The Haute Seeker

Best Italian Beef, Stroll Down Lakeshore Drive, and More with Eric Loughlin

Eric Loughlin award-winning concierge who knows a thing or two, or several about Chicago. In this week’s Seek Like a Local, he shares the best place in the city to grab an Italian Beef, how to spend a leisurely afternoon in the city, and ways to support Chicago’s theater community.

Explore Chicago Like Eric Loughlin

Eric Loughlin is a concierge and actor who has made Chicago his home for the past 12 years. He currently works as a concierge desk at theWit Hotel and can be found performing around Chicago’s storefront theaters, as well as slapping a four stringer with his two-person cover band. Eric also spends his time growing, operating, and maintaining his beard—if you hadn’t noticed.

What’s the bEST Way to Spend a Day in Chicago?

OK, so the sun is shining, I’ve got the whole day off, and it’s time to hit Chicago! The first thing I’m going to do is take a drive down Lake Shore Drive—from Hollywood to the Museum of Science and Industry and back if I can.

If anyone is looking for a ringer for their 16″ softball team, I’ll stop at the park on Recreation Boulevard and hope a scout for the White Sox is there watching me crush beers and dingers alike. Then probably up to Montrose Beach (Montrose Beach is the best beach, and I’ll die on this hill), hang out at The Dock and grab a drink or take a stroll down the lakefront trail. I’d spend some time on the Riverwalk. I think the best place to be in Chicago on a beautiful day is right on the river as the buildings all rise around you.

Finally, if there’s time, I’m going to catch a baseball game! Without wading too far into the rivalry, you really can’t go wrong with either ballpark, but if you’re a baseball fan, I think the experience at Guaranteed Rate Field eclipses that of Wrigley. The food options range from elotes to perogies, but if you want to stick to the classics, get a sausage loaded with peppers and onions or my all-time favorite, the nacho helmet! Don’t miss the Craft Cave in the right field, either. They have the best selection of craft beers at any ballpark I’ve been to, with PetCo Park in San Diego coming in a close 2nd place!

Chicago has a lot of great food options—but what are Some of your Favorites?

Italian Beef from Portillo’s // Image via Facebook

I get asked this question all the time, and I promise you it is the hardest one for me to answer! Since picking a favorite restaurant seems mostly impossible (Is it the one where I had the best meal? Is it the one I go to every day?) I figured I’d share my first experience with one of my favorite Chicago foods: Italian beef. As a Buffalo native, who is still upset with the lack of quality chicken finger subs in this city, I have to say I will never forget the first time I got an Italian beef. 

In Buffalo, we have a sandwich called a beef of weck, which is roast beef with horseradish sauce on a weck roll, so I figured this would be the same kind of thing, and boy was I wrong. They took everything I love about a french dip sandwich, put it on a hoagie, and then told me they had this thing called “giardiniera” that I then proceeded to start putting it on everything. As far as the best place to get it, I still believe Portillo’s (the downtown location on Ontario remains king) makes the best beef I’ve had in the city, but they’re followed closely behind by Johnny’s Beef & Gyro’s in Lincoln Park. I have it on very good authority that Johnnie’s Beef in Oak Park is the best beef in the city, and I’m dying to try it, but I can’t speak from personal experience so ask me again later after I’ve made the trek. Just on the side, never dipped!

What are some of your favorite places to shop in Chicago?

I have to admit, I’m not much of a shopper. My wardrobe predominantly consists of suits, jeans, and beer T-shirts, but I’ve got to admit I’m dying to get to Uniqlo because their stuff looks like it will make me look way cooler!

If you are in the market for an amazing suit, I loved both the selection and the service at SuitSupply. I got two amazing suits there for a very reasonable price, and SuitSupply also tailors them for you right after purchase, so they fit like a glove. 

If you’re looking for room decor or knick-knacks, I can’t speak highly enough of the Foursided location at 2958 N. Clark. You should also check out Foxtrot Market in Wicker, my favorite location, their coffee is great! While you’re there, grab and go market has neat options, they’ve got some great alcohol and snack selections, and if you’re really lucky, get an order of the breakfast tacos or doughnuts in the morning.

What are some of the ways our readers can support the community?

As an actor in Chicago, I would say if you have any spare time, money, or energy, please find a local theater company you either enjoy or have heard great things about as they all need dire assistance. The theater is hard enough to produce and fund during normal times, and the pandemic has made it even harder, as you can imagine. My favorite theater company in Chicago is Factory Theater, a lovely group of artists who have been doing original works since their inception in the 90s. I don’t believe they are doing any active fundraisers now, but please feel free to contact the company and see what can be done.

Checked out any cool Chicago artists lately?

Wall Mural by Jc Rivera // Image via Facebook

I’m not sure his work is featured in a ton of galleries, but if you’ve driven around Chicago enough, I’m sure you’ve seen his murals somewhere, and you’ve said, “Hey, that’s kinda neat!”. His name is JC Rivera, but he’s better known as The Bear Champ. He’s got a fun mural on the side of Parlor Pizza in Wicker Park, but I’ve seen his murals pop up for a while and then get painted over, so I’m not sure which ones are still at their locations and which ones are just pop-ups.

Want to know a fun fact about Eric Loughlin? He is in a two-man band called The Boom Chicks!  The local band plays country music covers of popular music, be sure to check them out on their Youtube channel here.

Seek Like A Local, and discover things to do, places to dine, and more of what the city of Chicago has to offer this week. Check out more guides from influential Chicago locals at Seek Like a Local.

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