4xForth: Olivia Leigh of Olivia Leigh Photographie / by Clare Johnson

We're bringing back our 4xForth interviews with the amazing women of Forth Chicago, starting with the wildly talented Olivia Leigh of Olivia Leigh Photographie. Though Julie's fangirled since Olivia photographer her wedding, the rest of us recently met Olivia at our spring salon, hosted in the beautiful Sunday Dinner Club. Her warm personality, insight and attitude lit up the room and we're excited to introduce her to the rest of the Forth community.

Today, Olivia is talking to us about her favorite bites in Chicago, places she'd like to travel and where she takes out-of-town guests when they visit our fine city.

Places I'll go someday:

  1. Antarctica: I love visiting places off the beaten path and I don't think you can get more 'off the path' that Antarctica. I know a few people that have gone and it seems like the coolest (ha!), most unique place you could visit and such a photographer's paradise. Plus, penguins everywhere.
  2. Uruguay & Argentina: Dying to do this trip soon, taking in the beautiful architecture and culture of Buenos Aires, the amazing wines of Mendoza, and the beaches of the "south American Riviera."
  3. New Orleans: Why have I not been here? I have no idea. I can't wait to listen to jazz bands, stuff myself with beignets and "laissez les bon temps rouler."
  4. Madiera Island, Portugal: I'll see you on New Year's watching the world's largest fireworks display from a natural saltwater pool carved into cliffs.

Best bites in Chicago:

  1. Blackbird: The perfect restaurant. Amazing food, great service, so beautiful. Sit at the bar for maximum comfort, great conversation with the bartender and other patrons, and often a few special treats from behind the counter. Also, check out the lunch special - $25 for 3 courses from a Michelin starred restaurant? Best kept secret in Chicago.
  2. Bistrot Zinc: An adorable French restaurant in the Gold Coast that is especially charming in the winter. The food is delicious, service is so on the ball, and it's a great place when you simply want a fantastic, relaxed and solid meal without all the fuss of some of the trendy hotspots. It's also easy to get to on a Friday night if you forgot to make reservations, a fact that has saved me more times than I can count.
  3. Stan's Donuts: I am a donut connoisseur to say the least (by which I mean I eat them way more than I should), and these are my favorite. Pistachio lemon and cinnamon pretzels are out of this world.
  4. Kai Zan: My favorite sushi in Chicago. Very special, with unique flavors and combinations I haven't seen much in Chicago.

Favorite things to do in Chicago when out-of-town guests come to visit:

  1. Thursday nights at the Green Mill. Cocktails, swing dancing and old timey "radio show" in old Al Capone speakeasy? Hard to beat for a uniquely Chicago experience.
  2. Cocktails at The Aviary: Exceptionally delicious and incredibly fun drinks on Fulton Market. A great entree into Chicago's molecular gastronomy scene without (such) a sky high price tag as Next or Alinea.
  3. Waving to Boats on the Riverwalk. Looking for a stress reliever? One of my favorite things to do is walk along the riverwalk and wave to the passing boats. It is surprisingly fun to try to get people to wave back and also a great way to check out the city from a unique perspective that not many visitors -- or even Chicagoans -- take advantage of. An especially pretty and quiet walk is to start at the River Walk in the 600 West Chicago building, head south, strolling through the Montgomery Ward Park, and restart the River Walk at Kingsbury and Grand down to Kinzie (finish with a Doughnut Vault donut or a cocktail at Gilt ideally, of course).
  4. VFW Karaoke in Bucktown: With a focus on a lot of old rock songs, this monthly event -- hosted by the masterful Rory Lake -- is bizarre, fun, and cheap, with your money going to a great cause.

Thanks for sharing, Olivia! Your recommendations are top notch. I'll definitely be checking out Blackbird's lunch special - who could resist that deal?!

Follow Olivia on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest.