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Opa! Taste of Greektown 2013

Posted on August 19th, 2013 by

Taste of Greektown

The West Loop and it’s edging with the Chicago River become the warm, white-capped shores of the Mediterranean for one weekend on August 24-25th where the Greek community will go all out with the annual Taste of Greektown festival.

Formerly called Taste of Greece, this one-of-a-kind Hellenic experience is back for a commendable 24th year! Experience fresh fruits, cheeses and vinaigrettes for starters then do some side-stepping to live music. Get your togas and brown sandals (I know they are on-hand somewhere) out because it’s a party in Chicago. “Gia Sas!” or “Cheers!” friends this is the time to eat, drink and laugh.

Under all blues and whites of the Greek flags that will line the streets will be delicious traditional food. Baked fish with lemons, Arni (lamb) and octopus are just some of the eats you can expect. Neighborhood eateries included with the showing will be Artopolis, Greek Islands, Athena and the Pegasus Restaurant and Taverna. Each have a different take on the Greek dishes, so why not sample all of them?

Admission is free to the Taste of Greektown, but generous donations will go to the Chicago Greektown Chamber of Commerce. The Fest runs from noon to 11 p.m. both days at the 400 block of South Halsted Street.

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Mix it Up at Navy Pier

Posted on July 20th, 2013 by

Mix-it-Til-Midnight at Navy PierThe drinks will be cool, the music will be loud, and it will all be happening at Navy Pier for its first-ever street party on the dock! On Friday, July 26th, join the party as Bacardi presents “Mix it ‘til Midnight” for a perfect summer night featuring live DJs and cool cocktails.

Party-goers will have four DJs to choose from to keep the party rocking—whether that means country, alternative, top 40 or electronic music—who will all be stationed at bars and restaurants along the Pier, each offering $6 Bacardi drink specials. Be sure not to miss the Landshark Beer Garden on Navy Pier’s east end which will also be featuring a live cover band.

The festivities will begin at 9 p.m. and run until midnight. A portion of the proceeds from the Bacardi drink specials will benefit the Roseland Hospital Foundation. For more information visit Navy Pier’s website.

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VIDEO: Eats, Beats and an Innovative Exhibition

Posted on July 9th, 2013 by

Philippe Gills, concierge at the newest luxury hotel – The Langham Chicago – weighs in with his top picks for what to do around town this week.

The annual Taste of Chicago returns and while the food delights, for Philippe, it’s all about the music. He suggests checking out the local talent that will be gracing the Bud Light Stage starting at noon on July 12. His top pick? Harp/harmonica god Omar Coleman who will be playing at 1:20 p.m.

What else is on his list? He’s partial to the wonderfully enchanting Impressionism, Fashion and Modernity exhibition at The Art Institute of Chicago and snagging a seat on the outdoor patio at Pazzo’s for their free pizza happy hour deal happening every Thursday and Friday.

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Land of Lincoln: Square Roots is Back

Posted on July 9th, 2013 by

Square Roots Festival 2013

Nothing quite says summer in Chicago like a good ol’ street festival on Lincoln Avenue!  Thousands will flock to Lincoln Square July 12-14 for the 2nd annual Square Roots festival, featuring local and regional craft breweries, original artists secured by the Old Town School of Folk Music, and some of the best food Lincoln Square restaurants have to offer.  This event reconnects residents with the cultural “roots” of this historic Chicago neighborhood.

The festival will take place along Lincoln Avenue from Wilson to Montrose and there is a suggested donation of $10 for adults; $4 for kids/seniors; and $20 for families with proceeds benefiting the Lincoln Square Ravenswood Chamber of commerce and Old Town School of Folk Music’s scholarship programs.

Food vendors like Byrons Hot Dogs, Fountainhead, Gather and Himmel’s Chicago have delicious eats for you and your family. Have some cool beer while you walk around as more than 30 brews from Chicago will be on tap like 5 Rabbit, Founders, Hinterland and Virtue Cider to name a few.

The venerable Old Town School of Folk Music has gotten together a range of performers for the fest. Gracing the four stages, both indoors and out, come and see Sierra Leone’s Refugee All Stars, Sallie Ford or even The Sound Outside. Fatoumata Diawara and Savoy Family Cajun Band will also be performing.

Square Roots Festival Hours:

  • Friday, July 12 from 5 – 10 p.m.
  • Saturday, July 13 from 12 – 10 p.m.
  • Sunday, July 14 from 12 – 8 p.m.

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It’s Time for the Taste!

Posted on July 9th, 2013 by

2013 Taste of Chicago

It’s the moment we all have been waiting for! Well at least our stomachs anyway. The Taste of Chicago kicks off this week and Concierge Preferred has all the details to ensure a full tummy and a great time.

  • Who: YOU! The hungry Chicagoans that we really are, and also three million of your closest friends
  • What: The 33rd annual Taste of Chicago which is also said to be the world’s largest outdoor food festival
  • Where: Grant Park between Monroe Avenue and Balbo Drive
  • When: July 10-14th, 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.
  • Why: Why? Is this really a question? Because there is nothing better than food, especially when it’s made in Chicago

The Menu

For those who are Taste regulars, the 35 featured restaurants will not be overwhelming but the decision of which dishes to order will be. Each vendor will serve six tasty plates which include two “taste of” sample portions. Highlights include, but certainly are not limited to, some of the best African food in Chicago from Vee-Vee’s African Restaurant to a city classic like the Original Rainbow Cone. New to the food fest, however, will food trucks. Each evening the Petrillo Music Shell will serve as a parking spot for some of the best grub available on wheels. This year’s taste also welcomes some of the city’s heaviest hitting chefs/restaurateurs as part of the Mazda6 Celebrity Chef du Jour series.

The Entertainment

Not only will there be five star dishes but also five star entertainment from all genres. You want some soul? Try Estelle or Robin Thicke. You want some rock? There’s Robert Plant from Led Zeppelin. You want some fun? Well they’ll be there too. The taste features two concert venues, the Petrillo Music Shell and also the Bud Light Stage which will feature up and coming Chicago artists. All admission to the shows are free, with the exception of concert seating tickets priced at $25.

The Prices

Admission to the Taste of Chicago is free and food and drinks can be purchased in sets of 12 for $8. For a more specific food guide, large food items are usually around 10 tickets while smaller portions go for 6. The special “taste of” plates are four tickets. Ticket sales will end at 8:30 p.m. each night.

The Transportation

With such a large number of attendees, there are a variety of modes of transportation to get your snack on. Via public transportation, you can take the Red or Blue Lines or bus routes #145 or #151 which all will stop close to Grant Park and The Taste of Chicago. If you are planning to take Lake Shore Drive, try the Millennium Park Garage right off Columbus Drive between Randolph and Monroe Streets. For cyclists who want to burn off the calories they plan on consuming, the Taste will have parking on the perimeters of Grant and Millennium Parks.

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Jazzin’ at the Shedd Returns

Posted on June 20th, 2013 by

Jazzin at the Shedd

Marine life will swim to a groove starting Wednesday June 26th at the Shedd Aquarium as the annual summer event Jazzin’ at the Shedd begins its tour, running through to September 4th. Back for its 19th year, Jazzin’ happens every Wednesday in what is sure to be a series that will make the case for a re-visit.

This extravaganza allows land lovers and their little ones to explore the aquarium’s underwater exhibits while listening to live jazz played by musicians from all over the country. Grownups can appreciate the event’s offerings just as much as the kids will as the aquarium, accompanied theme music and positioning on the Bill and Stephanie Sick Family Lakefront Terrace will provide the greatest locale to view Chicago’s iconic skyline like never before.

Realize that stingrays are harmless and fun creatures of the sea by getting close to them at the Stingray Touch tank for just an additional $3. These fish will seemingly glide along as your hand recognizes the actual softness of their skin. After all of the aquatics, end any one of your Wednesdays in a spectacular fashion by coinciding your time at Jazzin’ at the Shedd with the night time fireworks over Navy Pier at 9:30 p.m. Best appreciated in person from the aquarium’s terrace, Lake Michigan reflects and even continues the colors exploding above.

You are greatly mistaken if you believe the Aquarium happened upon an assembly of mediocre performers for Jazzin’ at the Shedd. As the title requires, the Aquarium has gone to great lengths acquiring real jazz musicians for the event. Tim Fitzgerald’s trio will play their blends of jazz/pop/soul from June 26th to July 10th in what will be an interesting sound. Topping that performance will be vocalist Agnieszka Iwanska showing whom has been praised by the Chicago Tribune’s Howard Reich as a “voice of promise.” The entire lineup is impressive as the Shedd Aquarium made sure to provide a solid catalog of jazz groups for its patrons. If interested in researching the groups beforehand visit for the listing of all the performers that will take the stage.

Hopeful attendees will also have the option of reserving a seat at the spacious Aqua Lounge, which is conveniently located next to the Soundings Café. Sit back in a luxurious setting as an appetizer buffet and a complimentary cocktail is included with your purchase of access to the lounge for $52.95. The Aqua lunge is open during each Jazzin’ event from 6-10 p.m., providing a comfortable break during your review of the exhibits. Admission for children (ages 3-11) to Jazzin’ is $16, a small price to pay to see the 32,000 animals that call the Shedd Aquarium home.  All-access passes are also available for people who want the full experience of the original galleries, Wild Reef and Abbot Oceanarium. Families spread out their plans as the Abbot Oceanarium/Polar Play Zone are open until 8 p.m., Wild Reef till 9 p.m. and the original galleries are open till 10 p.m.  In an effort to keep your children’s excitement at bay though, I advise you to be the first in line to see the penguins.

Visit the Shedd Aquarium for a more than worthy family outing.  Jazzin’ at the Shedd is sure to create the perfect atmosphere to see all that the colorful Shedd Aquarium has to offer.  The Shedd Aquarium’s address is 1200 S. Lake Shore Dr. on the Museum Campus.

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Blues Fest is Back!

Posted on June 3rd, 2013 by

Shemekia Copeland Chicago Blues Festival 2013If it isn’t already, this weekend’s Chicago Blues Festival should be at the top of your to-do list! The largest FREE blues festival in the world will be rolling into Millennium and Grant Parks this weekend (June 6-9) and will feature feel-good music on five stages.

So join the throng of 500,000 fellow blues fan out on the lakefront, as the “Blues Capital of the World” hosts performances by blues greats James Cotton, Otis Clay, Eddie Floyd, Irma Thomas, Shemekia Copeland (pictured), and many, many more.

The 2013 Chicago Blues Fest lineup includes:

  • June 6: the 2013 Chicago Blues Festival kicks off on Thursday in Millennium Park with performances by Shemekia Copeland and Quinn Sullivan. Live music begins at the Jay Pritzker Pavilion at 6:30 p.m. with Copland taking the stage at 8 p.m.
  • June 7: Head to Grant Park on Friday to take in performances by Irma Thomas and Bobby Rush and his Blues Band.
  • June 8: Saturday’s performances include Otis Clay, Uvee Hayes, The Bar-Kays, Eddie Floyd and Sir Mack Rice.
  • June 9: The Fest’s last day of performances include blues greats James Cotton, John Primer, Billy Branch, Eddy “The Chief” Clearwater and many more!

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Concierge Picks for Weekend Fun

Posted on March 27th, 2013 by

Kaitlyn Lawlor, concierge at the Hyatt Chicago Magnificent Mile, offers her top three picks for what to do and see in Chicago this weekend.  Here’s a look at what tops her list:

  • Explore the intricate biology and physiology of some of the world’s most spectacular creatures in Animal Inside Out, a Body Worlds Production, making its U.S. premiere at the Museum of Science and Industry.
  • Katilyn’s favorite coffee shop, Dollop Coffee & Tea Company, just opened in the Streeterville neighborhood. Check out the video clip to see why this spot tops her list.
  • In the mood for BBQ and live music? Head to Bub City in River North for delectable ‘que and great live music. On Thursday, March 28th, renowned singer songwriter Brent Cobb performs live.

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Music for a Cause

Posted on December 11th, 2012 by

Okay, you all know me as the food writer for CP, but my “day job” is as a musician, and I’d be remiss if I didn’t use my blog spot this week to promote a hugely important event that promises to entertain AND help those in need. Re(New) Amsterdam is a special event organized by Marcos Balter and Doyle Armbrust at the Empty Bottle this Sunday starting at 1 pm. Proceeds go to help the New Amsterdam music label that suffered extreme damage to its Brooklyn headquarters during Hurricane Sandy.

Now I know you all would go just to support the music label, but let me tell you what’s in store for all attendees. The new music scene in Chicago is one of the finest in the country, and you’ll hear our hometown heroes tear up the stage with great music of wildly different styles. Among the performers spanning the 4-hour marathon are 2-time Grammy winners (and 2013 nominees) eighth blackbird, Fifth House Ensemble, Spektral Quartet, Third Coast Percussion, Chicago Q Ensemble, CUBE, Access Contemporary Music, Gaudete Brass Quintet, Ensemble Dal Niente, Fulcrum Point, and many, many more. Honestly, I cannot remember any other event that has brought together so many of Chicago’s finest players and it couldn’t be for a better cause.

New Amsterdam is not your average music label. They support the weird, the daring, and the inventive minds active in the classical new music scene. Their artists include the Chiara String Quartet, Nadia Sirota, Newspeak, Missy Mazzoli, So Percussion, and others who delight audiences across the globe. During Hurricane Sandy, their new offices were completely flooded, and despite serious precautions, 70% of their CD stock was lost along with devastating structural damage. Because artists retain 80% of the profit from sales of New Amsterdam records, this most grossly affects the artists themselves, and Chicago wants to help get them back on their feet!

Tickets and more information are available here. They are asking for a mere $10 donation for entry, but I’d kindly ask you to give what you can. We can’t fix everything, we can at least lend a helping hand.

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Celebrate National Hispanic Heritage Month

Posted on September 10th, 2012 by

National Hispanic Heritage Month: Sept.15 to Oct. 15While National Hispanic Heritage Month is just getting started in Chicago, there are several activities to celebrate everything Latino, including a special kick-off celebration this weekend at Navy Pier’s Landshark Beer Garden.

On Friday, Sept. 14, and Saturday, Sept. 15, make the most of the gorgeous fall weather and head to Navy Pier to take in live music, dance and so much more. Admission is free.

Navy Pier’s Hispanic Heritage Month Schedule of Events

Friday, September 14
Arte y Vida Chicago Fifth Anniversary Concert at Navy Pier! Featuring live music by Canteca de Macao (Madrid, Spain) & Soulphonetics and Produced by Navy Pier, Arte y Vida Chicago, and Ratio Nation.

Arte y Vida is a calendar of Hispanic art and culture in Chicago. For more information, visit

Saturday, September 15
Enjoy an afternoon of Chicago’s best Mexican folkloric dance ensembles with folk dance by Ballet Folklorico Nacional de Victor Soria and Back of the Yards Neighborhood Council Ballet Folklorico.

Presented in collaboration with the National Museum of Mexican Art as a part of the Sor Juana Festival.


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