ask Karren about
Gyms • hamburgers • diners • bars
a bit about Karren
What do you do and why do you do it?
I am a teacher here in Chicago and I absolutely love it! Every day is a new adventure. Having summers off is a great perk as well! I have been in education for the last nine years and every year brings new challenges, opportunities for growth, and awesome students into my life. I also teach fitness classes on the side, which allows me to combine my love of teaching with staying active. It's a double win in my opinion.
You’re broken hearted - what tracks does your heartbreak playlist consist of?
Heartbreak clearly calls for a few days spent listening to artists that feel your pain. Here is my curated list to help me get out my blues and get back to me: Bad Blood by Nao, Sandcastles by Beyonce, Streetcar by Daniel Caesar, If You're Gonna Leave by PLVTINUM, Break A Little by Kirstin, Make Me (Cry) by Noah Cyrus, Send My Love (To Your New Lover) by Adele, Stitches by Shawn Mendes, Stay With Me by Sam Smith, Bleeding Love by Leona Lewis, Try by Colbie Caillat, Everything's Okay by Lenka, Resentment by Beyonce
What are the best TV shows of all time?
I am a sci-fi, post-apocalyptic, dystopia loving girl. The shows that I really dig are Game of Thrones, The Walking Dead, The 100, True Blood, Stranger Things, Black Mirror, The Vampire Diaries, Merlin, and American Horror Story. For a lighter tone, I'd also throw in The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, and Adventure Time.
Name some spots in Chicago that are good for a Tinder date.
For a Tinder date, you would want somewhere public, but allows your to chat up your new potential mate. I would suggest Pops for Champagne. It has a really chic ambience, good background music, and great drinks. Another suggestions would be City Winery. This place has a great wine selection, nice seating, and the opportunity to peruse the venues live concert selection if you guys decide on future dates.
Who’s your hero and where in Chicago would you take them out for a serious hang?
My hero is Shirley Chisholm. She was a woman who was unapologetic for who she was and voiced her opinion when it was definitely not the popular one. I would take her to Tuesdays on the Terrace at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago. It is an awesome space for jazz music, people watching, and culture. We would also be able to go into the museum and look at the creative expression of the artists featured.
Where do you buy those fabulous clothes of yours?
I shop high and low, so my wardrobe is a collection of pieces that have come from everywhere. One of my favorite Chicago based stores would have to be Akira. They have a wide selection of styles, they have accessories and shoes as well. The thrifting scene in Chicago is pretty dope as well. There are a few places in Pilsen and Wicker Park that I frequent. For online shopping, ASOS is my go to, gotta love their premier 2-day shipping option.
What’s the area/ spot in town you’ll never be caught dead in?
When I was younger I frequented Weed street a lot. Those clubs catered to the 21 year old crowd, which I am no longer a member. The thing about Chicago is that it is always evolving, so many of those bars don't even exist any longer.
What’s the thing you LOVE to do in your city that you never get to do?
Chicago has so many music festivals each year that it is impossible to attend them all. I try to rotate through a few each year, but am always sad about the ones that I miss.
What’s the most decadent / extreme dish you ever ate in Chicago and where did you get it?
The most decadent dish that I have had in Chicago would have to be the burgers from Au Cheval. This place can have upwards of a four hour wait to be seated, and the don't take reservations. The burgers are worth every minute of the wait! Words can't do it justice, you have to try it to understand.
Is there a hidden bar / hole in the wall in Chicago that you particularly like?
Bar Deville is a great hidden gem that offers a free comedy show every Thursday night. The line up changes weekly, but its cozy and fun. It's kind of like hanging in your friend's basement joking around. It's cash only, so heads up before heading there.
What’s the most expensive restaurant / spa / hotel you’ve ever been to in Chicago? How much did it cost and what did you get there?
The most expensive restaurant that I have gone to in Chicago would probably by Lawry's. I took my parents there for Father's Day one year. I got a prime rib dinner and the cheesecake. I want to say the bill came out to about $350.
What restaurant in Chicago looks crap, but the food’s amazing?
The original Chicago Diner on Halsted is way outdated, but the food is fantastic. It is a vegetarian restaurant that has offerings that you would not believe have no meat products. My favorite is the Gyro plate and sweet potato fries. You also have to try a vegan milkshake, they are amazing. If the decor of the original throws you off, you can always visit the logan square location which is updated and fabulous.
Where can you get the best cocktail in Chicago? Which one do you like?
Sable is the place for great craft cocktails. My favorite drink is seasonal and I'm currently (impatiently) awaiting its return. It is called the Violet Beauregard, aptly named after the Willy Wonka character. It is sweet and refreshing, I can never order just one. I also enjoy the War of the Roses, but with so many offerings I suggest you try as many cocktails as you dare.
Where would you take your partner in Chicago if you wanted to really pamper them?
I would take my signif to the Waldorf Astoria spa. It is high end, classy, and the service is amazing. After the spa appointment we would head down the street for drinks at Fig and Olive. They have amazing drinks and the perfect atmosphere to continue the post spa relaxation.
Which snacks can you only get in your country, and which ones do you recommend?
Garret's is a Chicago based popcorn company that offers the 'Chicago Mix' which has caramel and cheese corn. It is a match made in heaven. Don't be daunted by the long lines, they usually move quickly.
What’s the one place you think is overrated in Chicago?
I would say the River North club scene is overrated. People stand in line for hours hoping that they can get in. Many times the bouncers will pick and choose who they want to let in ( you can always tell when their friends arrive, as they get ushered right in).
What’s the one place you think is underrated in Chicago?
Chicago Pizza and Oven Grinder Co. is amazing! I know people usually look for traditional Chicago style pizza places when visiting, but don't write this one off! The pizza, ambience and desserts are great.
What are the Chicago spots a first-time visitor can’t miss?
I would say that first-timers have to hit the lake trail, the views are amazing, and there is artwork intermittently placed that is cool. Emporium barcade brings the nostalgia home with the games of our youth. I would also make sure that they hit Portillo's for a Chicago style hot dog, a must have.
Tomorrow’s your last day in Chicago. How do you spend it?
If tomorrow where my last day in Chicago, I would take a run on the lake trail, go to brunch with my friends, get a basket together and call a beach day to hang while the sunsets. While Chicago has a lot of great places, being in those places with great friends makes the experiences unforgettable.
What’s your favorite vacation city in the world and why?
San Juan, Puerto Rico was an amazing place to visit. There was so much history and so many greta adventures, from the hiking in the jungle to kayaking in the bioluminescent bay, I had a fabulous time.