Hometown Heroes: Chicago's Local Creators Recommend Must-See Spots In The Windy City

Hometown Heroes: Chicago's Local Creators Recommend Must-See Spots In The Windy City

We've talked to a number of creators about what it's like for them at conventions, but, now, in the home stretch to C2E2, we wanted to do a different kind of interview, asking a cross section of Chicago's local creators about their favorite Chicago landmarks. We'll all be spending a lot of time in McCormick Place next week, but you should definitely be sure to leave the convention center, and should you explore the wilds of Chicagoland, Geof Darrow, Sal Abbinanti, and Svengoolie's are here to give you some advice.

Chicago locals Geof Darrow (creator of Hard Boiled and Big Guy and Rusty the Boy Robot), Sal Abbinanti (creator of Atomka), and Svengoolie (perennial Chicago television horror movie host) present their personal picks to help you make the most of your time at and around C2E2:

C2E2: What's your favorite Chicago landmark?
GEOF: Lake Michigan.
SAL: The Michigan Avenue Bridge.
SVENGOOLIE: Does the lakefront count as a landmark? The view of the skyline is just awesome. If not, let’s go with Buckingham Fountain, right near the lakefront.

C2E2: What's your favorite Chicago restaurant?
GEOF: Katsu (2651 West Peterson Ave) has the best sushi in Chicago. This is where all the visiting Japanese baseball players come to eat. And notables such as Tom Hanks, Keanu Reeves, and my daughter.
SAL: Gale Street Inn, Moody's Pub, La Pasadita, and Mr. Beef.
SVENGOOLIE: With our studios just down the street from Greektown, the great Greek restaurants, like The Greek Islands, come to mind immediately. Then the Italian restaurants, like the ones on the West Side. And a new favorite that just opened is the Squared Circle, owned by TNA Impact wrestler Tara (Lisa Marie Varon) on Ashland in Lincoln Park. They've got pizzas and special burgers, and nobody's gotten hit with folding chairs so far.

C2E2: What's your favorite Chicago museum?
GEOF: Museum of Natural History.
SAL: The Museum of Science and Industry is kick ass. They've got a coal mine and the U-505, and don't miss their side cut slices of a human cadaver. It's hidden in the stair well display cases, and it's gruesomely appealing.
SVENGOOLIE: Since I was a kid, I've always loved the Museum of Science and Industry, and I still do. If you’re into TV, the Museum of Broadcast Communications is a new favorite.

C2E2: Where's your favorite Chicago hangout spot?
GEOF: Sunshine Cafe on Clark Street in Andersonville. When I'm lonesome for Tokyo I go there.
SAL: Wiener Circle after 2 AM.
SVENGOOLIE: Before games at the United Center or the UIC Pavillionor. Any other time, Jak’s on Jackson is a great place to hang out.

C2E2: Is there any Chicago slang visitors should know? 
GEOFF: No, I try to speak proper English.
SAL: We say "pop" not "soda", and no one says "Chi-Town" or "Da Bears".
SVENGOOLIE: Always drop the “h” on certain locations. Like “Nort Side” or “Sout Side”. The elevated train is “the L”, and you’d be surprised how many places are located “over by ’dere”.

C2E2: What's your favorite Chicago neighborhood?
GEOF: Wrigleyville.
SAL: North Side, of course.
SVENGOOLIE: I was born and spent my early years on the West Side, and now that I spend so much time on the near West Side, I’m proud that it’s grown and improved so much in the last twenty years.

C2E2: What's your favorite story about living in Chicago?
GEOF: I witnessed an episode of projectile vomiting on the Brown Line of the elevated train that defies description. Oh the humanity.
SAL: We use ride on top of the L Train cars in the subway. That and skitching on the back of cars in the winter. And playing pinners of the porch steps.
SVENGOOLIE: Basically that growing up there were always so many places of wonder you’d happen upon, whether it was a Native American display with a waterfall or an amusement park called Riverview, there were always amazing places to see and the still are.

C2E2: What is the one thing someone cannot travel to Chicago without?
GEOF: A coat.
SAL: An appetite for great food and a good attitude for an amazing city.
SVENGOOLIE: Money. And pants.

C2E2: What is your favorite thing about Chicago?
GEOF: Jewel Osco. I like saying Jewel Osco because it sounds like a heathen incantation. By the power of Jewel Osco... I feel empowered.
SAL: The food, the people, the neighborhoods. Try a neighborhood and explore. Weather permitting, walk down Michigan Ave and stop on the bridge that crosses the river. The bean in Millennium Park is very cool. Ride the L. Walk along the river. The view from the John Hancock Building is much better than Willis Tower. Wrigleyville, Halsted, and Fullerton in the DePaul area are great bar spots. Buck Town is a cool area to explore. Challengers and Quimby's both great stores.
SVENGOOLIE: It’s got to be the people. You’ll meet all kinds, but they all have that Chicago heart!

A huge thanks to Geof, Sal, and Svengoolie for taking the time to talk with us. They and over 100 more creators will be coming out to C2E2 next week. When you're not meeting them, attending panels, and gobbling up exclusives, be sure to trek outside and explore some of Geof, Sal, and Svengoolie's favorite Chicago landmarks, as there's a lot more to Chicago than the inside of McCormick Place.

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About The Author:

Peter Tatara is the International Director of Content and Marketing for ReedPOP. During his time at Reed, he's planned on-air contests with Cartoon Network, hosted Twitter scavenger hunts around New York City, and bought Joss Whedon a sandwich. In his spare time, he runs a calendar of geeky New York City events called Nerd York City. Follow him at @petertatara and @nerdyorkcity.

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