What’s New and Happening in Chicago – Winter/Spring 2023

The New Year brings a plethora of new opportunities to explore Chicago. Whether it’s the host of new, hot restaurants, haute shopping experiences, or high-energy, immersive shows and attractions,

it’s clear: the Best Big City in the U.S. (six years running!) isn’t resting on its laurels. In fact, it’s just getting started.

January signals the triumphant, sold-out comeback of First Bites Bash after a three-year hiatus. The all-inclusive January 19 event inside the iconic Field Museum kicks off the 16th annual Chicago Restaurant Week, celebrating the area’s acclaimed culinary scene across 17 days and more than 300 top restaurants. Restaurant Week includes special prix fixe menus ($25 for brunch or lunch and $42 and/or $59 for dinner).

These signature events are a great way to indulge in around-the-world delicacies without leaving the city. Immersion takes on a new form with Stage 773’s WHIM, a walk-thru experience inviting guests to partake in a whimsical night out inside a world where every art form comes together – paintings, music, sculpture, street art, and live performance – all by Chicago artists.

And, on the heels of Black History Month, Illinois Holocaust Museum & Education Center debuts The Negro Motorist Green Book, an exhibit dedicated to African American travel in the Jim Crow era.

February is well-known for being a month dedicated to and all about love, and this year, there’s no shortage of events to fall in love with.

This month marks the beginning of a bevy of bold performances at stages across the city, from Broadway in Chicago, the Belmont Theatre District and the Joffrey Ballet. And with the return of Chicago Theatre Week (now in its 11th year), that means these can’t miss live performances are available from February 16-26 for $30 or less!

The Chicago Auto Show, the largest auto show in North America, returning to McCormick Place Feb. 11-20. And throughout the month, raise a glass to great American writers at the American Writers Museum’s new Get Lit happy hour series.

Complete with the 60-plus-year tradition of dyeing of the Chicago River green, March makes a colorful point to the world that no city celebrates St. Patrick’s Day quite like we do. From the signature parade downtown to neighborhood-specific festivities, Irish history and culture run deep in neighborhoods like BeverlyAlbany Park, and Mt. Greenwood.

With so much in store this year, go ahead: Discover big-city culture, Midwestern hospitality, and urban adventure. Come explore the city that feels like home! Visit ChooseChicago.com for more information.

Please click here for the full list of What’s New in Chicago for Winter/Spring 2023: https://www.choosechicago.com/press-media/whats-new-in-chicago/whats-new-and-happening-in-chicago-winter-spring-2023/

6 Unique Things to do in Chicago That Every Local Should Know About

Check out the recent Redfin article written by Ana Guzman that Travel/Food was featured in.

If you’re living in Chicago, chances are you’ve seen popular tourist attractions like Cloud Gate, also known as the Bean, or have walked around the Navy Pier. Although these attractions make Chicago unique, have you ever wondered what else is out there? If that’s the case, we’ve got you covered. We’ve gathered Chicagoans to share their favorite unique things to do in Chicago to give you some fresh ideas. So whether you’re ready to shake up your routine or new to the city looking for apartments for rent in Chicago, check out locally approved attractions you want to take advantage of.

Are you looking to step back in time? The Art Institute of Chicago will help transport you as you like. The museum houses one of the country’s largest permanent collections and other centuries-old artwork.

1. You can’t go wrong with the Art Institute of Chicago

Martin, a local Chicagoan from SmartMoneyMatch, a network that connects the global investment community, recommends the Art Institute of Chicago when the weather is terrible. “It’s always worth a visit. It’s filled with masterpieces from every era, from Georges Seurat’s iconic painting A Sunday on La Grande Jatte to Andy Warhol’s print of actress Elizabeth Taylor.”

2. Visit the Chicago River in the summer

In the summertime, Chicago becomes an outdoor oasis for all residents and visitors. From the various parks and the waterways, you’ll find a place you’ll love to explore.

“My favorite unique thing to do in Chicago is to go kayaking on the Chicago River in the summer,” says May, a Chicago local from Nutrition Happens, a space dedicated to health, wellness, and nutrition. “Whether you’re a resident or just visiting, there’s nothing better than soaking in the famous skyline views with a peaceful paddle down the river.”

Chicago local Jane Simon Ammeson agrees. “Rivers were the highways of the past, but the Chicago River offers uniquely modern adventures for me. I can paddle its waters and shiver at scary stories during a Ghost and Gangster kayak tour, and sip a Spanish Rioja while gazing at the city lights. I love to stroll along the Riverwalk, choose a favorite place to dine, and plan my next adventure while watching the boats go by.”

3. Take a visit to the Shedd Aquarium

A unique helicopter view of the John G. Shedd Aquarium on Lake Michigan, Chicago.

Bungee QC Fitness shares that their favorite unique thing to do in Chicago is visiting the Shedd Aquarium. “With over 1,500 species of fish, reptiles, amphibians, and invertebrates from around the world, the Shedd Aquarium showcases an impressive array of aquatic life. 

The Shedd Aquarium is one of the country’s oldest and most respected aquariums. If you’re in the area, you don’t want to miss it.

4. Explore nearby neighborhoods

Chicago is full of charming neighborhoods like River North and Edgewater. You’ll indeed find beautiful places in Chicago that will blow you away within a matter of minutes from each other. So grab your shoes, head out the door, and get ready to explore.

“Chicago is a great city for food and family fun,” says Jenny and Sheena, local Chicagoans from “And Then We Had Kids” Podcast. “Park & Field, located in the Logan Square neighborhood, is an excellent restaurant for all ages, and they even host fun family events and a bottomless boozy brunch on the weekends. If you’re looking for a place to host your event, Park & Field features fee-free party rentals. And the best part is they’re dog-friendly.

5. Dine in local favorite restaurants

Whether you’re searching for homes for sale in Pilsen because of the authentic eats or just looking for hidden gems in Chicago, you’re sure to find something that will make your mouth water. 

If you’re a foodie, you’ll want to check out the Irish Nobleman Pub on the West Side. Enjoy a cocktail or glass of wine while enjoying the lush foliage, flowers & hummingbirds in the summer. The patio is lined with AstroTurf, so it’s like a green oasis near downtown Chicago – and that also makes it super comfortable for bringing my dog along. It’s not just a Chicago favorite spot to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day; the summertime patio is an attraction on its own.

Are you looking for a fancy night on the town? Vess, a local from Bus Connection, a sophisticated transportation service, recommends stopping by Bavette’s Bar and Bouf. “One of Chicago’s finest steakhouse restaurants, Bavette’s Bar and Bouf is truly a hidden gem. Feel the swanky ambiance of a prohibition-era speakeasy, softly lit with red velvet wraparound booths and sultry jazz music soundtracks. It’s the most unique and intimate place to wine and dine.”

6. Go to any event hosted by Sofar Sounds

Sofar Sounds connects the community with secret concerts in unique spaces. You’ll receive the address of the event within 36 hours before the event. You’ll experience different shows, from musical genres and comedy to dance. 

“My recommendation for a unique thing to do in Chicago is to go to events hosted by Sofar Sounds,” says Emily from Mezz Entertainment. “Through this experience, you can attend intimate gigs throughout the city, like the loop and Lincoln Park. I love discovering new artists to listen to from these shows.” 

About Ana Guzman

Ana is part of the Redfin content marketing team and enjoys writing about home improvement and life & style. Her dream house would be a contemporary style with lots of natural light.

Lost Chicagoland Classics: George Diamond Steak House Redux

In an update to my previous post about George Diamond Steak House and for all those who are into 1950s-style supper clubs and Chicagoland food history, check out this great You Tube post about George Diamond Steakhouse. Back in the day, there were several in the Chicago area including at 630 S. Wabash in the South Loop, Las Vegas, Acapulco, and Antioch (where there was also a George Diamond Golf Course) as well as in Whiting, Indiana.

If you’re thinking how does Whiting, an industrial city on the Indiana-Illinois border fit in with such locations as Vegas, Chicago, and Acapulco–well, consider this–at one time Whiting, now best known as the place where Polish foods are celebrated every year at the Pierogi Fest, one of the top festivals in the U.S. was a major destination for both Chicago and Northwest Indiana residents who enjoyed swank dining and perch dinners. It rocked from the early 1900s to the early 1980s and had such classic places as Phil Smidt’s and Vogel’s. Indeed the latter sold so many frog legs that they started raising their own in nearby Lake George.

And, if you’re really into George Diamond history, Etsy has two of the restaurant’s shot glasses for sale for $145.

For more about vintage restaurants in the Chicagoland area, check out Classic Restaurants of Northwest.Indiana.

29 Reasons to Visit Chicago This Holiday Season

Halloween is so over and now is the time to move on to the magic of Chicago during the holiday season. From skating rinks, tradtional Christmas Markets to show-stopping parades, there’s plenty to enjoy. Here’s some of Choose Chicago’s tips on what to see and do

See the Lights

  • Lightscape, the acclaimed holiday event, returns from November 11, 2022 – January 8, 2023 with a new path and new light-filled installations created just for the Chicago Botanic Garden. Featured artistic works will include favorites such as the luminous Winter Cathedral and a reimagined fire garden. Tickets start at $32 for adults ($30 for members), $16 for children ($14 for child members) and all little ones under 2 can enter for free. 
  • The City of Chicago’s “official” Christmas tree in Millennium Park will shine brightly near the intersection of Michigan Ave. and Washington St. from November 18, 2022 through January 8, 2023. A pre-show will begin at 5 p.m. (with performers including the cast of Cabaret ZaZou and several Broadway in Chicago productions), followed by the lighting at approximately 6:30 p.m. and culminating in a fireworks show. 
Photo credit: Phil Parcellano
  • The annual, one-of-a-kind holiday experience ZooLights (Presented by ComEd and Invesco QQQ) at Lincoln Park Zoo will return from November 19, 2022 – January 1, 2023. Tickets are now on sale for $5 General Admission, Members-only Nights and Sensory-friendly Night. Tickets to Free Admission Mondays will be released the Tuesday prior at 11 a.m. each week.
  • Illumination: Tree Lights at The Morton Arboretum returns for its 10th year during Morton Arboretum’s 100th anniversary year, from November 19, 2022 – January 7, 2023, Explore 50 acres of the Arboretum’s majestic trees during this one-of-a-kind spectacle of color, light, and sound featuring six dazzling new displays as well as returning favorites. You will be awed and delighted by the first-ever Illumination display in the Arboretum’s new Grand Garden, leading to a spectacular laser-light finale. Craft beer lovers won’t want to miss IllumiBrew, November 17-18. This 21-and-over event provides a first look at Illumination while sampling local brews along the trail. New this year is a special series of Electric Illumination late-night experiences (December 16, 23 and 30; 9:30-11:00 PM) for adults 18+ with an eclectic, curated mix of Trance and Progressive House music, synchronized to the light displays. Ilumination ticket costs will run between $11-$22 for members and $16-$27 for guests, depending on the date and other available discounts.
  • Navy Pier’s Light Up The Lake returns from November 25 2022 to January 7, 2023. Visitors can experience the magic with interactive light displays, a whimsical skating rink, journeys through the birch tree maze, visits with Santa, and more. Pricing is $27 for an adult ticket, and 17 for a child’s ticket (ages 3-12).
  • In the nearby suburbs, Brookfield Zoo is hosting their annual Holiday Magicdisplay, a local tradition for more than 40 years. Zoo-goers can stroll along the many pathways lit with more than two million twinkling LED lights, including the 600-foot-long Tunnel of Lights with thousands of colored lights all synchronized to music as well as enjoy a skating rink, illuminated animal sculptures, numerous photo opps, drop-off letters for Santa and more.

Who Doesn’t Love a Parade?

  • The holiday season in Chicago officially kicks off with The Wintrust Magnificent Mile Lights Festival (November 19, 2022) a day-through-night, mile-long extravaganza drawing more than one million celebrants. Its centerpiece is the largest nighttime parade in the U.S. — a spectacular parade down Michigan Avenue. Led by Mickey Mouse and Minnie Mouse of The Walt Disney World Resort, the parade features fabulous floats, giant helium balloons, marching bands, celebrities, musical performances, Santa Claus, fireworks and more —illuminating one million lights on The Avenue’s 200+ trees. Broadcast on ABC 7 Chicago on Sunday, November 20, 2022, Lights Festival will also air throughout the holiday season.
  • The Chicago Thanksgiving Day Parade promises a fun-filled morning in the heart of downtown Chicago on November 24, 2022. Starting at iconic State Street in the Loop at 8:00 AM, the procession makes its way up State from Ida B. Wells Drive to Randolph Street. This free, all-ages event features more than 100 floats filled with entertainers, performance artists, helium balloons led by Teddy the Turkey (the parade’s official mascot) and a visit from Santa Claus.

Find That Perfect Gift

  • The Christkindlmarket Chicago, the most authentic traditional holiday market of its kind outside of Europe, returns November 18, 2022 and runs through the Christmas season, with the main location at Daley Plaza, along with outposts in Wrigleyville and Aurora. Of-age visitors can enjoy a mug of glühwein (hot spiced wine) as well as sweet and savory German snacks while shopping for handmade and traditional souvenirs. There are also musical performances and plenty of family-friendly activities for kids.
  • Now in its 21st year in Chicago, the One of a Kind Holiday Show (December 1-4, 2022) brings together hundreds of talented artists, makers and designers with thousands of happy shoppers who love art and original work. The show continues to be the best place in Chicago to find thousands of handmade products, truly unique and meaningful gifts for the holidays.
  • At the iconic Macy’s on State Street, take a break from holiday shopping to enjoy the annual Holiday Windows or have a peek at the Great Tree inside the historic Walnut Room, the first restaurant ever opened in a department store. With Circassian wood paneling imported from Russia and Austrian chandeliers, the 17,000 square foot dining room is both elegant and comfortable and a favored place to enjoy a festive afternoon treat.

Enjoy a Holiday Exhibit

  • At the Museum of Science and Industry (MSI), the annual Christmas Around the World and Holidays of Light exhibits return November 16, 2022-January 4, 2023. A simple tradition that began in 1942 with a single tree now features a four-story, floor-to-dome Grand Tree, surrounded by a forest of more than 50 trees and displays decorated by volunteers to represent the holiday traditions from cultures around the globe.

Lace Up Your Skates

  • The scenic rink at Millennium Park offers panoramic views of Cloud Gate (aka “The Bean”) and the surrounding city skyline dusted in snow. The rink is open daily from November through March, weather permitting. Skate rentals are available, or you can bring your own.
  • Nearby, Maggie Daley Park is known for its one-of-a-kind Skating Ribbon, an icy path that curves through the park’s whimsical landscape. The Skating Ribbon is open from November through March. You can reserve skate rentals ahead of time or use your own.
  • The Gallagher Way Rink in Wrigleyville offers ice skating from November 18, 2022 – January , 2023, weather permitting. The Rink welcomes all skill levels to skate on their own or ride ice bumper cars on the newly expanded 12,000 square-foot ice rink, located inside Wrigley Field. Tickets are required for access and may be booked ahead of time here or on site. Activities at Gallagher Way also include holiday movie nights, a wreath-making workshop, a branch of Chicago’s Christkindlmarket and meetings with Santa.

Catch a Festive Live Show

Hotel Happenings 

The Peninsula Chicago is back with the Merry & Bright Holiday Package (ideal for couples) and Holly Jolly Family Holiday Package (great for families), valid for stays from November 26 – December 31, 2022. Guests are also encouraged to make a reservation for The Peninsula Hotel’s Holiday Afternoon Tea, where the 20-foot Christmas tree and lavish holiday décor at The Lobby enhance the traditional English tea menu of finger sandwiches, scones with house made preserves and Devonshire clotted cream, and petite seasonal pastries. Vegan and gluten-free options are available. 

The Langham Chicago is again offering its traditional Thanksgiving Feast on November 24, 2022 at its onsite restaurant Travelle, where the menu curated by Executive Chef Damion Henry includes holiday favorites, turkey and stuffing, as well as complementary enhancements such as seafood and carving stations. Chef Henry is also preparing a Christmas Day Brunch on December 25, 2022 and afternoon tea is available throughout the holiday season. 

The Pendry Chicago is offering a series of seasonal happenings, from a “Friendsgiving” dinner at onsite restaurant Venteux on November 23, 2022 to lighting the Menorah each night at 5 p.m. from December 18 – December 26, 2022 to Christmas Eve Dinner and Christmas Day brunch at Venteux on December 24 and 25, 2022.

Grab your partner and head to The Emily Hotel for the ultimate winter rooftop curling experience, complete with an overnight stay for two, curling for two players and two complimentary cocktails at Stone’s Throw. Stone’s Throw, located on the fifth floor of the hotel, features four Olympic sized curling rinks and heated yurts decked out in 80s nostalgia serving up a menu of winter sips and snacks. Offer valid for reservations of 1 or more nights booked by March 27, 2023 for stays between November 11, 2022 and March 31, 2023.

Celebrate winter at Fairmont Millennium Park Chicago’s Fairmont Lodge where you can relax, recharge and have fun with their cozy decor, indoor “fire pits”, festive programming, overnight packages and more. 

The annual Winter Wonderland returns to the IlO Godfrey Rooftop at The Godfrey Hotel with its heated, clear-domed igloos which are available to rent (for groups of up to six people) with purchase from the menu. Order a hot cocktail and s’mores to roast over the outdoor firepits and enjoy winter in Chicago under the city lights. 

From November 1 through January 3, LondonHouse Chicago is hosting Rudolph’s Rooftop from November 1, 2022 – January 3, 2023. This fun holiday-themed experience, complete with whimsical decor, photo opps and igloos, takes place on the 22nd level terrace, featuring breathtaking panoramic views of the city. Holiday cocktails are available from Executive Chef Elizabeth Sweeney. 

Chicago Voted “#1 Best Big City in the U.S.” for Historic Sixth Straight Year by Readers of Condé Nast Traveler

Choose Chicago President and CEO Lynn Osmond announced today that Chicago has been named the Best Big City in the U.S. for the sixth straight year by Condé Nast Traveler through their 2022 Readers’ Choice Awards. This award, which is voted on by Condé Nast Traveler readers, has been bestowed on Chicago every year since 2017 and is a testament to Chicago’s enduring status as an exciting, welcoming and world-class travel destination. This unmatched recognition comes as Choose Chicago releases performance data from Summer 2022 which shows leisure and business travel approaching a full return to 2019 levels.

“There are so many reasons why Chicago is the Best Big City in the U.S. – we have world-class restaurants, top-tier hotels and meeting spaces, cultural institutions and entertainment venues that can rival the best in the world and vibrant, diverse neighborhoods that make sure there is something for every visitor,” said Chicago Mayor Lori E. Lightfoot. “Most importantly, our city is full of people and organizations that care deeply and work tirelessly to make Chicago the most welcoming and inviting city in the world. I want to thank the tourism and hospitality professionals that make this award possible year after year and the millions of visitors that keep coming back to Chicago to explore everything our city has to offer.”

“Condé Nast readers know what Chicagoans have always known…our city is the best in the nation,” said Governor JB Pritzker. “Chicago has everything: picturesque lakefronts, extraordinary architecture, world-class museums, the kindest people you’ll ever meet—and yes, the best pizza, too. Here’s to six years strong and many more to come.” 

http://www.AdamAlexanderPhoto.com ©Adam Alexander Photography 2019

Each year, Condé Nast Traveler garners input on travel experiences from hundreds of thousands of readers to determine the winners of their Readers’ Choice Awards, which is the longest-running and most prestigious recognition of excellence in the travel industry. This year, more than 240,000 readers weighed in on their favorite American cities and Chicago was ranked first overall for an unprecedented sixth straight year – no other city has been voted Best Big City in the U.S. more than three straight times in the 35-year history of the Condé Nast Readers’ Choice Awards.

“It is an incredible honor to once again be voted the Best Big City in the U.S.,” said Lynn Osmond, President and CEO of Choose Chicago. “This recognition does not happen by accident – it is a testament to the hard-working people that make Chicago an inviting and welcoming city. Winning this award for six straight years combined with the successful summer of travel we just wrapped up make it clear that the past, present and future of tourism in Chicago is a bright one.”

“I want to thank our partners in the hospitality and tourism industry for ensuring Chicago is a world-class destination and for making this award possible,” continued President Osmond. “I also want to thank all Chicago residents for creating such a friendly and hospitable city for tens of millions of visitors each year. Finally, I want to thank the readers of Conde Nast Traveler for choosing Chicago year after year and for recognizing all the amazing attributes of our city that is second to none.”

“This unprecedented honor is a testament of how Chicago is continually evolving as a dynamic destination for everyone,” said Glenn Eden, Chair, Choose Chicago Board of Directors. “From our restaurants and hotels, to our theaters, museums, neighborhoods, cultural attractions and sporting events, Chicago’s tourism and hospitality community brings world-class service and experiences you cannot find in any other city. Without a doubt, Chicago is the Best Big City in the U.S. for six record-breaking years because we’ve been able to help the savviest travelers positively reimagine what to expect when visiting Chicago and any big U.S. city for that matter.”

In the summer of 2022, Chicago welcomed visitors back to the city in droves, with hotel room demand approaching, and in one segment exceeding, pre-pandemic levels. Total hotel room demand during the summer months (June, July and August) exceeded 3 million room nights, which is nearly 90% of summer 2019 levels. Summer 2022 group hotel room demand, which represents rooms occupied specifically by delegates of large meetings and conventions, exceeded summer 2019 levels, with 1.06 million hotel room nights in summer 2022 compared to 1.03 million in summer 2019.

Chicago’s successful summer of travel followed the launch of the new When You Go You Know campaign in June. This campaign along with Choose Chicago’s summer messaging that started earlier generated more than $150 million in hotel revenue between April 18 and September 5. Additionally, the campaign drove 8.1 million searches for hotels and 1.2 million searches for flights. Choose Chicago also worked with Expedia and the Chicago hotel community on a focused consumer campaign to drive room nights. The campaign ran from May 9 through September 5 and drove more than 63,000 room nights with an estimated hotel revenue of $20 million.

Chicago’s historic recognition as the Best Big City in the U.S. for six straight years is a testament to the resilience of Chicago’s hospitality and tourism industries as the strong recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic continues. Condé Nast Traveler readers recognize that Chicago is home to world-class entertainment, impressive architecture, first-rate museums and an exceptional restaurant scene. 2022 has been a banner year for events in Chicago as well, with the first-ever Sueños Festival in May and the first US Sail Grand Prix Chicago race at Navy Pier in June, not to mention the successful full return of Chicago mainstays such as Lollapalooza, the James Beard Awards and the International Manufacturing Trade Show (IMTS), the largest and longest-running tradeshow in North America.

The 2022 Readers’ Choice Awards are published on Condé Nast Traveler’s website at cntraveler.com/rca and celebrated in the November issue. Follow @cntraveler on social media and tag #RCA2022.

Supper Clubs: An American Dining Experience

Neon lights. Big cars with rich men and beautiful dames. Martinis and music. Relish trays and super-sized steaks. Tucked away on country roads—perfect for bootleggers to deliver their goods in the dark of night or on the streets of big cities where midnight deliveries are no problem.

These are the supper clubs of old and while these vestiges of a glamorous past maybe somewhat different now, author Ron Faiola chronicles it all in his series of book, including the most recent, “The Wisconsin Supper Clubs Story: An Illustrated History, with Relish” (Agate Midway 2021; $26.66). His other two books, “Wisconsin Supper Clubs: An Old Fashioned Experience” and “Wisconsin Supper Clubs: Another Round” as well as his movie, Wisconsin Supper Clubs: An Old Fashioned Experience makes Faiola a supper club expert. His books, which make for great reading, are also perfect as guidebooks, taking us on a round of supper clubs still in business.

In his latest book, Faiola, a native of Wisconsin a state that seems to have the most of supper clubs of any state, went deep into their history and along the way dispelled at least one major legend—that the first American supper club was established in the 1920s in Beverly Hills, California by Milwaukee native Lawrence Frank.

 “It always bothered me because it named the guy, but not the supper club,” said Faiola.  “And why Beverly Hills and not New York City or even Wisconsin?  Once I delved into the Frank family history, I had my answers which became chapter one in the book.”

There was another legend to question as well. Faiola has visited close to 150 of the places. But there was a guy named Al (last name Capone) who seemed to have visited even more—at least according to claims by owners. Faiola demolished that one as well.

Join us in a conversation with Faiola.

The resurgence of supper clubs has been going on for several years.  It first began when my documentary, Wisconsin Supper Clubs – An Old Fashioned Experience,” was released in 2011. 

Additionally, once the first book–“Wisconsin Supper Clubs: An Old Fashioned Experience” was released, instead of sitting on a coffee table, people brought their copies along on trips to supper clubs and had the owners and staff sign their pages. They’d put menus and make notes about the drinks and food that they had. That snowballed as more people saw what others were doing.  It was fun for them and the supper club owners loved the attention.  I’ve heard from so many owners about the number of books they’ve signed.  They’re very proud of that.  

More recently, when all restaurants closed as the pandemic started, people thought they were going to lose their favorite supper clubs.  Once clubs started reopening, even just for take-out orders, customers were very supportive.  As clubs fully reopened, diners returned in droves in the summer of 2020 and even more so during 2021.  I’ve seen photos on social media of people standing in line waiting to get into supper clubs.  Last summer the wait for a table at Ishnala was three to four hours and yet people were cheerfully tailgating in the parking lot!  The great return to the Restaurants of Yesteryear has not only drawn more people to the clubs, but there is now a wide range of supper club souvenirs: glasses, apparel, posters, and even more books.  

Can you share a story or two about discoveries that most surprised you?

One of the things that surprised me the most was that the price of food was about the same as today when adjusted for inflation.  I tell people to multiply the menu prices they see in the book by 10, so those $3.95 T-bone steaks and 60¢ old fashioneds in 1950 would be about $39.50 and $6.00 today.

If readers wanted to take a road trip and visit some of your favorites that are still in business, which ones would you suggest?

Start by going to some of the supper clubs that are a little below the radar – Roepke’s Supper Club in Chilton, Pinewood Supper Club in Mosinee, The 615 Club or The Butterfly Club in Beloit or The Duck Inn in Delavan.  Then hit the more well-known clubs: Ishnala or the Del-Bar in the Wisconsin Dells, HobNob in Racine overlooking Lake Michigan, Five O’Clock Steakhouse in Milwaukee and The Buckhorn Supper Club in Milton with a great view of Lake Koshkonong.

Do you have a favorite supper club dish? Besides, the relish tray that is?

I enjoy a nice medium rare cut of prime rib, or a New York Strip, but one of my favorites that is only found in the southern part of Wisconsin is Shrimp de Jonghe.  It’s a Chicago recipe and is basically a garlicky, buttery shrimp casserole.  

How did you get interested in supper clubs?

I’ve always enjoyed going to supper clubs my whole life, whether it was around where I lived in the Milwaukee suburbs, or up north when I’d go fishing with my grandfather.  I got the idea to do the movie when I was working on a fish fry documentary–Fish Fry Night Milwaukee, 2009–and I was looking for a supper club fish fry to put in the movie.  I realized no one had documented supper clubs and there needed to be a light shined on that tradition.  I went on the road to visit 14 clubs in 2010 and the documentary aired on Milwaukee PBS in 2011 and was licensed to PBS stations nationwide for several years.

Anything else you’d like readers to know?

I’m going to be busy visiting even more supper clubs this summer (hint hint).   

Photo credits: Hoffman House courtesy of Bob Prosser. The El Dorado photo and the Ray Bussler photo are Photo courtesy Ron Faiola

Grub Street: 2022 James Beard Award Winners: The Full List

Grub Street: 2022 James Beard Award Winners: The Full List. https://www.grubstreet.com/2022/06/2022-james-beard-chef-and-restaurant-award-winners-full-list.html

Choose Chicago and Illinois Restaurant Association Welcome Return of James Beard Awards®

Chef Darnell Reed Luella’s Southern Popcorn.

 In honor of the occasion, Choose Chicago, Illinois Restaurant Association, and Here Here Market collaborate on curated boxes in honor of Chicago’s James Beard Award-nominated chefs.

Chef Sarah Grueneberg, Monteverde

Choose Chicago is partnering once again with the Illinois Restaurant Association in welcoming the James Beard Awards Presented by Capital One to Chicago Saturday, June 11 through Monday, June 13, 2022. Foodies and fans who are unable to join in the weekend-long celebrations can bring the ultimate taste of Chicago home starting June 1st with special orders of the Celebrate JBF Chicago Alumni Collection boxes, created in exclusive collaboration with Here Here Market, Gordon Food ServiceChoose Chicago, and the Illinois Restaurant Association.

The Celebrate JBF Chicago Alumni Collection boxes bring together a dream team of Chicago chefs in take-away form. Purchases will directly support both acclaimed local chefs and up-and-coming culinary talent through a dedicated scholarship offered by the James Beard Foundation. Imagine the ultimate foodie day with Mott St.’s Miso Caramel drizzled over waffles, followed by a bowl of Monteverde Gnocchetti for lunch’ Then it’s time for a munching intermission of Luella’s addictively crunchy Baye’s Mix Popcorn in between a Charles Joly-inspired happy hour and a fish taco dinner made with Chef Stephanie Izard’s This Little Goat Yucatan Everything Sauce or a yummy noodle dish featuring Mott St.’s sweet and savory Everything Sauce. 

Two box options include:

Sauce, Spice, & Everything Nice Box | RETAIL: $37 (shipping throughout most of the U.S.)

●       This Little Goat Tokyo Everything Sauce

●       Monteverde Lemon Pepper

●       GT Fish & Oyster Burn (green) Hot Sauce

●       Mott St. Everything Sauce

Charles Joly Crafthouse by Fortessa

Chicago Alumni Deluxe Edition | RETAIL: $73 (free shipping throughout most of the U.S.)

●       This Little Goat Yucatan Everything Sauce

●       Monteverde Gnocchetti

●       GT Fish & Oyster Smoulder (red) Hot Sauce

●       Mott St. Everything Sauce

●       Mott St. Miso Caramel

●       Luella Baye’s Mix Popcorn

●       Charles Joly Cocktail Jigger

To gain access to this exclusive collaboration visit Here Here Market: JBF Chicago Alumni CollectionTo learn more about the James Beard Awards weekend in Chicago, visit www.choosechicago.com/jbf

The James Beard Awards weekend in Chicago provides a particularly proud opportunity to celebrate the city’s vibrant hospitality community through a wide array of public events, including cross-country restaurant collaborations, education sessions, special menus, backyard BBQs, and now Here Here Market’s exclusive Celebrate JBF Chicago Alumni Collection boxes.

About Choose Chicago

JBF Sauce, Spice & Everything Nice

Choose Chicago is the official sales and marketing organization responsible for promoting Chicago as a global visitor and meetings destination, leveraging the city’s unmatched assets to ensure the economic vitality of the city and its member business community. For more information, visit www.choosechicago.com and follow @choosechicago on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. #CaptureChicagoExcitement

About Illinois Restaurant Association

Founded in 1914, the Illinois Restaurant Association is a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting, protecting, educating and improving the restaurant industry in Illinois. The IRA owns and produces Chicago Gourmet – the annual food and wine festival uniting hundreds of restaurants, chefs and beverage experts for a weekend filled with food and drink tastings, entertainment and more. For more information, visit www.illinoisrestaurants.org and follow @illinoisrestaurants on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

About Here Here Market

Bill Kim, Mott St.

Here Here Market is an online marketplace for food and drink enthusiasts to discover and buy specialty products from chef-preneurs, small-batch artisans, and local product makers, delivered right to your door nationwide. Launched in 2021, Here Here Market’s mission is to support and enable culinary creators at any point in their journey through a platform to share their talent and products with the world. Co-founded by Disha Gulati and Nicholas Florek, Here Here Market is a woman, minority, and LGBTQ+ company based in Chicago with a goal to uplift a diverse community of culinary creators. For more information, visit www.hereheremarket.com and follow @hereheremkt on Facebook and Instagram.

About the James Beard Foundation

The James Beard Foundation (JBF) celebrates and supports the people behind America’s food culture, while pushing for new standards in the restaurant industry to create a future where all have the opportunity to thrive. Established over 30 years ago, the Foundation has highlighted the centrality of food culture in our daily lives and is committed to supporting a resilient and flourishing industry that honors its diverse communities. By amplifying new voices, celebrating those leading the way, and supporting those on the path to do so, the Foundation is working to create a more equitable and sustainable future—what we call Good Food for Good™. 

As a 501c3 non-profit organization, JBF brings its mission to life through annual Awards, industry and community-focused initiatives and programs, advocacy, and events. Current programs include the Open For Good CampaignChef’s Bootcamp for Policy and ChangeBeard House FellowsLegacy NetworkScholarship ProgramsSmart Catch, and Women’s Leadership Programs. In addition, JBF celebrates the chefs and local independent restaurants at the heart of our communities with numerous events and partnerships nationwide throughout the year—including the Taste America culinary tour, JBF Greens events for foodies under 40, the soon-to-open Pier 57 Market Hall, food festivals, and more. For more information, subscribe to the digital newsletter Beard Bites and follow @beardfoundation on FacebookTwitterInstagramTikTokLinkedIn, and Clubhouse.

Chef Sarah Grueneberg’s Gnocchetti con Pesto

Serves 4

  • 1 pound Monteverde Gnocchetti Pasta
  • 2 tablespoons Kosher Salt
  • 4 Tbs cold butter, unsalted, cubed
  • handful basil leaves
  • 1 cup Basil Pesto
  • 1/2 cup whole ricotta
  • 1/4 cup grated pecorino, for garnish
  • 2 tablespoons toasted pine nuts, preferably Italian

Bring a large pot of water to boil, season with kosher salt. Add the pasta to the water and cook 1 minute less than directions specify. Using a skimmer, remove cooked pasta from pot and place in a large sauce pot or sauté pan, along with a 1/4 cup of the pasta water over medium heat.  Stir cubed butter into the sauce until thickened. 

Add basil leaves and serve in bowls, then drizzle basil pesto on top (about 1/4 cup per bowl). Garnish each bowl with a few spoonfuls of ricotta, grated pecorino and toasted pine nuts.

Basil Pesto

Makes around 1 cup

  • 1 ounce basil leaves (3 cups loosely packed), preferably Genovese-style
  • 1 ounce parsley leaves (about 1 cup)
  • 1 small garlic clove
  • 1/2 cup fruity, mild extra-virgin olive oil (plus a touch more if needed)
  • 1/2 teaspoon flaky sea salt, like Maldon
  • 1/3 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
  • 1⁄4 cup freshly grated Pecorino Romano cheese

Place blender jar in freezer to chill. Meanwhile, submerge the herbs in a large bowl of cold water add a few ice cubes; let stand 5 minutes.

Using hands, gently lift leaves from water. Repeat again, using fresh cold water. Let soak for 15 minutes.  Remove blender jar from freezer. Place the garlic, salt and oil in the blender and blend until smooth.

Working in batches, lift herbs from water, shaking excess but not all water from leaves (a bit of water will make a smooth pesto) add to blender.  Blend using short pulses for each addition, just to breakdown the larger leaves (do not over-blend.) 

Finally, add the cheeses, and blend on medium high until smooth.  Remove and place over an ice bath and chill until cold.  Reserve for drizzling over your favorite pasta.

Rooftop and Outdoor Dining in the Windy City

Al fresco dining is what warm weather is all about. Chicago’s great rooftop and outdoor places to dine. Al fresco is our rallying cry when the sun shines.

AIRE Rooftop, located atop the 24th floor of Hyatt Centric the Loop Chicago, welcomes guests to experience unmatched and uninterrupted panoramic views of Chicago this spring and summer. Known as one of the hottest rooftops in the city, AIRE serves as the perfect urban escape serving up craft cocktails, beer, wine, and small plates. AIRE offers a fun atmosphere to socialize with friends, host a cocktail reception, or just enjoy a drink against the breathtaking backdrop of the city. 

Offshore: The world’s largest rooftop deck as recognized by the Guinness Book of World Records and one of Chicago’s most exciting hotspots located at Navy Pier boasts over 42,000 square feet of indoor and outdoor space with unmatched views of the Chicago skyline and Lake Michigan. This year-round rooftop destination offers Chicagoans and travelers alike a full-service bar and world-class kitchen, along with cozy fire pits, an entertainment and gaming area, and multiple large gathering spaces for social and corporate events, weddings, and more.

Kennedy Rooftop: In search of the perfect Golden Hour views? Known for spectacular, unobstructed views of the Chicago skyline from the John Hancock to the Willis Tower, Kennedy Rooftop offers a vibrant ambiance, a delicious menu, and a unique variety of signature cocktails for all to enjoy atop the Hyatt Place Wicker Park. Space is first come first served.

Ocean Prime: Located on the iconic corner of Michigan Avenue and Wacker Drive, Ocean Prime offers al fresco dining on the outdoor patio just steps away from the city’s top attractions. The modern American restaurant and lounge from award-winning Cameron Mitchell Restaurants offers an impressive menu of seafood and steak, signature cocktails, and a Wine Spectator honored wine list coupled with truly exceptional hospitality.

Chicago Firehouse Restaurant: Formerly Engine Company 104 of the Chicago Fire Department, the landmark restaurant at 1401 South Michigan Avenue features both a lush backyard patio providing a quaint escape in the city as well as an outdoor veranda affording picturesque views of the South Loop skyline. The timeless house favorites, steaks, chops, and seafood, are complemented by distinctive, contemporary seasonal dishes for all to enjoy.

Carnivale: Chicago’s one-of-a-kind restaurant serving Latin-fusion cuisine invites guests to take advantage of patio season on the scenic outdoor terrace with refreshing libations and sensational signature dishes. The West Loop hotspot also offers seven unique private and semi-private spaces, perfect for celebratory events. For reservations and event inquiries, please visit www.carnivalechicago.com.

Lírica: Sweeping lakefront views and Iberian-Inspired fare create the perfect symphony at Lírica, located at 900 E. Grand Ave on Navy Pier. Featuring a 150-seat patio on Lake Michigan, the waterfront restaurant combines world-class views of Lake Michigan with rich and rustic flavors and a vibrant atmosphere.

Replay Lincoln Park: Chicago’s favorite arcade bar located at 2833 N. Sheffield pairs outdoor dining and imbibing with epic immersive experiences in addition to more than 65 free vintage arcade games available. Replay Lincoln Park features rotating pop-up events spanning 9,000 square feet of gaming areas including their outdoor patio. To learn more about upcoming pop-ups, please visit www.replaylincolnpark.com.

Dinner and Brunch lifestyle shoot on Odyssey Chicago River 2019

City Cruises Chicago: Set sail on City Cruises’ luxurious vessels including the Odyssey Lake Michigan, Spirit of Chicago, Chicago Elite, and the Odyssey Chicago River. Whatever the holiday or occasion, it’s better on a yacht. Guests can enjoy curated cocktails and cuisine during brunch and dinner cruises, all while taking in the unmatched views of Lake Michigan and the city skyline from the Chicago River.

Pacino’s: Sicily meets South Loop at this authentic Italian eatery located within Roosevelt Collection Shops at 1010 S. Delano Ct. Led by Executive Chef Michael Serratore, Pacino’s offers a wide range of classically-inspired antipasti, pizza, salads, seafood, fresh pasta, and more. Enjoy signature cocktails or a glass of vino at the full bar indoors or pull up a seat under the outdoor pergola for an amazing outdoor dining experience.

Water’s Edge: Serving up classic American fare nestled within 88 acres of forest preserve, Water’s Edge located within Hyatt Lodge Oak Brook invites guests to dine and unwind at the lakeside café or al fresco on the patio overlooking a private lake. Water’s Edge offers both savory and sweet breakfast dishes and fresh salads, wraps, and sandwiches for lunch. Patrons can also opt to book lakeside private parties on the serene patio which cater to up to 40 guests. For more information, please call 630.568.1234 or visit their website.

Oaken Bistro + Bar: Bringing together worldly flavors and responsible, local ingredients rooted in flavors both strong and bold, Oaken Bistro + Bar, 200 N. Field Dr., features both indoor and outdoor dining, with a sleek lounge, stunning bar, spacious dining rooms, and a patio complete with intimate fire pit seating. Open seven days a week for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and brunch service on weekends, the restaurant incorporates natural elements in everything from design and decor to menu offerings including a standout cocktail program complete with floral and herbal infusions.

What’s Happening Springtime Chicago

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 Accolades!

The Langham Chicago
  • 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.

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

Adalina

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.

Alla Vita

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.