LoganSquarist wouldn’t be possible without the hard-working efforts of our dedicated staff. Hailing from all across the country, with a number of interests and professional aspirations, our team has one thing in common: a passion for Logan Square. Discover the people behind the scenes that bring you articles, events and more in our LoganSquarist Staff Highlight column.
What’s your role with LoganSquarist?
I’m a staff writer (and sometimes photographer).
When did you join the team?
What have you been working on recently?
I just finished my review of the new Spanish-Mediterranean Tapas bar, Papa Cenar. I am super excited about this restaurant and had such a fun time dining there, basking in the 1920’s European ambiance of the space and learning more about the inspiration behind it through partner, architect, and designer Jordan Mozer. That’s going to be my next story.
Where are you from originally?
I was technically born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin but shortly moved to the Chicago suburbs with my family when I was very young. I had the pleasure of living in exciting suburbs such as Schaumburg and Grayslake (sarcasm intended)!
Do you write professionally?
Not quite… I am a philosophy professor by day so I am trained in academic philosophy and have published articles on nonviolence/plant-based living along with multiracial identity. I have a vegetarian blog featuring Chicago restaurants and vegetarian recipes but I am not a “professional” blogger nor do I have professional experience with photography (I took two classes a few years ago). These are hobbies that I have been really focusing on cultivating these past few years.
What made you interested in volunteering for LoganSquarist?
I have been living in Logan Square for four years and absolutely love living here. While academic philosophy can feel intense and heavy at times (even though I love it), being able to write about the community and food has been such a fun, creative outlet for me in the midst of our ecological crisis and political turmoil. I wanted to cultivate my creative side more and LoganSquarist is the perfect opportunity to do so. I love the freedom I have with my stories and our editor, Ariel, is super encouraging and open-minded, making it a very comfortable environment to work in.
What is your favorite LoganSquarist story you worked on?
It’s really hard for me to think of just one so I will mention a few because I am long-winded! I especially loved doing the story on Casa Yari because it embodied the intersection of two things I’m passionate about: social justice and food. Chef Yari was so inspiring and very warm. As a vegetarian, it was so great to see that there’s a Latinx woman-owned business featuring distinctive Puerto Rican and Honduran food that is veg-friendly.
I also loved doing the Middlebrow Bungalow piece because it was social justice and food coming together again! I am so impressed with all of the initiatives they are doing in the neighborhood instead of just focusing on making a profit in a gentrifying (or already gentrified) neighborhood.
I also had a blast interviewing the owners of Parlor Salon because it was another example of business owners who care about the community and also belong to marginalized communities carving out a necessary safe space for the LGBTQ+ community.
Interviewing the chefs of Superkhana was also energizing and I was able to connect with their multicultural upbringing and passion for food. I am so excited to see more international spots in the neighborhood that express the stories of the chefs’ multifaceted cultural upbringing.
What is your favorite restaurant or hang out in Logan Square?
Again, too many options!! This is truly a restaurant mecca for vegetarians and a bar mecca for cocktail enthusiasts.
My favorite restaurants are: Spice Room, Lula Café, Ground Control, Dos Urban Cantina, and Chicago Diner. I also love the tacos at L’Patron.
My favorite cocktail bars are: Scofflaw (which also has insanely delicious food—try the eggplant socca when you go), Best Intentions, Whistler, Spilt Milk, and Lost Lake.
My favorite coffee shops are: Gaslight, Colectivo Coffee, Pilot Project, and Passion House (they have incredible tea and ambient electronic music).
What’s your favorite thing to do in the neighborhood?
Hedonistic consumption mostly (let’s be honest); I love eating at one of its fabulous restaurants, drink cocktails and walk/jog in Palmer Square where I can see all of the beautiful, happy dogs hanging out. I also cherish the Farmers Market in the summer, there’s just nothing else like it—so many cute dogs and delicious produce that serve as an inspiration for what I will cook that week.
What has been the best part about joining the team?
It has really given me a deeper, more engaged relationship with the neighborhood. When I walk by some of the businesses and restaurants I have written stories on, it gives me a greater sense of belonging and a sense of intimacy with the neighborhood that I wouldn’t have if I wasn’t part of LoganSquarist. It has also been really fun to meet other passionate community volunteers and business owners.
What have you learned from working with LSQ?
Working with LSQ has given me x-ray vision into this neighborhood. Logan Square is such a rapidly gentrifying neighborhood and it’s easy to feel as if developers/wealthy investors have all the power here. And they do exercise an incredible amount of power but I have learned that there are community members and activists who are creating spaces for artists and long-time community members so they will not be entirely displaced by gentrification. Or at least I hope they won’t.
Are you working on any other projects?
Yes, I am!
If you are into food (who isn’t, right?), check out my blog on ethical eating in Chicago, ChiVeg. I have restaurant reviews from a pescatarian/vegetarian/vegan perspective and many of my reviews take place around Logan Square along with my own carefully crafted vegetarian recipes and collaborations with other ethical Chicagoans.
I am also starting a new venture in the neighborhood! I recently launched an Airbnb experience called “Logan Square Coffee/Tea Tour with a Splash of Philosophy.” I have partnered up with Colectivo Coffee, Pilot Project, Easthill Tea Co., and Caffe Umbria to feature some of the best coffee, lattes, and tea in Logan Square while infusing philosophical themes (e.g. Existentialism and Buddhism). I love the coffee shop/tea house culture we have here and I get to frequently work remotely in these spaces so I figured I would provide my own insight that could potentially be interesting for travelers and other Chicagoans. Check it out here!
Read more of Shanti’s articles here, follow her personal blog and be sure to say hi to her next time you see her jogging the neighborhood or eating at one of the many places nearby!