Go inside the worlds of art, fashion, design, and lifestyle.
For EXPO Chicago 2016, we handpicked a few insiders—a select group of those in-the-know on all things Chicago—that shared with us how to navigate the city during the art fair. First up, we have Naomi Beckwith, the Marilyn and Larry Fields curator at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, who shares her top spots to eat, drink, network, and relax this week.
Where to eat
I’ve been vegetarian for decades, so I’m always looking for eateries with good, plant-based options that are more imaginative. High on the lists are The Purple Pig and, a throwback to early Mr. Chow’s, Lao Sze Chuan. The Boarding House has a beautiful ambiance that matches expansive menus, which includes an entirely vegetarian service. In the West Loop, Momotaro has yummy, sophisticated Japanese cuisine with a contemporary twist, while Salero does the same for Spanish fare.
Where to sip
Nothing, in my world, beats a good gin martini, so I’m looking for bartenders with a light touch. Top places for me to drink: the Soho House Chicago, NoMI Bar at the Park Hyatt, Jimmy Bar at the James Hotel, and the impossible-to-get-into-but-worth-it, The Aviary. The impossibly hip Tiny Lounge is opening an outpost on Navy Pier in time for the fair. Clearly, I’ll be steering friends there, as bartenders there are martini specialists.
Where to network
Drinking and networking go hand-in-hand, so definitely see places to drink listed above. When I’m having a power breakfast, then I definitely like to eat at Beatrix downtown.
Where to see art
One has to go to the MCA Chicago for the best in contemporary art, but I highly recommend using art as a way to tour the city. The historic Cultural Center downtown is worth a visit for the shows and the building itself. On the South Side, one can’t miss the acclaimed Renaissance Society and the Stony Island Art Bank’s compelling offerings. Near North has the thoughtful and forward-thinking Graham Foundation. The West Loop is now Chicago’s gallery center.
Where to have fun
Summer in Chicago is the most fun time with loads of festivals and outdoor music. As fun moves indoors, old-standbys include the Empty Bottle and Smart Bar, and a great, relative newcomer is the Promontory in Hyde Park.
Where to relax
One of the best things to do, if the night is warm after the fair, is simply walk along vast Lake Michigan. The city just scintillates at night and calms the nerves. Otherwise, I’m all about a good, quick massage and the Cowshed Spa at the Soho House.