The stages of Chicago’s theaters are once again lighting up after more than a year of darkness with myriad new performances that capture Chicago’s creative spirit, including the North American tours of Come From Away, Hadestown, Moulin Rouge! The Musical, SIX, To Kill a Mockingbird and others. The recently reopened Steppenwolf Theatre Company now has a new $54 million arts and education center that includes a theatre-in-the-round is hosting the world-premiere of King James, an intimate exploration of the place that sports and athletes (think “King” LeBron James) occupy in our emotional lives and relationships.
More Chicago Theater Offerings
Chicago Mayor Lori E. Lightfoot and Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events (DCASE) Commissioner Erin Harkey have just announced the designation of 2022 as the “Year of Chicago Dance”, a yearlong collaborative initiative which will activate Chicago’s dance industry to address critical issues facing dancers and showcase dance performances, social dancing, and special events for the public in dozens of venues throughout the city.
The Arts in the City
At the Art Institute of Chicago, a groundbreaking exhibit on Life and Afterlife in Ancient Egypt will be followed by the first major retrospective of French artist Paul CEZANNE to be exhibited in the U.S. in over 25 years. The Museum of Contemporary Art will present the first career-spanning retrospective of the internationally renowned Chicagoan Nick Cave in an exhibition titled NICK CAVE: FOROTHERMORE while the blockbuster immersive arts venue Lighthouse ArtSpace Chicago will house Frida: Immersive Dream, an exploration of the Mexico-born artist’s work with 500,000 cubic feet of monumental large-scale projections animating Kahlo’s oeuvre, accompanied by a ravishing musical score.
With careful COVID-19 protocols and social distancing in place, hybrid and live events will return to the city with the
Chicago Restaurant Week will follow soon after in late March/early April, celebrating the city’s award-winning culinary scene with special prix fixe lunch and dinner menus (ranging from $25-$55) available via dine-in or takeout/delivery options. At long last EXPO Chicago, the international exhibition of contemporary and modern art, will return to Navy Pier in early April.
Come find out why Chicago was once again designated by Conde Nast Traveler’s readers as the Best Big City in the U.S. in 2021, for the fifth year in a row and check out what’s new for Winter/Spring 2022! Visit www.ChooseChicago.com for more information.
- Chicago was ranked “Best Big City in the U.S.” in 2021 for the fifth consecutive year by Condé Nast Traveler’s discerning readers in the CNT Readers’ Choice Awards.
- Tripadvisor’s new Winter Travel Index listed Chicago as one of the Top 10 Winter Domestic Destinations in the U.S.
- Resonance’s World’s Best Cities of 2022 ranked Chicago 13 in the list of top 100 global metropolises.
- U.S. News & World Report ranked Chicago #1 in Best Weekend Getaways in the Midwest and ranked Chicago #3 in the categories Best Foodie Cities in the U.S., Best Weekend Getaways and Best Summer Vacations in the USA
- The Peninsula Chicago and The Langham, Chicago were named among the top five hotels in the country according to U.S. News & World Report’s 2021 Annual Best Hotels rankings. (Chicago is the only U.S. destination to claim two spots in the top five!)
- Nobu Chicago was named to Travel + Leisure’s It List 2021, celebrating the most impressive openings of the past year.
- Forbes Travel Guide honored three Chicago hotels (The Four Seasons, The Langham, Chicago and The Peninsula Chicago) with 5-star ratings in the 2021 Star Awards Winners – Forbes Travel Guide.
- The Michelin Guide celebrated Chicago’s resilient culinary scene by granting three new restaurants Michelin stars, including:
- Ever (West Loop – Two Star), where Chef Curtis Duffy and Michael Muser preside over a bespoke room in which fine dining enchants palates with complex flavors, stirring textures and visual fireworks;
- Moody Tongue (South Loop – Two Star), Jared Wentworth’s seasonal, ingredient-driven tasting menu concept housed in the Moody Tongue brewery building;
- Porto (Bucktown – One Star), where Chef Marcos Campos’ style is anchored by his Spanish heritage and explores the Atlantic coast of Spain and Portugal through its conservas, seafood and specialty rice dishes.
- Big 7 Travel has rated Chicago one of the “50 Most Instagrammable Places in the World, 2021” and one of the top “Romantic Cities in the U.S.” Chicago’s own Pequod’s Pizza also took 5th place in the category 50 Best Pizzas in the United States.
- Chicago is among the best sports cities in the world, according to 2021 Burson Cohn & Wolfe’s annual World Sports City Ranking.
Chicago’s New Accomodations
Canopy by Hilton Central Loop, located directly across the street from Willis Tower, in the epicenter of Chicago’s financial district, features a total of 215 total guest rooms (192 regular rooms and 23 suites). Famous attractions such as The Art Institute of Chicago, Millennium Park, and Chicago Riverwalk are less than 10 minutes away.
Open all day, the onsite Depot 226, a Bistro, market and coffee shop, offers a stylish, retro space that is inviting and comfortable and perfect for breakfast, brunch, lunch, or even a casual dinner.
The Chicago Hotel Collection welcomed a new location in Millennium Park this summer featuring 4-Star all-suite accommodations with full kitchens, perfect for business, leisure, extended stays, corporate relocations, or large groups/families.
Guests will have access to an expert Concierge Team and receive an incredible daily amenity package featuring 3 drinks per night, free Wi-Fi, use of Peloton Bikes on-site with reservation, early check-in/late check-out, booking credits to use for their next stay when booked direct and a complimentary 1-year Club 1 Hotels membership. Another outpost, the Magnificent Mile Hotel & Suites, opened December 2021, just 350 feet from Michigan Avenue.
The LaSalle Hotel, Autograph Collection, situated in the heart of the Financial District, offers a sophisticated and tailored experience for business and leisure travelers.
Experience fine dining at Grill on 21, an elevated and modern take on the classic American grill concept featuring a focus on quality and sustainability. An expansive gym offers premiere TechnoGym equipment as well as Peloton bikes. World-class accommodations include spacious rooms averaging 430 square feet, oversized Calacatta marble bathrooms with luxurious walk-in showers, and a window-side marble top dining table. The hotel is projected to open in March 2022.
Pendry Hotels & Resorts announced its further U.S. expansion with the renovation of the Art Deco Chicago landmark, the Carbide & Carbon Building (and former St. Jane Hotel), as Pendry Chicago in spring 2021.
Featuring 364 redesigned guestrooms and suites in a contemporary palette awash in warm minimal tones and comfortable finishes, the Pendry Chicago also features public spaces thoughtfully designed by Alessandro Munge’s Studio Munge. The hotel’s signature restaurant and bar concept, Venteux, is helmed by Executive Chef-Partner Donald Young (Temporis, Les Nomades, Bistrot Saveurs), Chicago’s youngest Michelin-starred chef, and overseen by hospitality and nightlife pioneer, Andy Masi, and his Clique Hospitality group. In addition, the hotel features a lobby bar and lounge, a spectacular rooftop lounge, 12,000 square feet of meetings and event space, curated fitness and wellness programming, and an extensive art collection.
The St. Regis Chicago is set to debut in 2022 as the 50th St. Regis globally.
Through architectural ingenuity and a shimmering homage to sky and water, the 101-story St. Regis Chicago, designed by award-winning architect Jeanne Gang, has changed Chicago’s iconic skyline. It is now the third tallest building in Chicago, the 10th tallest in the United States, and the tallest building in the world designed by a female. The tower’s crystalline form was inspired by the facets of a shimmering gem and the building is coated in six varying shades of blue-green glass to reflect the changing colors of Lake Michigan. The Hotel will comprise the first 11 floors of the building, featuring 192 luxurious guest rooms, multiple signature dining options, a 12,000 square foot, world-class St. Regis Spa, a fitness center, indoor pool and outdoor sunken terrace with scenic views, a 5,000 square foot ballroom and 3,000 square feet of executive and pre-function space and the St. Regis Signature Butler Service. The Hotel’s backyard is a six-acre wide open botanical green space featuring a children’s play park, dog park, and attractive ornamental and water gardens.
Chicago Restaurant Week
This year marks the 15th anniversary of Chicago Restaurant Week (March 25-April 10, 2022), a celebration of the city’s award-winning culinary scene bringing together hundreds of the area’s top restaurants across more than thirty Chicago neighborhoods. This year there are 50+ women- and minority-owned restaurants participating (many for the first time) from neighborhoods as far ranging as South Shore and Bronzeville. Diners can enjoy special prix fixe menus from restaurants throughout Chicago and nearby suburbs, with multi-course meals available at $25 for brunch or lunch, and $39 and/or $55 for dinner (excluding beverages, tax, gratuity, and delivery fees). This year, diners will continue to have the flexibility to experience Chicago Restaurant Week through dine-in or takeout/delivery options.
Chicago Restaurants & Dining
Opened last summer in Chicago’s Gold Coast neighborhood, Adalina serves a modern and engaging Italian menu by Michelin-starred chef Soo Ahn, previously with Band of Bohemia. Adalina’s menu creates a balance between Northern and Southern cuisines; guests can expect house-made extruded and stuffed pastas, imported meats and cheeses, and hand-selected beef and seafood selections.
Opened in September 2021 in the West Loop neighborhood, Alla Vita (which means “to life” in Italian) is the newest concept from Executive Chef Lee Wolen and Boka Restaurant Group, serving a casual, family-style menu of fresh, delicious Italian food made simply with the best ingredients.
Chef/Owner Stephen Gillanders (S.K.Y., Somerset) debuted his newest concept, Apolonia in the South Loop in April 2021. Named after Gillanders’ grandmother, Apolonia offers seasonal, seafood-centric coastal European and Mediterranean fare. Pastry chef Tatum Sinclair has developed a collection of noteworthy items such as a savory black truffle puff bread, and a signature pistachio gelato. Sommelier Jelena Prodan has created a distinct beverage program with wines thoughtfully sourced from all around the globe, an expansive by-the-glass selection, and an exciting, one-of-a-kind vermouth program with custom-blended Apolonia vermouth on tap.
In partnership with the famous Gibsons Restaurant Group. Chef José Andrés debuted Bazaar Meat and Bar Mar in December 2021 inside Bank of America’s new Chicago headquarters, near the Lyric Opera of Chicago. Bazaar Meat celebrates all things carnivorous, including personalized tasting menus featuring expertly dry-aged Wagyu and the like hand-selected from more than 400 cuts of meat, while Bar Mar is a true celebration of the bounty of the sea, with modern takes on iconic seafood classics like fried calamari and lobster rolls.
Eric Williams, owner of The Silver Room boutique, has partnered with global hospitality design trailblazer Cecilia Cuff of The Nascent Group on his newest venture: Bronzeville Winery. Opening in 2022, guests of the winery will enjoy a rotating wine list with selections from around the world highlighting African American-owned labels paired with an ever-changing seasonal menu that pays homage to the flavors of the African diaspora, paired with wine, craft cocktails and beer for every palate. The team’s goal in the design of the Winery is to encourage guests to spend time, to socialize and network in the space. To that end, the decor will feature a revolving art collection, and a state-of-the-art sound system will pipe in a well-curated playlist and live music. Programming will feature wine talks, art openings, and cultural events; the space will also be available for private events.
Esmé Chicago opened August 2021 in Lincoln Square, from Chef Jenner Tomaska and Katrina Bravo. This fine-dining concept is also mission-driven and community-focused as they partner with local artists on collaborative tasting menus.
Gordon Ramsay Burger, a new concept from celebrity chef and restaurateur Gordon Ramsay, opened in a 5,000 square foot space in the city’s River North neighborhood in December 2021. The Chicago location, equipped with an island bar and seating for 120, will be the second Gordon Ramsay Burger location in the U.S – and the chef’s first restaurant in Chicago. Alongside elevated, butter-based burgers (blending different cuts of meat to impart a bolder flavor), the developing menu also plans to include milkshakes, fries, vegan, vegetarian and gluten-free options. There are also ketchup-laden hot dogs on the menu (a bold choice for a Chicago audience).
Hinoki Sushiko from Chef Otto Phan & Chef Gustavo Barahona, opened April 2021. This two-story space in the Elston corridor offers two types of chef-driven experiences under one roof: a 50-seat izakaya-style downstairs lounge serves traditional Japanese comfort food with a modern take, along with craft cocktails and Sake and a 40-person upstairs dining room (and 8-seat sushi counter) for Edomae-style Omakase dining serving a 15 piece meal.
Kitchen United MIX, a to-go food hall, is opening a second Chicago location in the former Wells St. Market. Kitchen United MIX, the future of takeout & delivery, is the nation’s first “Multi-Restaurant Ordering” to-go experience, the only destination that allows foodie fans who love variety to order meals from 10+ restaurants, all on the same bill. They have locations around the nation, including one in Chicago’s River North neighborhood. The new 10,500 square-foot facility houses local, regional and national restaurant brands, including Hawaiian Bros, Greenleaf, Siri Indian Express, Trejo’s Tacos, Dog Haus, Plant B and more.
Black owned Kitchen + Kocktails, which made its debut last summer 2021, has taken the city by storm. From flavored fried chicken and lobster tails, to shrimp and grits and southern classics with a twist, this is a great addition to the River North culinary scene.
KOVAL Distillery opened its hotly anticipated tasting room last fall on Chicago’s Malt Row, named for the bevy of breweries in the Ravenswood neighborhood. The sun-filled tasting room, outfitted with a marble bar and leather sofas, seats 96. French doors open to an ivy-covered outdoor patio that accommodates up to 30 people. Guests can sample flights of whiskey and gin, or try cocktails made with KOVAL spirits and paired with small bites.
DineAmic Hospitality reinvented its popular, decade-old concept Public House, as Radio Room last summer, an American restaurant sports bar and music lounge set. The 10,000-square-foot space can seat 300 guests at full capacity in four unique spaces and becomes a go-to for everything from game day to late-night jam sessions.
A 15-foot stage is backlit with a wall of smart marquee bulbs that strobe and dance with the music during late-night live performances or laid-back sets at brunch, and the design theme juxtaposes vintage kitsch with today’s tech. At The Studio, an intimate private event and daytime dining space inspired by a real-life recording studio, guests can partake in blue-tooth headphone karaoke that only their party can hear. Meanwhile, nostalgia reigns in The Deck, a 10-by-10-foot space housing the Pop-A-Shot Shot Bar, where guests can shoot baskets and sip throwback shooters like Flaming Doctor Peppers and Pickle-backs. Chef Nolan Narut, former Executive Chef of Ella Elli and Stefani Prime, hits all the right notes with a menu inspired by American Southern comfort food from culinary cities like Nashville and Charleston but made with fresh, local ingredients.
Joe Flamm, the South Side Chicago native, Spiaggia alum and Season 15 winner of Top Chef, debuted Rose Mary in April 2021, inspired by his Italian heritage and the bold, bright flavors of Croatian cuisine.
The space, located in the historic Fulton Market District and named for Flamm’s grandmothers, as well as the herb rosemary which grows natively along the Italian and Croatian coastlines, offers a seasonal menu of rustic yet refined dishes that encapsulate what Flamm has coined “Adriatic drinking food.” Designed by award-winning Los Angeles-based firm Studio UNLTD, the dynamic interior with whitewashed brick walls, honey-colored oak millwork, and pale stone surfaces—all accented by moments of red clay and deep, azure blue tilework—reflects the utilitarian yet celebratory spirit of traditional family-run, age-old taverns in Croatia known as konobas. Rose Mary has also taken second place in TimeOut’s list of The 21 best new restaurants in the world right now.
In Summer 2021, José Andrés, chef, restaurateur and founder of the nonprofit World Central Kitchen, and his ThinkFoodGroup — opened Jaleo, in River North, bringing alive the spirit and flavors of modern-day Spain through an impressive assortment of tapas, paellas, sangrias, Spanish wines and sherries, all within a festive, casual atmosphere. In fall, he opened Pigtail, an intimate, speakeasy-style bar on the lower level of Jaleo, taking its name from the ibérico pork which infuses almost every dish on the menu (Pig), and the bespoke cocktails (tail).
Time Out Market Chicago is excited to add to its carefully curated showcase of delicious cuisine with Lil Amaru set to open late January 2022 . A spinoff of its sister restaurant Amaru, located in Chicago’s Wicker Park neighborhood, Lil Amaru will feature globally inspired Latin Street Food and Tacos.
Opened this past April 2021 in Chicago’s River North neighborhood, Tree House is a flourishing, nature-inspired, chef-driven bar and restaurant serving up elevated renditions of comfort food and bar classics, including three distinct styles of pizza. Marco Colin (The Publican, Soho House, Alinea), executive chef at La Luna Chicago, will take on the additional role of executive chef at Tree House with a high quality, ingredient-focused approach to modern Italian fare. The kitchen’s two ovens, a custom-built, wood-burning brick oven and traditional deck oven, serve up Tree House’s three styles of pizza. The bar program pairs well with chef Colin’s playful menus, featuring an array of vibrant cocktails curated for celebrating, such as Negronis, spritzers and frozen cocktails. In full capacity, the restaurant holds 200-seats, glistening with a disco ball fixture overhead and an aesthetic enlivened through fixtures like tree-inspired installations made by local artists, sprawling greenery, exposed concrete and bright colors and patterns.
New York food hall Urbanspace will open two Chicago locations, the city’s first new food hall since the pandemic. Urbanspace West Washington recently opened while a second 12,000 square foot location, inside Willis Tower, is projected to open in Winter 2022.
This spring, Chicago’s youngest Michelin-starred chef, Donald Young (Temporis, Les Nomades, Bistrot Saveurs) debuted Venteux, a lively French brasserie featuring a swanky oyster and Champagne bar located in the new Pendry Chicago. As Executive Chef-Partner, Young opened the high-energy brasserie in partnership with acclaimed national entertainment maverick and restaurant operator, Clique Hospitality (Pendry Hotels & Resorts, MGM Resorts International, Blackstone Group). Located at 230 North Michigan Avenue within the city’s historic 1920s art deco landmark Carbide & Carbon Building, Venteux commissioned world-renowned design firm Studio Munge to create a luxurious ambiance that invites guests in to get wrapped up in comforting French fare imbued with Young’s signature creativity.
Cover photo courtesy Christopher|F Photography featured on Choose Chicago.