The Pride Parade comes but once a year. It is a celebration of a year gone by. A year marked by victories, losses, heartaches, new-found loves and most importantly Pride. When it comes time to celebrate, our fair city throws a bash that will forever remain with you. Not only does Chicago play host to one of the larger parades in the country, it may also be the rowdiest of all the Pride celebration. If there's one thing that I'm most proud about when it comes to Chicago's parade, it's just that. A rockin' party, that starts in the early morning hours and continues throughout the year. If you're reading this column, I feel that I can safely assume that you are familiar with the going-ons of the parade but since this is an "informative" article I will give you a smidge of what to expect. I must warn you that some of what you are about to read and what you will see may be considered obscene in some circles. You will witness, trannies, queens, female and male impersonators, shirtless dykes with nothing more than a cross of electrical tape separating their nipples from you and your eyes. You will also be privy to gawdy costumes and politicians who want you and your vote. Once the parade has passed by, you'll find yourself;( as I have for many years), weighed down by an awesome amount of flyers, caps, coupons, stickers, frisbees and anything else that a politician can find to plaster their names across. The Pride Parade is just an encompassing event that swallows you whole, thrusting you into a Mardi Gras-like atmosphere. This year, I've decided to re-vamp my list from the previous year with some new additions.
The Parade begins each year at the intersection of Halsted and Belmont. (Parade Route) You may want to grab a bottle or four of water at the Walgreen's to "HYDRATE" yourself properly during this trek. Don't worry, we will make many other stops along the route to sate your ever present hunger pains.
Our first stop will be Jack's on Halsted (Jack's American Blend), 3201 N. Halsted St. 773-244-9191. Grab Jack's famous Mimosa's and know that your day can only get better from here on.
As we follow the route we will pass by one of my favorite restaurants in this area. Yoshi's Café. Make a mental note to make a return trip here the following week for some killer eats. Seeing as you just had a mimosa and I had four, I really need to walk some of this buzz off. Let's make our way up to Roscoe. I hear that some boys did something with their storefront. HB (Hearty Boys), 3404 North Halsted, 773-661-0299. The newest incarnation of what once was Hearty Boys is now an uber romantic bistro in the heart of boystown. With a menu heavy in haute it's hard to decide what to devour. I'll start out with the "eggs in a basket". A beautiful dish of two poached eggs, nestled in a flaky crust with your choice of fillings. Fillings range from Garlic Sauteed Spinach and Brie to Andouille and Smoky Cheddar.. However you fill it, your bound to be satisfied. Currently HB remains BYOB but they do have some killer "virgin" cocktails. Wash brunch down with their fruity Tropical Mimosa, a secret blend of nectars and fruit juices which Dan and Steve say is really good with vodka too. Hello... isn't everything good with Vodka?!
After this Hearty meal, I think that we should probably walk some. There is no way we are going back to Sidetrack. I mean, did you see that line of people? We can take a shortcut up Cornelia on our way to Broadway. That way we can stop in to one of the cutest little restaurants or as they like to call themselves, a "rooseterant". Cornelia's, 748 West Cornelia, 773-248-8333. Step inside this embodiment of the word cozy, slide up to the bar and dip into some of their specialty cocktails. While here, we may as well have a nosh. No sense in not eating. You know? Let's split an appetizer. The otak otak sounds neat. Atlantic salmon with apples and sage, lovingly wrapped in a puff pastry and served with a mare rosa sauce. A perfect nosh to tide us over until dinner, or at least until we pass out.
We'll now make our way up to Broadway to catch the parade. This is really where the parade starts to rock out. Most have had a few to drink and are feeling a little more celebratory. Let's cobble squat ourselves a good piece of asphalt and cheer on our GLBT friends and family. The parade is most definitely not to be missed. I great place to watch is at the corner of Aldine and Broadway. We can even grab a sweet here. Girl, it's a wonder that I still fit into these shorts with all the eating that I do. Windy City Sweets 3308 North Broadway, 773-477-6100. Here we can have our pick of so many things yummy. Being that it is June and it feels as if we are stranded in Hades, I'd recommend that we grab a cone with two scoops. This little treat will help us cool off and also be the perfect ending to a day of eating. Oh, don't fret. We're nowhere near done. We've still got the rest of the parade to cheer on and the rest of the night to revel with everyone else.
After the Parade has most definitely passed by, I say let's head over to Cesar's, 2924 North Broadway, 773-296-9097 and grab a few of their Killer Margaritas. This year, Cesar's (both locations) is playing host to the after-parade-before-you-go-out and really get messed up crowd. Visit www.killermargaritas.com for more info on that. It is pride Sunday. You're allowed to have a margarita on a school night.
However you choose to celebrate Pride this month, make sure to surround yourself with loved ones and friends. If you're hosting the festivities this time, make sure to have a lot of bottled water on hand. I can tell you from experience that some people make this day an endless excuse to exercise the college freshman still trapped inside of them. Take it easy, don't overindulge and make sure to eat.
Remember that this really is a day of celebration. Celebrate the battles that we've won and the battles yet to be won. Today and everyday, it's great to be gay. Until we see each other again. Eat well and love a lot.
Related: ChicagoPride.com Pride Guide