Korakia Pensione: Desert Elegance Amidst Hollywood History

A dreamland of architecture, landscape, historic Hollywood, and luxury, Korakia Pensione is a desert oasis nestled in the San Jacinto Mountains in Palm Springs, California. Originally two distinctive homes both built in the early 1900s, one inspired by traditional Moroccan riad—a two or more storied home with a center courtyard and fountain–and the other a Mediterranean villa, now combined into a lush property. Korakia Pensione, with its 1.5-acres of bungalows, guesthouses, gardens, rooms, suites, and pools, accented with Moroccan details and whimsy including Moorish horseshoe doors leading into tiled courtyards with flowing fountains, decorative tiles,intricately carved woodwork, and keystone shaped  entranceways.

Escape to the desert this summer and soak up the sun! Stay with us this Sunday – Thursday for two or more nights and save 20% off your stay. Enjoy our special summer enhancements starting May 29th with daytime poolside amenities, nightly dive-in movies, and special wellness offerings.

Book Now: https://bit.ly/3wlBW0P

*Offer valid for stays now until 9/1/22. Excluding Holiday Weekends. Cannot be combined with other offers or promotions. Offer ends 5/31/2022.

Described by both Forbes magazine and The New York Times as “the sexiest hotel in America,” it is a reimagination as well, as a travel to another time and place. With a focus on wellness, peace and relaxation, the day starts with breakfast served in the Moroccan front courtyard, followed by either a private yoga session or guided meditation class.

Afternoons can be spent lounging by the pool backed by spectacular views of the San Jacinto Mountains and indulging in poolside menu choices that include charcuterie boards, salads and sandwiches. Or explore the historic neighborhood and downtown, on foot or on one of the stylish cruiser bikes available at the hotel. The bikes come with baskets in case you pick up a few things. 

As the sun sets, enjoy the warmth of a desert night under the stars while watching the nightly classic movies shown in the courtyard. What could be better? The complimentary smores.

If you’re there this coming Memorial weekend, enjoy the Annual Memorial Day Air Fair and Flower Drop hosted by Palm Desert, a recurring event commemorating the important role of those who fought in World War II with a drop of thousands of white and red carnations from their B-25 aircraft. Honoring those who served and gave the greatest sacrifice for their country is the perfect ending to a wonderful weekend.

Crafted after a Mediterranean-style pensione, Korakia blends the silhouette of Tangier with a whisper of the Mediterranean.

The History

It must have been a great neighborhood.

Built in 1924 and originally named Dar Marroc, one of the two historic homes of Korakia Pensione was the former hideaway of Scottish painter Gordon Coutts. The villa with its Moroccan architectural features and décor was the way for Coutts, a flamboyant artist with a stylish mustache, to re-create his earlier life in Tangier. Coutts, who was born in in the Old Machar district of Aberdeen, Scotland, was an extremely successful artist who hosted such luminaries as classic movie actors Rudolph Valentino and Errol Flynn and artists such as John Lavery, Agnes Pelton, Nicolai Fenshin and Grant Wood. It probably is more than just a rumor that Winston Churchill, an artist himself, painted in the villa’s Artist Studio.

But Coutts wasn’t the only celebrity on the block. Neighbor J. Carol Naish has as interesting a life as Coutts. According to his obituary in the New York Times, Naish “brawled his way through the Yorkville‐Harlem area of the turn‐of‐the‐century Irish with considerable success, being tossed out of one school after another.”

After joining the Navy where he was promptly thrown into the brig, Naish deserted to join a buddy in the Army and flew missions over France with the Aviation Section of the Army Signal Corps. He then made his way round Europe, singing in cafes and picking up a command of eight languages, six of which he spoke fluently.  A tramp steamer finally deposited him in Hollywood in 1926. 

 Fame followed quickly and by the 1940s he was acting in 30 or so films a year. A character actor, he also was successful on Broadway, television, and radio.

We wish we could have attended some of the parties held here back in those days but the present is marvelous enough. Among the rooms and suites available are:       

The Orchard House

A rare 1918 California adobe. Two 1940s steel windows have been welded together to create a dramatic pivoting window wall. The whitewashed stone wall encloses a grove of citrus trees.

Adobe Room

This room is located adjacent to the pool and fountain. Luxuriate in the vintage bathroom or relax in your Queen bed while listening to the peaceful sound of the Moroccan fountain.

Artist Studio

A lovely upper-level studio with high ceilings, a large north facing window overlooking the San Jacinto Mountains. It has a four poster Queen bed, a large sitting and dining area, kitchenette and a balcony overlooking a private courtyard.

Atlas Room

Next to the Moroccan pool, the room features a Queen bed and a stone bathtub. Fall asleep to the peaceful sound of the bubbling Moroccan fountain.

Bedouin Room

This spacious room in the courtyard adobe has an arched entryway, Queen-size built-in bed, stone shower, sitting area and private patio.

Bedouin Suite

This large suite in the courtyard adobe has a Queen-size built-in platform bed and a large indoor/outdoor stone tub with a rain shower. The suite features a full kitchen with breakfast bar, a spacious sitting area with a wood burning fireplace. The private patio offers dramatic views of the San Jacinto Mountains.

Casablanca studio

This sunlit, white washed, upper-level studio offers a semi-private balcony with views of Tahquitz Canyon and the San Jacinto Mountains. The windows overlook our tranquil courtyard. It features a King bed, full kitchen, a stone shower and a sweeping grand staircase.

Kasbah Suite

This spacious suite opens to a view of the pool and the San Jacinto Mountains beyond. The suite features a Queen bed, full kitchen and a dining room with French doors opening to a cozy patio.

Marrakech Suite

This is a large, sunny, upper-level suite with extraordinary views of the mountains, pool and courtyard. The suite has a private stairwell, a large living room, a King bed, private balcony, a tiled bathroom and full kitchen.

Nomad Suite

A large, bright and airy suite situated in the center of the courtyard adobe. The living room overlooks the pool and with views of the San Jacinto Mountains beyond. The suite offers a private patio, a Queen bed, stone bathtub, a kitchen and a living room with a wood burning fireplace.

Sahara Room

This sunlit adobe room opens to a large patio/courtyard with a sweeping view of the San Jacinto Mountains. It features a Queen bed and full bathroom.

Sahara Suite

This large one-bedroom suite features a King bed, sitting and dining area, full kitchen, and a wood burning stone fireplace and a spacious bathroom with a free standing porcelain tub.

Tangier Studio

Adjacent to the pool and fountain, this comfortable studio features a Queen bed built into an arched Moroccan alcove, a full kitchen and French doors opening into a semi-private patio shaded by blooming fruit trees.

ifyougo:


The Korakia Pensione
 (257 S. Patencio Road, Palm Springs; 760-864-6411)
Details: Full breakfast is included. Summer discounts are 20-40% of regular rates.

Take note there are current packages available.

West Baden Springs Resort: Southern Indiana’s calming oasis

By Special Guest Blogger Kathy Witt.

It is fitting that West Baden Springs Hotel, a magnificent domed resort built in 1902 in the manner of the grand spas of Europe, sits along an Indiana Historic Pathways route. The roads tell the story of Indiana and the country, beginning with the hoofs of the bison and moving through time to the wheels of the stagecoach, the tracks laid by the railroads and the cars meandering along today in search of a historic resort that looks more Bavaria than America’s Crossroads.

Located in the southern part of the state, West Baden Springs’ own story begins in the mid-nineteenth century with a stretch of marshland, a hidden natural spring and one man’s dream to create a holiday destination that would ultimately overshadow the prestigious French Lick Springs Resort, built in 1845 and located just a mile down the road.

It is a story of intense rivalry between two visionary hoteliers, devastating fires and full-scale renovations and expansions that brought each resort to national prominence as luxurious health resorts. Both properties took advantage of their location amidst the natural mineral springs of the area, promoting the springs for their medicinal value and successfully marketing the “curative” water as Pluto (French Lick) and Sprudel (West Baden).

Today, the hotels are part of French Lick Resort, a classic, family-friendly destination with three golf courses, two spas and plenty of activities and entertainment to fill a long weekend. While the onsite casino, bowling alley, arcade and children’s activities give French Lick Springs a kickier vibe, West Baden Springs is a calming oasis that retains its Old World charm with European architecture, fairytale towers and a bricked entrance road that rolls out alongside the hotel’s formal gardens.

Favorite pastimes at West Baden Springs are lounging, dining, sipping cocktails and enjoying afternoon tea in the enormous atrium, a light and airy gathering space, once known as a Pompeian Court, with comfy, cushy seating scattered throughout. It is topped by the free-spanning dome, a steel and glass marvel measuring 195 feet in diameter and 130 feet in height and the reason the hotel was branded the “Eighth Wonder of the World” when it opened.

Guests naturally gravitate to this stunning space, where they can see remnants of the mosaic terrazzo tile flooring that, when originally installed in 1916, consisted of two million squares of marble, plus a fireplace that looks like a piece of art and passageways that spoke off to various parts of the hotel, including registration, dining and the pool and spa.

The hotel’s six stories and their 243 guestrooms and suites encircle the atrium, with about 40 of these inviting retreats featuring a balcony that opens up to an incredible view of the dome and everything beneath it. Like the atrium itself, the balcony rooms are a perfect nook for relaxing and listening to the piano player as his fingers travel through a playlist of familiar melodies each evening.

Relaxation

Also relaxing is a visit to the spa, designed using historic photographs to capture the resort’s original two-level natatorium layout. Like the resort itself, the spa combines that Old World sensibility with European elegance to create a tranquil retreat. The spa offers a number of different treatments, including massages, facials and body scrubs.

Hidden History

Hidden off the registration area is the library, a hushed spot that brings to mind Agatha Christie novels, brandy snifters and hound dogs dozing by the fire with its plump chairs, dark paneling and classic rolling library ladder. Another one: The museum gallery tucked off a first floor corridor. It is a history lesson, arranged in glass cases and on the walls, of West Baden Springs as seen through its early hotel décor and dishware, promotional posters and vintage pictures.

Acitivities & Events

West Baden Springs Hotel offers numerous activities – onsite shopping, historic and horse-drawn carriage tours, strolling the formal gardens, indoor and outdoor swimming pools and indoor hot tub, fitness center access, horseback riding, golfing and a variety of scheduled events and concerts.

It also inspires slowing down, relishing being in the moment and appreciating all the stories told through the architecture, activities and traditions of one of the country’s most beautiful and historic resorts.

Plan Your Travels

The AAA Four Diamond West Baden Springs Hotel is a National Landmark Hotel and member of Preferred Hotels and Resorts. Its 243 luxury guest rooms and suites are each individually decorated. The room rate comes with a number of complimentary items: valet and self-parking, resort-wide shuttle service, two bottles of water daily and Wi-Fi/Internet. It is also a pet-friendly hotel. Note that daily housekeeping and nightly turn-down service are currently suspended.

A trolley, running seven days a week, takes guests back and forth between West Baden Springs and French Lick Springs hotels. At West Baden, the depot is located adjacent to the gardens; at French Lick, it is near the casino.

Information and reservations: 888-936-9360, www.FrenchLick.com/hotels/WestBaden.

Packages

The resort offers a number of special packages (www.FrenchLick.com/hotels/packages for details), including these:

  • Mother’s Day (May 7 and 8) – includes overnight accommodations at West Baden Springs on Saturday or Sunday and Mother’s Day Brunch for two in the Atrium on May 8, featuring omelet, waffle and carving stations, chilled seafood bar and more.
  • Romance – includes resort accommodations, red rose on check-in, bottle of house wine and special welcome gift, plus a $105 French Lick Resort dining credit.
  • Happy Birthday – includes resort accommodations, welcome gift, birthday cake, $20 in ice cream credit and a $75 dining credit.

About Kathy Witt

Kathy Witt is an award-winning travel and lifestyle writer who writes a monthly syndicated travel column for Tribune News Service, is a regular contributor to Kentucky Living, Georgia and Travel Goods magazines and RealFoodTraveler.com as well as other outlets like County. She is the author of several books, including Cincinnati Scavenger (Fall 2022) Secret Cincinnati and The Secret of the Belles, and is working on another travel-themed book for Fall 2023 release. Kathy is a member of SATW (Society of American Travel Writers), Authors Guild and the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators.

Her writing has led to many cherished experiences and memories, including glacier walking in the foothills of Denali; being a Guardian on an Honor Flight from Louisville, KY to Washington D.C.; interviewing Dolly Parton several times; sailing with Oprah with Holland America Cruises; riding BOLT!, the roller coaster aboard Carnival’s Mardi Gras; and attending the 70th Anniversary Re-Premiere of Gone With the Wind, hosted by the Marietta Gone With the Wind Museum, where she got to enjoy the company of actress Ann Rutherford (“Carreen O’Hara”) and the “Three Beaus” – Mickey Kuhn, Patrick Curtis and Greg Giese.

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.