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The Grand Central

Not the typical seedy dive bar I am used to, the Grand Central is located in trendy Lincoln Park. Dragged unwillingly one night, I actually found this “hipper” bar to be quite comfortable as it offers a few surprises. If you can get past the fact that you will be bombarded by plasma TVs and the cheering of rabid sports fans, the Grand Central is a-ok. Monday nights offer a $2 burger and fries along with $3 Smirnoff cocktails. Imagine Mexican Fiesta night in the middle of Lincoln Park. That’s right…Tuesday nights offer $1 Tacos and $3 Dos Equis. Enough to turn any yuppie’s stomach and crowd the bathrooms to legendary proportions! But weekend afternoons are the real hit at Grand Central. A $6.99 buffet runs from 11-3 pm both days. With a $3 Bloody Mary Bar, $2 Coors Drafts, and all the football you can handle, the Grand Central has become my top pick for those wanting to impress their friends by saying that they too can hang in yuppie hell. Just don’t tell them I sent you! You may not get such a warm reception. At least not after my Tuesday bathroom ordeal! Ay Caramba!

• DePaul / Wrightwood / Sheffield • Map it • Print it • Send to a Friend • More Info

Crew

You know how it is; sometimes you just want to drink some beer, watch the game, and hang out in your jockstrap. Yet, you still want the camaraderie of a local sports bar. At Crew, you can have it all. Touted as Chicago’s premiere gay sports bar and grille, Crew offers more than 50 beers, tons of televisions (including a 96 incher), and the occasional Frat Boy Fridays Jock Strap contest. (Enter and you can win up to $300.) While the menu touts the ultimate sports bar comfort food—wings—it also offers an array of salads, zucchini chips, mini burgers, veggie wraps, and more. Sign up for the beer passport and sample every brew to become a Beer God—it gets you an extra four ounces for every pint ordered for the next year. Oh, if sports aren’t your thing—no worries; just show up for brunch or one of the Project Runway screenings.

• Gay/Lesbian • Uptown • Map it • Print it • Send to a Friend • More Info

Fair Trade 60th Anniversary Celebration

Ten Thousand Villages is the anti-WalMart of chain stores. A non-profit run by Mennonites, it’s the oldest fair trade organization in the U. S. What exactly is fair trade, you ask? Here’s a 101: it alleviates poverty by providing fair prices, working capital and a market for small-scale producers around the world. Ten Thousand Villages’ Evanston location marks fair trade’s Big Six-Oh with festivities including cake, balloons and giveaways offered—you guessed it—every 60 minutes. Wear international garb and get the chance to win a prize in a costume contest (12:30 pm). Sample free coffee, chocolate, cookies, and soups, plus shop for pottery, jewelry, baskets, textiles, and other handicrafts from 32 countries.

• Extended Coverage Area • Print it • Send to a Friend • More Info

Sacred Art

Restaurant industry refugee Sarah Chazin sought a venue where she and other emerging artists could showcase their wares. Her dream come true? A less expensive and intimidating alternative to chichi galleries. The teensy shop now carries work by nearly 60 local up-and-comers ranging from $4-$2000—mid price is an affordable $75. Browse woodwork, paintings, glass, photography, jewelry, textiles, pottery, and more. Don’t miss: Citizen Shay’s oh-so-Chicago canvas “L” signs, Rossana Reformado’s Polaroid manipulations, and Erin Kroll’s punk ‘80s graffiti influenced paintings. Monthly events include a show featuring three in-store artists on Nov 24 from 7-9 pm and an ornament decorating workshop for kids on Dec 10 from 10-11 am. ($10). Custom commissions are also available and in keeping with the art for the people manifesto, there’s even an interest free payment plan for budget connoisseurs.

• North Center / Roscoe Village / West Lakeview • Map it • Print it • Send to a Friend • More Info

Ginza

Food like fashion goes in cycles. Who would have thought that the mac ‘n cheese and chicken pot pies we fondly remember from our youth would now be considered chic restaurant cuisine? Or that skinny jeans, platform shoes, and leg warmers would find their way back into style? (Note to self: We know we’re getting old when we see things being recycled.) In that everything-old-is-new-again motif, we present Ginza Restaurant. Sure, we’re big fans of the new fangled sushi with its wacky combinations and flavorful sauces—see Toro and Sushi Para II listings—but there’s something to be said for the classics. And that’s exactly what you get at this small, untrendy Japanese restaurant located next to the Tokyo Hotel. Opt for sushi a la carte—we particularly like the yellowtail and uni—or try one of the hot dishes, such as deep-fried chicken with teriyaki sauce or broiled eel over rice. Lunch specials are a bargain at $7.95. Larger parties can opt for the traditional tatami room. Make the experience even more authentic and order the natto roll. The fermented stinky soybeans aren’t for us but the Japanese swear by them.

• Near North / River North • Map it • Print it • Send to a Friend • More Info