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The Run Down

We’re in Fulton Market for this guide and we’re spending the day checking out the neighborhood from a high above on a rooftop, beneath train tracks, and then underground.

We start off with coffee and a Turkish breakfast inside a hotel lobby and rooftop bar. We then embark on a tour of mile long street art corridor with obscure entrances taking you underneath the Metra train line. We end the day tour at a basement bar taking you deep underground. Here are the details.

1. Turkish Breakfast @ Cafe Cira
2. Street Art Walk @ B_Line
3. Drinks @ Chit Chat Lounge

1. Cafe Cira

We’re in the Fulton Market neighborhood, which has probably seen one of the most radical transformations over the past few years. In a short period of time it went from being an industrial commercial center, full of meatpackers and food wholesalers, to a trendy restaurant and bar district.

One of the newer entrants to the neighborhood is Cira Cafe, which is our first stop. This is located inside the lobby of the Hoxton Hotel, and we’re here to start the day with some coffee and a casual Turkish brunch.

As you walk inside, the lobby of the hotel is just one huge hang out space.  The cafe is integrated into the lobby with no real distinction between the lobby and the cafe. It’s this blurred line which makes this place so interesting to hang out in.

At one table you might have someone with headphones on and cranking away at their computer. At another table, you might see people having a full on Turkish breakfast. And at another table, you might see a couple having a cocktail or two with their dog at their side.  Yes, you heard that right — this place is super dog friendly, so feel free to bring your best pal along with you.

Here are a few tips to keep in mind as you come visit.

– The lounge is first come, first serve. Find any open spot.

– There’s a more formal dining area in the back if you’re wanting their full menu. Walk-ins welcome. Reservations required for parties of 6 or more in the formal dining area.

– The lounge and kitchen are open until 11pm everyday. So for those of you who are often looking for coffee shops to work at late into the night, this is definitely a go-to spot to consider in the future.

Now let’s move onto the food pics.

If you’re looking for a brunch spot that offers something other than your typical omelette and pancakes, Cafe Cira has a Turkish-inspired menu that might be right up your alley. Let’s dig into it.

For something more traditional, they have an actual Turkish breakfast as one of their menu items. It’s pictured above, and it comes with an assortment of small dishes. It has things like marinated goat cheese, simit (Turkish bagel), whipped yogurt, preserves, and cucumber salad.

For something a bit more hearty, they have a dish called Shashuka, which is something I can’t believe I’ve been missing my entire life. It’s a tomato-based stew, with a fried egg baked into it, chucks of sausage, and a crumble of feta cheese and green onions to top it all off.

They also have all of our favorite standard brunch options too like this pistachio french toast, which nicely capped off our brunch. Afterwards, we’re staying at the Hoxton, but taking the elevator to the roof for post-brunch drinks.

The rooftop has some killer views of the city and you can post up at any of the daybeds or recliners to enjoy it in all its glory

The daybeds are lined up right along the glass partition at edge of the roof. If you can snag one of those spots, you can let the rumble of the train directly below soothe you as you max relax.

 

2.  The B_Line

The flurry of activity in Fulton Market has also brought together a collective of artists that have worked to create a mile-long street art experience along the Metra train line.  Our next stop is to explore that for ourselves.

Walk a few blocks north of the Hoxton Hotel and you’ll find yourself on Hubbard Street with the Metra tracks following alongside. The walls supporting the tracks have turned into one giant canvas for artists from all over the world to use.

At the corner of Green and Hubbard St., you might notice an entry way that goes underneath the Metra tracks. This is the center of the B_Line project.

Here’s a closer look of the tunnel that takes you underneath the Metra line.

On the other side is an empty lot with street art emblazoned on the walls. On most days, it’s a spot for street art enthusiasts to come visit and take photos. On other days, though, it’s an outdoor venue for a host of music and arts shows. Below is a pic of the space on a normal day.

Here’s a pic of the space when it’s decked out for an event.

3.  Chit Chat Lounge

Walk east on Hubbard and you’ll eventually walk to the end of the B_Line murals, but that’s not the end of this guide. Turn the corner and you’ll start to see signs for a basement lounge on the other side of the tracks.  If you’re ready for another round of drinks or just want a place to hang, this is your spot.

 

Eventually you’ll come across this mural, which is the entry for the Chit Chat lounge. Follow the spray painted arrows on the ground to the black gate leading you downstairs.

While most basement bars have low ceilings which make you feel cramped, the Chit Chat lounge has two-story high ceilings that will keep you from feeling claustrophobic.

The vibe can depend on the night and time you get there. Sometimes it can be fairly chill earlier in the evening. Other times, usually later in the evening, you’ll have a few DJ sets getting the dance party started, and other times you’ll have a live mellow acoustic set.