Offering some of the best food, endlessly interesting neighborhoods, must-visit museums, ornate architecture that rivals New York City for the country’s best, Chicago is easily one of the handful of cities in the United States that you absolutely must-visit at some point in your life. So before you book a trip overseas — and, let’s face it, with the way the pandemic is heading, that’s a long way out — make sure you hit up Chicago first to take in all the Windy City has to offer. But considering Chicago is the third-largest city in the whole country, figuring out where to start can be daunting, which is why we hit up the electronic duo DRAMA for an intimate guide to the city’s must-visit locales.
DRAMA is a Chicago-based electronic music duo consisting of producer Na’el Shehade and vocalist Via Rosa whose music balances the fine line between sensual pulsing R&B music (think Sade meets Drake) and the more driving rhythms of Chicago House and electronica. DRAMA’s music — especially their latest single “Don’t Hold Back” — combines elegant arrangements with soulful vocals, piano loops, and swirling string-like synths, resulting in two songs that are perfect for soundtracking the late summer nights that we still have left.
Check out the video for DRAMA’s latest single above, and then dive into their guide of Chicago’s best food, drink, and hang-out spots.
Best Late-Night Food Spot?
Chi Cafe in Chinatown! Good smoothies and soy sauce noodle rolls are a must-have. We usually go here late at night after we leave the studio for a snack before we go home because they’re open really late and the service is really fast! Being two artists who are also into culinary arts and the restaurant business, good food and good service mean a lot to us.
Best Breakfast spot?
We love a good breakfast/brunch spot. It’s our favorite kind of food to share with each other. The first choice would be Kanela. Great food, great juice, but expect bad service…!
And a strong second with great food and service is Stax on Taylor. They serve simple, easy, delicious breakfast food. Not a lot of vegan options but the service is fast and it’s perfect for a quick business meeting.
Best Place to get a good view of the city?
There are a few, but the two that we would go with are The Point in Hyde Park and the view from the Shedd Aquarium. Or, if you want to be bougie, the Soho House rooftop has good drinks and a view. Chicago skyline is the best skyline in America. Every time we think we’re over it, we leave and come back like “ahhhhh yes!”
You really can’t beat a late-night ride down Lake Shore Drive, just roll the windows down, throw on your favorite jam, and ride from 31st to Montrose.
Best place to party/catch live music?
Metro is one of Chicago’s legendary venues. They also have a dope after-hours club right next to it called Smartbar. There are so many venues you have to play in Chicago before you get to headline at the Metro. It’s like a major stop on the yellow brick road to United Center or something, you know? Everyone has played there! They’ve done a really great job at keeping the space’s character and maintaining their reputation of being one of Chicago’s coolest live music venues. You know you’re on the right path when you hit that stage.
Best place to grab a drink?
In all honesty we don’t really drink like that anymore but Beatnik on Chicago is definitely one of my fave spots. The vibe is always lovely, the food is delicious, and we’re suckers for adult slushies. Soho House rooftop is also a solid choice. But if you want some real drinks? Hit up Juice House in Pilsen! Fresh juice and smoothies in the heart of Pilsen. It’s family-owned with lots of personality.
Best place to take in the culture of the city?
The best thing to do is hop on the CTA Blue Line and take it downtown. Chicago is huge with so many worlds within worlds, you can take that ride a million times and always find something new at every stop. We highly recommend getting off in Wicker Park and just walking around, you’ll see some gems.
Best place to take in nature?
The Japanese Garden in Hyde Park is an excellent spot to escape from the city noise and unwind, and the Quarry over by 31st. Living in the city can take its toll on you, sometimes you just gotta get away from it all. Chicago is amazing at creating little oases for each section of the city, you’re always no more than ten to 15 minutes from a decent park! There’s nothing like taking a break and just talking or talking a walk.
What is your fondest memory of the CHI?
Via: Animal House Parties 2010-2013, craziest house parties ever! Ten years in Chicago and I can honestly say I’m still learning the city and the things I like about it. I’ve spent the majority of my time here staying home and going to work. Those first three years living here were just carefree wild nights meeting strangers and shit, Chicago is great for that. Every time I go out I usually leave the party convinced I made new friends.
Na’el: Summertime in Chicago is the best part of our city. Something about the air, the smell, and the food.
One thing everyone visiting CHI must do?
Rent a Divvy bike, take a ride through downtown, hit Navy Pier, and ride the SeaDog! You gotta get on the Red one! It’s like a jet ski speed boat on the lake with loud music, fast turns, a great view of the skyline! If you’re lucky and you go on the right night sometimes they play movies in the park too. Chicago is just a whole experience with so much to offer.