Mar 3, 2023 - Food and Drink

Best day ever: Frank Sennett

Photo of a man next to his book
Frank Sennett with his new book. Photo courtesy of Frank Sennett

Chicago journalist Frank Sennett penned his first novel, "Shadow State," a thriller about a plot to kill the president.

What he's saying: "This may be the first novel to explore the implications of the Jan. 6 insurrection and the infiltration of groups like the Proud Boys into law enforcement," Sennett tells Axios.

The intrigue: To write the novel, the veteran reporter, whose career includes stints at Crain's and Time Out, had to rethink his approach to crafting prose.

  • "My journalist training has conditioned me to avoid flowery descriptions and big chunks of exposition," he says.

Sennett might be new to novels, but he's not new to Chicago. Here's a look at his perfect day on the town:

πŸ§‡ Breakfast: My family loves Chicago's Home of Chicken & Waffles. It's a joyful breakfast spot.

  • I'm ordering Toney's Pecan Waffle with a thigh and a drumstick. Perfection on a plate.

β›΄ Morning activity: I'll take a water taxi from Ping Tom Park in Chinatown to the Michigan Avenue stop on the Chicago River. It's a beautiful way to enjoy the city from a different perspective, and it's only $6 on weekends.

πŸ₯ͺ Lunch: I always order the same meal at Manny's: pastrami sandwich on rye, a latke, side of applesauce, side of sour cream and a Dr Pepper. Then I grab a table and eavesdrop.

  • Whenever it's empty, I sit at the table permanently reserved for David Axelrod, hoping he'll show up and sit down with me for a bite.
People waiting in line at a cafeteria
Folks wait in line for chow at Manny's Cafeteria & Delicatessen. Photo: Monica Eng/Axios

⚾️ Afternoon activity: My wife is from the South Suburbs and loves the Sox. I am from Montana and grew up watching TBS, so I'm a lifelong Braves fan who fell for Wrigley Field … when I came here for college in the late 1980s. Whichever park has a day game, we'll be there, especially if Atlanta is in town.

🍝 Dinner: I've been enjoying meals at Club Lago since the late '80s. The Nardini brothers and their long-time servers and bartenders create an incredibly welcoming atmosphere at this classic Italian joint.

  • After a Maker's Manhattan, I tuck into the green noodles al forno with meat sauce. I'll often add a house salad with Thousand Island dressing, because I clearly like to eat light.

πŸ˜† Evening activity: My first trip into Chicago during new student week at Northwestern was a pilgrimage to the corner of North and Wells, where I caught the free Mainstage improv set at The Second City. More than 35 years later, the free third set tradition rolls on.

  • It remains one of my favorite cultural outings in Chicago, even though I can afford tickets to the full show now.

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