To wander over to the corner of Huron and Clark in the River North nabe is to have a spark of inspiration. As you look up, you'll see the large sign for the Hotel Felix and you might think: "Why not stay here?" After all, you'd be close to everything as the saying goes, and you certainly wouldn't lack for dining options, nightlife, architectural wonders, and more.
So it's settled. You're going to spend a night or two at the Hotel Felix and I have a few suggestions to make this trip as wonderful as possible.
Going Green and Loving It
The Hotel Felix is green in the best ways possible and the marquee feature here is that they were the first hotel in Chicago with silver LEED certification. The experience starts as visitors enter the lobby which features a lovely water pond, a glimmering selection of glass orbs floating over a fireplace, and a range of decorative couches and chairs.
Even if you don't head up spending much time in your room, you'll appreciate the cornucopia of amenities on hand. Along with the usual suspects (free WiFi, L'Occitane products and more) each room has a workstation, lovely views of the city, and rather comfortable beddings. It's worth noting that there are three different types of rooms here, and you can learn more about each one via their website.
Also, visitors looking for something a bit extra should consider one of their refined packages, which can include a visit to their own Asha Spa or a decadent trip up and down Michigan Avenue for a bit of shopping.
When Street Foods Collide
After getting settled in, you should jump right back up and walk two blocks north to Mercadito Counter to experience their vision of high quality street food that's jumped from the cart into the bricks & mortar world.
First up, let me make one thing clear: they have breakfast. All. Day. Long.
That's a pretty fine start and you can't go wrong with their chilaquiles or the huevos rancheros in this arena. For arguments sake, let's say you've already had breakfast. Okay, fair enough and get thee over to the steak, shrimp, or chicken tacos. This troika would be plenty, but you'll also want to try the corn & poblano just to round things out.
And yes, the Chicago hot dog has found some additional sabor as well in these precincts. Amidst the eight offerings, visitors should order up a Norteno, which features black & pinto bean chili, onions, mustard, cheddar cheese and creme fresca. A close second would include the Mexican, which features a bacon-wrapped dog, pico de gall, mayo, jalapeno relish, mustard and ketchup. I know, I know, ketchup seems like sacrilege. Just try it.
Those folks looking to keep things on the healthier side can opt for a soy dog and the real plus comes here in the form of cocktails on tap and a selection of cold beers.
A Wonder Above Ground
As you wander back down Clark Street, twilight has arrived and music spills out onto the sidewalk. You have found the Underground Wonder Bar, which used to be underground just a few blocks away. Lonie Walker is the proprietress of this Chicago institution and there's music of all stripes here until 4am 365 nights a year. Quite inclusive, no?
With three stages and two bars, you can count on a mix of live music here that includes reggae, jazz, blues, world, folk and soul. Lonie holds down the schedule with late shows two nights a week and other highlights of the calendar include "Movie Mondays" (with $3 drafts) and the rotating cast of DJs on Saturday nights. The cover charge here is modest and they also have some basic eats for those looking for a bit more.
Of course, there's much more to do in the area around the Hotel Felix and folks with a penchant for art and architecture should make a pilgrimage to the Driehaus Museum, which is just around the corner. And if you're looking for a great breakfast before you leave the Felix, stop on by Troquet which is right off the lobby. It's a fine place to relax and the pain perdu (French toast with orange marmalade) is the perfect start for another day of exploring.
Photos Courtesy of: Hotel Felix; Mercadito; Max Grinnell