Chicago’s Gold Coast and Old Town






This is a wonderful residential area to explore which also has great restaurants and hotels.

Ambassador Hotel: Ian Schrager’s Public Hotel which was the old Ambassador East Hotel is now the Ambassador Hotel. It is an attractive, contemporary hotel with a great vibe. The Lobby and Coffee Bar is becoming a local’s hot spot. The famous Pump Room is being taken over by Rich Melman and Lettuce Us Entertain You Enterprises and is being re-branded as Booth One. The photos featuring the celebrities from the original Pump Room are still there! 1301 N. State Parkway.

The Original Pancake House: At 22 E. Bellevue Place, this is a local’s hangout that is great for breakfast.

The Thompson Chicago: Formally opening at the end of 2013, this is a wonderful addition to the boutique hotel scene in Chicago. It has a sleek, contemporary lobby with a warm fireplace. The rooms have been totally redone from when it was the Sutton Place Hotel and are well-appointed, attractive and comfortable. The location is great for exploring the city and the staff extremely friendly. 21 E. Bellevue. Recently opened in the Thompson is Nico Osteria at 1015 N. Rush. As an Italian-inspired seafood restaurant, it immediately received great reviews, so it can be difficult to get into. I opted for lunch at the bar overlooking the kitchen and enjoyed watching the chefs prepare the food.

Across from the Thompson at 1118 N. State is the new Viceroy Hotel Chicago.  I had a really excellent brunch at their sleek, new restaurant, Somerset, by the  Boka Restaurant Group. It is open for breakfast, lunch, dinner and brunch on weekends. I thought the breakfast sandwich was excellent with roasted tomatoes, chicken sausage, cheddar cheese and a fried egg on a house made English muffin. It is a great new addition to the neighborhood. They also have an amazing rooftop bar, Devereaux, which features food and craft cocktails overlooking the Chicago skyline and small pool.

Bistro Zinc: At 1131 N. State, this is a French bistro that will take you back to your favorite bistro in Paris.

Butch McGuire’s: A long-time staple on the Chicago bar and restaurant scene since 1961. They have a good brunch with excellent sandwiches and burgers. Their reuben was really great. The decorations at Christmas are not to be missed. 20 W. Division.

Big & Little’s: At 860 N. Orleans, just west of the Gold Coast, is a casual spot that is perfect for lunch with its famous fish and chips, fish tacos, oyster and crab po’boys, truffle fries and foie gras and fries.

A little west in Old Town near Division and Wells, is Glunz Tavern, next to the House of Glunz, one of Chicago’s oldest wine merchants. Originally opened in 1888 by Louis Glunz, the popular neighborhood gathering spot sat vacant for more than 90 years following its closure just prior to Prohibition. It was reopened in 2012 by his family members. It is known for its selection of beer, wine and European influenced cuisine. It has a casual, old-world atmosphere. 1202 N. Wells.

At 1516 N. Wells is Topo Gigio Ristorante, for great Italian food for over 25 years. I always enjoy the food!

Add Dinotto Pizza e Vino at 1551 N. Wells to your list for great salads, pastas, pizza and entrees. Others that I enjoy include Cocoa + Co. at 1651 N. Wells for great chocolates, coffee and chocolate drinks. I always like the Le Pain Quotidien in Lincoln Park on Armitage. I just tried the 1562 N. Wells location for lunch. It is a great spot with good food.

Adobo Grill recently relocated into a new location across the street at 215 w. North Ave. They have very good Mexican food. I enjoyed sitting on the outdoor patio on a beautiful summer night.

West of The Gold Coast and Old Town is Kingsbury St. Cafe. This is a contemporary cafe at 1523 Kingsbury that features a great selection of sandwiches, salads and breakfast items. They also have great outside seating in the warmer months.

Opened in October, 2015 is the new Restoration Hardware or RH Chicago. It is located in the former Three Arts Club at 1300 N. Dearborn. This 70,000 sq. ft. store on six floors includes retail, but has a coffee and pastry shop, rooftop park, performance stage, wine-bar and enclosed garden courtyard cafe. It is a stunning renovation!

In the next block south is the 3rd Coast Cafe and Wine Bar.  At 1260 N. Dearborn, I went back after several years. It is a fun, casual spot for breakfast or lunch.

Another hot spot is Maple and  Ash. This is an upscale steak house at 8 W. Maple with a contemporary,  warm, clubby atmosphere. You enter through a bar downstairs and then go to the second floor for a larger bar and large dining room. The somewhat pricey menu, features steaks, chops, a seafood tower, raw bar appetizers and other entrees. My friend enjoyed a great steak while I had a lovely fish entree. Make sure to make a reservation before you go as it can be crowded.

Celebrity Chef Art Smith’s Table 52 is now Blue Door Kitchen and Garden.  Formerly more of a southern restaurant, it now focuses on a sustainable, seasonal farm-to-table menu. I enjoyed the repurposed restaurant and had a great beet salad and salmon entree.  52 W. Elm