The Run Down

If you're part of the work-from-home crowd, I'm guessing that at some point, you may have gone days without stepping foot outside. It's a disconcerting feeling when you realize three days have passed, and you just went through a self-imposed quarantine. To help break up the week and get you out of your work-from-home pajamas, this guide has you spending a work day at a long-time neighborhood bar and coffee shop. You'll then grab lunch at a pizza shop with a history dating back a half-century.

1. Work @ Map Room

2. Lunch @ My Pi Pizza

1. Map Room

You’re spending the workday at Map Room, a beloved Bucktown bar that’s been going strong for over 30 years. To the casual observer, you might pass by this place and think, “oh hey, cool corner bar,” and then be on your way. But at almost all hours of the day and night, you’ll find a cadre of people with laptops open and doing some serious work.

For the earliest of early birds, they open at 6:30 am with hot coffee drinks and a selection of bagels and pastries from Bennison’s to welcome the morning crowd.

In the front half of the bar, you’ve got a few table tops bordered by shelves with rows and rows of old National Geographic magazines and other travel books. Try to snag one of these tables if any of are open. They feel homey, have a lot of outlets nearby, and if you have to jump on a video call, the books double as a pleasant backdrop to subtly show your coworkers how cultured you are.

If you need a quieter space, the back of the bar is where you want to go to get lost in your thoughts.

Spend a couple of days working out of the Map Room, and you’ll start to notice the same cast of characters. Eventually, you’ll hear some interesting back-and-forth banter, then you’ll jump in with your two cents, and next thing you know, you’re part of the crew.

At some level, everyone is here to see and talk to people in real life. If I had to describe the mood, try humming the chorus to the Cheers theme song in your head. You know, the one that goes: “Sometimes you want to go where everybody knows your name, and they’re always glad you came.”


2. My Pi Pizza

At some point, you’ll need to break for lunch. The bad thing about Map Room is that they don’t have a kitchen, so you’re on your own. The good thing, however, is they’re BYOF.

Head down the street into a tiny strip mall and you’ll find My Pi, a small pizza operation that was once a national deep-dish pizza phenomenon.

Larry Aronson opened up the first My Pi in Uptown in 1971 to cater to Loyola students. To give you a sense of where that lines up in Chicago pizza history, that was the same year Lou Malnati’s opened. This place is a legit Chicago pizza OG.

At its peak, it grew to 23 locations across the US, but eventually, the family-owned operation wound down until only one shop remained.  You’re headed to the last remaining shop, run by Aronson’s son, Rich Aronson, who took up the family mantle after years in the fine dining industry.

When you order from here, know that the pizza dough is based on old family recipes that have been tinkered with and perfected through the collective knowledge of three generations of bialy bakers. Get ready for a slice of history…

While mostly known for their deep dish pizzas, which more than hold their own amongst any of the famous deep dish purveyors out there, their personal thin crust ($6.50) is perfectly sized for lunch. It’s got a light, cracker-crispy crust and a wonderful sauce with rich deep tomato flavor and a touch of sweetness to balance the entire dish.

Finally, they don’t have any seating inside, so take it back to Map Room, where you can start transitioning from coffee to beer as you wind down the workday.