This week, we’re covering EXPO Chicago and its surrounding events. To give you an insider look at the city, we’re talking to a few exceptional Chicagoans who are sharing their favorite spots to dine, drink, relax, and see art at. Below, we hear from Maria Zec—general manager of The Peninsula Chicago, regional vice president of The Peninsula Hotels, and namesake of Z Bar.
WHERE TO EAT AND SIP:
The dining scene in Chicago is truly spectacular and I’ve loved watching it grow over the years. Some of my favorite places for dinner with friends and family are RL Restaurant, Shanghai Terrace, Pelago—an amazing Italian restaurant, and an old favorite is Coco Pazzo. I love their fresh vegetables and antipasto, which all deliver a delicious and memorable experience every time. Some of my newer favorites are Bellemore, Smyth, and Aba. When I’m just meeting for a drink, you can often find me at our new rooftop bar at The Peninsula, Z Bar. I’m especially fond of the signature cocktail “The Z” which has Chicago-made Koval gin.
WHERE TO SEE ART:
Whenever I have visitors to the city, I suggest a trip to The Art Institute of Chicago and the Museum of Contemporary Art. I’ve been to each museum dozens of times but always find something new and interesting. I’m intrigued to see the Art on the MART display this fall, which will be the largest digital art projection in the world. We always make multiple trips to Harris Theater—I love their music and dance productions. In the fall, I always plan to attend EXPO Chicago at Navy Pier. The caliber of the show and the programming is fantastic. For the last four years The Peninsula has hosted an art exhibit throughout our public space featuring a variety of artists. The exhibit coincides with EXPO Chicago and is open to the public through October. I love seeing all of the contemporary art on display—it transforms The Lobby. In addition to the annual art exhibits at the hotel taking place during EXPO Chicago, we recently started an Artist in Residence program in the area adjacent to our new Z Bar. Currently we are featuring Chicago photographer Lincoln Schatz’s forest walk series through the end of the year.
WHERE TO RELAX AND HAVE FUN:
During the summer, I love to walk or bike along the 20 miles of lakefront trail on the shores of Lake Michigan. I love to travel—it breaks down all the barriers between people. Spending time with my two pugs in Lincoln Park is always fun to see them enjoy the outdoors and one of my favorite ways to relax is board the architecture boat tours—simply magnificent to take in Chicago’s architecture while gliding along the Chicago River!