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Pitchfork Pit Stops

Got an appetite for more than music? Check out these rock-worthy eateries near Union Park.
Tuesday Jul 14, 2009.     By Stacy Warden
Centerstage Chicago Nightlife City Guide Arts

Caffeinated hot-spot out west.

Food is probably the last thing on your mind while you're waiting for your favorite group to take the stage at the annual Pitchfork Music Festival (July 17-19) in Union Park. But at some point during the weekend, you're going to want something that didn't come from an overpriced kiosk. Lucky for you, we've rounded up a whole slew of nearby spots - all located under a mile from Union Park - where you can get your grub and rehash the setlists (or fuel up for another day in the field).

Before You Go

Recharge at Sip Coffee House
Distance from Union Park: 0.6 mile
With its long list of espresso-infused concoctions and a sweet selection of baked goods, this West Loop coffee shop is the perfect place to recharge after a long night of after-parties. In addition to its chic, loft-like interior (think exposed brick, skylights and wood ceiling beams), Sip features a quiet backyard garden. In this whimsical outdoor space you'll find a stone patio and tree-lined walkway leading to a serene sitting area. And because no garden would be complete without kitschy fixtures, you'll also notice an interesting array of wind chimes and birdhouses amongst the mix of shrubs and shade trees. Got some photos from last night to post? Sip also offers free wi-fi.

Snag a superior sandwich at Jerry's Sandwiches
Distance from Union Park: 0.6 mile
Heading in for an early afternoon set? Skip the trip to the Cevapcici stand and grab some sandwiches from this spot. The guys at Jerry's are so crazy about sandwiches, they offer more than 100 varieties which mix and match over 70 top-notch ingredients on freshly baked bread. If the day's a cool one, you might dig the warm Southern fried chicken (with pickle, American cheese, ketchup mayo and Louisiana hot sauce on white), but we're guessing a cooler, more portable choice (like the Heinhaus H - chicken salad, applewood bacon and swiss) will be the better bet. The shop also offers a selection of freshly made beverages, including homemade lemonade and locally brewed Metropolis coffee.

Have a healthy snack at Baba Pita
Distance From Union Park: 0.6 mile
Getting food while you're on the go doesn't have to mean racking up the calories. Thanks to this nearby Middle Eastern eatery, you can choose from an entire menu of healthful snacks like hummus, baba ghannou and fattoush salad. If you're in a rush to see a midday set, grab one of the restaurant's signature sandwiches like the vegetarian-friendly falafel or the carnivorous beef shawarma, each served in a pita pocket with lettuce and tomato. Those looking to rest their weary feet near the end of the day should grab a table and opt for a proper entree, like the chicken kabob plate (served with rice, salad, hummus and pita bread) or the veggie combo with falafel, stuffed grape leaves, hummus, baba ghannouj, salad and pita bread, $9.95 each.

After the Show

Keep the party going at Bottom Lounge
Distance From Union Park: 0.2 mile
This two-story music venue makes for an appropriate post-fest stop, thanks to its music-themed menu of "Opening Acts," "Intermission" and "Headliners." Start with pub-inspired favorites like the four-cheese mac 'n' cheese, stuffed nachos or buffalo wings. From there, you can kick back with a lineup of soups and saladsójust be sure to save room for the venue's main acts, which include hearty favorites like the 10-ounce Bottom Lounge burger, pulled pork sandwiches and Chicago-style brats, as well as vegetarian-friendly falafel served with tzatziki and baby greens. Once you've had your fill, head upstairs to the 5,000-square-foot tiki-themed Volcano Room Rum Bar and cool down with a tropical cocktail in the spacious, loft-like interior, or step outside onto the adjacent 2,000-square-foot rooftop deck. Bottom Lounge also offers live entertainment throughout the weekend, including Pitchfork performer Frightened Rabbit on Sunday night.

Get dirty at Twisted Spoke
Distance from Union Park: 0.5 mile
Saturday nights mean porn and pancakes at this West Loop locale. Or Smut & Eggs, as it's so lovingly referred to by the staff. It's safe to say that anything goes at this urban biker bar, especially once the clock strikes twelve (midnight). That's when Twisted Spoke flips the tube to a brazen porn flick and offers up its bold "biker brunch" menu. It's a challenge to tell whether or not the diverse crowd is actually here for the salacious scenes or the homemade food. And while it's likely the crazy combination of both, we're chalking it up to favorites like the fried egg sandwich (cheddar cheese, bacon, lettuce, tomato, onion, mayo, served on rye bread with a side of fries), the chili scramble (3 eggs, red or green chili, cheese, onions) and banana buckwheat pancakes, $7.50-$8.75.

Drink your dinner at Cobra Lounge
Distance from Union Park: 0.2 mile
If you really want to keep on rockin', there's no better place to do it than at this striking bar just down the street from the park. The imposing exterior of the place (think cement and barred windows) gives you a taste of this spot's hard-living attitude; inside is a plethora of black and red, not to mention tons of DJ'ed music (Mamba Negra and Battle of Chicago play a free show on Sunday night) and plenty of shots and beers to be had. Got a powerful hunger? Try out some jumbo chicken wings, a Cobra burger or the show-stopping grilled cheese, featuring your choice of two cheeses on sourdough. If that ain't rock 'n' roll, we don't know what is.


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