Andrew's Chicago Restaurant Picks for IRDC

This year the International Retail Design Conference heads to Chicago for its 2012 educational and networking event for retail design professionals. KRS' creative leaders look forward to attending the IRDC again this year fresh on the heels of winning VMSD retail renovation of the year in 2011 for our design of Robért Fresh Market, New Orleans. 

Want to know where you MUST eat while in Chicago? KRS' EVP, Andrew Swedenborg, called Chicago home prior to moving to the Pacific Northwest, and shares his "Can't Miss" food spots for IRDC 2012 (all within a seven-iron of the Renaissance Chicago Hotel). 

Top Choice... Mr. Beef (map)2 - Mr. Beef

This place is ideal for a classic Chicago beef. Also a classic instance of no frills function, not to mention beef, triumphing over form. Down and dirty and delicious. May we recommend the Breakfast Beef as the perfect pick-me-up meal after a late night out. Mmmm Mr. Beef.

Snacks and Vino... Bin 36 (map)3 - Bin 36

Lavish selection of wines, cheeses, meats, entrees, and desserts in a great space. The atmosphere is laid back and the menu extensive.

Fresh Produce and Prepared... Chicago French Market (map)4 - Chicago French Market

An in-door collection of over twenty local food stalls in the Euro fashion. The worst part about this eclectic space is choosing just one or two eateries to patronize, honestly. Favorites include Saigon Sisters Vietnamese food and Pastoral gourmet cheese and sandwiches.

For People Watching... Hub 51 (map)5 - Hub 51

Great food, great people, great club. Hub 51 was created by Jerrod and RJ Melman, sons of Lettuce Entertain You founder Rich Melman, and creating "ermagersh" gastronomic experiences is clearly in this family's blood. Hub 51 is at once a great restaurant, a great bar, and a see-and-be-seen spot all within a gorgeous space.

Coffee... Intelligencia (map)6 - Intelligencia

Best coffee in the city. Period. It's frickin' great.

Oprah's Old Stomping Ground... La Sardine (map)7 - La Sardine

Across the street from the old Oprah Winfrey show studios, La Sardine is a classic French bistro in the best possible sense. Rich sauces, fancy desserts, and spot on cuisine without pretention. 

When in Rome Chicago... Lou Malnati's Pizzeria (map)
8 - Lou Malnati's Pizzeria
Order the butter crust.

Where Local Foodies Go... Naha (map)
9 - Naha
Simple flavors executed to perfection. City folk frequent this modern American space for its crisp, polished ambiance, exciting cocktails, and most of all... amazing food. 

For the Bubbly... Pops (map)
10 - Pops
This longstanding Lincoln Park institution for champagne is reimagined here for River North and it's awesome. A posh vibe, live music, and an extensive drink selection make Pops a go-to place for late night gatherings in Chi-town.

Get Yo Lounge On... Redhead Piano Bar (map)
11 - Redhead Piano Bar
Old school piano bar where you can still smoke on the patio. Martinis flow while the piano man does his ivory-tickling thing. Yes, it feels a little worn but that's really just part of the charm.

Get Yo Noodle On... Slurping Turtle (map)
12 - Slurping Turtle
Beautiful modern space, heaping noodle bowls, and other Japanese fare à la Michelin-starred chef Takashi Yagihashi. Nuff said.

In Andrew's own words, "I could go on and on..." If you have any questions for KRS' resident Chicago tour guide, feel free to shoot us an email. Otherwise, we hope this list comes in handy for those of you traveling to the windy city and look forward to IRDC next week and hopefully seeing you there.

images via 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11

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