The nice thing about Chicago is that most celebrities don't live here--they visit. That means when they want a drink or a bite to eat, they're forced to go out--all the better for us to catch a glimpse. Here's where we've spotted a couple of famous faces lately.
Sure, strutting on stage is a workout, but Sheryl Crow still counts calories. Or at least she did last Friday night at this venerable rib joint. While her party of 22 (band members, manager and other staff) feasted on stacks of slabs, steak and salmon, Crow, in town to headline Saturday at Taste of Chicago, was content with only a barbecue beef sandwich--without the bun ($8.95).
For guaranteed--and diverse--celeb-sightings, count on this airy wine bar and restaurant located on the first floor of the House of Blues Hotel. Bluesy, brokenhearted songbird Lucinda Williams, clad in a Harley-Davidson T-shirt, recently stopped in with friends and ordered oysters on the half-shell ($16), an artisan cheese plate ($18) and a bottle of Spring Mountain cabernet sauvignon ($75). Repeat customer LL Cool J, sporting a Kangol cap and clingy tank-top, also dropped in this spring for a wood-grilled burger and fries ($10) and a cup of tea.
The New York Yankees may have lost the three-game series at Wrigley Field last month, but charismatic shortstop Derek Jeter won a few hearts at this West Loop steakhouse. Jeter, dining with teammates Jorge Posada and Jeff Weaver, dug into a 22-ounce porterhouse ($34) and sipped Crown Royal ($9), before heading upstairs to the clubby Ghost Bar where scores of women asked for more than Jeter's autograph. Mark Wahlberg was also spotted in mid-May, chowing on a 16-ounce New York sirloin and a bottle of Caymus cabernet sauvignon ($200) before hurrying back to his hotel room to catch the Lakers game.
Gwyneth Paltrow dropped into this Wicker Park sushi spot in early June, a couple days after Coldplay played the UIC Pavilion. Paltrow's main squeeze, Coldplay frontman Chris Martin, wasn't with her, but the black-clad Paltrow and two buddies (Mirai regulars) feasted on specialties like the tako maki ($15), a spicy tuna and spicy octopus roll with tare dressing, and bin cho sarada ($10), marinated baby tuna on arugula with citrus dressing. They washed it down with a cold bottle of fragrant, velvety Daiginyo "Ken" sake ($100).
When Michelle Branch visited Chicago last month to play the House of Blues, she took advantage of a day off to do laundry. The 19-year-old singer told Tribune columnist Terry Armour that performing the less-than-glamorous chore is "Zen-like," and keeps her grounded. The House of Blues directed her to the nearest place with coin-operated machines, Lenox Suites. While the staff there won't confirm Branch was there, they do admit that someone came in to inquire about a celebrity who wanted to do her own laundry.
'Da Coach's restaurant has always had a following among athletes--Herschel Walker and Tom Watson were among the latest--but it's equally popular with the non-sporting crowd as well. In June, Rudolph Giuliani sat down to a 16-ounce bone-in filet ($35.99), a Mike Salad ($7.99) and Glenlivet scotch on the rocks ($9.50). "Party of Five" fave Scott Wolf was last seen here tackling an 8-ounce Fridge Burger and fries ($9.99).
Grammy-winning guitar strummer John Mayer dropped into this sprawling sports bar with friends for a casual birthday dinner of veggie pizzas ($11.25) and a bucket of Heinekens ($25). Also seen on the patio recently was Mathew St. Patrick ("Six Feet Under"' cop Keith Charles). St. Patrick sipped a vodka and tonic ($7) and ate a grilled teriyaki chicken sandwich and fries ($6.75) while waiting for a friend.
Musical composer Stephen Sondheim, working on the world premiere of his new show "Bounce" at the Goodman Theatre, has been a regular fixture at this steak and seafood house. Whether sitting at the bar writing music or talking things over in a non-smoking booth with director Harold Prince, the legend likes to kick back with a Absolut vodka on the rocks with a lemon twist ($7.50) and a shrimp cocktail ($12.95). The show's star, Richard Kind ("Spin City"), has also dropped in for repeat performances of the chicken salad ($11.95).
Ellen Fox is a metromix special contributor.Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times