ask Mary Kate about
music venues • speakeasy • architecture • hiking • spa • art galleries • michelin star
What do you do and why do you do it?
I am an SEO content creator for an SEO company - I love marrying the concepts of data and creativity; it's a beautiful, interesting science and it's thrilling to work with our team to determine how to drive business through content creation.
You’re broken hearted - what tracks does your heartbreak playlist consist of?
I'm a pretty upbeat person so rarely do I find myself struck with a broken heart; but, if I'm in my feelings and I need to turn around, my go-to better-mood track is Bittersweet Symphony by The Verve.
What are the best TV shows of all time?
Breaking Bad, The West Wing, Mad Men -- I love good writing in a television show.
Name some spots in Chicago that are good for a Tinder date.
I'm not on Tinder, but from what my friends tell me, West Loop is a usual spot for Tinder outings. Whether more casual or more upscale, no matter your intentions, West Loop's a great date spot.
Where do you buy those fabulous clothes of yours?
I actually rent a lot of my fashion from Rent the Runway as an Unlimited Subscriber. I love having a storefront close by so that I can walk in, drop off, and pick out something new any time I want. I like to think of their storefront as my closet on Wabash.
What’s the area/ spot in town you’ll never be caught dead in?
Rainforest Cafe - it's kind of an inside joke with Chicagoans that no one from here has actually gone to this restaurant.
What’s the thing you LOVE to do in your city that you never get to do?
I love biking in the city, but I hardly ever get a ride in thanks to a jam packed schedule.
What’s the most decadent / extreme dish you ever ate in Chicago and where did you get it?
The spicy ramen at High Five Ramen is "If You Dare" and you shouldn't dare because it really is that spicy. Like, heart-wrenchingly spicy.
Is there a hidden bar / hole in the wall in Chicago that you particularly like?
YES. Larry's in the Lawrence Apartments is a GREAT and small spot for a pre-show (or post-show) drink for Aragon Ballroom and Riviera concerts.
What restaurant in Chicago looks crap, but the food’s amazing?
Twin Anchors used to be a favorite of Frank Sinatra's but compared to the hip and happening, it's not much for aesthetics. That being said, they have the BEST RIBS in the city. No wonder Old Blue Eyes loved this place.
Where can you get the best cocktail in Chicago? Which one do you like?
The Office is the speakeasy bar underneath the popular Aviary restaurant. Their cocktail staff boasts an impressive knowledge of spirits based on a given visitor's palate. I like spicier cocktails and they served me the most incredible mezcal drink before mezcal was really a "thing" in Chicago. The staff here has studied their craft and so cocktails here are pieces of art.
Where would you take your partner in Chicago if you wanted to really pamper them?
King Spa and Sauna - it's an interesting concept as a 24-hour spa and bathhouse. But, it makes for a fun (and maybe even funny) day of relaxation. It's just outside Chicago, but not too much out of the way; and, since it's open all day, even the busiest Chicagoans can find solitude here, no matter their schedule.
Which snacks can you only get in your country, and which ones do you recommend?
Popcorn in bars is something I've only ever seen in the United States, but I think kettle corn is one of those dishes that I've only ever seen in Illinois. There's a particular kind from a farm in Central Illinois near where I went to school that's the perfect mix of salty and sweet - usually not my thing, but this popcorn is special.
What’s the one place you think is overrated in Chicago?
Au Cheval -- I love their burger, but is it the best? I'm not sure. Their General Jane's Honey-Fried Chicken though? That might be the best fried chicken in town.
What’s the one place you think is underrated in Chicago?
Northerly Island Park. This area still needs some work (erosion affected the water's edge a few years ago), but it is such an escape from the hustle and bustle of the Loop where I live. The plant life here attracts so many birds and butterflies - and you can't hear the city noises. Being right on the water, you get to watch the boats pull into the harbor - we love it over here for a picnic or just a jog in the summertime.
What are the Chicago spots a first-time visitor can’t miss?
First-timers need to get a pizza from either Pequod's or Lou Malnati's. Then, they should probably check out a view of the lake from Cindy's rooftop. Depending on the season, Millennium Park has something for everyone - whether you're there to take a stroll or want to ice skate the ribbon in the wintertime. Hit up the Museum Campus and take your pick - they're all incredible spots (bonus points if you head out to Hyde Park for the Museum of Science and Industry, site of the World's Columbian Exposition in 1893!
Tomorrow’s your last day in Chicago. How do you spend it?
I can't imagine having a "last day" in Chicago, but if I had to, it'd look something like this: Sunrise at Promontory Point, bike up the lakeshore path on a Divvy bike, come back down south toward Lincoln Park, visit the zoo and North Avenue beach for a pick-up sand volleyball game, then walk over to Old Town, catch a show at Second City, head over to the Cultural Center to admire the Tiffany Glass on mosaic, quickly go through my favorite museum the Art Institute, then head over to Navy Pier to hop on a private boat cruise and watch the fireworks over Lake Michigan.
What’s your favorite vacation city in the world and why?
Amsterdam! I was just recently there for King's Day and the people are genuinely kind, the atmosphere is upbeat, and their food and music scene are comparable to home. It reminded me a lot of an old-school Chicago, and the idyllic towns in Holland are worth the quick trip.