The Run Down

The night starts and ends in Logan Square. We kick things off with a 3-hour wheel throwing workshop at pottery studio . We then decompress with your choice of 48 beers, wines, and ciders in a self-serve taproom. Things end the way any great night in Chicago ends -- eating burgers and fries underneath train tracks at midnight. Here are the details.

1. Pottery Class @ Penguin Foot Pottery

2. Drinks @ Navigator Taproom

3. Cheeseburger @ Redhot Ranch

1. Penguin Foot Pottery

We begin our night at Penguin Foot Pottery for a pottery making session. This idea was partly inspired by pandemic binge watching the past 4 seasons of  “The Great Pottery Throw Down,” and if the pottery experience is anything like they describe in show, then expect a 3-hour meditative journey. At the least, a good time will be had. Let’s get started.

This is the entrance to Penguin Foot Pottery. It’s located on a quiet residential street just a few blocks from the Western Blue Line stop, which makes getting here easy. Here are a few notes to keep in mind as you plan your night.

– Wheel Throwing Workshops are hosted on Friday and Saturdays from 6 – 9pm
– $45 per person
– Slots get taken up really fast so plan a few weeks ahead if you can. Here’s a link to where you can register.
– No experience necessary
– Keep what you make
– The pottery studio will fire your pottery and then you can come back anytime afterwards and glaze it–no additional cost to do that

This is the class in action. It’s about 3 hours long with a bit of instruction at the beginning. After that, you get your own wheel and you’re off to the races.  In pre-pandemic days, this was BYOB, but that’s cancelled as of now. Keep any eye out, however, for new developments on that front.

There are huge bricks of clay for you to play with, and if you mess up, you just grab another brick of clay and start over.

This is the back of the studio. In addition to these workshops, you can also take formal classes that span several weeks or pay a monthly fee for studio time. Pictured above are those master pottery makers in action. You might find yourself here after you graduate from these workshops. You then might find your way onto a pottery reality show. If that’s the case, give us a shout out will ya?

2. Navigator Taproom

After the pottery wheel session, head a few blocks away to Navigator Taproom to continue the night at a beer hall of the future. This is a self-pour bar with 48 taps lining the the wall. It’s got almost any craft beer you could want and a mix of wine and ciders to round out the selection. Walk a few blocks and cut underneath the Blue Line tracks, and you’ll be at Navigator Taproom’s front door in about 5 minutes.  The space is wide open and gives you a lot of room to stretch out. In terms of the vibe, think back to a person in your life that just got along with about everyone, and then imagine that person opened up a bar. This would be it. It’s laid back, friendly, and welcoming.

Along one of their walls are 48 different taps. The way it works is that once you arrive, you’ll get handed a card. You’ll then use that card to activate any of the taps. Once a tap is activated, you pour yourself a drink, it keeps track of how many ounces are poured, and at the end of the night, you pay by the ounce.

Here is this beautiful row of booze. In addition to beer, you can pour yourself a few different wines, ciders, and cocktails. If you need a lesson in self-control, this isn’t the place to practice.

Good drinks and good conversation can only be heightened by a good board game. They’ve got an entire shelf of board games at your disposal. If you want to keep things going outside, then you have that option too. They’ve got a heated tent along their sidewalk with string lights setting the mood.  For something a bit more enclosed, they also have an open air loading dock that they converted into a drinking space. That begs the question, what can’t you turn into a drinking space?

3. Redhot Ranch

Finally, the last stop of the night takes us to Redhot Ranch, a hotdog and burger joint under the Blue Line.  This place is a staple of the late-night food scene, and we’re here for one thing — their $7 double cheeseburger and fries.

To get here, head back towards Penguin Foot Pottery. This place is basically across the street from the pottery studio and beneath the Blue Line tracks.

A few things to note when you come here.

– It’s cash only, but they do have an ATM inside if needed
– No indoor seating
– While we’re focused on their burger for this guide, they do a mean hot dog and fried shrimp
– Normally they’re open until 4am, but because of the pandemic they close at 12am

Let’s talk about their double cheeseburger. I know everyone and their dog has got their own opinion on this, but dollar for dollar, I personally can’t think of a better burger in the city. They do smash style burgers. They take beef patties and smash them down on the grill. The patties come off the grill thin with crispy seared edges that pack in a concentrated amount of beefy, fried flavor.

One other reason for such a quality burger is that they cook everything to order. You won’t find anything being reheated in this kitchen.

For your $7 double cheeseburger, it also comes with hand cut fries. There are bags of potatoes, and as you can see right above the fryer, there is a red potato slicing contraption. A whole potato goes into the top, the lever is pulled, and out of the bottom are your fresh sliced potatoes that go into the fryer. There isn’t any indoor seating, but there is a an enclosed parking lot/patio right outside their door. Have a seat on one of their picnic tables and enjoy your burger while the train overhead rumbles by you. Here’s the Redhot Ranch double cheeseburger in all its glory. It’s a simple burger with cheese, lettuce, tomatoes, chopped onions, and a special sauce (thousand island dressing) to top it all off.  Not sure there is a better way to end the night than having this work of art presented in front of you. Here we are. Good night.