Lauren Viera

Correspondent

  • Chicago, Illinois, USA

Lauren Viera is a correspondent who lives in Chicago and covers the city for Forbes Travel Guide. Viera contributes articles on spirits, travel and lifestyle to Chicago Tribune, Chicago Magazine, Time Out Chicago, Crain’s Chicago Business, Imbibe, MensJournal.com and others. She was a senior editor on the launch staff of Time Out Chicago, and was a staff writer on the travel desk of the Chicago Tribune. A native Californian, Viera has lived in Chicago for a decade and chronicles her love of horticulture and cocktail culture on her blog, The Glass & Garden.

  • On March 3, 2013
    Lauren Viera answered the question: Lauren Viera

    What are the best clothing boutiques in Chicago?

    When asked to name just one boutique that has impacted Chicago's fashion elite, the answer is always Ikram, a sleek den of well-heeled, high-end style. Designers range from Alexander McQueen to Victor + Rolf, as well as a handful of Japanese and European names likely to wind up in tomorrow's fashion spreads. The shop is located in the luxe Gold Coast shopping district, and the second-story cafe makes for excellent people watching between boutiques.

    Only in the last several years has Wicker Park's Damen Avenue emerged as a hub for major chains and labels such as Club Monaco and Marc by Marc Jacobs. But the now trendy corridor has long been the home to p.45, which remains the neighborhood's top women's boutique. Derek Lam and Phillip Lim find solace here alongside established local designers such as Abigail Glaum Lathbury.

    Not far from p.45 are two more must-visits: Apartment Number 9, for the well-dressed urban gentleman, and Penelope's, a Division Strip mainstay with preppy chic staples for young men and women alike.
  • On March 3, 2013
    Lauren Viera answered the question: Lauren Viera

    What are the best art galleries in Chicago?

    Chicago is home to multiple gallery districts spread all over the city, allowing for gallery-hopping from many different starting points. The oldest and most traditional hub is in the River North neighborhood, and among the two dozen or so spread among a handful of blocks, Russell Bowman Fine Art displays the best cross-section of classic Chicago artists, including Ed Paschke, Roger Brown, Vivian Maier and others.

    The most exciting gallery district for emerging artists both local and national is the West Loop, home to Kavi Gupta Gallery, Andrew Rafacz Gallery, Carrie Secrist Gallery and others. Those three share the same building, and often plan concurrent openings and events. Several blocks away is  Western Exhibitions, a longtime supporter of unusual emerging artists.

    Much further afield in Hyde Park, on the University of Chicago campus, is a local gallery stalwart. Perched on the lofty top floor of an ivy-covered building, The Renaissance Society, nearly a century old, stands in a category its own as a powerhouse of groundbreaking exhibitions.
  • On March 3, 2013
    Lauren Viera answered the question: Lauren Viera

    What are the best art galleries in Chicago?

    Chicago is home to multiple gallery districts spread all over the city, allowing for gallery-hopping from many different starting points. The oldest and most traditional hub is in the River North neighborhood, and among the two dozen or so spread among a handful of blocks, Russell Bowman Fine Art displays the best cross-section of classic Chicago artists, including Ed Paschke, Roger Brown, Vivian Maier and others.

    The most exciting gallery district for emerging artists both local and national is the West Loop, home to Kavi Gupta Gallery, Andrew Rafacz Gallery, Carrie Secrist Gallery and others. Those three share the same building, and often plan concurrent openings and events. Several blocks away is  Western Exhibitions, a longtime supporter of unusual emerging artists.

    Much further afield in Hyde Park, on the University of Chicago campus, is a local gallery stalwart. Housed in an ivy-covered buiding on campus, The Renaissance Society, nearly a century old, stands in a category its own as a powerhouse of important artist.
  • On March 1, 2013
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    Michelle Doucette is now following Lauren Viera
  • On February 28, 2013
    Lauren Viera is now following Grant Achatz
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    Jennifer Kester is now following Lauren Viera
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  • On February 9, 2013
    Lauren Viera answered the question: Lauren Viera

    What are the best hotels in Chicago?

    In a convention-friendly town this big, you can bet all of the major players are here, including as many Marriott incarnations as your corporate-hotel memory can muster. Many of the big names defend their well-heeled reputations. The Peninsula, for example, has one of the loveliest, airiest lobbies in town that masquerades as a top restaurant. The Park Hyatt teems with pitch-perfect service and stunning views, one of the best of which is from its sleek, minimalist indoor pool. Chicago's Four Seasons recently reconcepted its restaurant and the result, Allium, somehow manages to balance an edgy look with classic caliber service.

    On the boutique hotel scene, newest is Hotel Lincoln, from California's Joy de Vivre group, with comfortably hip decor, stunning views overlooking Lincoln Park, and one of the neighborhood's bright spots of destination dining, Perennial Virant. In the summer months, be sure to check out Hotel Lincoln's roof bar, J. Parker, with views extending across the park to Lake Michigan.
  • On February 9, 2013
    Lauren Viera is now following Larry Olmsted
  • On February 7, 2013
    Lauren Viera answered the question: Lauren Viera

    What are the best hotels in Chicago?

    In a convention-friendly town this big, you can bet all of the major players are here, including as many Marriotts incarnations as your corporate-hotel memory can muster. Many of the big names defend their well-heeled reputations. The Peninsula, for example, has one of the loveliest, airiest lobbys in town that masquerades as a top restaurant. The Park Hyatt teems with pitch-perfect service and stunning views, one of the best of which is from its airy indoor pool. Chicago's Four Seasons recently reconcepted its restaurant and the result, Allium, is as sharp as it is classic.

    There are plenty of boutique properties, as well. New to the scene is Hotel Lincoln, from California's Joy de Vivre group, with comfortably hip decor, stunning views overlooking Lincoln Park, and one of the neighborhood's bright spots of destination dining, Perennial Virant.
  • On February 7, 2013
    Lauren Viera answered the question: Lauren Viera

    What is public transportation like in Chicago?

    Chicago has a remarkably efficient public transportation system, dubbed the CTA (Chicago Transit Authority). Single rides on either trains or buses cost $2.25; thereafter, discounts are possible via multi-trip transit cards and reloadable Chicago Cards (typically used by daily commuters).

    For visitors, your best bet is the Unlimited-Ride Card. A 1-Day CTA Pass costs just $10 for unlimited rides; 3-, 7- and 30-Day passes are also available. Especially downtown, your CTA Pass is a great hop-on, hop-off option for traveling between destinations that are too far to walk. As far as trains go, the eight colored lines (Red, Orange, Yellow, Green, Blue, Purple, Brown, Pink) fan out from the Chicago Loop -- so named because a handful of these train lines run in a "loop" around the neighborhood. The city's main lines are the Red Line (generally north-south) and the Blue Line (northwest-southeast), and if you ask most Chicagoans, they'll identify with one or the other, almost like a personality test.
  • On February 7, 2013
    Lauren Viera answered the question: Lauren Viera

    What is the best time to visit Chicago?

    The best part about Chicago is that it never shuts down. There are no dead months -- not even in the depths of winter. So no matter what time of year you visit, there's always something going on.

    But there's nothing like Chicago in the summertime. Following a kind of ying-yang mentality, Chicagoans praise the sun in the winter months after so graciously tolerating so much winter. By June, al fresco seating is in full effect at just about any food or drink establishment with a scrap of concrete, and festival after festival (after festival, after festival) takes place in neighborhoods and downtown parks alike. As Chicago's weather calendar is very true to reality, the peak summer months can get quite stuffy for those unaccustomed to Midwestern humidity. But the fringe months -- May into June and September into October -- are some of the loveliest to experience, both for temperatures and the gorgeous colors.
  • On February 7, 2013
    Lauren Viera answered the question: Lauren Viera

    What are the best restaurants in Chicago?

    Chicago's restaurant scene has been expanding for so many years now that it's no longer undergoing a boom; it's simply a matter of fact: some of the best restaurants in the country, if not the world, claim Chicago zipcodes. The cream of the crop is Alinea, chef Grant Achatz's critically lauded 18-course-dinner restaurant driven by molecular gastronomic principles. While highly coveted, tables at Alinea are easier to secure than tickets to Achatz's sophomore establishment, Next, whose fixed menu changes seasonally, and to which seatings disappear like rock concert tickets: often sold-out within minutes of their release.

    Elsewhere, there are numerous less stressful reservations to be made. Chicago has no wanting for top-quality steakhouses, but one of my favorites is also among the newest: Bavette's Bar & Boeff has the dark, leathery air of a decades-old chophouse, with refreshingly unstuffy service and an impeccable Cognac Old Fashioned. A decade ahead of its time, avec pleases with small plates and a cozy, wood-paneled atmosphere that fuels neighborly conversation. And Nightwood, located in the city's otherwise Mexican-food-dominated neighborhood of Pilsen, offers an always-changing menu hinged on farm-fresh ingredients, thoughtfully served with intricate details.