DJ illest and Shereene Manimala Seek like a Local Chicago

The Best Local “HYPE MUSIC,” BBQ Pop-Ups, and Rare Chicago Shop Finds with Shereene Manimala

Shereene Manimala “Hype Coach” and Digital Content Creator shares her favorite Chicago artists, places to shop for unique goods, and an Indian BBQ pop-up restaurant that you must try before it’s gone, in this week’s Seek Like a Local.


Explore Chicago Like Shereene Manimala

Shereene Manimala is a digital content creator, “Hype Coach,” events planner, who loves trying new restaurants, acting goofy, and being with her family, and loves to lift her voice to help educate her community. She also works with creatives and entrepreneurs, specifically her husband, DJ iLLEST (Sanu John), a prominent Indian-American-Malayalee DJ/artist in Chicago.


Who are some of your favorite artists representing Chicago?

iLLEST & PERRY DONTA’E! Our team has their album debut show, HYPE CONCERT, coming up on June 27th. Think silent disco, a vibe, Chicago Juke, Indian drums, drumline, and a whole lot of dancing. They are working on an album, and we are so excited! iLLEST & Perry Donta’e have been collaborating the past year, and it started with an All-Star Weekend performance in 2020. Since the pandemic, they’ve been able to knock out a total of 13 projects – 7 live remix videos, 3 live streams, and 3 live performances! The artists have merch, an album, and a show in Chicago coming out this summer that you have to check out! Learn more about their upcoming performance and content on their website here.

iLLEST & Perry Donta’e //Video via Youtube

Where are you dining in Chicago right now?

Right now, I’m loving an Indian BBQ pop-up called Dhuaan BBQ that runs out of Pilsen. I love seeing creatives getting into their passions, and when it’s a Brown creative, you know I’m going to support hard. The food is the bomb, and Sheal, who is behind the brand, is amazing! I had some delicious wings and sliders, but I promise you everything is delish. 

What Local Community Organizations do You Support?

Gray Matter Experience is run by my incredible friend, Britney Robbins.

What are some of your favorite neighborhood shops?

My favorite neighborhood is for sure Pilsen. I only lived there for two years, but for some reason, I feel the most connected to that part of the city. I would say my favorite shop is Silver Room. I can always find something there. The last time I was in the area, I picked up a pin that said “Everything You Love About America is Because of Black People” and some new sunglasses. That was a dope little shopping trip.

Tote Bag from the Silver Room // Photo vis Facebook

What’s your favorite way to spend a day in Chicago?

No matter the season, you will catch me at the lake. I used to live in Rogers Park with my husband. We used to go to Loyola Park all the time. Over the summer before we moved, I’d go there every single morning because I knew one day I’d miss being so close to the lake. We would bike down the trail, or I also love Promontory Point for bonfires or walks. The lake is such a blessing. People not from Chicago don’t get it, but our access to water is so relaxing.


Shereene always uses her voice to help educate her community and does this through her platform Upside Down Smilie, a show and content focused on showing up fully and honestly with thought-provoking and nontraditional topics Anti-Blackness in the South Asian Community, Depression, Abuse, and many others. Be sure to check it out and her husband DJ iLLEST collaborative show(HYPE SHOW) at the Palmhouse in Evanston on June 27th.

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 previous guides from influential Chicago locals here.


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