The second Friday of every month is a great time to visit the Chicago Cultural Mile — a myriad of special events, discounts and deals are yours for the taking during monthly “Second Fridays” celebrations sponsored by the Cultural Mile and participating organizations.
How about discounted tickets for the Chicago Symphony Orchestra? A buy-one-ticket-get-one-free for an architectural walking tour with the Chicago Architecture Foundation? Free admission to the Museum of Contemporary Art? Free admission to studios (visual artists, musicians, yoga, dance instruction) in the Fine Arts Building (410 S. Michigan Ave.)? Or a discount on any climbing wall experience at Maggie Daley Park?
Recently, after a sizzling afternoon wandering around Millennium Park, I decided to check out a long-standing Second Fridays deal for myself — complimentary pizza (between 4-6 p.m.) at the Italian Village Restaurant (71 W. Monroe St.), which is just off the Cultural Mile.
A welcome relief from the 90-plus degree temperatures outside, the restaurant was cool and dark, much like the cold beer I ordered at the bar from the busy bartender. As I settled back for my first sip, the bartender — without saying a word — brought two small squares of cheese and sausage pizza on a spatula and deposited them on a napkin in front of me. She then returned the spatula to a large pizza pan that was strategically located between my left elbow and another patron who also was enjoying a cocktail at the bar. She was deft — I hadn’t even noticed the pizza or any of her spatula maneuvering when I first sat down.
After a few more sips of beer, I helped myself to several more pizza squares while the bartender was pouring drinks for other customers. The pizza was good, the beer was affordable and the cool, dark bar was a wonderful antidote to the hustle, bustle and heat of a summer Friday afternoon in Chicago.
Because I was now in a Second Fridays mood, I thought it appropriate for me to order a second beer. Done.