Going Local in Chicago with the Artistic Director of Joffrey Ballet

Ashley Wheater shares his favourite spots around the Windy City from restaurants and shops to cocktail bars and theatres.

Photo by Haas and Haas Photography

Scottish-born Ashley Wheater arrived in Chicago more than a decade ago to take the position of artistic director with the prestigious Joffrey Ballet. Currently living in the city’s Wicker Park neighbourhood, the former dancer is a huge fan of both Chicago‘s arts and food scenes. Here, Wheater shares his favourite spots around the Windy City.

Perfect Weekend

“I’ll have a really nice dinner at Guildhall in Glencoe and then see a play at Writers Theatre. And I love [the] Ravinia [festival]. I probably go eight times each year. My musical tastes run the gamut. I like anything from classical music to David Bowie.”

Road Trip

“My favourite place to get out of town is Galena. There is a wonderful B&B there called Irish Hollow. It’s really private, on 500 acres of land, and they grow [most of] their own food.”

Fashion Finds

“I tend to shop locally. There are so many great stores on Milwaukee and Damen in my neck of the woods. There’s a cool shoe store called Dursen. They have great men’s shoes; you can go classic or fun and funky.”

Hidden Gem

“One of my favourite little places is Osteria Langhe. The rabbit is fantastic—it’s wrapped in prosciutto and the skin is really crispy, but the inside is so succulent.”

For Cocktails

The Violet Hour is my [go-to] place for cocktails. Or, if you want to be outside, there are so many rooftop bars in Chicago now. Near me in Wicker Park, there’s a new one, Cabana Club, that has a good vibe.”

Go-to Restaurants

“I love to try different restaurants, but Acanto and The Gage are my favourites. I try to be disciplined about eating well and healthy. The fish specials and venison burger at The Gage are good for that. The burger is so juicy and not very fatty at all. At Acanto, the pastas are really good, and so is the bruschetta or chicken piccata.”

See a Show

“The new experimental theatre at Navy Pier [opening later this month] is so cool. It’s such a liquid space for the audience since the seating towers move. It’s a great way to access theatre and dance outside of a proscenium.”

Getting there: WestJet flies to Chicago six times a week from Calgary.

WestJet Banner