Mark Mairmone - Blog

Over the last few years, Mutts have stormed to the top of Chicago's vaunted underground muisc scene. A major player for their success is the raucous performance of frontman Mike Maimone. He plays the piano with his feet. He swills whiskey between songs. He shouts and howls. He is an unstoppable music force and those stage antics burn a lot of calories.

Art of Pizza (3033 North Ashland)

"In Chicago, declaring a favorite deep dish joint is like choosing a favorite child. It's difficult, but when you come right down to it there's one that's clearly better than the others. The only complaint I've ever heard of this slice is that it's too much. If that's the case, call me and I will happily consume your leftovers."

Sultan's Market (2057 West North Avenue)

"This place may be one of the only spots in Wicker Park that hasn't given in to the rapidly escalating prices of the neighborhood. Great Mediterranean food and, at just over a five spot, their falafel sandwich and a side provides a cheap and substantial meal. They also have a great salad bar and dinner-style dishes."

Quesadilla La Reyna del Sur (2235 North Western Avenue)

"Our bassist, Bob Buckstaff has been vegan for awhile now, and he turned me onto this spot as I'm coming up on three years as a vegetarian. It's Mexican food with vegan carne asada, chorizo and pastor that'll have the most carnivorous among us asking for more. But their $5 footlong burrito (seriously, don't tell Subway) makes for two satisfying meals, so there's never a need for seconds."

Reggie's Music Joint (2109 South State Street)

"OK, if any meat-eaters are still with us after all that vegan talk, this one's for you. Like I said, I've only recently gone veggie, and you can trust me on this one (these taste buds never forget). For a fat juicy burger, Kuma's Corner is the hot spot everyone talks about. It's heavy metal themed concoctions are in fact incredible - but you'll wait in line for an hour before you even sit down. So your best bet for a brutal burger is down at Reggie's. They also have an outstanding beer selection, Templeton Rye whiskey, and you'll never wait an hour for a table."

Over Easy (4943 North Damen Avenue)

"Breakfast is my favorite meal of the day by far. In fact, we're in the car on the way to a show in Wisconsin as I write this, having just eaten an egg and cheese sub from Subway for dinner. Pretty happy they made that available all day. Where was I? Yes. Over Easy. It's so good I bought a T-shirt. 'Nuff said."

Calo (5343 North Clark Street)

"This one is pretty pricey, so it's reserved for special occasions. One of the least expensive pasta dishes will set you back about $14, but here's the kicker - their bread basket features incredible pizza bread. It's so good the other rolls bow with respect. Instant gut-bust glory, and if you bring a purse you've got your next meal all queued up and ready to reheat."

Mutts free 12-song sampler is available online at free.muttsmusic.com. It Contains songs spanning six releases, including the upcoming acoustic album, Object Permanence (due out April 2013). Their next show is at Goose Island with Archie Powell & the Exports on January 25.