From May 16-19, Chicago will welcome friends new and old visiting for the National Restaurant Association Show at McCormick Place. With hundreds of events, exhibits, celebrity chef appearances and more, it'll be hard to get away for even a quick jaunt. With that in mind, I've come up with a few close to McCormick Place during the show.
Enjoy your visit and welcome to Chicago!
Close At Hand, Some Bird Watching by Lake Michigan
After a number of sessions and meeting with colleagues you might wish a bit of down-time. Fortunately, the McCormick Bird Sanctuary provides a bit of peace and quiet away from the proceedings. Opened in 2003, the Sanctuary is located on top of an underground parking garage south of McCormick Place, and it's just a 15-minute walk away. You can take a few minutes to check out the solar-powered birdbath, and enjoy looking at the native prairie plantings and interpretive signs.
Grab Some Friends and Take a Trip to Vice District Brewing
Chicago has seen a taprooms and brewpubs spring like up toadstools after a heavy rain these past few years. One such manifestation of the heady relationship between hops, water, and more is the Vice District Brewing at 15th and Michigan Avenue. In their well-designed and inviting taproom, visitors can pull up a chair and enjoy Pleasure Trip (a blonde ale) or my favorite, the Everleigh, which happens to be an Extra Special Bitter (ESB) of note. They also have a range of seasonal releases as well. While they don't have food on premises, they do have a rotating series of guest food trucks that stop by, so check their calendar for more details.
A Mighty Castle on Cermak Road
So you're in town to celebrate food and hospitality, no? Why not take a walk (or cab ride) over to a curious little building that was once part of a mighty burger empire? I'm talking about the legendary White Castle #16 at 43 East Cermak, which still has its mighty white tower that declares "Yes, you can find a clean seat, a clean grill, and a mighty fine hamburger here." White Castle served as the inspiration for a realm of other chains, including McDonald's, and they continue to thrive in the 21st century. In 2011, this well-kept building was made an official City of Chicago landmark and today it houses Chef Luciano Gourmet Chicken.