The Run Down

We've got a house party teed up in Humboldt Park. You're going to catch live music and comedy acts in the basement of a Humboldt Park home. Afterward, you're capping off the night at a local dive bar for a taste of the city's best sandwiches and experience that will leave you wanting more.

1. Performance @ Humboldt Jungle

2. Sandwiches @ Humboldt Haus

1. Humboldt Jungle

A muffled hum of music reverberates across this quiet residential neighborhood in Humboldt Park.

Down the street, a small crowd is walking toward a bungalow. As you get closer, the music gets a little louder. Follow them, and you’ll see a sign on the front porch for the Humboldt Jungle. This is where you’re spending the night.

An arrow directs you to walk to the backyard, where you’ll descend a set of stairs into a basement. Normally I advise against going into unfamiliar basements, but this is a rare exception.

This is the home of Nathan Weil. He’s the mastermind behind the Humboldt Jungle. While he lives upstairs, he’s turned his basement into a full-fledged performance space.

Started as a one-time living room concert, it’s gradually evolved into something bigger. Weil is a programmer by day, but depending on the night, you can find him playing host to up-and-coming bands, or he might be organizing a jazz and blues jam session welcome to anyone that wants to play.

Crowds mingle before the start of the show. A couple shares a bottle of wine with the new friends they made seated next to them.

A soft orange glow paints the room and plants fill the stage. The space has got such a calming aura that it almost feels therapeutic.

During our visit, we were lucky enough to catch The Heart Strings Project and Albion West who filled the room with indie folk melodies. The front row is just feet from the stage, but every seat here feels like the best seat in the house.


Perhaps even more popular than their music acts is their monthly comedy show. Big names are known to drop in from time to time. If a comedian is coming through Chicago and selling out a massive show at a place like Thalia Hall or The Vic, you just might catch them dropping in at Humboldt Jungle. A basement show in Humboldt Park is the ultimate comedy credential.


2. Humboldt Haus

The night is still young after the show ends. About a mile from Humboldt Jungle is Humboldt Haus.

Open until 11pm on weekdays and midnight on weekends, this is a packaged goods store – a combination bar and liquor store that also happens to serves some of the best sandwiches in the city. Think of this as your chance to verify those claims.

This is the type of local dive where you have regulars hanging out at the bar, and every other person that walks in seems to know them and is greeted with a “hey, where the hell have you been!” Come for their sandwich, but stay for the company.

Behind the counter, the bartender serves up drinks while preparing their famed West Sider sandwich. He piles up thin slices of turkey and pastrami on top of a soft focaccia bun with a generous spread of garlic mayo and special house dressing.

These are the types of sandwiches you randomly think about again weeks later. See you here next time.