McCormick Place is the largest convention center in North America, attracting close to three million event-goers every year. Luckily, convention attendees looking for fun after the meetings are done will find the area hopping with restaurants and nightlife, including a well-established brewery circuit. Here are some of the recent and soon-to-come additions to the Near South Side neighborhood known as McCormick Square.
The owner of Chicago's beloved breakfast spot Batter and Berries opened Rylon's Smokehouse at 67 E. Cermak in late September, taking over the old Pizzeria Brandi space. This sit-down restaurant will offer barbecue dishes, traditional sides, stiff drinks and whiskey-spiked barbecue sauces. Chef Rylon's barbecue will incorporate a combination of pit grilling and smoking, with the noble goal of allowing the meat to shine through without heavy smoke flavors.
Armand's Victory Tap and Pizzeria has a new location on 1416 S. Michigan Avenue (formerly the City Tavern). This Chicago pizza institution has been serving up thin-crust pizza and Italian fare since 1956. The pizzeria is open until 10 p.m. on weeknights and 12 a.m. on weekends.
A beloved South Loop institution for 15 years, the Chicago Firehouse steakhouse sustained devastating damage during a fire in 2014. After years of rebuilding, it has its sights set on reopening by the end of 2016. Located in an historic fire station at 1401 S. Michigan Avenue, Chicago Firehouse will feature three levels, each with its own bar. The restaurant will extend onto a patio, and there will be a glass-enclosed upstairs dining area with capacity for 80.
The Artist's Café at 1150 S. Wabash was known for its large menu of salads, wraps, kabob plates and more before shuttering over the summer (the original Artist's Café at 412 S. Michigan, with its iconic bulb-light sign, remains open). Now, local Italian-American restaurant chain Rosebud will revive the location as Rosebud's Artist's Café. No word yet on whether the menu, which features breakfast, lunch and dinner options, will change with the new ownership.
Hyde Park-based coffeeshop Sip and Savor is expanding upward to 2239 S. Michigan Ave., just a few blocks from McCormick Place. The original location is home to some of the South Side's favorite coffee drinks (like potent, espresso-based Black Eyes and Honey Vanilla Lattes), as well as smoothies and breakfast pastries — making this the perfect place to fuel up before the meetings begin.