Dear People of the Internet,
I know many of you probably travel, and that many of you might even travel to Chicago.
In the interest of making your lives easier, here are a few more places that you should never, ever visit, because they are absolutely horrible.
Hotel Allegro, 171 W Randolph Street, 60601.
First, this place is right in the beating heart of the downtown theater district. Who wants to stay there, right? It’s busy, busy, busy all the time, with all those bright lights and taxis and every form of public transit known to man running day and night. Who wants to stay in the middle of that? Amirite?
Worse, it’s like three blocks from the Joffrey — so if you’re a dancer, you’re basically obligated to go*. Vacation is supposed to be about relaxing and eating too much pizza and pastry, not hoofing it to ballet class and letting them whip your sorry butt into shape for an hour and a half.
Moreover, really comfy beds make it likely that you’ll sleep in and miss the 9 AM Ballet Basics class, so then you’ll have to do some other, harder class, which you will regret even more.
Comfy. Modern. Oh, and they remembered our extra pillows.
To top it all off, the Allegro offers loaner bikes, so if you really, really want to ruin your relaxing vacation by being all healthified, you can totally do that without even having to break into the mysterious world of the Citibike.
To offset the calories you’ll burn on the bike, the Allegro also offers a nightly reception in the lobby with wine, sangria, and sometimes guests. Guests like tarantulas and box turtles from the Field museum. Who wants to have drinks with giant, hairy spiders?**
Courteous, efficient staff ensure success for the Allegro’s evil master plan to seduce you and all your friends into returning for another trip and handing over all your money. So if you know what’s good for you, you’ll stay far, far away. Like, maybe at the Budget Motel in Gary, IN. Assuming it’s still there.
The Allegro is also full of these cozy little niches — perfect for producing a false sense of security…
312 Chicago, 136 N LaSalle Street, Chicago, 60602.
To begin with, 312 Chicago pretends to be in another postal code entirely, but in fact it shares a building with the Allegro, so LIAR LIAR PANTS ON FIRE. Who cares if your doors are on another street entirely, 312 Chicago? We see what you’re trying to do!
Second, your smooth, professional serving staff is entirely too knowledgeable and courteous. How will people ever learn to make up their own minds if you keep suggesting perfect wine pairings and delicious desserts?
And the barkeeps! What are you thinking, letting them walk around making really amazing pomegranate cosmopolitans? I’ll have you know that I drank three of those and became quite chatty and sociable, which is entirely out of character for my superior, unsociable self. Come on, 312 Chicago, you’re messing up my mojo, here.
I should probably also mention the food. It’s not fair to raise people’s expectations like that, 312: delightful foccacia; perfectly-seared steaks; melt-in-your mouth fingerling potatoes; Caesar salad with just the right anchovy kick. Needless to say, last night’s Foreman-grilled sirloin and nuked potatoes were pretty disappointing after all that.
And now, here I am writing comments to a restaurant, like it can hear me and respond. You see what this place has done to me?
Avoid at all costs, especially if you like your bank account balance and your waistline***.
Ronny’s Original Chicago Steakhouse, 100 W. Randolph Street, Chicago, 60601.
Ronny’s Original Chicago Steakhouse: don’t get sucked in.
Two words here, guys: epic portions.
Must … keep … eating.
Three more words: rock-bottom prices.
While Ronny’s isn’t going to hit you too hard in the wallet, if you value that svelte dancer’s physique for which you have toiled so many long hours under the grinding tutelage of your sadistic ballet instructors, STAY. AWAY.
Because Ronny’s is all about value, and by “value,” I mean, “Putting enough food on a tray to feed an entire rugby team.”
For $8, my Ronny’s breakfast included some 8″ of Polish sausage (yeah, yeah, go ahead with the 8″ Sausage jokes, Internet), a pile of crisp and delicious home fries (billed as “hash browns,” because LIARS) that probably weighed a pound, two enormous eggs skillfully cooked over-easy, two gigantic slices of Texas toast, and a little slice of watermelon.
Now, that would be a perfectly reasonable meal if I was planning to spend the next 6 hours in the studio and not eat anything else — but for a mere mortal on a normal day, it seems like a bit much, doesn’t it? Like maybe the good folks at Ronny’s were hoping I’d die of a coronary (or maybe of a ruptured stomach) right there, right then?
They topped it off with a diet Coke large enough to refresh a racehorse. That much caffeine on top of that much food could kill a lesser person. Fortunately, I’m a cyclist and a dancer, so I know how to cram huge portions of food down my gullet (even so, I was not able to finish all of my potatoes).
I’m not sure whether Ronny’s is trying to kill us or maybe just put every other restaurant in Chicago out of business. Either way, given the portion sizes, delicious greasy-spoon style food, and prompt service, I’m pretty sure they just might succeed … if we let them.
Chicago is a dangerous place, y’all. Chicago wants to take all your money while simultaneously making you super fit and eleven pounds heavier per day. Chicago wants to whisper its siren song into your ear and convince you that you love her like you love your own mother. Be strong! Don’t listen! Stop up your ears and visit some other place, like maybe Peoria, for example. Chicago will suck you into her warm and worldly embrace and feast on your soul … so you should probably just stay away.
But if you don’t, and you meet me in any one of these places … well, you know. My responsibilities as the Warning Klaxon of the Internet weigh heavy on my shoulders, and sometimes I have to go back more than once to find out whether or not a given threat has been neutralized.
Remember, people, I’m doing you a favor here.
So, You’re welcome.
And mum’s the word.
*I, however, did not make it to class this time because of an unexpected wedding-related engagement. I will go to Chicago many more times; my friends will only be getting married once, and they wanted to see us during the time we were going to do class. There are, in this world, a few valid excuses.
I practiced combinations in my room to make up for it.
**Yeah, so I totally do. These guys came with a curator from the Field Museum — I guess you could say they were on a Field trip? There were also some fascinating preserved specimens. You know, if you like that kind of thing 😉
***To be fair, I have no idea what 312’s prices look like. We were there for a wedding dinner. I have a feeling they’re probably fairly reasonable, all things considered. That said, Denis and I are used to blowing most of our entertainment budget on fine dining, which has really warped my sense of what “fair” restaurant prices look like. If you’re on a shoestring college budget, for example, 312 is probably a “once-a-year, when the parents are in town” kind of place.