The Renegade Gang loves dishing on all things local, and with our 9th Annual Fair returning to Division Street, we wanted to share our picks for our favorite things to do in sweet home Chicago!
Some might say we moved our office to Pilsen to find a new home for the ever-expanding RCF, but the Renegade Gang knows the truth: we moved to be closer to everyone’s favorite tater-tot chomping, beer swilling, photo booth snapping watering hole The Skylark!
Read on for more local fun to enjoy while in town for the Fair, and be sure to say hi to us – and our amazing vendors – when you stop by Division Street this weekend!
When not crafting cuckoo clocks extraordinaire for Black Forest Works, and dealing with all things RCF related, partners in crime Sue & Mat Daly enjoy all the food & fun Chicago has to offer. Sue says, “MANA is my favorite Wicker Park restaurant. It’s all veggie, but you won’t miss the meat!” They also suggest Handlebar and El Barco Mariscos for other great eats.
Sue & Mat als0 recommend popping into one of the great bars along Division while visiting the Fair. Sue says “I love Happy Village – it’s nice to be able to sit outside with friends in their beer garden!” Other favorite local (and somewhat dive-y) bars include Gold Star, Innertown Pub, and Phylis’ Musical Inn. For shopping, they get their vinyl fix at Reckless Records, and browse the vintage racks at US #1.
Madelon seconds the fun to be had at Happy Village, and also suggests a trip to Honky Tonk BBQ in Pilsen to enjoy “the best Manhattan in the city, a really fantastic collection of folk art, and live music.” Don’t tell Richie (Madelon’s favorite waiter at Honky Tonk), but Madelon says she would marry Lula Cafe if she could. Stop by this Logan Square restaurant to see if you agree.
Madelon also loves a great vintage find, so after you get your craft fix at the Fair, she suggests a stop at KOKOROKOKO or a trip to Knee Deep Vintage, noting “the Friday night before the Fair is their ‘midnight sale’, they have free drinks, hotdogs (sometimes) and 25-50% off everything!”
Kevin, who can find fun anywhere, at any time, notes, “I’m a huge fan of Logan Hardware – buy any record there and you can play their collection of old arcade games all day. I also love going to the Montrose dog beach and playing with dogs that aren’t mine.” Sounds like Kevin will be spending his free time at the Greyhounds Only booth when not holding down the fort at Renegade Handmade this weekend.
Crafty lady Meg, vending at her White Nest booth, says a “must go-to for any crafter/lover of fabrics: Fishman’s Fabrics, hands down; and if you don’t mind getting your hands a little dirty, visit Brown Elephant in Boystown for some furniture thrifting.” For food, Meg cites “the best sushi in town” can be found at Roll ‘n’ Bowls in Edgewater, noting: “word to the wise, it also the smallest restaurant I’ve ever been to so go early! It’s worth the wait!” Speaking of waits, Meg also recommends the mac-n-cheese at Kuma’s Corner.
Sarah echos the love for Kuma’s and says the “Lair of the Minotaur will change your life.” If heavy metal burgers aren’t your thing, she also suggests a trip to Tre Kronor in Albany Park- “a super quaint Swedish restaurant with the world’s greatest salmon + dill omelette.” Right across the street, she recommends a trip to The Sweden Shop for “a crazy awesome selection of Scandinavian housewares.” For other crafty shopping near the Fair, Sarah digs Nina: a well-knit shop, and if you need a lunch alternative while browsing along Division, Sarah (and many of the Renegade Gang) enjoys a trip to Janik’s Cafe. Buy your favorite Renegader a brownie, turkey wrap, or some ice cream and we will love you forever. Truth.
Logan Square resident & ceramicist, Ali, of Maker & Maker, says “Cafe Mustache is my favorite coffee shop– and they do a great job supporting local music.” She also recommends Schuba’s in Lakeview, or the Epiphany Episcopal Church in the Near West Side as great music venues in the city. For bibliophiles in town for the Fair, Ali says “Myopic Books smells amazing, has a great selection, and is open late!” Ali is also a fan of the veggie dog at Hot Doug’s.
Sara seconds Hot Doug’s as a must-do when in Chicago, and recommends the duck-fat fries and a celebrity sausage. If late night dogs are your thing, trek over to The Wiener’s Circle, “just be prepared for the antics that may ensue if you take too long to order.” If you fancy a drink while on the north side of town, Sara suggests the L&L Tavern and Gingerman for “cheap beers and amazing jukeboxes,” or a trip to Huettenbar for a “German-inspired tavern frozen in time.”
Crafters and fairgoers alike will enjoy a trip to Uncle Fun, where Sara says “You can enjoy nostalgic toys and ephemera from your childhood, and for less than $3 you can snag a bunch of quirky plastic do-dads you never knew you needed, but have to have!” If you are exhausted from vending at your booth, or shopping at the Fair, Sara recommends grabbing a quick slice of pizza from Ian’s and relaxing with a movie at the old-timey Music Box Theatre.
Justin prefaces his Chicago recommendations by saying, “I know Bridgeport is kind of off the beaten path of where most outta-towners stay, but…” and goes on to mention many favorite gems including Nightwood which according to him is “pricey but well worth it. They don’t have a ton of veggie options, but great bloody marys and amazing Sunday brunch. It’s cozy and nice looking too!” If libations are your thing, Justin suggests Maria’s for ” the best beer selection in Chicago, great djs, and an awesome new patio!”
For off the beaten path fun while south of the loop, Justin recommends visiting Malelo Camera Co., or Stearns Quarry Park. To get your culture on he recommends James Turrell’s Skyspace, “a cool art installation by my favorite artist, best if experienced at sunrise or during a torrential rainstorm” or Co-Prosperity Sphere, “an amazing space with consistently great shows, often with live music and booze.”
Renegade Gang, thanks for all of your awesome recommendations, and Chicago – thank you for being the city that Renegade calls home!
We’ll see you this weekend at the Fair!