 9:30 p.m.: Red Ivy (call 773-472-9000 to register)
Saturday, May 29, midnight: Heat Nightclub (register at or email
Sunday, May 30, 10 p.m.: Bull & Bear (register at
Wednesday, June 2, 8 p.m.: Meyer's Castle (1370 Joliet, Dyer, IN)
Thursday, June 3, 9 p.m.: Martini Park (register at
Friday, June 4, 8 p.m.: Tilted Kilt, Elgin
Saturday, June 5, 10 p.m.: VLive
Saturday, June 5: Stage 151@Harrah's, 151 N. Joliet, Joliet


Josh Rouse
8 p.m. at Lincoln Hall; $20
Once upon a time, Josh Rouse was your basic -- if especially talented -- Midwestern alt-country artist. Then he moved to Spain in 2006, and became what he is today: an alt-country artist with some serious global flair. He'll be promoting his latest batch of affecting, internationally flavored tunes, "El Turista," during this show at Lincoln Hall.

I Can Hear You With My Heart
8 p.m. at Theatre Building Chicago; $0-$20
In theater, the mentally ill and the disabled are too often used for cheap drama or insensitive laughs. But what if they got a chance to tell their own stories, to be creators instead of characters? This show, devised by the Thresholds Theatre Arts Program, will give you the chance to find out. It's free, but a $20 suggested donation goes to support the program.

Addicted to Aidan
8 p.m. at J Bar
The James Hotel bar's regular Addiction Thursdays event takes on a "Sex and the City" theme tonight in support of Carrie's ex, Aidan, who makes an appearance in the new movie. The original flick will play on the big screen all night, and $6 signature cocktails will include the Scout-tini and the Nice Guy Finishes First Fizz. It pays to get there early, as the first four guests will get a "Sex and the City 2" swag bag as well as have a chance to win tickets to the movie. Check out more Sex and the City 2 parties in Chicago.

You can heckle him, but can you spell his name?

Samardzija, Pierzynski. Manumaleuna. Byfuglien.

In recent years, Chicago sports fans have had a ton of tongue-twisting names to tackle on local rosters. So you should feel pretty confident about entering the third-annual Sports Spelling Bee, taking place at ESPN Zone (43 E. Ohio) on Thursday, June 3 at 6:30 p.m. The free competition will include up to 50 particpants, who will be asked to spell the last names of local and national sports figures. The winner will get premium White Sox tickets, a VIP party at the ESPN Zone and, of course, a trophy. Think you've got what it takes? Email with your name, address, phone number, birth year and the location at which you want to participate. Then start studying your sports almanac.

Ever had trouble convincing people to come out and party with you on your birthday? Here's what you do: Invite some of the country's top DJs to your own personal bar and let the good times roll.

Ok, we know not everyone is R.J. Melman, the soon-to-be 31-year-old co-owner of HUB 51 in River North. Instead of trying to be, just head over to his birthday festivities this weekend at the bar/restaurant's subterranean lounge, SUB 51. Eclectic New York DJ M.O.S. (Friday, 9 p.m.-2 a.m.) and LA hip-hop DJ Spider (Saturday, 9 p.m.-3 a.m.) will be there to help him blow out the candles in style.

Here are some recent Chicago restaurant (and bar) openings and closings.

Cumin -- Finally, Wicker Park gets an Indian restaurant!
Phoenix Inn -- The Evanston favorite has risen from the ashes to serve Chinese fare once again.
Seasons 52 -- Expect fresh grill fare and plenty of wine at the first area location of this nationwide chain.
El Llano -- The Colombian restaurant gets a second location in Irving Park/Avondale.
I Dream of Falafel -- Now you can get your falafel fix on Monroe.

Cookie Bar -- You can expect to get 18 varieties of cookies at this Lincoln Park bakery...starting tomorrow.

Tizi Melloul - We may have seen the last of the $3 martini.
Cuatro -- After faking us out a few months ago, the upscale Latin spot is now closing for good.
Baja Fresh -- Sorry, fish-taco lovers...the national chain is closing all its Illinois franchises.

Check back here every week for more openings and closings, and be sure to check out Centerstage Chicago's lists of new restaurants and bars.

Spring Into Funny Ha-Ha
7 p.m. at Hideout; $5 donation
AV Club maven and YA author Claire Zulkey hosts a grab-bag evening with a comic bent. Funny Ha Ha will feature readings, performances, and short films by local luminaries like Steve Gadlin ("Impress These Apes") and longstanding improv troupe Schadenfreude. At the Hideout, the warmest, coziest, hippest venue to ever be stranded in the middle of an industrial wasteland.

9 p.m. at Lincoln Hall; $13-$15
With his blunt, matter-of-fact demeanor, LA-based MC, Murs, has become one of the most dynamic artists around. His personality alone is enough to handle hosting duties at the always-raucous Rock The Bells and Paid Dues (a festival he also co-sponsors), and it's what keeps his name constantly circulating amongst loyal hip-hop followers. His resume includes an album with famed producer 9th Wonder ("Fornever") and a soon-to-be-released project entitled "The Melrose." His forthcoming album will be a bridge of sorts between his underground roots and his affinity for mainstream West Coast rap, which will be an unexpected (but welcome) change from what fans have heard in past years. Expect this show to explore his creative past, present and future.

Drinking In Your History
6-8 p.m. at Green Door Tavern; $25
Chicago Bar Project's Sean Parnell, author of Historic Bars of Chicago, will visit one of the oldest bars in the city for a talk about, well, historic bars. In addition to the enlightening discussion (which will take place in the bar's usually-closed speakeasy room), the admission price includes two drinks, appetizers, a copy of the book and a one-year Preservation Chicago membership.

Here are some recent Chicago restaurant (and bar) openings and closings.

Manee Thai -- The popular Thai spot rises from the ashes, returning to Avondale after a fire.
The Vault -- This "upperground lounge" above Vivo offers cocktails, personal pizzas and more in an old bank vault.
Blue Frog 22 -- Kick back and have some fun at this River North spinoff of the popular Blue Frog Bar & Grill that looks more like a basement rec room. Board games and karaoke rule this bar.
Sushi Para M -- The Sushi Para all-you-can-eat sushi empire moves into Bucktown with this new BYOB location on Milwaukee.
Deca Restaurant + Bar -- The Ritz-Carlton opened this new restaurant with brasserie-inspired cuisine.
Cloud 9 -- This Taiwanese "snow ice" spot in Lakeview serves what can be described as a mix between ice cream and shaved ice, with fresh fruit and fruit purees.

Tizi Melloul -- You've only got another week to get Middle Eastern fare in a modern environment, as this River North staple closes May 15.

Follia -- West Loop Italian spot had great food, but not enough crowds.
Bar Louie (Little Italy) -- Don't worry, there are plenty of other locations to visit in the area.
Paris Cafe -- The short-lived River North spot was replaced by the generically named Chicago Bar & Grill.

Check back here every week for more openings and closings, and be sure to check out Centerstage Chicago's lists of new restaurants and bars.


Avenue Q
8 p.m. at Bank of America Theatre; $22.50-$67.50
No Sesame Generation kid should miss the little puppet musical that made it big. A loving parody of TV's most famous street, this tuneful, canny show is edutainment for adult(ish) life. Covering everything from the etiquette of sex noise to finding one's purpose, the nearly decade-old production retains its comic edge, and its uncanny ability to make you feel for felt.

9 p.m. at House of Blues; $18-$20.50
Like Latin music? African? Hip-hop? Anything with a good beat? This octet is right up your alley. While some bands with similar melting-pot influences tend to sound a little unfocused and unoriginal, this LA group never fails to entertain. Expect this show to turn into a big party by the end of the night – just don’t try to emulate Drew Barrymore in "Never Been Kissed" and jump on stage to dance with the boys.

Midwest Independent Film Festival
6 p.m. at Landmark Century Centre Cinema; $10
The monthly event returns for its latest installment with the Chicago premiere of "Annabelle & Bear," a film about a dysfunctional family directed, co-written and executive produced by Amy Weber (who will be in attendance for a post-screening discussion). The festivities will also feature the premiere of Oh My God's music video, "Bring Yourself" (animated by Adult Swim vet Dan Bigelow). The screening begins at 7:30 p.m. following a sponsored cocktail reception and a presentation from Canon about state-of-the-art filmmaking technology. Head to Forno Diablo for the after-party.

11 a.m.-4 p.m. at Merchandise Mart; $20
Today's the last day to experience this three-for-one art event, featuring Art Chicago, NEXT and the Merchandise Mart International Antiques Fair.

Polish Constitution Day Hash
6:30 p.m. at Czerwone Jabluszko (Red Apple); $13
Join the Chicago Hash House Harriers for this celebration that includes a four-mile run, a buffet and a keg of beer courtesy of Stanley Stawski Distributing Co. Make sure to wear something Polish!

The Pigeons
8 p.m. at Swim Cafe; $10-$15
Set in the rapidly gentrifying West Town neighborhood, this farce from Walkabout Theatre follows Martin, a man who lives in a tiny condo with dozens of dirty birds, and features run-ins with all the diverse characters of the 'hood, from starving artists to boisterous frat boys and everyone in between. Warning: This may hit too close to home for some.


Through Sunday at Bank of America Theatre; $20-$65; get tickets here
The famous dance rhythm show in which found objects become percussion instruments tours to Chicago. The eight-member troupe uses everything – matchboxes, wooden poles, brooms, garbage cans, lighters, you name it – and promises some new surprises this time around. Hedy Weiss recommends.

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About this Archive

This page is an archive of recent entries in the River North category.

Pullman is the previous category.

Riverdale is the next category.

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