What’s New and Happening in Chicago – Winter 2017/2018

Choose Chicago Media Relations
Contact: Anna Polovick Waggy, Media Relations Coordinator
apwaggy@choosechicago.com

CHICAGO, ILLINOIS (December 21, 2017) – Chicago was recently named the best big city in the U.S. by Condé Nast Traveler Readers' Choice Awards 2017, and the city shows no signs of slowing down. After a record setting first half of 2017 for Chicago tourism, the city continues to amaze with innovative hotel renovations, groundbreaking exhibits, delicious new food experiences and thriving performing arts during Winter 2017/2018. Shake off cabin fever by exploring Chicago’s new restaurants, hotels, attractions and more! Check out what’s new and happening in Chicago below and visit www.ChooseChicago.com for more information:

 

ACCOMMODATIONS

Ace Hotel Chicago made its home in Chicago’s West Loop neighborhood in August 2017 within a stoic, industrial concrete and glass building, once home to an Italian-American cheesemaking company and, before that, a pair of mysterious brothers. The vision for the hotel is inspired by the ever-evolving design history of the city and the heroes that emerged from it, as well as the idea that they would hand over their public spaces to the city they were built for. The Mies-inspired property has guest rooms with skyline views, event spaces big and small, a restaurant called City Mouse (from the team behind the critically acclaimed restaurant Giant), a top floor bar named Waydown and a café by Stumptown Coffee Roasters — their first outpost in the Midwest.

The Ambassador Chicago hotel reopened in July 2017, taking its rightful place among the historic mansions of Chicago’s uber-stylish Gold Coast neighborhood. The Ambassador has strong ties with Chicago history, having started life in the glamorous Jazz Age of the 1920s. With its rebrand by new owner Journal Hotels, the 285-room boutique hotel retains its distinctive Art Deco features while blending modern elements, such as streamlined furnishings and contemporary painting, photography and sculpture installations.

Best Western River North Hotel just completed a $4.5 million dollar renovation in December 2017. Focusing on comfort and style, pops of teal and metallic accents give a contemporary vibe to this classic downtown hotel. A landmark with a rich legacy, the hotel embraces its past with a renewed modern energy.

The first ever tri-brand Hilton, which will combine a Hilton Garden Inn, Hampton Inn and Home2 Suites, will join The Collection at McCormick Square complex in November 2018, conveniently connecting via a sky bridge to McCormick Place. The Collection at McCormick Square is a complex that includes the McCormick Place convention center, the new 10,387-seat Wintrust Arena, the Hyatt Regency McCormick Place and the new Marriott Marquis Chicago.

The 58-story Equinox has a planned open of early 2019 with 165 hotel rooms and 370 residential units in the West Loop. It will include an on-site fitness club, prominent exterior signage and parking for 150 vehicles accessible via Court Place.

The 90-year-old Hilton Chicago completed an extensive top-to-bottom hotel revamp in October 2017. The $7 million renovation included a full transformation of its third-floor meeting spaces, a contemporary redesign of the Continental Ballroom and the restoration of the 5,000-sq.-ft. Conrad Hilton Suite (the largest suite in the Midwest).

Chicago’s first hotel/gallery fusion officially launched in October 2017 at Hotel Chicago West Loop, ushering in a new era of art-forward, affordable hotels. Encompassing the whole boutique property, from lobby throughout all guest halls, The Annex is a fully functioning, alternative exhibition space for permanent displays by renowned artists as well as rotating works by local emerging artists. The Annex aims to inspire both the everyday guest and the art patron with its “gallery built around a hotel” atmosphere and its support of a culturally rich community – donating portions of room rates for traveling artists and enthusiasts to Arts Alliance Illinois. Rotating exhibitions are scheduled to begin Winter 2017, starting with a progressive live art show utilizing hotel rooms as nontraditional palettes for work.

The former 1916 Atlantic Bank Building on Michigan Avenue is currently undergoing renovation, with the goal of reopening as the Hotel Julian in Fall 2018. With its iconic terracotta facade restored, the new hotel (just steps from Millennium Park) will include a ground-floor restaurant, About Last Knife, which will feature a folding glass wall separating its indoor and outdoor seating areas. The hotel is named for St. Julian Hospitaller, the patron saint of hospitality and innkeepers.

Hotel Zachary is slated to open in Wrigleyville April 2018. The boutique, lifestyle property was inspired by visionary Wrigley Field architect and Chicagoan Zachary Taylor Davis. Hotel Zachary promises to be a genuine place of rest, revelry and rejuvenation, nestled in the heart of Chicago’s famous Lakeview Neighborhood across from the historic Wrigley Field.

Construction is under way for The Hoxton in the Fulton Market District. The hotel has a planned open of March 2019. The Chicago branch of the London-based Hoxton brand comes from prominent West Loop developer Shapack Partners, and will stand at 11 stories tall with 175 rooms, two levels of office space, ground-floor retail and a rooftop terrace. In addition, Boka Restaurant Group will open a restaurant and bar in the upcoming hotel.

Hyatt Hotels is working on a new hotel in the West Loop across the street from the upcoming new McDonald’s headquarters. The 53-story office tower is currently under construction, and will have 220 guest rooms, two levels of parking containing roughly 40 spaces, a fourth floor sky lobby, a guest amenity level and ground floor retail space. The estimated opening is 2020.

Hyatt Regency McCormick Place completed a $13 million restaurant renovation in October 2017 that offers an exciting culinary scene with three bold new restaurants that celebrate Chicago. Drawing inspiration from the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition, Third Star serves artisan cuisine with international flavors and imagination. Embark on a journey through the flavors of Southeast Asian street food in the casual, colorful Sixes & Eights. Lit with the glow of thousands of Edison bulbs, Arc Bar offers a modern edge that is intimate yet high-energy. Arc Bar also features an outdoor patio for drinking and dining complete with fire pits.

Located just off Michigan Avenue in the former McGraw-Hill building, The Gwen Chicago recently completed a renovation of its rooms and public spaces. Conceptualized and executed by the Chicago-based Simeone Deary Design Group, the property features art-deco inspired décor that pays homage to pioneer Chicago sculptor Gwen Lux. The hotel is extending the life of its outdoor terrace this winter with a new, iceless Curling Rink. The Gwen Curling Rink will be accessible all-week (weather permitting) from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. and admission for a game includes a cocktail. The Gwen’s terrace will be outfitted with heaters, outdoor fireplaces and a new menu of warm winter cocktails.

With a new look, ETA Restaurant + Bar, located inside Loews Chicago Hotel, announced new fall arrivals in September 2017 including a partnership with Revolution Brewing, food menu, beverage program and updated private dining rooms. As a homage to Chicago’s long history of hosting travelers from around the world, ETA welcomes visitors and locals alike. Décor items nod to the city’s rich transportation history and evoke an air of the Golden Age of Travel. ETA’s warm, wood-ensconced dining room captures the essence of Chicago’s first and finest inns and taverns. A locally sourced, seasonally inspired menu takes inspiration from rustic meals of the past with an innovative spin of today.

Opening in Spring 2018, MOXY Chicago Downtown will be the first of its kind in Chicago offering a locally inspired, contemporary design, industrial chic style, and buzzing social scene. With a prime location in Chicago's dining and nightlife hot spot, River North, Moxy Chicago's 156 bedrooms will be comfortable and tech savvy with motion sensor lighting, 49-inch LED TV's, abundant power and USB outlets, as well as furiously fast and free WiFi. The lobby will feature game tables, an interactive digital guestbook, and a bar which doubles as the check in desk where you'll be greeted with a complimentary 'Get Moxy' signature cocktail! The bar will feature energetic alternative to the typical hotel experience, MOXY Chicago Downtown proves that affordability doesn't mean sacrificing style or comfort.

Robert De Niro’s Japanese-themed boutique hotel and restaurant chain, Nobu Hotel Chicago, is currently in the construction phase in the West Loop. The new 11-story building will bring 103 new hotel rooms to Peoria and Randolph streets. The hotel is slated to open in August 2018 and includes a 10,000-sq.-ft. Nobu restaurant with an indoor and outdoor bar, rooftop terrace, indoor pool and spa.

Newly opened in June 2017 in a 110-year-old historic building, The Publishing House elevates your traditional B&B experience by offering luxury rooms, highly personalized service and one of Chicago’s best breakfasts. Eleven en-suite rooms ranging from 250 sq. ft. to 450 sq. ft. can accommodate a cozy corner for a getaway or a suite for a romantic weekend. Each of the rooms are quiet, private and beautifully appointed, inspired by Chicago literary references and designed by interior- based design firm, Siren Betty. The 18,000-sq.-ft., $2.35 million space showcases a large concrete, double-sided fireplace, flanked by dual 12 seat dining tables, lounges and a baby grand piano.

The Ritz-Carlton Chicago’s completed $100 million renovation debuted on July 31, 2017 and is its biggest transformation yet. Enlisting the San Francisco-based, award-winning design firm BAMO, The Ritz-Carlton Chicago’s contemporary and majestic modern renovation revels in the city’s heritage of architecture, forward-thinking design and industrial innovation. The visual masterpiece showcases panoramic skyline views that serve as a focal point throughout the property and are elevated by the permanent art collection that guides you through a narrative of the design philosophy.

SOPHY, the new 98-room boutique hotel in Chicago’s popular Hyde Park neighborhood, is scheduled to open in Summer 2018. Developed by SMART Hotels and managed by Olympia Hotel Management, SOPHY is located at 53rd Street and Dorchester Avenue on Chicago’s South Side, close to the site of the future Barack Obama Presidential Library, the University of Chicago campus and the Museum of Science and Industry. SOPHY will feature a bar and restaurant with al fresco dining and a fitness center. Designed as a four-diamond property and engineered to achieve LEED Silver certification, SOPHY will be a preferred hotel of the University of Chicago.

The Hard Rock Hotel is undergoing renovation and rebranding, and will reopen in late Spring 2018 as the St. Jane Chicago, named for the legendary activist and social worker Jane Addams. Changes to the historic Carbide & Carbon Building include upgraded guest rooms, redesigned event venues and a new 24th floor lounge with outdoor space.

Taking center stage in the heart of the vibrant Gold Coast neighborhood, Viceroy Chicago, a 180-room modern luxury hotel, opened September 2017. The hotel is located on the site of the former historic Cedar Hotel and features culinary concepts from Chicago’s celebrated Boka Restaurant Group. Positioned at the intersection of Cedar and State Streets, this urban resort rises 18 stories and is home to the neighborhood’s first rooftop pool. This desirable rooftop space, plus floor-to-ceiling windows throughout the hotel, allows sweeping views of Lake Michigan and the cityscape, offering a unique vantage point of Chicago to inspire curiosity and exploration. Viceroy Hotel Group worked in collaboration with Chicago-based Convexity Properties, Todd-Avery Lenahan of award-winning hospitality design firm TAL Studio, The Gettys Group procurement team and leading architect Goettsch Partners.

 

ATTRACTIONS & TOURS

Apple opened Apple Michigan Avenue, its newest and most ambitious store, creating a new connection between North Michigan Avenue, Pioneer Court and the Chicago River on October 20, 2017. Intended as a gathering place for the local community, the store will host year-round Today at Apple programming, building on Chicago’s citywide initiative to enliven the Riverwalk. Chicago’s connection to its river runs deep and Apple Michigan Avenue adds new access to the riverfront from Pioneer Court. The two are now linked by granite staircases on both sides of the transparent store, opening up views from the plaza to the river and beyond.

The Urban Land Institute (ULI) announced that the Chicago Riverwalk is one of 13 international recipients of the 2017- 2018 Global Awards for Excellence. Often hailed as a kind-of gold standard for civic planning, the award is a massive honor for both the Riverwalk’s designers and the city as a whole. This is the 19th major award presented to the project since its construction began.

The Chicago Chinese Cultural Institute invites visitors and locals to take a closer look at Chinatown history and dive into the world of Chinese culinary arts through a new, immersive Chinatown Food Tour of the neighborhood’s best restaurants. From the heavy seasoning of Sichuan to the smoked and generously spiced dishes of Hunan, sampling food from different regions of China is as variable as sampling across multiple countries. Refine your understanding of traditional dishes from the Middle Kingdom while simultaneously enjoying great authenticity right here in Chicago. Afterwards, soothe your palate with a sampling of traditional Chinese teas from some of Chinatown’s oldest shops. Public tours are offered from Memorial Day to Labor Day. Private tours are available upon request.

Chicago Detours has a new interior walking tour special for the holidays. During A Holiday Tour of Drinks, Daley’s and Dead Guys, see some classic Chicago holiday traditions and hear off-the-beaten path stories over a couple drinks. Hear about how Mayor Richard J. Daley saved the Christmas Parade, and then how his son, Richard M., was almost awarded a stocking of coal for his affront to Christmas and Hanukkah, and hear the story of Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer’s birth in Chicago. Several public tour dates are scheduled through December 30, and private group tours are also available.

Take your next event out on the water with the new Odyssey Chicago River Experience. Set to open in Summer 2018, this single-level, glass-enclosed boat will ply the waters of the Chicago River, offering stunning 360-degree views of the surrounding architecture. The vessel is available for full and partial charters, accommodating a maximum of 200 guests. Operating year-round, the climate-controlled Odyssey will offer upscale brunch, lunch, dinner and cocktail menus. The cruise boards on the north side of the Chicago River, near NBC Tower.

 

FOOD & DRINK

The 2018 Michelin Guide Chicago has once again awarded three stars to world-renowned Alinea, owned by Chef Grant Achatz, and Grace, by award-winning Chef Curtis Duffy. Two stars were given to critically acclaimed Acadia, Oriole, Sixteen and Smyth restaurants. A total of 25 restaurants were awarded with stars in the 2018 MICHELIN Guide Chicago, with two new restaurants being introduced and one West Loop spot getting elevated.

Chicago will host the James Beard Awards, the so-called Oscars of the food industry, through 2021. In 2017, Rick Bayless' Topolobampo won the James Beard Award for Outstanding Restaurant and Monteverde Chef Sarah Grueneberg won Best Chef: Great Lakes.

Chicago's critically acclaimed Alinea ranked #21 on the list of The Worlds 50 Best Restaurants. Two Chicago restaurants also scored a coveted spot on Esquire’s list of The Best New Restaurants in America for 2017. Roister is lauded for its “radical playfulness” (witness the foie gras-layered candy bar), while Chef Iliana Regan of Kitsune is hailed as “one of the most creatively distinctive chefs in America” for her take on Japanese cuisine.

Located in the heart of River North, at the prominent corner of Clark and Kinzie Street in the same building as their Italian concept, Siena Tavern, DineAmic Group opened Barrio, a creative take on traditional Mexican fare with pan-Latin and American influences. The 6,000-sq.-ft. restaurant opened in July 2017 and seats 200 people. Headed by Top Chef alum Chef Katsuji Tanabe, Barrio provides a plethora of options for every patron. The menu incorporates a shared-plate format offering locally sourced, sustainable ingredients with an emphasis on organic, as well as paleo and gluten-free options.

Conceptualized and designed by Daniel Alonso and the Bonhomme Hospitality Group, Beatnik is a new cocktail bar and restaurant that offers guests lush interiors, opulent decor and old-world ambiance. Aesthetically, Beatnik captures the worldly spirit and cultural ideal of the bohemian lifestyle of the 1950s in Europe and America. The result of a $1 million project, Beatnik opened on September 6, 2017 and features one-of-a-kind antique design elements including a Carved Teak Façade from a grand home in Bali, an Italian Farmhouse Table, a Parisian Patisserie Counter and Wooden Doors from a home in Egypt, all circa 1900. The 6,000-sq.-ft. space can seat 200 guests in the various spaces, which creates a series of vignettes that marry the bucolic splendor of a Mediterranean farmhouse with the colorful opulence of Moorish architecture and the tropical lushness of Bali.

Chicago Chef Jimmy Papadopoulos, in collaboration with Boka Restaurant Group, opened Bellemore, an artistic American restaurant in November 2017. Jimmy brings his signature “bright, bold, beautiful” cuisine to Chicago’s West Loop. Bellemore has a distinct voice in the modern American genre with inventive, sophisticated dishes like The Oyster Pie, a savory oyster custard topped with Osetra Caviar, a touch of crème fraiche, lemon dressed apple and dill; Venison Tartare with grilled mushrooms, turnips, pears, pumpernickel and lime; and Dry Aged Duck glazed with raspberry vinegar and served with fennel, farro, beets and duck heart en crépinette. The restaurant also offers a six course tasting menu for only $85/person that can be experienced in under three hours.

Booth One is a classic Chicago restaurant from Rich Melman and the team at Lettuce Entertain You, which re-opened November 2017 at the Ambassador Chicago Hotel in the Gold Coast. While the history and elegance of the restaurant was maintained, Lettuce Entertain You re-introduced the restaurant as a chic, brighter and more modern interpretation of one of the most renowned rooms in Chicago. Booth One was designed by the Lettuce Entertain You design team and seats about 220 guests. The design is simple yet elegant with sophisticated, modern neutral tones giving the space a dreamy, mystical feel. The menu is a collaboration by culinary partners’ Chef Rick Tramonto and Chef Doug Psaltis. Booth One utilizes top quality and seasonal ingredients and focuses on simple dishes done well, with the food put in the most modern of ways with a nod to the past.

Goose Island's Clybourn Brewhouse reopened October 2017 with a modern new look and an expanded on-site brewery. The new menu of elevated pub fare includes house-cured meats and mussels (a brewpub staple). The kitchen is open to the dining room, and windows look down to the Goose Island brewery vats producing favorites like Honkers Ale. A private dining room is available.

 Del Frisco’s Double Eagle Steakhouse will introduce the Esquire Champagne Room with a soft open in late December 2017 followed by an over-the-top New Year’s Eve event and official grand opening celebration in January 2018. The upscale lounge - a separate concept housed within the space - will host 48 seated guests with eight additional seats at an impressive mahogany bar. An extensive list of sparkling wines will abound, alongside a luxurious selection of caviar, raw bar items and more. While still being finalized, the menu will be separate from that of the dining room and only available in this area. Opulent decor (including dramatic, bubble-inspired light fixtures) will set the tone, as will a live pianist most nights tickling the ivories from a baby grand.

Located at 55 E. Monroe St., Forum 55 joined the pantheon of great food halls in Chicago on October 23, 2017. It features 10 unique breakfast and lunch restaurants, a business incubator for minority-owned start-ups, marketplace and one of Chicago’s largest salad bars to source directly from area farmers. The food hall offers items such as hot dogs and Italian sausages at Butcher & Larder and tacos a la carte at Mercadito Taqueria.

Gibsons Italia, which opened October 2017, is Gibsons Restaurant Group's first downtown restaurant since 2005. The modern Italian steakhouse menu created by Chef John Coletta and overseen day-to-day by Executive Chef José Sosa features the highest quality products sourced from around the globe, including a variety of meat, seafood, shellfish, vegetables and authentic Italian pastas and risottos. At the heart of the menu is a world-class tour of beef, from Gibsons USDA Prime Angus to Australian grass-fed beef, and Italian Piemontese to Japanese Kobe. Located in the West Loop, adjacent to the new River Point building, the three-level restaurant and bar features outdoor dining and a retractable roof showcasing stunning views of the Chicago River and the city's skyline.

Innovative Dining Group (IDG), the founders and creators of iconic restaurant brands with roots, opened the second U.S. location of their highly-lauded robatayaki-style concept, Katana, in Chicago’s River North neighborhood in August 2017. Katana captures the essence of authentic Robatayaki, a cutting-edge form of traditional Japanese BBQ, offering the best of both worlds—exceptional raw and cooked cuisine. The menu features Japanese comfort food, innovative sushi masterpieces, a premium Omakase program, an impressive beverage menu and more.

Headed by Chicago-born Chef Daniel Espinoza (a competitor on Top Chef Mexico), Lobo Rey offers a modern and sophisticated approach to Mexican Cuisine. The restaurant celebrates the culinary heritage of Mexico, along with strong Spanish and Mediterranean influence, while also infusing the ingredients and influence of the Midwest. A unique restaurant feature is flattop table grills. The menu offers unique and vibrant food, using the freshest ingredients and refined flavors, while keeping true to the origins of the inspirational dishes.

Maillard Tavern is Chicago's newest burger bar, featuring local beef burgers cooked on a griddle to create a Maillard reaction to achieve a full flavor. The restaurant opened December 21, 2017 in River West. Maillard Tavern features various types of burgers, wild boar sloppy giuseppe (a tribute to the sloppy joe sandwich), soft serve ice cream, shakes (spiked and not spiked), donut sticks and a full bar featuring various whiskeys and bourbons as well as craft cocktails. The 1,600-sq.-ft. space has dine-in seating as well as bar seating.

Marisol, the new restaurant and bar at the Museum of Contemporary Art (MCA) features innovative flavors from Chicago Chef Jason Hammel. Marisol can be your neighborhood coffee spot or an art-filled destination for dinner and drinks. Surrounded by an immersive art environment by artist Chris Ofili, diners enjoy table service with a full bar and private dining space or counter service with communal tables that form the Street, a community workspace to plug in or meet friends.

 Marshall’s Landing at the Merchandise Mart, a new 12,000-sq.-ft. lounge where tenants and building guests work, socialize, meet, eat, drink, nosh and caffeinate, opened Summer 2017. Designed by Architecture Plus Information (A+I), recent recipients of the 2017 AIA NY Chapter Design Award, Marshall’s Landing has become the center of gravity in the Merchandise Mart, located atop the Grand Stair on the 2nd floor. Managed and operated by DMK Restaurants, partners David Morton and Chef Michael Kornick provide fresh daily menus with high quality food and beverage offerings in a casual atmosphere including artisanal coffee, full-service bar with crafted cocktails, chef-inspired seasonal menus created for share-ability and flexible catering options.

Scofflaw Group launched their newest Logan Square concept, The Moonlighter, on November 1, 2017. As the group’s most casual project to date, The Moonlighter features a cozy 1000-sq.-ft. indoor space complete with built in fireplaces and an expansive 1000-sq.-ft., dog-friendly front-porch patio for the warmer weather season. With an emphasis on sour beers, cocktails and all-American burgers & bar snacks, Scofflaw’s original team is back together again with Kristofer Nagy heading up the beer, Danny Shapiro behind the cocktails and Executive Chef Mickey Neely helming the food program.

The Nutella Cafe opened its doors in Chicago on May 31, 2017 as the first U.S. restaurant from Ferrero, the maker of Nutella. The Nutella Cafe offers an array of all-day dishes designed to take your taste experience to new and delicious heights, all with a side of happy. While there have been many eateries with Nutella-inspired fare around the country, this is the first permanent cafe owned and run by Ferrero U.S.A.

Acclaimed Chicago Chefs Cosmo Goss and Erling Wu-Bower have joined forces to form Underscore Hospitality, with Pacific Standard Time as their first restaurant venture. The new restaurant, featuring healthful California cuisine, including house-made flatbreads and plenty of locally sourced veggies, is scheduled to open in 2018 in River North’s former Tavernita space.

The Pink Squirrel is a retro cocktail bar inspired by the supper clubs of the 1960s. The new spot in Logan Square seats 50 and features a bowling lane for patrons to enjoy. The menu offers Wisconsin-style cocktails, along with milkshakes, ice cream and more. The Pink Squirrel opened in late November 2017.

The Press Room opened in September 2017 as a subterranean wine bar located inside the Historic Free Methodist Publishing House building in West Loop. The interior, designed by Siren Betty Design, reflects the hip sensibilities of the surrounding area while also paying tribute to The West Loop's storied past. Rather than feeling like the basement it technically is, The Press Room feels like a secret clubhouse with velvet tufted bench seating, a custom mural, a vintage refrigerator and plenty of plant life sitting on the windowsills. The 70-seat space offers the choice to settle into a welcoming table or watch the art of cooking as it occurs in the open-kitchen dining room and features a private wine tasting room.

Punch Bowl Social, a leader in the “eatertainment” movement, will open a 28,000-sq.-ft. restaurant, bar and entertainment destination in Chicago’s West Loop neighborhood in October 2018. Punch Bowl Social pairs dishes from scratch and craft beverages with social activities like shuffleboard, ping-pong, marbles, ‘80s video games, bowling, Skee- ball and a virtual reality “bazaar.” The award-winning brand brings to Chicago its thoughtfully curated menu of crave- worthy, scratch-kitchen dishes created by the company’s culinary partner and James Beard Award winner, Hugh Acheson. The brand’s innovative beverage program offers cocktails, all natural sodas and fizzes, floats and shakes, fresh- pressed juices and the popular, sharable punches — all of which are complemented by a generous selection of social activities that provide a one-of-a-kind day or night out experience.

Rooted in the history and culture of Chicago’s vibrant Maxwell Street neighborhood, Regards to Edith opened on October 9, 2017. Michelin-starred Chef Jared Wentworth serves up contemporary riffs on beloved dishes alongside playful cocktails and a dynamic 150 bottle wine list. One of the earliest incubators for electric blues music, a genre now synonymous with Chicago, Maxwell Street Market serves as inspiration for the design of the restaurant. The industrial space is broken into distinct, intimate spaces, divided by large glass and metal walls and rich purple booths with dim lighting throughout. Regards to Edith occupies 6,200 sq. ft. of the 9,000-sq.-ft. property, sharing the space with sister cocktail bar, Prairie School, a collaboration with acclaimed bartender Jim Meehan. Prarie School opened on September 27, 2017, and features design details inspired by Frank Lloyd Wright. The 10-story building is also home to Google’s Midwest headquarters and is an award-winning Sterling Bay development.

Chef Zoe Schor’s new restaurant Split-Rail opened June 9, 2017 in Chicago’s West Town neighborhood, focusing on “New Americana” cuisine. The menu offers a variety of seasonally-inspired dishes as well as updated versions of American and Midwestern classics. Housed in a former donut factory, the restaurant’s vintage décor reflects its nostalgic cuisine. Split-Rail serves dinner Monday-Saturday from 5-10 p.m. as well as a weekend brunch on Saturdays and Sundays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

In October 2017, award-winning Executive Chef Lee Wolen, in partnership with Boka Restaurant Group, opened Somerset, an American restaurant focusing on thoughtful, classic flavors. Located in the new Viceroy Hotel in Chicago’s iconic Gold Coast neighborhood, Somerset is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner daily. Wolen’s menu highlights familiar flavors and dishes, executed with high quality ingredients and skilled technique. In keeping with the ethos of Wolen’s other restaurant Boka, Somerset uses seasonal, responsibly- and locally- sourced ingredients. Rounding out the culinary team, Wolen’s menu is anchored by James Beard nominated Executive Pastry Chef Meg Galus and beverage director Lee Zaremba.

Starbucks is partnering with acclaimed artisan baker Rocco Princi to bring the craft of bread baking, exceptional ingredients and the “Spirito di Milano” to customers for the first time in the United States. Freshly baked onsite, the artisanal Italian food experience joins the premium Starbucks Reserve brand as the exclusive food pairing to its rare, small-lot coffees. Chicago will be in the first group of cities to have a Starbucks Princi Kitchen, which will also make fresh food for the company’s Chicago Reserve Roastery, which is scheduled to open on Michigan Avenue in 2019.

 

MUSEUMS, EXHIBITS & FESTIVALS

In downtown Chicago, the American Writers Museum is the first of its kind in the U.S. The museum opened on May 16, 2017 and was recently named “Illinois’ Best Attraction” by USA TODAY Readers’ Choice Awards. Highlighting the personal stories and literary works of diverse American writers, from Mark Twain to Dr. Seuss, the interactive, high-tech museum educates, enriches, provokes and inspires the public. The museum’s esteemed curating team and National Advisory Council are working closely with internationally renowned museum and exhibit companies on the museum’s development. American Writers Museum is also collaborating with 55 authors’ homes and museums around the U.S., now AWM Affiliates, that will support its mission with author-specific knowledge and expertise, and foster an exchange of ideas and experiences.

Art Design Chicago is a spirited celebration of the unique and vital role Chicago plays as America’s crossroads of art and design, creativity and commerce. With a scope and ambition befitting Chicago’s grit and can-do determination, Art Design Chicago shares with the world a dynamic convergence of more than 25 exhibitions and hundreds of public programs at more than 50 venues throughout 2018. Together, they tell the stories of the artists and designers that defined and continue to propel Chicago’s role as a hub of imagination and impact. Art Design Chicago will offer an opportunity to examine the art and design movements that were born and nurtured in Chicago, and their relationships to other artistic developments throughout the world. To support the success of Art Design Chicago, the Terra Foundation is investing over $6 million in grants and project support for partner organizations.

On the centenary of the death of Auguste Rodin (1840–1917), the Art Institute of Chicago joins museums around the world in celebrating the renowned artist’s life and work. Rodin: Sculptor and Storyteller runs November 3, 2017 to March 4, 2018 and presents rare sculptures and drawings from private Chicago collections as well as from the museum’s rich holdings. This exhibition is the first devoted to the sculptor at the Art Institute since 1923. Featuring works with exceptional histories, including sculptures produced as gifts for people close to the artist and drawings once owned by the American photographer Alfred Stieglitz, the exhibition explores Rodin’s unique capacity to create engaging narratives.

 Mirroring China’s Past: Emperors And Their Bronzes runs February 25 to May 13, 2018 at the Art Institute of Chicago, and will be the first project devoted to an in-depth study of the tradition of collecting ancient bronzes in China. The focus of this exhibition is not only how such works were unearthed in their original context, but also the different ways in which they were collected, classified and conceptualized throughout Chinese history. It aims to investigate how people approached bronzes; how a specialized culture developed around them that centered on the idea of antiquity; and how that culture made a significant impact on key individuals and on society at large. The exhibition features over 160 exquisite objects of diverse forms and materials, including a number of highlights from the Art Institute of Chicago’s strong holdings; the majority are loans from the Palace Museum, Beijing, the Shanghai Museum and important museums and private collections in the United States.

The DuSable Museum of African American History opened a new exhibition by art photographer Fabiola Jean-Louis, titled Rewriting History: paper gowns and photographs on November 4, 2017. The exhibition will run through March 2018. Fabiola Jean-Louis’ Rewriting History: paper gowns and photographs, is an inquiry into social change. How much has society really changed since the beginning of slavery? Do black lives matter even in the 21st century? The exhibition interrogates these questions and more through a haunting photographic essay and paper sculptures styled to mimic garments worn by female European nobility between the 15th – 19th centuries. As part of a developing master series of paper gown sculptures, the series speaks to the shocking treatment of African Americans throughout history and the trauma inflicted on their bodies as juxtaposed with the abstract idea of African American freedom. Simultaneously, the body of work engages with a vision of the future – one of hope, strength, resilience and beauty.

Part one of a new exhibition Clearing a Path for Democracy: Citizen Soliders of the Eighth Illinois National Guard opened on November 11, 2017 at The DuSable Museum of African American History. This exhibition tells the story of the unique regiment which was deployed in two foreign wars with a complete complement of African American officers. It was designated the 370th United State Infantry during World War I, and the regiment was awarded more citations than any other American regiment that fought along Europe’s Western Front. Historian and guest curator Harold (Hari) Jones curated the exhibition. Part Two will open in April of 2018.

The Field Museum opened the special exhibit Ancient Mediterranean Cultures in Contact in October. The exhibit, which runs through April 29, 2018, shines a spotlight on what happens when societies interact with one another and exchange ideas. Ancient Mediterranean showcases nearly 100 objects from the Field Museum’s ancient Egyptian, Roman, Greek and Etruscan collections. Some of these rarely seen artifacts include Etruscan gold jewelry, a mummy from Egypt and even a bronze bathtub from Pompeii.

In celebration of The Field Museum’s 125th anniversary in 2018, SUE the T-rex is getting a makeover, and a touchable cast of the biggest dinosaur ever discovered will join the Museum’s ranks, thanks to a $16.5 million gift from the Kenneth C. Griffin Charitable Fund, one of the largest private contributions ever to a Chicago museum. The Field Museum will introduce the titanosaur cast (the largest dinosaur discovered) which visitors will be able to walk underneath and touch, while making scientific updates to SUE which will include an adjusted posture and the addition of bones more recently discovered as well as her own section in Evolving Planet to put her in historical context. SUE will move February 2018 and be ready again by Spring 2019, while the titanosaur will be fully assembled by late Spring 2018.

The GlobalShop trade show and conference for retail design is pleased to announce its partnership with The Magnificent Mile Association on the ‘Windows of The Magnificent Mile’ program during GlobalShop, March 27 – 29, 2018. The program features window displays from 15-20 retailer members of the Association with materials provided by GlobalShop exhibitors. The windows displays will be unveiled the morning of the first day of the show and will remain on display through the month of April. The ‘Windows of The Magnificent Mile’ program is not only a celebration of the retail design industry, but also a nationally marketed consumer campaign to pique the interest of shoppers and drive foot traffic to brick and mortar stores.

Illinois celebrates its 200th Birthday with a year-long party from December 3, 2017 to December 3, 2018. A statewide multimedia campaign will celebrate Illinois’ influence on the world through music, sports, agriculture, literature, commerce, history, technology and innovation, transportation and art and architecture.

The Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago presents the first solo museum exhibition of Chicago-based artist Paul Heyer. Chicago Works: Paul Heyer opens January 16, 2018 and runs through July 1, 2018. In his most immersive installation to date, Heyer creates a multisensory, dream-like realm that combines his ethereal paintings and sculptures, which are rooted in his experiences as an active participant of rave and club culture within the LGBTQ community, to explore out-of-body experiences and psychedelic highs.

Endless Summer opens January 27, 2018 and runs through August 5, 2018 at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago. Taking its title from the classic Bruce Brown surf movie from 1966, Endless Summer offers a snapshot of the hedonistic minimalism that emerged in Los Angeles in the 1960s. Alternatively called “Finish Fetish” or “Light and Space,” these works were influenced by the surf industry, custom car culture and the legendary climate of Southern California. They are characterized by slick surfaces and dreamy, sometimes atmospheric color.

The Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago is proud to present the first major survey of the work of groundbreaking, multidisciplinary artist Howardena Pindell. Howardena Pindell: What Remains To Be Seen opens at MCA on February 24, 2018 and will run until May 20, 2018. The exhibition spans the New York–based artist’s five-decades-long career, featuring early figurative paintings, pure abstraction and conceptual works, and personal and political art that emerged in the aftermath of a life-threatening car accident in 1979. The exhibition traces themes and visual experiments that run throughout Pindell’s work up to the present.

Don Jackson, founder of the Stellar Gospel Music Awards, former chairman of the DuSable Museum of African American History and gospel music producer, plans to locate a National Museum of Gospel Music on the grounds of where the Pilgrim Baptist Church once stood in Bronzeville. The museum will celebrate Chicago as the birthplace of gospel music and pay further tribute to the home-grown genre that’s given life to legends like Thomas Dorsey, Mahalia Jackson, Albertina Walker, Jessy Dixon, Shirley Caesar and so many more. It will have exhibits, an auditorium, a research library and space for community use. With a $37-million budget, planners hope to have it open by the Fall 2020.

The Obama Foundation released a conceptual vision and site map in May 2017 for the Obama Presidential Center, which will be in historic Jackson Park on the South Side of Chicago. It will include three buildings—a museum, forum and library—that will form a campus surrounding a public plaza. The museum will be the tallest of the three buildings and hold an exhibition space, offices and education and meeting rooms. The forum and library will be single-story community buildings, with an auditorium, a restaurant, a public garden and planted roof terrace. The Obama Center is expected to open in 2021.

The Richard H. Driehaus Museum announced the upcoming exhibition The Art of Seating: 200 Years of American Design, opening February 10, 2018. The exhibition will feature 37 exceptional examples of American chairs created between 1810 and 2010 and will run through August 11, 2018. Designed for form and function, each of these works of art acts as a window into national history, culture and social trends. Chair designs from the late-nineteenth century Aesthetic Movement emphasize hand-craftsmanship and ornamentation, ironically prized by those who had amassed great wealth through industrialization. The emergence of computer technology is seen in the color and complexity of the twenty-first century’s Postmodern chairs.

 

PERFORMING ARTS

Hear stupendous sagas and terrific tales! Adventure Stage Chicago presents the first annual Adventures in Storytelling festival February 16-17, 2018. Stories from tellers of all ages will be on display as you’re whisked into unique worlds and narratives. Discover new cultures with bilingual bards, witness the budding talents of youth tellers, participate in numerous workshops and stop by the pop-up book cafe. Featuring three floors of activities during every performance, the Vittum Theater is West Town's hidden gem. Rooted in the neighborhood for over 20 years, this multi-million dollar theatre is a premiere location for families to experience the art of the story.

Broadway In Chicago and Producer Stacey Mindich announced that the first national touring production of this year’s Best Musical Tony Award-winner Dear Evan Hansen will make its way to Chicago (Broadway In Chicago), and more than 50 other cities, as part of the 2018-19 season. The winner of six 2017 Tony Awards, including Best Musical, Dear Evan Hansen features a book by Tony Award-winner Steven Levenson, a score by Academy Award and Tony winning composers Benj Pasek & Justin Paul and direction by 4-time Tony Award nominee Michael Greif. Casting, dates and further ticket information will be announced at a later date.

As the birthplace of modern blues, The Chicago Blues Experience, opening in 2019, will celebrate pioneering artists and generations of musicians who have been influenced by blues and continue to carry on its traditions. Situated near Millennium Park, it will be filled with history-driven interactive displays, tributes to local legends and Chicago blues memorabilia as well as a performance lounge and restaurant.

Chicago Opera Theater (COT) presents “Elizabeth Cree,” a suspenseful and thrilling tale set in Victorian London based on the novel The Trial of Elizabeth Cree by Peter Ackroyd. Pulitzer Prize-winning duo Kevin Puts (composer) and Mark Campbell (librettist) come together again for this world-premiere co-production with Opera Philadelphia and Hackney Empire about one woman on trial for her husband’s grisly murder. This show features direction by David Schweizer, music direction by Geoff Macdonald and stars Katheryn Pracht as Elizabeth Cree. The opening night will take place on Saturday, February 10 at 7:30 p.m. at the historic Studebaker Theater. Additional performances will take place on Friday, February 16 at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday, February 18 at 3 p.m.

The Yard at Chicago Shakespeare introduced a new trend in theater architecture to the city when it opened on September 12, 2017. With audience capacities ranging from 150 to 850, the dynamic design features nine mobile audience “towers” that can be arranged in a wide variety of ways. With each visit, audiences will come to “expect the unexpected” as the relationship between audience and actor is redefined by the vision of each production’s creative

team. This season’s shows in The Yard highlight the versatility of this innovative new venue from its largest proscenium configuration or a unique cabaret-like environment to an intimate thrust stage with runway aisles.

The Spring Series, March 23–24, 2018 will mark Hubbard Street’s return to the Auditorium Theatre for the first time in 20 years. This two-night engagement, dedicated to Hubbard Street’s beloved Resident Choreographer, Alejandro Cerrudo, will feature a full evening of Cerrudo’s work weaving together both audience favorites from his past eight years as the company’s Resident Choreographer as well as exciting new work. Hubbard Street Dance Chicago is among the most original forces in contemporary dance and is in its 39th year.

The Lookingglass Theatre celebrates its 30th anniversary season with Plantation! running February 21 through April 22, 2018. A Texas matriarch, bless her heart, discovers that the history of the ancestral home is, well…complicated. When she reveals the news to her Southern Belle daughters, tempers rage hotter than the devil’s armpit and pandemonium runs amok on the pristine plantation…and that’s before the other set of sisters arrive. Lookingglass Ensemble Member and playwright Kevin Douglas (Thaddeus and Slocum: A Vaudeville Adventure) returns with a sharp pen and sharper wit to slash into America’s thorniest underbrush and most enduring conundrum. Ensemble Member David Schwimmer directs this World Premiere black (and white) comedy.

Lyric Opera of Chicago and the Joffrey Ballet announced on September 22, 2017 that Joffrey will become the resident dance company at the Lyric Opera House at the start of the 2020/21 Season. The agreement came as the two companies prepared to perform together for the first time in John Neumeier’s production of Gluck’s Orphée et Eurydice. The seven-year rental agreement will provide Joffrey with a wonderful performance home, opening new opportunities for the Company to showcase its artistic excellence and providing an exceptional experience for patrons inside the iconic Lyric Opera House.

The Lyric Opera of Chicago will present Bellini’s I Puritani February 2018. Of all opera composers, none glorified the human voice more than Bellini. His final opera was I Puritani, in which a soprano, tenor, baritone and bass can truly revel in some of the most thrilling vocal music ever written. Opera companies produce this work only when they can cast fabulous singers with masterful techniques and superb style. Bellini places them within a sweeping historical drama in 17th-century England, in which a passionate young couple find themselves caught up in a conflict between opposing political factions. Performances run February 4 through February 28, 2018 at the Lyric Opera.

Lyric Opera of Chicago invites you to experience the Lyric Opera House beyond the footlights with backstage tours! From the moment you enter the beautiful and impressive foyer, guest will be in for a special, one-hour experience with an engaging Lyric docent who will give behind-the-scenes insights into the vibrant world of grand opera. See the inside of the art-deco Ardis Krainik Theatre, enjoy an up-close-and-personal view of the orchestra pit where the acclaimed Lyric Orchestra plays and then journey on to backstage destinations to learn about the vast array of skilled professionals who bring operatic stagecraft to life. Tours start and end in the Lyric Opera House Rice Grand Foyer. Tour tickets are $15 and may be purchased online or at the Lyric Opera House at 9:30am on tour dates.

Red Theater Chicago announced the second show of the Sixth Season with its production of “Little Red Cyrano,” an apocalyptic clown comedy for all audiences, featuring d/Deaf talent by Aaron Sawyer, directed by Michael J. Stark and Aaron Sawyer. Combining the courtships in Cyrano de Bergerac with the violent ending of Red Riding Hood, Little Red Cyrano will mix whip smart spoken dialogue, swashbuckling and romance. With a cast comprised of trained clowns and d/Deaf actors, Little Red Cyrano uniquely utilizes the visual vernacular of American Sign Language in a clown-based performance. Performances run December 1, 2017 to January 7, 2018 at Strawdog Theatre.

Grammy-nominated pianist and bandleader John Beasley brings his MONK’estra project to the Symphony Center Presents (SCP) Jazz series on January 26, 2018 at 8 p.m. at Chicago Symphony Center. The 15-piece big band project captures the spirit of Thelonious Monk’s singular music through off-beat melodies and humor, strange beauty and unbounded swing. The group is joined by special guest Grégoire Maret on harmonica. The evening opens with Chilean saxophonist Melissa Aldana, who performs with her band for a SCP Jazz series debut.

The historic Theater on the Lake building has undergone renovations from a summer-only programming site to allow for expanded programming beyond the traditional summer season. This will make the lakefront a welcoming place for residents and visitors to enjoy recreational and cultural activities on Chicago’s lakefront. The newly renovated theater includes a 330-seat mainstage, and productions will begin in Summer 2018. Acclaimed Chicago Chef Cleetus Friedman helms The Lakefront Restaurant, part of the newly revamped Theater on the Lake, which reopened in October 2017. Located in the historic Theater on the Lake building at Fullerton, The Lakefront Restaurant is an upscale tavern with seating for 125 at intimate tables, communal seating and a lounge area. The Lakefront’s Skyline Patio, open seasonally, provides stunning views of the Lake Michigan and the Chicago skyline with seating for 80.

Windy City Playhouse announced an expansion in programming with a world-premiere immersive theatrical production, “Southern Gothic,” premiering February 7, 2018 and running through April 1, 2018 as a stand-alone production following the 2017 season. Written by Leslie Liautaud and directed by David H. Bell, “Southern Gothic” transports audiences into the middle of a cocktail party in Ashford, Georgia in the 1960s, where four couples gather together to celebrate a birthday. As the evening progresses, tensions rise and longtime relationships are tested as they soon realize that even the best of friends keep the darkest of secrets. Due to the intimate nature of the show, audience size for each performance is limited to 25 patrons.

 

TRANSPORTATION

Both Midway International Airport and O’Hare International Airport have started and announced a number of new international air services. The new services at O’Hare include Barcelona and Guatemala City through American Airlines, Huatulco through Volaris, Keflavik through WOW air and Icelandair, Krakow through LOT, Taipei through EVA Air and Zihuatanejo through Volaris. New services from O’Hare announced in 2017 are Budapest through LOT (May 2018), Cancun through Spirit (Nov. 2017) and VivaAerobus (Feb. 2018), Helsinki via Finnair (increase to daily service in April 2018), London-Gatwick via Norwegian (March 2018), Mazatlan via United Airlines (Dec. 2017), Nassau through Bahamasair (Jan. 2018), Panama City through Copa (increase to 18x weekly depending on season - June 2018), Venice via American Airlines (May 2018), Vancouver via American Airlines (May 2018), Calgary via American Airlines (June 2018), Charleston via Ameircan Airlines (May 2017) and Mrytle Beach and Bangor, Maine via American Airlines (June 2018). New services that started at Midway in 2017 include Montego Bay via Southwest Airlines (increased to daily service), Punta Cana via Southwest Airlines (increased to daily service) and Queretaro via Volaris. Starting Summer 2018, service to San Juan, Puerto Rico via Southwest Airlines will increase to daily service.

The Chicago Department of Aviation broke ground on a new security checkpoint and bridge expansion project at Midway International Airport on October 6, 2017. The event marked the beginning of construction on the Midway Modernization Program, the $104 million investment to enhance the security checkpoint begins the airport’s most significant capital upgrade in nearly two decades.

 O’Hare International Airport took a major step forward as a global leader in the air cargo industry with the opening of a massive cargo campus on the northeast side of the airport to deliver a state-of-the-art international cargo operation. It will be able to handle 50 percent more cargo traffic and freighter aircraft in the coming decades. With this new development, O’Hare has approximately two million sq. ft. of airside cargo facilities with space for 40 jumbo freighters (including the B747-8F) on four separate ramps, with another two million sq. ft of cargo facilities landside.

This November, the Metropolitan Pier and Exposition Authority (MPEA) joined Metra to showcase the newly improved Metra Electric Line train station that serves the McCormick Place Convention Center. The project includes the addition of more visible signage to direct customers to and from the station, redesign and renovation of the waiting room and new lighting and enhancements to the platform area. MPEA created a business-class waiting room with modern seating, charging stations and upgraded flooring. Metra installed digital signage and a sound system to allow customers to hear train announcements without having to travel to the platform area below. Metra and MPEA are pleased to have partnered with After School Matters to create a vibrant series of mural paintings to beautify the McCormick Place Metra Station. After School Matters teens worked together to conceive and paint these optimistic works of art, drawing inspiration from surrounding communities including McCormick Square and Bronzeville.

 

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About Choose Chicago

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