Over the coming weeks, O'Hare International Airport will be a very busy place with the holiday travel season in full swing, as thousands of people make their way home to Des Moines, Dubai, and beyond. Those fine folks flying internationally will find their way to Terminal 5. It's a far cry from even a few years ago, as the terminal was reborn in April 2014 after a $26 million renovation completed as part of a new partnership between the Chicago Department of Aviation and Westfield.
Today, visitors can avail themselves of a world-class spa, a specialty store stocked with gifts made in Chicago, and a host of dining options. Here are my top three picks out of the 18 different new outlets in the terminal. Trust me, you might find yourself booking an additional overseas flight just to check all of them out.
Before Crossing Over, Some Groceries, Salads and More
The popular Goddess and Grocer has a location right outside security at Terminal 5, which is huge for those who might be hoping to wander on over for one of their signature salads. My personal favorite is the chicken chopped salad, and you might also try one of their fine desserts as well. The seating area is quite comfortable and if you sit sit at one of the high chairs, it's a great place to people-watch. Also, they open early every day at 5 a.m. and stay open until 10 p.m.
Take Home a Piece of Chicago
Many airport retail emporia are chock full of generic stores that hawk fairly generic souvenirs and trinkets. The I Love Chicago outlet in Terminal 5 breaks away from the pack by offering everything from locally made ceramic pottery to marvelous prints celebrating the architectural diversity of Michigan Avenue. Also, the Chicago flag can be found on everything here, including mugs, t-shirts, snow globes, and more.
Toddle on over to Tocco
Chef Bruno Abate, a son of Napoli, has added another outpost of his budding restaurant empire right here amidst the hustle and bustle of this most cosmopolitan enclave. First-timers will notice that, well, quite honestly, it doesn't feel like you're in an airport. Imagine a modernist Fellini-esque interior with the type of casual modish charm that bespeaks a more glamorous era of flight. Oh, and yes: the food is fine. My top honors goes to the pizza with prosciutto di parma and arugula (below). Don't forget to take a close look at all the wonderful interior design details while you are having a glass of wine or two.
Photos by Max Grinnell