Chicago’s McCormick Place, the largest exhibition and meeting facility in North America, is surrounded by exciting entertainment, trendy restaurants, and cool breweries in the historic South Loop neighborhood. Your attendees will want to make time to check out everything the McCormick Place area has to offer, from a slick brewpub pouring craft beers to a state-of-the-art hybrid production studio at the Arie Crown Theater to cultural destinations like nearby Chinatown.
Stephen Gillanders, chef-owner of Pilsen’s acclaimed S.K.Y., has opened Apolonia in the South Loop. Named for Gillanders’ grandmother, Apolonia specializes in coastal European and Mediterranean dishes, such as grilled branzino draped with marinated olives and house-made tagliatelle tossed with seared scallops. Wines are sourced from around the globe, and custom-blended Apolonia vermouth is offered on tap. The airy 100-seat restaurant features a private dining room that can accommodate 20 guests.
For a quick bite to eat, Mustard Seed Kitchen is the creation of esteemed chef Erick Williams, winner of a James Beard Award. Located within walking distance of McCormick Place, this fast-casual concept serves everything from hearty pastas to satisfying salads — all with Williams’ signature Southern flavors. Don’t forget to grab dessert, provided by local favorite Brown Sugar Bakery.
Located just steps from Wintrust Arena is Il Culaccino, which melds traditional and modern Italian favorites. Dishes range from veal Marsala to house-made gnocchi filled with provolone and ricotta cheeses. Private parties can opt for the covered and heated year-round patio or main dining area, accommodating up to 250 seated guests.
Haidilao, the largest hot pot chain in China, has opened a Chicago outpost in the South Loop. The restaurant serves Szechuan hot pot — diners cook their own meat and vegetables in a rich, boiling broth. Unique entertainment is also on the menu here. Robots ferry out diners’ food, which includes Kurobuta pork and Wagyu beef. Noodles are hand-pulled tableside by a dancer who theatrically shapes them with graceful loops and twirls. There’s also an expansive sauce bar, which includes desserts and fresh fruit.
For something truly one-of-a-kind, stop by Duneyrr Microbrewery for a taste of their Nordic-inspired creations. The welcoming taproom is the perfect spot to relax with a pint of an experimental brew, like a mixed-culture wild ale and beer co-fermented with wine. Or get a flight and try them all.
In nearby Chinatown, Nine Bar serves a variety of creative cocktails infused with nods to Chinese culture. The food also plays off traditional Chinese cuisine but brings a modern twist — think mapo hot fries, ube egg tarts, and a “McKatsu” sandwich.
Fatpour Tap Works McCormick, named for its hearty 22-ounce pours, is a sleek, two-story brewpub located in the Hiltons at McCormick Place. Fatpour features a variety of craft beers on tap paired with elevated pub fare that ranges from wood-fired pizza to cowboy ribeye steak. Plan a dinner in the second-floor private dining room or a cocktail party on the outdoor patio.
Lips Chicago is the first Midwest location of the dazzling drag show-and-dinner venue. The candy-colored South Loop location features a big, sparkling stage and roomy aisles for the glamorous drag queens to sashay down. The menu includes bites like parmesan-encrusted chicken and grilled Atlantic salmon. Don’t miss the Sunday Dragalicious Gospel Brunch, which includes unlimited mimosas and Bloody Marys. Plan a fabulous drag dinner or diva cocktail party for up to 200 guests.
For a more intimate experience, Mox.E Coworking is an ideal location for training and education sessions, workshops, fundraisers, virtual conferences, and board meetings. Filled with natural light and roof skylights, the space also offers top tech amenities like fiber optic internet and virtual conferencing technology. Mox.E is best suited for groups of 10 to 70.
Revel Motor Row is a former Chicago Motor Row District landmark that’s been transformed by The Revel Group into a stunning private event space. Founded in the early 1900s, Motor Row got its name from the car companies like Ford and Packard that built some of their first-ever auto showrooms there. Initially the headquarters of the Illinois Automobile Club, in later years the Revel Motor Row building also housed the Chicago Defender, a prominent African-American newspaper. The Spanish Revival-style structure has retained much of its charm, including beautiful stained glass windows and woodwork. Revel Motor Row offers 50,000 square feet of event space, including a sprawling outdoor courtyard that links to a former Cadillac showroom. Revel Motor Row can accommodate 2,600 for a full venue reception.
SpringHill Suites by Marriott Chicago Chinatown is located in the heart of one of the city’s most vibrant neighborhoods, not far from McCormick Place. The 148-room, all-suites hotel is situated on Wentworth Avenue, surrounded by Chinatown’s colorful shops and restaurants. An intimate, 343-square-foot meeting room can accommodate 12 people.
There are plenty of new lodging options in the nearby Loop, as well. The Chicago Hotel Collection, known for its boutique hotels that reflect the unique style of their surrounding neighborhoods, has opened an all-suites location near Millennium Park.
The LaSalle Chicago, Autograph Collection is a luxurious 234-room hotel located on LaSalle Street in the heart of the city’s Financial District, perched 21 stories above street level in the landmark Continental building. Meeting spaces include a lavish ballroom, private dining room, and an executive boardroom.
The 215-room Canopy by Hilton Chicago Central Loop is located directly across from the Willis Tower, home of the thrilling The Ledge attraction at the Skydeck Chicago observatory. The boutique hotel offers the all-day Depot 226 bistro and a 675-square-foot meeting room.
Just north of Millennium Park is Pendry Chicago, located in the stunning Art Deco-style Carbide & Carbon Building, featuring 364 redesigned guest rooms and suites. Its Venteux Brasserie, Cafe & Oyster Bar offers elevated French fare by Michelin-starred chef Donald Young. The 24th-floor Château Carbide is a seasonal, garden-like rooftop bar inspired by the Côte d’Azur. The hotel offers 13,000 square feet of meeting and event space, including two ballrooms and a terrace with Michigan Avenue views.
Learn more about McCormick Place’s South Loop neighborhood.