CHICAGO — Andrew Reilly spent almost an entire year visiting a restaurant or bar in all 77 official Chicago community areas.
The Printers Row resident, who's lived in Chicago for 13 years and had always wanted to check out as many corners of the city as possible, just finished the endeavor — which he labeled "Seventy-Seven Official."
Reilly, 37, started his quest Feb. 4 at a Downtown barbecue joint and ended it Dec. 2 at a Burnside liquor store/tavern. In between, he drank green beer in Norwood Park a month after St. Patrick's Day, munched on gyro cheese fries in Fuller Park, ate at a taqueria/pizzeria in North Park, dined at a restaurant with a jellyfish-filled aquarium in South Lawndale and checked out a Clearing bar where all the Midway flight crews hang out.
"I'm very glad I did it," said Reilly, who manages websites full time. "It is a really big city, and there's a lot to be found."
A jellyfish swimming in an aquarium of a South Lawndale Mexican restaurant. [Andrew Reilly]
Reilly tried to visit a different Chicago establishment or restaurant each week. He either walked or took public transportation to all of them, with the exception of the time he rode an Uber from a pizza place in O'Hare to a Polish restaurant in Portage Park.
"This was a project where I could show myself what the city looks like," he said. "Now I know what's way down Ashland Avenue or what's on this street that I've never heard of."
For the most part, Reilly went alone to the bars or restaurants; sometimes he met friends who lived nearby his desired choice. He did little planning of where to go, doing brief searches on the Internet before heading out.
By the end of the nearly yearlong experience, Reilly said he was eager to finish it.
"It was extremely time consuming," he said. "Even living where I live, some places were an hour each way, which is hard to justify for a Philly cheesesteak."
But Reilly stressed that others across the country should try the task in whatever city they live in, albeit on a lesser scale.
"Get out there and see what your city has to offer," he said. "There's always cool stuff out there, the hard part is just finding it."
Green beer was available at this Norwood Park bar, even a month after St. Patrick's Day. [Andrew Reilly]
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