Answers from Our Experts (2)
There's always something new in the Windy City — whether it's a hot restaurant or a trendy hotel. Our Forbes Travel Guide editors got the dish on what's been going on in Chicago.
Where to eat
Takashi Yagihashi has earned a cult following among Chicago foodies, first with his namesake upscale restaurant Takashi, and now with his latest outpost, Slurping Turtle. Opened in November 2011 in the River North neighborhood, Slurping Turtle takes a more casual approach to Japanese cuisine, with a focus on comfort food. Ramen noodle dishes such as tan tan men (whole-wheat egg noodles and spicy miso with pork and spicy homemade sausage), dumplings and hot tapas (locals line up for the duck-fat fried chicken) are local favorites. The sashimi bar and selection of sakes elevate the menu enough to match the streamlined, attractive décor. And if you’re curious about the name of the place — turtles symbolize longevity in Japan.
Gregory Ellis and Steven Fladung opened 2 Sparrows in Lincoln Park in Fall 2011, and while it’s a breakfast, lunch and brunch spot now, the cozy 63-seat restaurant hosts a multi-course monthly beer dinner with pairings from a rotating selection of Midwest breweries. The daytime menu playfully combines high- and low-brow food with inventive dishes like foie gras and cherry compote pop tarts, and biscuits and lamb sausage gravy.
Where to stay
The much-loved but neglected Ambassador East hotel was reborn in October 2011 as hotelier Ian Schraeger’s first in a new chain of Public Hotels. With its streamlined décor and quietly luxurious vibe, Public Chicago is the place to stay for those who want something off the beaten Loop path. The hotel’s famed restaurant, The Pump Room, where stars from Frank Sinatra to Judy Garland were regulars during the heyday, has been reborn with a menu created by Jean-Georges Vongerichten. We’re fond of the hotel’s Library, an especially good spot to take a break from the cold weather — pull up chairs close to the fireplace, play chess and order a specialty cocktail. On Sunday afternoons, football is played in the Screening Room while hot dogs and beer are served.
In a city as big as Chicago, there’s always something new going on. The hot theater ticket right now is Book of Mormon, written by South Park creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone. The show opened in Chicago last winter in its first permanent production outside New York City, and it’s run here has been extended so many times at this point, it might as well be here to stay.
In the dining scene, perhaps the spring’s most anticipated opening is renown Chicago chef and restaurateur Carrie Nahabedian’s Brindille (pronounced brawn-DEE), scheduled for a late-April opening in River North, just down the street from Nahabedian’s decade-old classic, Naha.
On the hotel and spa tip, I’m especially curious about the opening of The Langham, currently is in construction at Mies van der Rohe’s landmark-designated IBM Building facing the Chicago River. The luxury hotel and spa is scheduled for a summer 2013 opening.