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It's a Tasty World Along One Magnificent Mile in Chicago



Shopping, dodging giddy teenagers walking in unison and people watching aren't the only activities on Chicago’s Magnificent Mile, the mile-long stretch of Michigan Avenue between Oak Street and the Chicago River. 

Every few steps along the mile offer locals and visitors a tasting tour of flavors from gastronomic masterpieces to neighborhood tavern style dining. Steaks and seafood? Michael Jordan's, Torali and Lawry's - The Prime Rib won't disappoint. The Purple Pig continues to entertain diners with snout-to-tail cookery with Italian and Greek inspiration and Beacon Tavern couldn't be more comfortably upscale. Ocean Prime, a new seafood-heavy spot in the London House, beckons with everything you might want from the sea. 

If it's great weather, you'll be treated to gorgeous skyline and lake views day or night with your meal at Spiaggia or NoMI Kitchen. It's not all about smoking the credit card, either, when you pop into casual Jake Melnick's Corner Tap, a tavern with as many dizzying specials as craft beers. Another affordable option? Aster Hall in 900 North Michigan Ave. building. 


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Torali is on the lobby level, 12 floors up, in the Ritz Carlton. It's white and mirrored, not dim and stuffy as one might imagine an Italian and steak place might be in a venerable hotel like the Ritz. Sous Chef Lugo's hamachi crudo, beef tartare with black truffle or simple, cold oysters are a great light start. Torali hits all the steakhouse notes with hand cut, Prime and dry-aged steaks finished with house salt and extra virgin olive oil, and a choice of Torali Steak Sauce or Black Truffle-Garlic Butter. Pasta is made in house and a sure bet is the Linguine al Frutti di Mare featuring nubs of shrimp and scallops, plus clams, mussels, spicy 'nduja, all in a tomato fennel broth. For a steak house, there's an awful lot of non-steak options: Ora King Salmon, seabass and even cauliflower "risotto", with cashew cheese for vegans.


NoMi Kitchen


NoMI Kitchen is the kitchen one might imagine you hang out in while in heaven. The contemporary Midwest cuisine has classic French influences, plus a deep wine list and stunning views. Dine at NoMi Kitchen, the NoMi Lounge or the NoMi Garden, an outdoor rooftop terrace open roughly May through October. A new sushi bar, which overlooks Michigan Avenue and Lake Michigan from within NoMI Lounge, offers an omakase experience and sommelier Jillian Riley can provide accompanying pairings. Stop in for wine and cocktails in a relaxed atmosphere in the lounge and a date on the outdoor terrace dining by candlelight can't be beaten. Sweeping views place you in the heart of the Gold Coast along Michigan Avenue and Water Tower Square.


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Another modern American restaurant and lounge opened in 2019, this one located in LondonHouse. Situated near the River Walk and where the Mag Mile begins (or ends, as it were) the restaurant serves weekday lunch and nightly dinner featuring a menu of fresh seafood, prime steak, cocktails and an extensive wine list. Executive Chef Jason Shelley helms the from-scratch kitchen that aims for simple, local and regional flavors. Expect pristine raw bar items; spins on appetizers like white truffle caviar deviled eggs; sushi; Prime steak; impressive seafood entrees; and more than a dozen sides (smoked Gouda tots and lobster mashed spuds). Even though the Ocean Prime concept has 15 locations in 12 states, this new location pays respect to Chicago in decor - the two-story lobby is wrapped with illuminated illustrations of Chicago's history - and the bar room's picture windows overlooking Wacker Drive and the Chicago river afford great views.


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This popular restaurant is the work of Jimmy Bannos Jr., Jimmy Bannos Jr., a fourth-generation restaurant guy who was raised in Chicago's Heaven on Seven. First timers rave about housemade charcuterie, roasted bone marrow with herb salad, fried pig's ear with crispy kale and fried egg and an extensive wine list. Locals return for the milk-braised pork shoulder with mashed potatoes While the smears, fried items, cured meats and cheeses and entrees are the big draws, it's worth saving room for desserts, like peanut butter and marshmallow fluff cake. The global wine list offers 50 wines under $50 and you can get many in 5oz and 8oz pours, or by the half bottle. The Purple Pig accepts diners on a walk-in basis only but parties of eight or more can email catering@thepurplepigchicago.com.




At street level set in the InterContinental Chicago Magnificent Mile, Michael Jordan's Steak House does about as alright as number 23 did on the court (insert superlatives here). Executive Chef Craig Couper adds just enough flourish to steakhouse favorites to make them distinctly delicious. For starters, treat yourself to the Nueske's Double Smoked Bacon with Burton's Maple Syrup or incredible garlic bread featuring Wisconsin Roth Kase blue cheese fondue. Seafood and chops rock but this is a steakhouse after all so go for M. J's Delmonico, USDA Prime, Dry-Aged 45 Days, served with ginger-balsamic jus. Join the legions who have Instagrammed the 23-Layer Chocolate Cake and then you might consider booking a room to rest the digestive system. Also in the Intercontinental, ENO Wine Room offers a seasonal patio, live music and wine tastings if you want to continue the fun.




Step away from the frenetic shopping, mouth agog window gazing, crabby cabbies and general urban cacophony on the Mag Mile and tuck into a cushy booth at Beacon Tavern. Just off Michigan Ave. on the Wrigley Building walkway, it's a casually-upscale refuge with modern interpretations of tavern classics reminding us that civilization can still be comforting. Launch lunch or dinner with briny oysters or a wonderful rendition of shrimp toast consisting of red shrimp atop brioche that lolls in truffle butter with the crunchy fried heads on the side. Cheddar Bay biscuits are baked to order but save belly space for excellent entrees like fish 'n' chips of the day, vegetarian gnocchi, roast chicken, Alaskan halibut or BBQ lamb shoulder.


When you crave a Chicago style hot dog and your dining mate needs ramen, lobster roll, al pastor tacos or Nashville Hot Fried Chicken - get all that and more at Aster Hall, one of the newest food halls in Chicago. Enjoy stunning views in the airy space while supping upon one of the city's best burgers from Small Cheval; fresh rolls and bowls from Sushi Station; Italian beef at Chicago Char Dogs; or handmade pasta from the kitchen of Lil Boots. Head to the Bar & Study for cocktails, beer, wine and coffee. Those doing right by their diet should visit 3 Greens Market on the fifth floor, a self-serve salad bar with locally sourced and organic produce that you pay for by weight. The devil on your shoulder will pull you towards The Chocolate Bar serving pastries, ice cream, cakes and candy. Bring your laptop, family or friends.




Sometimes you neither want nor need a plate of everything au courant - Brussels sprouts topped with pork belly, a fried egg, uni and cauliflower dust. When you envision a juicy, charred burger, steamy, creamy mac 'n' cheese, meaty wings, a hefty garbage salad or smoky barbecue and you're on the Mag Mile, stroll over to Jake Melnick's Corner Tap. The Today Show dubbed Jake's "the best chicken wing spot in the US" but we don't need them to tell us these are outstanding: jumbo flyers with any of 10 sauces. There's a burger, wing, beer and mac of the month plus brunch all day every day if the mitochondria ache for eggs or hair of the dog. Jake's serves plant-based "Impossible" sliders, too, and he's always having holiday based specials (Lent, National PB & J Day, Oktoberfest, etc.) Beer taps change daily and there's an expanded spirits selection.




Chicago claims some of the top steak houses in the country, but honestly, Wisconsin beats us in prime rib, something its supper clubs traditionally serve every Saturday night. There's one place that measures up and outdoes our neighbors to the north - Lawry's The Prime Rib, open in 1974 and housed in the 1890's McCormick Mansion. Family-owned for four generations, Lawry's was the first single entrée restaurant in the country when it opened in Beverly Hills in 1939. Salad served before the main course started at Lawry's and you should have the Original Spinning Bowl Salad spun tableside on a bed of ice, then served on a chilled plate with a chilled salad fork. Ditto the Roasted Prime Ribs of Beef slow roasted on a bed of rock salt. and hand-carved and served tableside from carts by Master Carvers who train for six months before entering the Royal Order of Carvers.




How does Chef/Partner Tony Mantuano continue to crank out the most ethereal pasta, sophisticated antipasti and jaw-dropping second courses after all these years? He cooks from the head and the heart and is smart to hire simpatico creative chefs like Season 15 winner of Top Chef, Joe Flamm, a south sider making Chicago proud. Ideal for date night, Spiaggia offers Mag Mile and Lake Michigan views coupled with simple but expertly created dishes featuring seasonal produce and delicate, handmade pasta. Service is impeccable and desserts irresistible. Cafe Spiaggia, on the same floor, is a sweet European cafe with calming colors and an equally inviting menu. Wonderful shared plates include Emilia Romagna on a Plate (puffed fried gnocco, Prosciutto, fonduta and balsamico); or try fried peppers, fennel and smelt. Outstanding hand made pasta like lumache with lamb Bolognese and Parmigiano Reggiano make you a pasta amnesiac for all other noodles.


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Meet Jacky Runice

Born in Bucktown when bulletproof was a home safety choice and not a coffee order, Jacky Runice has been knocking around Chicago as a professional print, online and broadcast journalist and...  More About Jacky

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