โ˜€๏ธ Welcome to Axios Chicago Sunday!

  • It's our leisurely exploration of arts, culture, food, nature, history and other subjects that define the city we live in.

๐ŸŽป Sounds like: Andrew Bird

Programming note: We're off tomorrow for Memorial Day, but keep an eye out for a special edition from our national colleagues covering the business of women's sports.

๐ŸŽ‚ Happy birthday to our Axios Chicago member Deborah Mills!

Today's newsletter is 863 words โ€” a 3.5-minute read.

1 big thing: Local biking surges

Biker rides on the lakefront in front of city buildings
Cyclist on the lakefront path. Photo: Monica Eng/Axios

Chicagoans have gone bike wild in recent years, upping their crosstown trips by 180% and their neighborhood trips by 113% per a new report.

Why it matters: The increases coincide with a boost in city bike infrastructure designed to have just this result. And more biking means less car traffic congestion and reduced vehicle emissions.

Zoom in: A new collaborative study between CDOT and mobility data company Replica looked at biking habits from fall 2019 to spring 2023.

By the numbers: In that time period, Chicago saw bike trip increases of:

  • 117% for shopping
  • 93% for dining out
  • 8% for commuting

What's more: The survey found a 207% rise in zero-auto households and a 166% increase in non-white cyclists.

  • And Divvy has reported bike and scooter share use rose 108% over the same period.

What they're saying: "Chicago has seen a huge growth in biking in recent years, a trend that has been true across demographics and in every neighborhood," CDOT's Complete Streets director Dave Smith said in a statement.

  • "Replica data reflects what we've been seeing and hearing across communities โ€” interest and enthusiasm for biking throughout Chicago has never been greater."

Between the lines: The greatest density of bike infrastructure remains along the lake, downtown and in areas of the North Side.

  • Today about half of Chicagoans live a half-mile from a low-stress (fairly protected) bikeway, and the city aims to add enough protected lanes to boost that figure to 70% in a few years.

Read more

2. Staff picks: Patio season

The patio at The Duck Inn in Bridgeport. Photo: Justin Kaufmann/Axios

This weekend is the unofficial kickoff to summer, so naturally we want to get out and enjoy drinks and food al fresco.

With the city expanding some curbside spots and taking over other streets entirely, here are our picks for the best patios in Chicago:

๐Ÿฆ† Justin's pick: Patios are obviously about the vibe, but they have to be about the food and drink, too. The Duck Inn in Bridgeport has all of it. It's got neighborhood charm with some outstanding food. This place checks all the local boxes.

โ›ฒ๏ธ Carrie's pick: I'm mourning the loss of Metropolitan Brewing's patio on the river, but Hopleaf has a nice secret garden-style patio, and you can't beat a summer day at Parson's.

๐Ÿ— Monica's pick: I love the patio in back of Avondale's Honey Butter Fried Chicken, but I recently fell in deeper love with the grassy backyard party feel of the Honey Butter patio in Glencoe.

๐Ÿ“ซ Tell us about your favorite patio by responding to this email.

3. Kaufmann quiz: Summertime Chi

Everybody at Taste of Chicago wants a funnel cake? Photo: Justin Kaufmann/Axios

๐Ÿ‘‹ Hi, it's Justin!

It's time to get out the beach toys and the short-shorts, because summer is finally here.

So let's get into some trivia about parks, barbecues, fairs, street festivals, three-day weekend traditions and, of course, the history of what makes our summers the best in the country.

The intrigue: Last week's quiz was controversial! Some of you questioned my "over by dere" question, arguing that it's for when you are talking about something far away, not across the street, which was the correct answer.

  • I've consulted the Kaufmann quiz tribunal, and we grant everyone a freebie! You are all winners.
  • Especially Andrea D., who figured it out and was the only recorded perfect score this week.

Ready, set, go! Take the quiz here.

๐Ÿง If you get a perfect score, screenshot and send it to us, and we'll get you in next week's newsletter.

4. Off-Loop theater: "The Prodigal Daughter"

A scene from "The Prodigal Daughter" at Raven Theatre. Pictured L/R: Stef Brundage, Stephanie Mattos, Soฬl Fuller, RjW Mays and Bradford Stevens. Photo: Michael Brosilow

There was a time when Chicago theaters would either take their productions outside for the summer or just skip the season entirely.

  • Not the case anymore as most off-Loop theater companies offer year round content.

Yes, but: There's a lot of competition in the summer. So we want to showcase an off-Loop theater production each Sunday.

Case in point: "The Prodigal Daughter" at the Raven Theatre in Edgewater. The drama takes place in an apartment building in Chicago's "Black Belt" during the Red Summer of 1919.

Do you have a summer off-Loop theater production we should feature? Reply to this email and let us know.

5. Comment section: Cookies!

Photo of a packaged cookie
A few of you recommended Northbrook-based Carol's. Carrie loves these monsters. Photo: Carrie Shepherd/Axios

After we published our story about the best cookies from national cookie chains in Chicago, you flooded Carrie's inbox with great local spots.

  • You all KNOW your chocolate chip cookies!

Dig in: Here's a fresh batch of recs from you all.

Pam W.: "Carol's Cookies. Without a doubt the best cookie I have ever eaten. Full of flavor and chocolate chips. They are very buttery but not at all "crumby.""

  • Julie G. agrees and says Carol told her once she uses "the good butter."

Gerald W.: "Big Fat Cookie is pretty awesome."

Cindy M.: "Publican Quality Meats in Fulton Market carries some great chocolate chip cookies, which the menu says are from Avec."

Mary G.: "The jaggery chocolate chip cookie at Swadesi is amazing and tahini chocolate chip cookie at Sauce and Bread Kitchen in Edgewater."

Amy Z: "My mom's!"

Go deeper: Our food fight about the best cookies in Chicago.

Edited by Lindsey Erdody and copy edited by Rob Reinalda and Aurora Martรญnez.

๐Ÿ˜‹ Carrie is headed to Old Orchard for some shopping and will stop by Rick Bayless' new restaurant Tortazo for tasty tortas.

๐Ÿ€ Monica went to her first Chicago Sky WNBA game last night and is now a superfan! Good thing she studied Justin's "How to Fake It" guide before she went.

๐Ÿค Justin may grill ... or try to grill and realize there is no more gas and then get tacos.

Want more Axios Chicago content? Check out our Instagram for extra stuff to do, behind the scenes photos, videos and more!