For EXPO Chicago 2018 (September 27–30), we’re providing an online edition of Whitewaller. For those traveling to the city, we’re sharing tips on where to see art, eat and sip, and stay. Below, we’re sharing our roundup of top bars and restaurants to enjoy while in town.
At Beatnik, old-war ambience shines through opulent décor, and new-age flavors burst from plates and cocktails. American and European bohemian lifestyles from the 1950s are seen exemplified through Middle Eastern-focused recipes that pull spices and inspiration from the Eastern Mediterranean, Asia, and Latin America—all for “New American” dishes not to be missed. Divided into four areas and full of craftsmanship details, the expansive place is perfect for sipping cocktails, enjoying a sit-down dinner, or reserving a private space.
Whitewaller recommends: Ordering the Turkish Coffee Semifredo for dessert.
Inside FOUND Hotel Chicago, the John Sofio-designed Blind Dragon is as much a destination for its ambiance as it is for its drinks. Presented by The h.wood Group, the lounge presents small shared plates and carefully-crafted Asian-themed cocktails by Bar Director Justin Campbell. To complement its alluring speakeasy vibe, which is a mirrored image of its original themed L.A. flagship, Blind Dragon also welcomes guests to three private karaoke rooms, and an array of alluring experiences and performances throughout the year.
Whitewaller recommends: Savoring the Two Birds, One Stone cocktail.
At the Chicago Athletic Association hotel, Drawing Room awaits. Serving as the hotel’s check-in communal area on the second floor, the Roman & Williams-designed space gives a sense of whimsical modernism, while hinting at the building’s past. There are still details from 1893 in the ornate German millwork detailing, nods to relics (like athletic trophies), a curated wall of art, three working fireplaces, and stained-glass windows.
Whitewaller recommends: Ordering something off of the Land and Sea Department menu.
The latest venture from Fujimura Hospitality, Entente invites diners to explore its a la carte menu and Chef Brian Fisher’s tasting menu, as well as Chicago-made beers, and inventive cocktails, wines, and sakes from around the world. With a refined and accommodating industrial front room with 20 seats, the restaurant also offers a full bar with eight seats—all heightened by an American craftsman-style finish with installations of whiskey barrel staves, and hints of brick, metal, leather, and concrete. This year, for the second year in a row, Entente also celebrates one Michelin star for high quality cooking.
Whitewaller recommends: Starting with the Carolina Gold dish.
Also located in FOUND Hotel Chicago (by The h.wood Group and designed by John Sofio) is Mason—a 2,000-square-foot American supper club restaurant with half-booths, dim lighting, dark wood, and oil paintings on the wall. Sumptuous offerings on the menu include steaks, pastas, salads, and table-side classics.
Whitewaller recommends: Sharing the Beef Wellington for two.
Smyth’s special recipes extend far beyond its menu. Working exclusively with The Farm (a 20-acre Bourbonnais farm located an hour south of the restaurant), Smyth oversees produce for its 5-, 8-, and 12-course menus. Product-driven yet incredible inventive, husband-and-wife duo Chef John Shields and Karen Urie Shields are well deserving of the restaurant’s recent accolade—two Michelin stars.
Whitewaller recommends: Renting the space out for a private event.
Located on the garden level, just steps beneath Smyth, is the Shields’ other offering: The Loyalist. Praised for its casual and warm feel, the space is a neighborhood restaurant loved for its 14-seat bar, communal table, and spacious booths. Entrees and shared plates are complemented by cocktails, craft beers, and hand-selected wines for an unforgettable dining experience.
Whitewaller recommends: Tasting the foie gras éclair.
Recently opened in June atop The Peninsula Chicago, Z Bar stuns with creatively designed spaces and rooftop views along Michigan Avenue. Named after Maria Zec, the General Manager of the hotel, Z Bar offers a variety of expansive and cozy places to relax at. Plush outdoor furniture awaits guests to sit fire-side, as velvety chairs and art pieces (like portraits of Zec’s pug) draw visitors in.
Whitewaller recommends: Sharing the Disco Fever punch bowl cocktail.
Band of Bohemia
Known as the only “culinary brewhouse” with a Michelin star, Band of Bohemia infuses its range of cuisine and drinks—including bar snacks, a la carte and multi-course tasting menus, brunch, dessert, and cocktails—with range and eclecticism. Chef Ian Davis’ attention to detail and passion for pairings is exemplified by dishes like the Aged Rohan Duck, the Saffron Cavatelli, and the Burnt Corn Ravioli.
Whitewaller recommends: Checking out the art collection, hung throughout the space.