The Run Down

The night starts with a glass of wine in hand as we roam through the halls of an artist enclave where we’ll go room to room to find improv being performed, poetry being read, and artists showing off their latest works. Afterwards, we’ll keep the night going at a bar hidden behind a record store. Here are the details.

1. Open House @ Flat Iron Arts Building
2. Drinks @ Dorian’s

1. Flat Iron Arts Building

If you’ve ever hung out in Wicker Park, then chances are you’ve probably walked by the Flat Iron Arts Building. It’s that triangle shaped building right off the Damen Blue line stop. I’m talking about this building.

For this guide, we’re finally checking out what’s going on inside those walls. On the first Friday of every month, this building hosts an open house to the public. Inside is an artist colony that has been a central the neighborhood going as far back as the 1980s. Here are some notes to keep in mind as you pay this place a visit.

– Open house is from 6 – 10pm on the first Friday of every month
– There are two floors of art studios and performance spaces
– Some studios will have a spread of wine and other refreshments, but we saw a good number of people roaming around with their own drinks.

As you walk into the building, you’ll enter a narrow hallway leading you to a set of stairs taking you up to the studios in the two floors above you. After checking in with the security guard, you’re free to roam around.

The hallways are filled with works from resident artists. As you move from room to room it sort of feels like you’re roaming the halls of a school late at night, unsupervised. And with a drink in hand, the whole experience definitely has that high school rebel vibe going for it.

You’ll get a different mix of art studios open to the public depending on which Friday you go to. All the artists we visited were super welcoming and eager to share their work.

This French Bulldog took us on a mini tour of his owner’s work space.

This artist enclave also attracts performance artists as well. We stumbled upon a fairly packed improv show being performed in one of the studios.  It’s a different experience each time you go. Sometimes you’ll catch music acts, other times you’ll have somebody putting on a storytelling event, or you’ll have nights like this where you’ll find an improv show.

2. Dorian’s

Our next stop is just around the corner, and we’re capping off the night with drinks and a bit of jazz. Walk to the the other side of the Flat Iron Arts building, and you’ll find a small, brightly lit record shop. Head inside.

As you walk inside, you’ll see a small row of records and a host manning the front. If you keep on walking to the back of the record shop, you’ll see a white sliding door with a peep hole. That’s the entrance to a hidden back bar. Ask the host up front for access and they’ll get you set up.

While the record shop is small, the bar in the back is actually pretty big. It’s got a funky 70’s vibe going for it with wood paneling adorning the walls, and of course, vinyl records everywhere.

There’s a stage to the left of the bar, and depending on the night they might have a live jazz band or vinyl DJ sets.  

Some last parting tips before we end the guide.

– House Cocktails will run you $13. They have a $75 cocktail called the Stormy Daniels that’s served in a giant gauntlet and meant to be shared between 6 people. Breaking down the math on that one, that comes out to about $12.50 / person. Cheaper than an individual cocktail. That’s straight cash in your pocket.

– If you’re hungry, they an interesting mix of Vietnamese / SE Asian / American inspired small plates. Think short rib banh mi and pork belly larb