New Eastside coffee guide

By Jon Cohn | Community Contributor

Our highly caffeinated journey begins with a tour around Lake Shore East Park, with stops at The Drunken Bean 400 E. South Water St., Eggy’s Diner, 333 E. Benton Pl. and the 24-hour Subway, which also offers decent coffee.

Of course, Mariano’s grocery store serves up the java hot and fresh every morning, offering its Red Eye and Black Eye specials, with one and two shots of espresso respectively.

Radisson Aqua Blu coffee shop ‘Blu Bar’. Photo by Stephanie Racine

Additionally, Bockwinkel’s grocery stores, one located at the Harbor Point building and the other at the corner of Stetson and South Water Streets, offer up delicious Papa Nickolas brand coffee. The Fairmont Hotel, 200 N. Columbus Dr., has a neat little coffee stand right in the lobby featuring coffee, cappuccinos and lattés, as does Radisson Blu hotel at their
“Blu Bar,” which is open every morning.

Another great spot geared toward lovers of coffee is Swissotel, 323 E. Upper Wacker
Dr., which features The Amuse Bar and offers Valentine brand coffee. Moving on in our caffeine saturated venture, we head over to the lower plaza of the Aon building, 200 E. Randolph St., where the selections are nearly endless.

Coffee bar at Mariano’s Lakeshore East.

Just follow your nose down the stairs to find a food court inundated with coffee selections, including Sopraffino’s Italian blend coffee, Au Bon’s 100% Arabica beans, Market Thyme’s Intelligentsia brand, and the standard Dunkin Donuts and Starbucks.

Keep this list handy, folks. When the freezing winds blow off the lake,
you’ll be glad you have it.


The downhill thrill

Where to sled in downtown Chicago

Angela Gagnon | Staff Writer

Chicago terrain might be more akin to a pancake than anything mountainous, but
there are some hilly highpoints that when blanketed in snow, will delight sledders this

By Soldier Field, there is a small but steep sledding hill which beckons thrill seekers to climb aboard their sleds and experience the 33-foot drop for themselves. The Chicago Park District makes the hill extra fun by creating faux snow when the real stuff is MIA. Convenient parking and stairs leading to the top of the hill are an added bonus.

Montgomery Ward Park, 630 N. Kingsbury St., has a small hill tucked away by the banks of the Chicago River. It is ideal for youngsters as the slope can be climbed unassisted and sledding speeds stay on the slow side. Everyone can warm up with coffee or hot chocolate from Peet’s Coffee across the street.

New Eastside kids sledding on Cricket Hill.
Photo courtesy of Carolina Patino.

If you follow the yellow brick road up to Oz Park, located in Lincoln Park at 2021 N. Burling Street in the summer, you might picnic at the top and enjoy a nice view of
the surrounding lush greenery. But come winter, you can glide down the slippery snow-clad slope on your fastest sled.

If you venture out west, you’ll discover Humboldt Park’s Bunker Hill, another relatively unknown gem boasting picturesque views in all directions. There’s even an ice skating rink nearby if you tire of the slopes.

Cricket Hill, arguably Chicago’s most famous sledding hill, is north by Montrose Harbor. While kites might be flying overhead during the warmer months, daring older kids and tweens are flying down the snow-covered hill on frostier days. There is plenty of open space surrounding the hill to allow daredevils to fulfill their need for speed.

Last but not least, while not an officially sanctioned sledding hill, our own Lake-
shore East Park offers the perfect little slope on the south side of the park. Grab a
sled and a friend and come on out to our front yard to enjoy some winter fun.

Renovated children’s library an inviting space

By Angela Gagnon | Staff Writer

The Thomas Hughes Children’s Library, located on the second floor of Chicago’s
Harold Washington Library Center, offers city kids a slick, renovated space to spend the winter days reading. After the renovation was completed in summer of 2016, the atmosphere at the library has transformed into a lively environment where kids can
participate in a variety of activities.

New Eastside resident Erica Meyer said the updates have made the library more interactive and appealing. “My son is three-years-old and he always finds something to do,” she said. “He builds with foam blocks, stacks legos, and drives cars and trucks.”

Mayor Rahm Emanuel cuts the ribbon at the official reopening of the Thomas Hughes Chil-
dren’s Library in 2016. Photo courtesy of Reemaa Konkimalla

The new space is loosely organized into three major sections, called “neighborhoods,” each focused on a different age group. Maria Peterson, unit manager at Thomas Hughes Children’s Library says the modern-day learning environment is for all ages. “We have a true commitment to early literacy, and our new space provides 21st century learning,” she said. “We have programming for all ages, and we want everyone to come and join us for all we have to offer.”

The Baby Garden includes soft, movable blocks and a story nook is stocked with board books and picture books at just the right height for little ones. For kids under age five, the Plaza area is the best option. The interactive puppet stage encourages kids to explore and use their imagination. The zone for six-to-ten year-olds is an “Imagination Playground,” with giant legos and wooden blocks that allow for building and creative construction and

Tweens and teenagers can check out the Digital Media space containing digital cameras, keyboards and virtual reality tools. A Tween Tech class offers activities with PS4s, robots and snap circuits.

Currently, plans are in place for new 3D building and coding programs. New Eastside resident and long-time library regular Reemaa Konkimalla said it has offered her family “great enrichment in terms of arts, Lego activities aimed at building skills, the coding exposure for kids and the various themed events aimed at learning new crafts.”

The library also offers a plethora of children’s educational programming, including story time, music, playgroups and Family Book Club. Walk-ins are welcome and all
events are free.

For more information on the children’s library, including specific library program-
ing and events, visit

The winter boot stop, Shoe Drop

Where to prep your boots for winter

By Stephanie Racine | Staff Writer

Between snow, ice and low temperatures, our winter boots bear the brunt of the harsh Chicago winters. Though built for the task of getting us to our destination with warm dry feet, some boots don’t make it through more than a few seasons without tearing or being easily eroded by salt used for icy streets. To make sure winter boots last as long as possible, cleaning and repairs are a must.

At Shoe Drop, 233 N. Michigan Ave., you can have your shoes repaired, cleaned, and get replacement soles and heels. “I use Shoe Drop to set up a drop-off for my winter boots to be repaired,” said New Eastside resident Anthony Ivone of the store that opened in May 2017.

Shoe Drop’s brick-and-mortar location at 233 N. Michigan Ave. Photo by Stephanie Racine.

Duncan Davis, CEO of Shoe Drop, recommended the restorative cleaning service to keep winter boots fresh. “This [service] involves carefully removing salt stains and snow damage with a gentle cleaning solution. Once finished, we restore the leather or material to its original color,” Davis said.

Davis also recommended taking preemp-
tive measures to make winter boots last the season. He advised using a weather proof-
ing product, along with removing anything that gets on the shoes, like snow or salt,
immediately. “Many of our customers send
us their new shoes to weatherproof and
add a rubber sole guard before they wear them,” Davis said. Weatherproofing and a full restorative clean is $35. In-store shines are $8, or free with any repair service.

Most dry cleaners in New Eastside also offer shoe repair. The Lancaster Dry Cleaners, located at 201 N. Westshore Drive will waterproof suede boots. Short boots are $25, medium are $30 and tall are $35.

Regatta cleaners, located at 420 E. Waterside, will repair winter boots with pricing on request.

Shoe Drop
233 N. Michigan Ave. / (312) 445-5254

Lancaster Cleaners
201 N. Westshore Dr. / (312) 938-8959

Regatta Cleaners
420 E Waterside Dr. / (312) 228-0545

Top things to do to ring in the New Year

2018 is fast approaching, and here in Chicago, New Year’s Eve is quite the event. Hundreds of events are taking place across the city to help Chicagoans ring in the new year, from masquerade balls to bowling parties to all-night blowouts. We rounded up some of the best, most unique events in and around New Eastside.

Party Animals

For the 18th year in a row, The Drake will host a New Year’s Eve bash for more than 3,000 guests, voted the “Best Party in Chicago” by ABC’s Good Morning America.

At midnight, thousands of balloons will drop from the ceiling as guests toast with free champagne to the start of 2018. Donning complimentary New Year’s party favors and celebrating with noisemakers, top shelf liquor will flow all night at the hotel’s 40 fully staffed bars, with a four hour all inclusive cocktail package. A chef’s selection of hors d’oeuvres will be served throughout the evening, with coffee and desserts after midnight.

Photo provided by The Drake.

The “Vegas style” event is hosted by Chicago Scene Magazine and runs from 9p.m. to 2a.m. Some of the city’s best DJs will take over the historic hotel, with live performances by DJ Wizz Kid and Miro and DJ Charles Protege performing top 40 songs, and house and hip hop hits. DJ Justin Dahl and Bam Bam Buddha will spin commercial, tech and progressive house in another room, accompanied by state of the art sound and lighting.

The event includes a pre-party with a free glass of champagne on Dec. 30 at The Godfrey Hotel IO Urban Roofscape in River North.

Tickets are available online with prices from $149 per person for access to three ballrooms, to $2,999 for an 8-person table in The Gold Coast Ballroom with full bottle service.

Closer to New Eastside is the Commons Club, 203 N. Wabash, which is hosting a New Year’s Eve blowout that includes a night of great drinks, talented DJs, and an exclusive pre fixe three-course dinner with Chef Moosah.

“We live our lives like every eve is New Year’s Eve, but this year let’s get a little extra glitzy and feel a little extra fizzy,” reads an event description by Commons Club. The North Wabash Avenue bar is hosting a New Year’s Eve blowout that includes a premium bar package, a midnight champagne toast, and an exclusive pre fixe three-course dinner with Chef Moosah.

Talented DJs will entertain until 2a.m. as guests ring in the New Year in their best dressed style.

Tickets are available online, and start at $249 for a drink and dinner package, with VIP packages available for parties of 10 in a VIP “shag room” for just over $4000.


Roaring Twenties

Throw on your best fringe dresses, pearls and tuxedos and step into one of Jay Gatsby’s 1920’s soirees at 2Twenty2, 222 S. Wabash Ave. where ladies and gentlemen are encouraged to embrace the flapper style and dance the night away.

Guests will enjoy open bar from 9p.m. to 1a.m., but don’t spread the word, it’s the 1920s after all and only “prohibition cocktails” will be served to fit the underground theme for this second annual event.

Bar owners say the party will also include free pizza, champagne at midnight and a potential photo booth on the bar stage.

Early bird tickets are $65, or tickets can be purchased at the door for $75.

To RSVP, email or call 312-878-9994


Night Owls

Spend the first four hours of 2018 celebrating at Nova New Year’s Eve party, voted best in the city for college students and recent grads.

Guests in their best cocktail attire can ask for no better welcome than the one they’ll receive at this party – everyone will be handed a free glass of champagne as they walk through the door. Nova has rented out dance club Sound Bar, at 226 West Ontario St., for a party co-hosted by the Chicago Twenty Something group that goes from 9p.m. to 4a.m. The evening includes $1 top shelf drinks, with a promise of no long waits for drinks, a champagne toast at midnight, and a small bite buffet.

More than 1,000 people will be on the dance floors in the club’s six rooms, where Chicago’s best DJs will spin in three booths. The party will also include free noisemakers and party favors to help you feel extra festive. 

“Nova NYE is unique because we rent out Chicago’s Largest Club and bring out crowd that typically wouldn’t frequent clubs,” said Freddie Kole from Chicago Twenty Something. “Basically, we bring out customers who you would typically find in Wrigleyville or on one of our bar crawls and bring them to a huge club.”

Photo by Chicago Twenty Something, Inc.

But party lovers don’t have to wait until New Year’s Eve – tickets include access to two pre-parties. 

On Dec. 29, Public House, 400 N. State St in New Eastside will give free cocktails to Nova guests between 9p.m. and 1a.m., and on Dec. 30, Moe’s Cantina in River North will give each party goer two free cocktails.  

At the party, be sure to enter Nova’s photo contest by posting photos to Facebook and Instagram with the hashtag #NovaNYE. A panel of judges will choose a winner after the party. Photos from last year’s event can be viewed here.

Tickets are expected to sell out, and can be purchased online

Packages range from $99 for an early bird general admission to $1,000 for a 25-guest table in the main room with a bottle of Belvedere.


90s Nostalgia

If you’d like to commemorate everyone’s most paranoid New Year’s Eve, check out the Back to the 90’s Escape Room. The event, an escape style game that challenges you to find clues and solve puzzles, brings you back to Dec. 31, 1999  “to save humanity from the Y2K bug.”  

Photo by

Held at the Fine Arts Building 408 S. Michigan Ave., you’ll be pressed for time to solve the puzzle before the ball drops in New York’s Times Square and rings in the new millennium.

The game can be played daily through Dec. 31 (2017), with tickets available online for $21.



Whether you want to party all night or have a more relaxed celebration with friends, Chicago has no shortage of options for ringing in the New Year.


The ultimate guide to downtown Santa sightings

By Angela Gagnon and Nicole Vandeboom | Staff Writers

November 16, 2017

With the holiday season drawing near,

Santa will be in Chicago, spreading cheer.

Perched in his chair at State Street Macy’s store

Or appearing in downtown places galore.

Wonder where you’ll find him this year?

Look no further, this list makes it clear.

*Schedules subject to change. Check with locations for updates.

The Cozy Cloud Cottage

5th floor of Macy’s Department Store, 111 N. State St.

For special Santaland hours, visit

Midwest Headquarters Santa Claus House in Millennium Park

Located in Chase Promenade.

Open to children of all ages with free entry. Photography is not provided.

Friday, November 17, to Sunday, December 17, 12-6 p.m.

Santa at 900 North Michigan Shops

900 N. Michigan Ave., Level 3

Saturday, November 18, 11 a.m.-6 p.m.

Sunday, November 19, 12-5 p.m.

Monday, November 20 to Friday, November 24, 12-6 p.m.

Santa Suite at Swissotel

Swissotel, 323 E. Upper Wacker Dr., Presidential Suite on 41st floor

Starting November 30, the entire suite will be decorated

in the spirit and magic of the season, with 12 Christmas

trees and a table set for Santa.

Entry is free. The suite is also available for private group

visits and holiday receptions.

For hours and more info, visit

Santa at Water Tower Place

835 N. Michigan Ave., – Level 7

Monday–Saturday, 12–7 p.m. Sunday, 12–6 p.m.

Saturday, December 16–23, 10 a.m.–9 p.m.

Sunday, December 24, 9 a.m.–5 p.m.

Santa at Chicago Tree Lighting Ceremony

Pioneer Court, 401 N. Michigan Ave.

Friday, November 17, 4-8 p.m.

Santa at Magnificent Mile

Festival of Lights

Pioneer Court, 401 N. Michigan Ave.

Saturday, November 18, 11 a.m.–4 p.m.

Parade 5:30-7 p.m., proceeds south along

Michigan Ave. from Oak St.

Santa at Thanksgiving Day Parade

Santa’s magnificent sled will cruise down State

St. from Congress Pkwy. to Randolph St.

Thursday, November 23, 8–11 a.m.

Santa at Museum of Science

and Industry

5700 S. Lake Shore Dr.

Enjoy Christmas Around the World and the Holiday of Lights.

December 2–17, 10 a.m.–3:30 p.m.

Tickets for Santa photos in the museum’s entry

hall cost $30. Members get 10 percent off.

Santa at Merry Merry Chicago

Symphony Center, 220 S. Michigan Ave.

Ashley Brown, CSO members and the Chicago

Children’s Choir will be featured performing holiday

songs and a sing-along of festive favorites. For ages five and up.

Friday, December 15, at 7 p.m.; Saturday,

December 16, 3 p.m.; Sunday December 17,

4:30 p.m.; Friday, December 22, 7 p.m.; and

Sunday December 23, 3 p.m.

Santa at Lincoln Park Zoo Lights

2001 N. Clark St., inside the Kovler Lion

House. Free Santa event with photos available for purchase.

Open 4:30–9:00 p.m. November 24-26, December 1-3 and December 8-22.

Santa at Navy Pier’s Winter Wonderfest

600 E. Grand Ave.

Go inside Santa’s home at the foot of the giant tree,

available December 2–24.

Open Fridays through Sundays, 11 a.m.–6

p.m.; Mondays through Thursdays, 11 a.m.–4

p.m.; and Sunday, December 24, 10 a.m.–5 p.m.

Skate with Santa at Maggie Daley Park

337 E. Randolph St.

For ages 2-13, morning skate, holiday crafts

and pictures with Santa.

Saturday, December 16, 10 a.m.-noon.

Entry is free. Skate rental is available for


Holiday Breakfast with Santa at the Shedd Aquarium

1200 S. Lakeshore Dr.

Hot chocolate, Polar Express, and meet and

greet with Santa.

7:45 a.m.–11 a.m. on weekends, December 9–10, 16–17 and 23.

Entry costs $49.95 for adults, $39.95 for children,

is free for kids under age 3 and includes admission to the aquarium.

Spirit of Chicago Santa Lunch Cruise

Departs from Navy Pier, 600 E. Grand Ave.

Holiday lunch buffet, DJ for music, dancing

and dazzling views of the water.

Saturday, December 9, 1:15–3:15 p.m.

Boarding begins at 12:30 p.m. $44.90 per person

CTA Holiday Train and Bus

Traveling all el lines in late November and

December as part of regular rail service.

3-7 p.m. on select weekdays and 1-8 p.m. on

weekends. Visit for full schedule.

Five quirky gift ideas

By Gianna Annunzio | Staff Writer

November 16, 2017

Adopt a Catfish

Any Chicagoan can help make the Chicago River healthier by adopting one of its 277,000 channel catfish. These fish were released into the river as part of the “Friends of the Chicago River” restoration project. By adopting a catfish or giving one as a gift, you will make it possible for Friends to advocate for clean water and a healthy habitat. You can help the environment, and celebrate any occasion with this gift.

For more information, visit


Give the gift of lacrosse, basketball and bumper cars all in one with a Whirlyball gift certificate. ThisChicago-native game is a classic in the local scene, where a minimum of four players can drive a “souped- up” bumper car and shoot a whirly ball into the net. Some locations even include additional games like laser tag, bowling, pool and arcade games.

For more information, visit

Chicago Snuggie

There are numerous ways to support your favorite Chicago sports team, like gifting a team snuggie this holiday season. The MLB store offers a range of team options from the Chicago Cubs, Bulls, Blackhawks and Bears. Instead of offering your sports-obsessed friend or family member commonly gifted sportswear—like a t-shirt or jersey—mix it up this season with a comfortable way to support their team.

For more information, visit

Ritualistic Mist

The holidays are the best time to ask for something you want, even if it means using a ritualistic mist. Augustine’s Apothecary on Halsted offers the “Come to Me” kit, used to attract a person you love, a job, wealth, abundance— anything you want to bring into your life. The kit includes ritual instructions, sea salt, a piece of rose quartz,  a white votive candle, a Come to Me Mist-Spray and a love-drawing herbal sachet.

For more information, visit

Nose Warmer

Cold noses are now a thing of the past during Chicago’s cold winter months. The nose warmer is a unique way to keep your nose from freezing up when the temperature drops below zero. These crocheted beauties are available in different colors and designs, making your face the center of attention at any outdoor event.

For more information, visit

Local grocers make holiday feast prep a breeze

By Nicole VandeBoom | Staff Writer

November 16, 2017

If you find the concept of preparing, cooking and cleaning up after holiday meals daunting—or if you are busy this holiday season and unsure how to fit in meal prep—cater your meal from a local grocery store and you can still be the host with the most.

We scoped out four options in the New Eastside, their menu offerings, ease of ordering and bonus features.

Whole Foods

Ordering from Whole Foods, 225 E. Grand Ave., is easy with their full online menu. The store has special holiday menu items including cooked turkeys, side dishes and desserts. The menu changes based on each upcoming holiday. You can schedule your pick-up by date and specific time. For catering and holiday menus, visit whole

Treasure Island

A separate online holiday menu is available from Treasure Island, 680 N. Lakeshore Dr., but you must either call or email their catering department to order. Treasure Island offers traditional choices like turkey and ham dinners, as well as other meals like roast duck and prime rib. The store also offers a catering service, where uniformed staff set up and serve your meal, for $35 to $45 per hour. Orders require 24 to 48-hour notice, but Treasure Island works to accommodate customers based on their needs. “Our great customer service, our great food quality, freshly made, and our best prices, is what sets us apart from other grocers,” said Ariel Morales, Treasure Island’s deli buyer and merchandiser. For more information, visit


Mariano’s Lakeshore East location, 333 E. Benton Pl., keeps around 70–80 holiday meals in stock and usually sells out each year. Meals include turkeys, spiral hams, mashed potatoes, stuffing and cranberry relish. All meals are fully cooked, but are packaged cold and need to be reheated when served. Orders can be placed as early as a month in advance and according to catering department employee Adam Heusinkveld, “The sooner orders are placed, the better.” For more information on catering and holiday menus or to place an order, call (312) 228-1349


Bockwinkel’s, 155 N Harbor Dr. and 222 N. Columbus Dr., offers a smaller grab- and-go selection consisting of deli and bakery trays. For the customer who needs to bring an appetizer or dessert to a holiday party, this store is a quick and easy option. Choose from meat and cheese trays, sandwich trays, all meat trays, fruit trays, veggie trays, and many more. Their bakery options include dessert trays, croissant trays, breakfast trays and decorated cakes. For more information, visit

Lakeshore East Mariano’s deli department offers a wide variety of meals, sides and trays for your events. Photo by Nicole VandeBoom.

Best doorperson gifts

By Jon Cohn | Community Contributor

November 16, 2017

For many of us in the neighborhood, one of the most enjoyable holiday traditions is to show appreciation for the staff who work in our buildings by donating to our buildings’ holiday funds. A nice monetary contribution dropped into the managers’ designated “gift fund” box is the standard way of giving, but we thought we might offer you some inspiration to stir your creative juices a little, and perhaps you will be inspired to give something a bit different this year.

Chalres Mosley, who has worked as a doorman for seven years at the 400 E. Randolph Condominium, recalls his most memorable holiday gift–a gallon bottle of Jack Daniels.

We surveyed the staff at local apartment and condo buildings about the best or most unique holiday gifts they have ever received.

Here are some of the responses:

“Bulls tickets to go watch my favorite


—Mike Watts, Shoreham employee for

four years and now at the Aqua, 225 N.

Columbus Dr.

“A big jar of pickled pig feet, Southern

style and cooked just right.”

—Darryl Alexander, head doorman

at Park Shore Condominiums, 195 N.

Harbor Dr.

“Somebody bought me a car! 2005

Ford Explorer, only slightly used.”

—Floyd Daniels, employee for six years at

the Chandler, 450 E. Waterside Dr.

“$200 cash—the best kind of gift.”

—Andre Johnson, employee for 24 years

at Harbor Point, 155 N. Harbor Dr.

“Someone bought me a gallon of Jack

Daniels–took me a whole year to finish


—Charles Mosley, employee for seven

years at the 400 E. Randolph building.

“I received a vacation to the Dominican Republic.

All expenses paid. Hard to beat that!”

—James Hatter, employee for 10 years at

Shoreham, 400 E. South Water St.

“One of the kids brought me a cupcake.

She made it herself. I loved that

it was a gift given straight from the heart.”

—Tawny Gray, employee for two years

at the 340 At The Park building, 340 E.

Randolph St.

So, there you go. No pressure. You don’t have to buy a car or give someone a vacation to show your appreciation. Just a little originality and a small piece of your heart will do just fine.

Live holiday entertainment warms New Eastside

By Gianna Annunzio | Staff Writer and Ben Kowalski | Copy Editor

November 16, 2017

New Eastsiders searching for live entertainment this holiday season may find just what they’re looking for, without going too far from home. Options range from jazz music to improv comedy and include high-quality offerings at hotels.

November marks the first anniversary of Winter’s Jazz Club, 465 McClurg Ct., where cartoon classics come to life.

A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving will be performed a day before Thanksgiving on November 22. Additionally, A Charlie Brown Christmas will be performed on December 5 and 14. Winter’s owner Scott Stegman said the Charlie Brown Christmas show, for audiences aged 12 and above, was so popular last year that the club decided to add a second performance this year. “We recreate the exact [soundtrack] album with a three-person choir, so it’s really a charming little evening,” Stegman said.

Local hotels are also a convenient and high-quality option. This season, enjoy Latin

(Top) Winter’s Jazz Club. Photo courtesy Winter’s Jazz Club

Rhythms and pop grooves with acoustic artist Joey Edwin. This November, Edwin, whose musical career includes performances on MTV and at the House of Blues, showcases his talent at THE BAR in Fairmont Chicago, Millennium Park hotel, 200 N. Columbus Dr.

Colleen Sweitzer, the Fairmont Chicago’s marketing manager, said Edwin’s music has a great rhythm, but isn’t overpowering. “He’s the perfect mix of great background music that you can also sit and enjoy it like it’s the center of your attention,” she said. “For those who are looking for something a little different, he’s great.”

While Winter’s Jazz Club and the Fairmont Chicago hotel combine live music in a comfortable atmosphere, Second City’s Up Comedy Club, 230 W. North Ave., pairs improv comedy with theater and audience participation.

Joe Ruffner, producer of Second City’s touring company, said the holiday show, titled Holidazed & Confused: Mandatory Merriment, is an annual production.

“It’s a fresh take on the holidays,” he said. “Parental advisory is recommended—it’s not your kid’s holiday show.”

Laughs can also be had closer to home at Seven Bar & Restaurant, 400 E. Randolph St., where Chicago’s best local comedians have been rounded up with Backyard Besties performing varying acts on the third Friday of every month.

Maya Epstein, a New Eastside local, helps produce another comedy show at Seven titled “Bad People, Good Comedy.” Erica Nicole Clark of Comedy Central will headline their next show on November 3, alongside comedians St. James Jackson, Chris Higgins, Tessa Orzech and Sabeen Sadiq.

“We get a mix of people from the building, comedy lovers and Lakeshore East neighbors,” Epstein said. “Entertainment options are few and far between. Seven is great because it’s this unexpected bar in the middle of a condo building. You’d never know it was there, which makes for a fun surprise for the people who come to our shows. It’s pretty amazing to see such a great line-up in an intimate space.”

Seven’s owner Mohammed Rafiq said attendees enjoy the performances Seven puts on, because there is no other club like it in the area. “We get a very good turn out with the show. If you’ve ever come to a show of ours, it’s very well produced and very overdone,” he said. “We have lights, music, a very good sound system, and very good microphones.”

If New Eastsiders are searching for a solid meal with nightly jazz performances, Bandera restaurant and bar on 535 N. Michigan Avenue is the location they’ve been waiting for. Offering American cuisine with a southwestern flair, Bandera provides great views of Michigan Ave. and live music every night from 6–11 p.m. Rebecca Schwartz, Bandera’s general manager, said nightly jazz performances have always been part of the restaurant’s feng shui. “We have three different trios that rotate each day of the week,” she said.“The Dave Williams Trio, the Paul Martin trio and the Jo Ann Daugherty Trio.”

Musical-enthusiasts young and old can also enjoy the Chicago Cultural Center’s (78 E. Washington) performance of The Nutcracker while participating in their free holiday event, “Dance-Along Nutcracker” on December 3.

Ballet Chicago performers at the 2015 Dance-Along Nutcraker performance.Photo by Elizabeth Johnston.

Members of Ballet Chicago will teach basic movements at an optional lesson at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. Then, at noon and 3 p.m., participants are invited to join the dancers of Ballet Chicago for a Nutcracker performance. The Lakeside Pride Music Ensemble will also perform live music.

Mary May, the Cultural Center’s special events coordinator, calls Dance-Along Nutcracker a “darling event.” “Kids from all ages dress up and get to be a Sugarplum Fairy or a Mouse King for the day,” she said. “It’s all levels of dancing as well. What’s more ‘holiday’ than Tchaikovsky’s holiday classic?