May 5, 2022 - Things to Do

Best Day Ever: Geoffrey Baer

Guy in front of river

Geoffrey Baer hosts "The Great Chicago Quiz Show." Photo: Courtesy of WTTW

TV viewers know Geoffrey Baer best as the host of WTTW tours around the city.

How it works: Three contestants join Baer virtually to try to answer fun questions about the city.

  • Justin makes his debut on the show tonight, and Monica follows later in the season.
  • Other celebrity contestants include NPR's Scott Simon, anchorman Bill Kurtis and social justice activist Tonika Johnson.

What they're saying: "I just love the way this show gives contestants a chance to shine," Baer tells Axios. "Not with their knowledge of Chicago trivia necessarily, but with their personalities."

Big bummer: Doing it all on virtually with timing delays means "I'm always trying to walk the line between inadvertently cutting off a potentially funny line from a contestant and landing a perfect zinger."

Naturally, we asked the Chicago culture maven to share his picks for an ideal day around town.

Breakfast: "Vegan scone or, if you’re feeling sinful, a chocolate old-fashioned donut and coffee at Backlot in Evanston."

  • "Or every once in a while, the Dutch baby with lingonberries, Canadian bacon and a tomato juice at Walker Bros. in Wilmette, a family tradition since I was a kid growing up in Deerfield. … My dad is currently 101 and my mom is 93, and we still love the place."

Morning activity: "Bike ride with some pals up Sheridan Road from Evanston to Glencoe or Highwood or Lake Bluff and back."

Lunch: "Vegetarian banh mi and avocado bubble tea at Two Asian Brothers in Albany Park. (Regular banh mi is fantastic too, but not too heart-healthy!)"

  • "OR the vegan twist on ribs, Italian beef, cornbread and pastries at Original Soul Vegetarian in Chatham. Equally delicious for vegans and omnivores like me. The flavors explode in your mouth!"

Afternoon activity: "The Ugly Buildings Tour from Tours with Mike. He is a tour guide’s tour guide and this tour is irreverent and hilarious. [Tour takers] get a paddle with 'ugly' on one side and 'pretty' on the other and get to vote after each building."

Dinner: "Ethiopian Diamond in Edgewater. I confess I don't know what all these things are but order the tibs sampler: A mouthwatering variety of meats and legumes scooped up with spongy sour bread called injera."

  • "And don't forget the sambusas, soft pastry shells filled with spiced meat and vegetables."
  • "I also love the honey wine. But then again I like Manischewitz, too."

Evening activity: "That’s Weird Grandma," a sketch show adapted from the writings of Chicago Public High School students performed periodically by Playmakers Laboratory at the Neo-Futurists Theater in Andersonville."

  • "The talent, energy and originality put it at the top of my list of sketch/improv offerings across Chicago (and that’s a high bar in this town)."
  • "Also, almost any show at Lookingglass Theatre or Chicago Shakespeare."

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