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MM.LaFleur’s Guide to Chicago

November 22, 2017 | Filed in: Take a Break

Chicago has been one of our most beloved pop-up locations for years now, and we’re finally making the relationship official: On December 1, we’re putting down permanent roots with our new showroom at 230 West Huron Street. Come visit! And while you’re at it, check out our other favorite Windy City spots, below (Bean selfies optional—unless you’re wearing MM, in which case, they’re highly encouraged).

TO STAY

If you’re a pool shark who appreciates history: The Chicago Athletic Association Hotel

Originally built as a hoity-toity men’s club during the Gilded Age, this newly-converted hotel resembles a Gothic cathedral and houses a handful of the city’s best restaurants and bars (plus a Shake Shack, because why not?). Get drinks or dinner at Cindy’s, a rooftop atrium with vaulted glass and sweeping views of Millennium Park (and, yes, the Bean), then head downstairs to flex your shuffleboard muscles at Game Room, which also offers chess, checkers, and billiards. Oh, and the actual rooms are incredible, with butter-soft leather armchairs and mini-fridges stocked with local artisanal liquors—for that nightcap you probably don’t need, but will gladly enjoy anyway.

If you like to keep it simple—and know your way around a whiskey menu: Longman & Eagle

Yes, this place is better known as a Michelin-starred farm-to-table restaurant with killer drinks and an unbeatable whiskey list. But you can also roll yourself upstairs after your foie gras torchon and sleep like a baby in one of the establishment’s six streamlined rooms, which have cozy touches like exposed brick walls, freestanding bathtubs, and hand-hewn wooden beds. Best of all: You won’t even have to go outside the next morning to get one of the best brunches in the city (featuring both French toast with peanut butter and banana panna cotta—we rest our case).

TO EAT

If you want a chic, relaxed atmosphere with delicious food that isn’t totally mobbed: Ella Elli

A pretty spot in the Lakeview neighborhood, this restaurant fits the bill for just about anything—a work dinner, a date, a meet-the-parents outing, or catching up with a former colleague or college friend who happens to be passing through town. Its white marble bar is beautiful yet unpretentious, and the dishes are dependably great. Try to snag a booth, or just grab drinks and catch up in front of the fireplace.

If you want a taste of Chicago food royalty, without too much fuss: Duck Duck Goat

Run by Stephanie Izard, one of Chicago’s most celebrated chefs (of Girl & the Goat fame), Duck Duck Goat serves self-described “reasonably authentic” Chinese cuisine, meaning the menu is full of unexpected twists like tempura-battered squash blossoms stuffed with lobster and sweet corn (yup, still thinking about it). Bonus: Unlike Izard’s other (equally wonderful) restaurants, it doesn’t take months to get a reservation.

TO DRINK

If you’re in the mood to celebrate, or just feeling fancy: Aviary

If you want a taste of one of Chicago’s most famous restaurants, Alinea, but can’t commit to an 18-course meal, go to Aviary, which is run by the same culinary team. A cocktail bar where drinks are made in the kitchen and the bartenders are trained as chefs, Aviary has a slick and sophisticated feel. If you’re looking for an even more insider-y experience, go downstairs to The Office, a subterranean bar with a speakeasy vibe. When it first opened, you could only get past the doorman if you knew the “secret” phone number (and the right people); these days, they take reservations.

If you like to keep it classic: Gilt Bar

With book-lined walls, a glowing chandelier, and a decadent menu, Gilt Bar is a perennial crowd-pleaser for those who appreciate the finer things (and flattering lighting). Unwind with a martini, order the truffle pasta, and squeeze a few more friends into your plush leather booth—you’ll be here all night.

TO LOOK

If you’re willing to get lost for an afternoon: The Art Institute of Chicago

One of the oldest and largest museums in the country, the Art Institute is home to iconic works like Georges Seurat’s A Sunday on La Grande Jatte, Grant Wood’s American Gothic, and Mary Cassatt’s The Child’s Bath. Don’t miss the unforgettable Thorne Miniature Rooms, 68 exquisite models built on a scale of one inch to one foot that replicate interiors from the 13th century to the 1930s—it’s like peeking into tiny, immaculate whole worlds.

If you have a shorter museum attention span: The Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago

With a rotating mix of interactive shows (last year’s Merce Cunningham exhibition featured a room full of silver balloons that visitors could bat through the air), the MCA is known for its innovative programming. This year, they’re celebrating their 50th anniversary with a wild lineup of exhibits, including Felix, a giant, fictional cat sculpture by Maurizio Cattelan, and a mashup of Jeff Koons and Alexander Calder. If you tend to get museum fatigue, fear not: You can do this one in a couple of hours.

If you’d rather not, and say you did: Book a personal styling appointment

If museums aren’t your thing (or if they are, but you also need a new dress for dinner tonight), stop by and visit MM’s newest permanent showroom. We can’t wait to hear about your favorite Chicago spots.


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Charlotte Cowles is a New York-based writer​ ​and editor.​ ​Her work has been published in New York Magazine,​ Harper's Bazaar,​ and Art in America. She'd always rather be at book club. Read more of Charlotte's posts.


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