When I was naïve and 21 years old, I set up house in West Hollywood. I figured, for some reason, that frequenting the neighborhood's gay bars would help me make my mark on L.A. Blame it on the friendly vibe of the always happy and too-cute-for-their-own-good gay folk that I found myself traipsing from bar to bar (cocktail always in hand) every other night.
When I relocated to Chicago years later, I tapped into a similar environment for a short time, but soon forgot it even existed. Cut to last week; it was midday on a weekday, and my pal Brad and I decided that a trip to Boystown was in order.
We started with a visit to dark and gloomy Sidetrack to get the daylight party going. We both ordered up a few cuba libres, slammed them quickly (for some reason, the old-school videos depressed us) and started walking North Halsted in search of our next victim. We found it at an adorable corner bar of which I cannot recall the name; the drinks had started to hit me already. We weren't sitting at the empty bar for more than two sips when the bartender poured us shots on the house; B and I started to hit the breaking point. Did we need food or more drinks? That was when Brad spotted Johnny Galecki out of the corner of his eye. He was stone delighted that the much-loved boyfriend of Roseanne's daughter Darlene (from the "Roseanne" show) was in our midst, but I was thinking about gooey cheese and a shakeup in my drink-of-choice. Johnny Who-Cares—just bring on some grub!
we headed, but first we stopped at one of the tacky clothing stores along the way for me to pull a Superman move and change t-shirts. I'd grown weary of my solid-white top, and I had somehow developed a plethora of holes in it since I'd left the house a mere three hours earlier. So, I bought another white T, tried on a boatload of horrifying cowboy hats, and I was ready to hit the road.
The lounge-like Minibar packed in a slew of upper-crust drinkers and diners, even at such an early hour. We promptly scanned the room, snagged a quaint table up front and ordered a fresh round of minty mojitos. Suddenly, a pretty-boy waiter appeared with a tiny bowl of dreamy looking olives, tossed a menu our way and disappeared into the crowd of other too-pretty people. I was down for the turkey panini, and we decided to share, seeing as how we wanted to keep our buzz cruising along at high altitude. Though it could have used a heavy dose of mayo, the crunchy bread, melted cheese and homemade chips went down fabulously with our cocktails. We slurped the rest of our drinks and made our way back out onto the street, arm in arm and practically skipping down the sunny sidewalk. It wasn't even getting-off-work time, and we were already way ahead of the game, with a whole string of bars waiting to be explored on foot.
The Final Rave: See, that's what is great about Boystown: no driving is necessary. The most European part of town, the neighborhood's setup allows you in to hop from bar to bar, with no concern about how you're getting there. Everyone is friendly as a puppy, and, for the most part, shots are on the house, as long as you demand the bartender partake in them with you.
Keep It Going:
Drink It: Big Chicks
This Uptown favorite is a perfect little place to grab a drink and chill on the back patio. Be prepared to fight the crowds on Sundays, when it offers a free buffet.
Eat It: Angelina Ristorante
The refreshing bellinis, the delightful brunch, the tiny, eclectic space—it could be Paris, but instead it's one of the most charming restaurants in Chi-town.
Do It: Berlin
Oh, the nights spent dancing in a wild way at this club. Good to know this place hasn't lost its anything-goes feel after all these years.
Get Crazy With It: West Hollywood, California
This sparkly little haven is still mad stomping grounds in L.A. for those who love to walk, drink, walk, drink, walk, drink and then dance like crazy. Afterward, of course, there's a full-on pass out—just as there should be!