Monday, September 30, 2019

Michelin Guide Again Recognizes Acadia with Two Stars for Fifth Straight Year

In case you missed it Acadia - the Sloop's most prestigious and high-end dinning establishment - was awarded two stars from the annual Michelin restaurant review (via Crain's):
Twenty-five Chicago restaurants earned a prestigious Michelin star in the 10th edition of the local guide.  
That’s an increase from last year’s total of 22, with five new restaurants earning one-star status. The one-star list includes Kikko (chef Noah Sandoval's new place), Mako, Next, Omakase Yume and Yugen, all in the West Loop, reinforcing the neighborhood’s reputation as a top culinary destination and reinforcing Japanese omakase as a dining trend.
Alinea retained its top Michelin rating of three stars, with Alinea chef Grant Achatz and partner Nick Kokonas adding Next to their list of Michelin-awarded restaurants. Next is known for its revolving menu with multiple themes throughout the year. It's been a puzzling omission from the Michelins for many years.
Alinea    Lincoln Park       
Acadia    South Loop
Oriole    West Loop   
Smyth    West Loop   
Band of Bohemia    Ravenswood
Blackbird    West Loop   
Boka    Lincoln Park   
El Ideas    Pilsen
Elizabeth    Lincoln Square
Elske    West Loop   
Entente    Lakeview   
Everest    Loop   
Goosefoot   Lincoln Square
*Kikko    West Loop 
*Mako    West Loop 
*Next    West Loop 
North Pond    Lincoln Park 
*Omakase Yume    West Loop
Parachute    Avondale 
Schwa    Wicker Park 
Sepia    West Loop   
Spiaggia    Gold Coast   
Temporis    Noble Square 
Topolobampo    River North   
*Yugen    West Loop
(first-time Michelin winners denoted by an asterisk)

While it's certainly nice to have such a well regarded restaurant in the neighborhood (literally considered one of the top 4 restaurants in the city) - many would like more, moderately priced Michelin worthy restaurants in the Sloop. 

Michelin also bestows Bib Gourmand ratings to local restaurants that are rated as a quality meal at a reasonable price (approximately $40 per person).  Some Sloop restaurants such as Mercat a la PlanxaKurah, City Tavern received this recognition in the past, there aren't any in the Sloop currently.

For the closest options you could travel to Chinatown or Pilsen, but it sure would be nice to have one or two in the Sloop!  The only new place that seems like it has a chance at a bib gourmand designation is Habror - the new restaurant slated for the old Gioco space.  Maybe?

Friday, September 27, 2019

With Tennants Moving Into Post Office Next Month Tribune Looks at Its Impact on the Neighborhood

A good read in the Tribune yesterday about the impact of the redevelopment of the Old Post Office as some of the businesses are set to move in next month:
The southwest edge of the Loop, for decades a sleepy buffer between downtown office skyscrapers and South Loop residential high-rises, is ready for its multibillion-dollar awakening.
More than $2 billion is getting poured into the neighborhood by real estate developers, forever changing a pocket of downtown where commuters are accustomed to hustling past fortresslike structures, concrete streetscapes and previously stalled development sites to get to their destinations.
Now it is becoming a destination in its own right.

Next month will start the trek of more than 22,000 new office workers who are expected to arrive in the next two years, which will bring a weekday crowd larger than a sold-out Chicago Bulls game to a small area along the west banks of the Chicago River.
High-powered companies such as Uber Technologies, Walgreens and Ferrara Candy are betting on the area’s potential as a magnet for top talent, even before the construction dust settles, and the area’s explosive growth is likely only beginning.
The boom will test the area’s streets and transit infrastructure, which have been beefed up in recent years. The coming flood of workers may struggle to find enough nearby businesses to serve them, at least initially. Time will tell whether an already lengthy development cycle has enough oomph remaining for several other proposed developments to get off the ground.

We've been covering this closely and agree that the Post Office has already ushered in a ton of activity in the South Loop - just look at all the residential activity across the river.

It will be an interesting 5 or 10 years to see how everything materializes but sure doesn't seem to be slowing down. 

Wednesday, September 25, 2019

Mayor Lightfoot Releases Initial Plan for Recreational Marijuana Dispensaries

In case you missed this story last week, Mayor Lightfoot weighed in on her initial plan for where recreational pot can be sold starting in January 2020 (via Tribune):
Under a plan unveiled by Mayor Lori Lightfoot, the city would be divided into seven zones for recreational marijuana dispensaries. Each zone would be allowed up to seven dispensaries, with an increase to 14 in May. Dispensaries would be prohibited, however, from locating in a downtown "exclusion zone" in most of the Loop and Magnificent Mile.

To be clear, this is a starting point and could shift among political pressure:
Recreational marijuana dispensaries would be blocked from opening in most of downtown Chicago, including the Magnificent Mile, under Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s proposed zoning rules for when the sale of the plant becomes legal next year.
But the mayor’s plan could face opposition from cannabis interests that have eyed downtown as a prime location to set up shop and Ald. Brendan Reilly, who said he wants to see dispensaries in the central business corridor to make sure Chicago collects as much cash as possible.
If you see the above, it certainly leaves the Sloop open to some recreational marijuana storefronts:
Under the administration’s plan, each zone will be allowed up to seven dispensaries, which will increase to 14 in May, said Samir Mayekar, deputy mayor for economic and neighborhood development.
“This is about inclusive, equitable growth of a new industry,” Mayekar said. “Really (it’s about) a responsible regulatory framework that enables that equitable growth but also ensures that the city and communities still have some control over how the industry grows.”
Lightfoot’s regulations will create guidelines for zoning approval and include distancing requirements to avoid dispensaries clustered in certain areas. All cannabis zoning applications will be heard by the Zoning Board of Appeals, where residents can comment, officials said.
City rules would bar dispensaries from opening within 500 feet of a school and recreational sales would be prohibited in residential zoning districts or in any building that contains a residential unit, the mayor’s office said. It also would comply with state law and prohibit the public use of cannabis products in public and by people under age 21.

Anyone have any ideas where the first shop will open up?  Printers Row? Wabash/Roosevelt Area?  Motor Row?  Or one of the less busy retail streets in the Sloop?

Tuesday, September 24, 2019

Man Shot at Canal/Roosevelt Last Night

Seems like there has been a bit of a spike in crime in the neighborhood - agree?  

Another scary scene during primetime at Roosevelt and Canal (intersection by Walgreens/Whole Foods/etc):
A 28-year-old man was critically wounded in a shooting in a South Loop parking lot Monday.
Police said the shooting took place in the 1200 block of South Canal Street around 7 p.m.
Two men were in a parked car when a man approached the vehicle and fired a gun. The man who was in the driver’s seat was shot in the chest and taken to the hospital.
Police said the man who reportedly fired the gun was with two other men and the three fled southbound on Canal Street.

Monday, September 23, 2019

Chipotle is Coming to 1142 S. Wabash Afterall

It's been a will it or won't it story for Chipotle coming to 1142 S. Wabash, but this building permit certainly makes it seem like former is accurate:

For those burrito lovers out there that have anxiously been following these posts, news of Chipotle moving into this area of the Sloop first came out late last year.  Movement at the spot was slow and more recently another sign popped up on a window for Jet's Pizza.

At the time, we weren't sure if that meant Chipotle was dead or what.  But apparently, this retail space will be split into two as construction begins.

Anyway - we imagine most people are going to be happy about this news.

Thursday, September 19, 2019

Cycmode Closed Up to Move to Atlanta

A reader follows-up on a post we did recently regarding Cycmode:
Re Cycmode - she actually took a big investment and moved to reopen the concept in Atlanta ... so sad to lose her in the neighborhood but she is doing great things down there!
Good for her!

(Hat tip:  SS!)

Wednesday, September 18, 2019

MingHin Coming to 1234 S. Michigan

Former Ma & I space where new MingHin coming
In case you missed this one, Eater Chicago had a recent blurb about a new Chinese Restaurant coming to the 1200 block of South Michigan:
An essential Chinese mini-chain plans large new South Loop spotMingHin Cuisine, a longtime former Eater 38 Chinatown favorite that’s expanded to three more Chicagoland locations, appears to be planning a large new South Loop spot for its next venture — which could include Japanese food. Management applied for a liquor license for the first two floors at 1232-34 S. Michigan Avenue and the second floor is interestingly under the name MingHin Japanese. Management has yet to respond to email and phone inquiries and additional information is not yet available, so stay tuned for more intel.

We've never been to MingHin, but it's slightly surprising that they're expanding so close to their Chinatown location.  Maybe they're trying to appeal to people who just won't venture a little further south to Chinatown.

This restaurant location was previously one of our favorites - Ma & I.  They closed a couple years back, but there have been persistent rumors of an Asian restaurant coming back to this location.  If the note above is correct, it appears the rumor is true.

Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Looking in at 820 S. Michigan Unique Rooftop

The Sun-Times has a good, quick read about the Johnson Publishing building on Michigan Avenue being transformed into a rental building.  One of the more interesting things we read was the efforts to add a unique amenity:
On that new 12th floor, the huge “Ebony JPC Jet” sign, heralding the iconic brand for nearly a half century, remains, now overlooking a trendy rooftop terrace with great lakefront views.
But Slezak said he wanted more than just the sign to be a reminder of the history made here.
Subtle touches of Johnson Publishing’s original ‘70s decor are sprinkled throughout. There’s the original wood paneling of the lobby and elevator; the framed Ebony and Jet covers lining a hall in the lobby; salvaged original rugs and curtains, framed, gracing upstairs halls.

Monday, September 16, 2019

Harbor Making Progress at 1312 S. Wabash

Checking in at Harbor - the new restaurant transforming the former Gioco space at 1312 S. Wabash - a reader writes:

While we're not shilling for Harbor's job fair, we did like what we saw regarding their lake michigan-centric logo.  This is also all over their website (although the website is still relatively bare).

For those looking for more background, this is the space that was home to South Loop pioneer Gioco - which closed in 2017.  The property sat vacant for awhile until news came out of Harbor taking over the space in some press in July of 2019.

It's one of the more interesting openings coming to the Sloop and apparently are trying to open in 2019.  Best of luck to them and looking forward to trying them out.

(Hat tip:  GK!)

Thursday, September 12, 2019

Printer’s Row Art Fest Returns This Weekend

A fun event that we would highly recommend if you're free this weekend:
SEPTEMBER 14, 2019 10AM-5PM
SEPTEMBER 15, 2019 10AM-5PM
Be part of a new cool vibe art festival, Printer’s Row Art Fest, in Chicago’s up and coming South Loop, a vibrant, diverse and inclusive community. Just one block from famous Michigan Avenue and a short walk to the world famous Art Institute, this fall festival will be the place to be.
The festival showcases the beauty, creativity and culture of the area. Held on Dearborn Street from Polk to Harrison, the Printer’s Row Art Fest will be a buying opportunity for art lovers of all ages. There will be art from all price points by painters, street artists, jewelers, up-cycling artists, artisans of all kinds, photographers, and mixed media artists. Area restaurants and bars will be on hand to serve up their Chicago specialties. Live music will add to the atmosphere.

Wednesday, September 11, 2019

Pacino's Classic Italian to Open in Roosevelt Collection

In case you missed this (via Eater Chicago):
Reps from the Roosevelt Collection continue their efforts to improve dining in the South Loop as a new Italian restaurant should open this fall in the development that includes the ShowPlace ICON Theatre. Pacino’s Classic Italian is slated for an October debut, replacing Mago Grill & Cantina at 1010 S. Delano Court. Pacino’s chef, Michael Serratore, was the chef at Trattoria Isabella, a West Loop Italian restaurant that closed in 2016.
The article goes on to say some interesting things:
Pacino’s will be a family-friendly Italian restaurant with 335 seats and a private dining room for 150. There’s also an outdoor area with a pergola. They’ve transformed the space to make it feel like Serratore’s native Italy. He’s Sicilian.
The risotto may be Pacino’s signature dish, as Serratore said it’s a labor-intensive item. The menu will also feature plenty of seafood and fresh pasta. Sample dishes include Bucatini Bolognese with Sicilian sausage in a tomato meat sauce; Ivoltini di Pollo with goat cheese-stuffed chicken breast, spinach, sun-dried tomatoes, vodka sauce, and mixed vegetables; and Neapolitan-style pizzas. Serratore prefers to lean to traditional cuisine, but he’ll try to modernize a few dishes, to perhaps make gravies a little lighter where he can. There’s a bar with 16 draft lines and also 15 bottles of beer available.

That's a lot of seats to fill, but hopefully the risotto is as good as advertised.  As a reminder, the Mago Grill space was huge and beautiful, but abruptly shut down in the spring of 2018.

The post also references the impending BBQ restaurant called The Lucky Well that is going to open in the development (which we posted about back in June).  And last Wednesday news came out about a crazy concept called X Pot with robots serving dishes and whatnot.

Good to see all the dinning news at Roosevelt Collection.  We wish them well.

Monday, September 9, 2019

Jet's Pizza Apparently Coming to 1140 S Wabash, But Is Chipotle Also?

A reader writes and sends us the pic below:
1140 Wabash- I think it was previously reported this might be a Chipotle.  Now where is that Chipotle?  Maybe former Bongo Room space??

While a lot of people were probably hoping for the Chipotle, apparently Jet's has a pretty loyal following.  All that said, there is sooooo much pizza in the Sloop.  While some may groan about that being a bad thing, pizza is pretty delicious.

So about that Chipotle....

As we reported back in December of 2018, Chipotle was in fact coming to this location.  Even so much so that it was on their website:

So the question is now whether or not Chipotle is coming.  On the Facebook group Hello South Loop, there are rumors that this location will have Jet's on one side and Chipotle on the other.  Time will tell...  

Anyone have any tips?

(Hat tip:  NS!)

Sunday, September 8, 2019

Kanye West Bringing His Sunday Service to Sloop, Northerly Island This Morning (9/8)

Hometown kid Kanye West is known for a lot of things, but most recently it's his Sunday Service which has been happening regularly since the beginning of the year.  News of him bringing his "service" to Northerly Island today at 9am popped up in the news yesterday and although it's a free show, it sold out in less than an hour.

We've read about it and watched videos on it and have seen it pop up in the news in a variety of ways.  But what is it - well we're still not really sure.  If you're to believe the purest intention, it's presumably Kanye's vision for giving his congregation some form of spiritual connection.  On that level we're intrigued, if not a little skeptical.

On the other hand, is it just another endeavor to further prop up an already mythical but egotistical, complicated but brilliant artist? 

Who the hell knows - and maybe why does it matter.  It's probably somewhere in the middle of the spectrum.  It's interesting and it's peak Kanye.

If this means anything to you, head on over to Northerly Island this morning and brave the rain for something that could be special.

Or at minimum, you can stream the show at 9am at     

If you're still unsure what we're talking about here is a blurb from Chicago Tribune:
It’s a safe bet that you can’t think of the last time that a ticket to church was the hottest thing in town. But that was before Kanye West’s Chicago iteration of his “Sunday Service.”
The rapper will host a 9 a.m. event at Northerly Island on Sunday, that will be — something.
Previous versions have included celebrities, musical performances and been things that the hoi polloi can only read about. The guest lists were closely held, including the likes of Brad Pitt, Katy Perry, Tyler, the Creator and others. The Chicago event, open to the general public, is a very different take on the weekly thing that West has been doing since the beginning of the year, according to media reports. When Sunday’s event was announced and the free tickets made available via TicketMaster, they went quickly. Northerly Island has a capacity of about 30,000 for concerts, but what the setup will be like for the West event isn’t known.
What is safe to say is that West will be front and center. When NPR chronicled one of the “Sunday Service” events held during the 2019 Coachella music festival, New Yorker writer Jia Tolentino said in that story, “He is the church ... he is the text of the sermon. It’s his songs. He is the worship. He is creating a church in himself and selling it, really.”

Friday, September 6, 2019

PepsiCo & WeWork Looking to Secure Space at Old Post Office

And the momentum appears to be continuing for the Old Post Office (via Tribune):
Another 320,000 square feet of office space is being gobbled up at The Old Post Office redevelopment, continuing a run of big leases in the long-vacant structure that will become one of Chicago’s largest office properties when it opens in October.
PepsiCo is in advanced talks to move into about 200,000 square feet in the 2.8 million-square-foot building along the Chicago River, according to sources. Meanwhile, WeWork is zeroing in on a lease of about 120,000 square feet, the sources said.
The leases are not finalized and could still fall apart.

If this happen it would join Uber, Walgreens, CBOE, Cisco Systems, Ferrara Candy, the Federal Home Loan Bank of Chicago, AbelsonTaylor and Home Chef as other businesses who are also coming to the neighborhood.

While some may question why this is relevant to the Sloop, it would likely bring increased development and action to the north west side of the neighborhood.

Wednesday, September 4, 2019

Robot Servers Coming to New Asian Fusion Restaurant in Roosevelt Collection

Ummmmm - if you say so (via Chicago Tribune):
Love Chinese hot pot, but always wished there were fewer real people around and more robots? You’re in luck, as The X Pot plans to move into the Roosevelt Collection Shops (150 W. Roosevelt Road) in the South Loop. According to founder David Zhao, opening is set for May or June of 2020.
Zhao and co-founder Haibin Yang are not kidding about the robots. “We’ll have robots that are similar to Roombas going around the restaurant to make the experience smoother,” says Zhao. “They’ll be the food runners, and any empty dishes we’ll also put on the robots.”
This is not the first time Zhao has integrated technology into a restaurant concept. He’s also the co-founder of Chubby Cattle, another hot pot restaurant chain that has a refrigerated conveyor belt that delivers all the ingredients.
But he’s aiming even higher with The X Pot. Along with the aforementioned robots, he’s billing this place as the “second interactive dining 5D projection experience in the United States,” after the first location of The X Pot opens in Las Vegas later this year. What does that mean? Zhao says that the restaurant will feature “groundbreaking technology to add to the immersive dining experience” which will appeal to all your senses. “There will be music playing, visual projects on the walls and on the tables, interactive ingredients that you touch, and obviously smell and taste coming from the food.”
This is a pretty ambitious concept and while we're super skeptical of gimmick restaurants - we're hoping the food is as good as the tech.

Curious to see where this comes in at Roosevelt Collection.  Does anyone know?

Tuesday, September 3, 2019

"Wine Bar Coming Soon" Sign in Window of Printers Row Wine Shop

There has been a lot of positive movement on the restaurant/bar scene in Printers Row.  While Toto's Market isn't a traditional restaurant, it does have some quality QSR type of offerings such as sandwiches and rotisserie chicken.  Across the street Roots Pizza is finally moving quickly and will undoubtedly bring more heat to the area.  Further north (715 S. Dearborn) work on Grail Cafe is underway as well.

But not everything is reliant on new establishments!  It looks like the popular Printers Row Wine Shop (719 S. Dearborn) is opening a wine bar inside their space - assuming this sign is accurate:

Good stuff and can't wait for them to open this up!