The Run Down

10 pieces of Korean chicken, 30 plays, and 68 draft lines. That's the setup for this evening excursion in Andersonville. It starts with a late dinner featuring bubble tea and double-fried Korean chicken. You'll then go around the corner to watch not one, not two, but 30 different shorts plays crammed into one hour. Finally, you'll catch a night cap at a Belgian-inspired pub known for its 68 draft lines.

1. Korean Fried Chicken @ Cuckoo

2. Theater @ The Neo-Futurists

3. Belgian Beer @ Hopleaf

1. Cuckoo

Nestled on bustling Clark Street, just south of where Andersonville’s main thoroughfare begins, lies a small storefront where you’ll start the night. For the past 20 years, this space played host to a rotating cast of pan-Asian restaurants, offering the standard fare of Asian cuisine and sushi rolls. But with the arrival of Cuckoo in the summer of 2022, it’s been given new life

Cuckoo’s bright yellow and pink awning acts like a beacon, beckoning you to step inside its colorful kawaii-style dining room and feast on its fast-casual menu of Korean fried chicken, Japanese rice bowls, and refreshing bubble tea.

As you walk into Cuckoo, you’ll find yourself in a narrow dining room draped in their signature yellow and pink hues. Plush dolls sit at each table, serving as both tablemates and a reminder of the kitschy decor. You can either order at the counter or use the self-serve kiosk to get your grub.

Just a quick logistics note: this joint closes up shop at 10pm on Friday and Saturday nights, which is perfect timing as the plan after this is to catch a show that starts at 10:30pm.

Now, let’s get to the good stuff. If you’re having trouble deciding what to order, this 10-piece Korean fried chicken platter will give you a sampling of everything.

The chickens are separated into 5 pairs, each doused in a different signature sauce, and then artfully arranged on a 9×9 serving tray along with a few sides. The result is a feast for the eyes as well as the stomach.

If you’re feeling extra “cuckoo” for chicken, this fried chicken sandwich deserves a mention amongst all the top chicken sandwich contenders in Chicago. A well-crafted sandwich with a crispy, juicy chicken breast smothered in your choice of signature sauce.

2. The Neo-Futurists

After dinner, you’ll head to the Neo-Futurists, a theater troupe known for pushing boundaries and staying ahead of its time.

The concept has remained largely the same since its first performance in 1988: 30 plays in 60 minutes. It’s wild, edgy, and as they warn you before the show, “you may see a nut, a butt, a crack, a tit, and all we ask is you be cool with that.”

– Shows are Friday and Saturday at 10:30pm; Sunday at 7:00pm. Doors open 30 minutes before showtime.
– Tickets between $15 – 20.
– Check their calendar for special shows and to purchase tickets.

As you make your way to the second floor and through a winding hall, you’ll enter the holding area outside the theater doors. 

As showtime approaches, the area fills up with 100+ people, the music gets louder, and the digital art projected on the walls sets the tone for what’s to come.

When they’re ready, you’ll be shepherded into their performance space. Choose your seat wisely – the closer you are to the front, the more likely you’ll be pulled into the performance.

You’ll get performances that are sometimes introspective, sometimes bawdy, and sometimes they’ll take 2-minutes to shred on the guitar and rock out on the mic. 

3. Hopleaf

It’s just before midnight when the show ends, but the night is still young. Head back across the street from where it all began and you’ll find yourself at Hopleaf, a Belgian beer bar and venerated institution in the world of craft beer. This place was among the first in Chicago to embrace the craft beer trend, and they continue to lead the way.

With a no-screens, no-games, no-entertainment policy and a mix of 68 brews and wine on tap, the Hopleaf is the kind of place where you can belly up to the bar, strike up a conversation with a stranger, or grab a table with friends and make a night of it.

One thing to remember is that the pandemic has changed things here and just about everywhere. In the old days, the place would be packed on weekends until the wee hours of the morning. But these days, they officially close up shop at midnight.

That said, if the crowds are still there and the party’s still going strong, the Hopleaf will stay open and keep the good times rolling. So round up your crew and come on down.