Streeterville Social, Flavor by Loews hits rooftop scene

By Gianna Annunzio, Staff Writer

Streeterville Social’s “Flavor by Loews” event on June 6 offered a range of food and beverage samples from partnerships with the Loews Hotels & Co Flavor program, including products by Chicago Honey Co-Op, Here and Revolution Brewing. As the sun set overhead, the gorgeous rooftop and bar exploded into an atmosphere of unique food and drink.


Streeterville Social rooftop. Photo by Gianna Annunzio

As the night began, the restaurant’s full-service bar served cocktails that incorporated honey from the Chicago Honey Co-Op’s local hives, offering a sweet honey-lemon flavor to all who wished to try. The group has three apiaries (bee farms) around town, where honey is harvested and taken to local farmers markets. The sources of nectar from flowers in Chicago’s city parks gave the honey deliciously complex flavors.

The locally sourced cold-pressed juices by Here were on offer and guests were able to take bottles of their favorite flavors home with them. The group also brought coupons and plant-related pins to give to attendees, hoping to spread the word about locally sourced and produced food.

Honey from local apiaries are in corporate into cocktails at Streeterville Social. Photo by Gianna Annunzio

Revolution Brewing, Illinois’ largest independent craft brewery, also offered samples of their classic brews along with pins and souvenir glasses. While dozens of their drinks are brought to life each year, ranging from IPAs to Belgian-style ales to pilsners, guests experienced a beer made exclusively for Loews Chicago Hotel. The beer, Zephr, is a low ABV golden ale that’s mild and crisp, with a delicate hop finish.

Loews Chicago Hotel looks forward to welcoming guests both old and new back to the hotel and Streeterville Social this summer.

Streeterville Social 

455 N. Park Dr.

Chicago IL, 60611

(312) 840-6617


Published June 6, 2018

Food at Streeterville Social soars to new heights

By Kathleen O’Connell | Loews Chicago Hotel

Streeterville Social’s new weekend brunch offers elevated favorites such as King Benny with Alaskan king crab, organic poached eggs and herb hollandaise, and Chicken and Waffle with crispy chicken thighs, sour cream waffles and a spiced honey.

Summer has finally arrived in Chicago and Streeterville Social is celebrating all things summer. With a new menu, new cocktails, more seating, and a new weekend brunch service, Chicagoans can soak up the city’s favorite season at this urban escape that boasts sweeping skyline views.

Executive Chef Kevin Atkinson has created a menu of creative summer favorites ideal for sharing over summer sips.

Vegetarians and carnivores alike will savor the Chicken-Fried Mushrooms served with a black bean bbq sauce and green garlic aioli. For those seeking the classic flavor
of summer seafood, the Seafood Boil for two features crab legs, shrimp, mussels,
hot links, potatoes, corn, streeter spice and grilled bread.

Spiced honey, mango sesame BBQ lamb ribs. Photos by Streeterville Social.

The Summer Corn Flatbread with smoked fontina, red onion, pickled peach, and basil, as well as the Clam Stuffies made with whipped mortadella, wonder bread and celery are ideal for sharing over a glass of chilled rosé or a refreshing cocktail.

Streeterville Social’s new weekend brunch offers elevated favorites such as King Benny with Alaskan king crab, organic poached eggs and herb hollandaise, and Chicken and Waffle with crispy chicken thighs, sour cream waffles and a spiced honey.

Not-to-be-missed summer brunch dishes include the Avocado Toast with an organic sunny fried egg, miso mayo, bonito flakes, and an herb salad; the Peach Smoothie made with vanilla yogurt, lemon and honey (with an optional shot of bourbon), and the Gluten Free Wild Rice Pancakes served with marinated peaches, Burton’s maple syrup and nasturtium.

Toast to summer with #WeDrinkPink Wednesdays at Streeterville Social with $5-featured rosé by the glass and half price featured rosé by the bottle. With a nod to everyone’s favorite childhood frozen treat, Streeterville Social serves Boozy Bistro Pops in assorted flavors. Be sure to get there early as quantities each day are limited!

Streeterville Social
445 N. Park Dr.
Chicago, 60611

Published June 5, 2018

Local hotels freshen menus, decor for spring

By Gianna Annunzio | Staff Writer

Spring is a time of renewal and two local hotels are taking advantage of the season’s spirit by unveiling new food and interior decor initiatives. Loews Chicago Hotel, 455 N. Park Dr., has introduced a mouthwatering program, “Flavor by Loews Hotels,” a food and beverage experience providing guests with rich local fare. The initiative is built on partnerships with artisan food and beverage vendors.

One vendor is the agricultural cooperative, The Chicago Honey Co-op, whose honey is made in chemical-free beehives right here in the city.

“Chicago Co-op has three apiaries in different locations in Chicago, including in the Back of the Yards area,” said Kelly Kroyer, the marketing and social media manager for Loews Chicago Hotel, adding that the honey in your drinks may not have been made too far from home. Loews incorporates the honey in cocktails at their terrace bar and restaurant, Streeterville Social. An exclusive beer has also been crafted through a partnership with Revolution Brewing to produce, “Zephyr”—a low ABV golden ale with a mild and crisp taste.

The partnerships in Loews’ Flavor program are further reflected in the culinary style of Loews Executive Sous Chef, Matt Lange, of ETA Restaurant + Bar. With his focus on seasonal and refined cooking, the menu includes additions such as cold-pressed juices from locally-grown fruits and veggies provided by local food program, Here. Flavors include a beet, apple and ginger blend as well as pineapple, celery and apple juice that combines notes of turmeric and basil.

ETA Restaurant + Bar at Loews Chicago Hotel is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner seven days a week and Streeterville Social will open for the season on May 25.

A mural of Chicago’s skyline at The Palm restaurant. Photo by Gianna Annunzio

While Loews has expanded their flavor palate, Swissotel’s The Palm Chicago restaurant, 323 E. Wacker Dr., has revamped their entire look from the inside out. The restaurant re-opened on April 16, after a $2.5 million renovation. When the restaurant’s remodeling began, manager Phil Jahnke said the priority was to clean up the space and provide more modern amenities. “This particular location has always had the feeling of a hotel restaurant,” he said. “We’re trying to revitalize it.”

The restaurant has also re-incorporated unique wall paintings into the space, including work by Marlene Goodman and Zach Byrd, who has created city murals at Palm locations across the country. “I paint with acrylic paints on the wall and work more from looking at photos and just doing my thing,” Goodman said. “Since we’ve been around for so long, people might forget about us,” said Nicole Boston, the Palm’s sales and events manager. “But with this renovation we’re making a statement that we’re really here to stay.” The Palm Chicago now serves breakfast as well as lunch and dinner seven days a week.

Published on May 3

New Eastside coffee guide

By Jon Cohn | Community Contributor

Our highly caffeinated journey begins with a tour around Lake Shore East Park, with stops at The Drunken Bean 400 E. South Water St., Eggy’s Diner, 333 E. Benton Pl. and the 24-hour Subway, which also offers decent coffee.

Of course, Mariano’s grocery store serves up the java hot and fresh every morning, offering its Red Eye and Black Eye specials, with one and two shots of espresso respectively.

Radisson Aqua Blu coffee shop ‘Blu Bar’. Photo by Stephanie Racine

Additionally, Bockwinkel’s grocery stores, one located at the Harbor Point building and the other at the corner of Stetson and South Water Streets, offer up delicious Papa Nickolas brand coffee. The Fairmont Hotel, 200 N. Columbus Dr., has a neat little coffee stand right in the lobby featuring coffee, cappuccinos and lattés, as does Radisson Blu hotel at their
“Blu Bar,” which is open every morning.

Another great spot geared toward lovers of coffee is Swissotel, 323 E. Upper Wacker
Dr., which features The Amuse Bar and offers Valentine brand coffee. Moving on in our caffeine saturated venture, we head over to the lower plaza of the Aon building, 200 E. Randolph St., where the selections are nearly endless.

Coffee bar at Mariano’s Lakeshore East.

Just follow your nose down the stairs to find a food court inundated with coffee selections, including Sopraffino’s Italian blend coffee, Au Bon’s 100% Arabica beans, Market Thyme’s Intelligentsia brand, and the standard Dunkin Donuts and Starbucks.

Keep this list handy, folks. When the freezing winds blow off the lake,
you’ll be glad you have it.


Published Jan. 5, 2018

Stan’s Donuts opens new flagship in New Eastside

By Taylor Hartz, Staff Writer

January 2, 2018

Stan’s Donuts and Coffee unveiled their new Loop store Willy Wonka style – but with golden donuts instead of golden tickets.

The new sweet shop, located at 181 N. Michigan Ave., opened on Dec. 23 and hosted its grand opening celebration on Dec. 30 at 6 a.m. Donut-lovers wound their way down Michigan Ave. in freezing temperatures the morning of the celebration, hoping for a chance to win a sweet prize. Each of the first 100 customers who lined up for the grand opening received a box with a donut or other prizes inside, but two lucky winners found a gold-plated donut that meant they would have unlimited Stan’s Donuts for life.

For employees of the new store, the highlight of the grand opening was getting to celebrate with Stan’s Donuts’ biggest fans.

Employee Jon Becker said “it was amazing to see so many people willing to line up in the freezing temperatures for a shot at winning donuts for life.”

In addition to those lucky grand prize winners –Michael Fiorini and Cordelia Bella – Becker said all 200 people there when the store opened got prizes of their own.

“All of the customers in line received a  free donut, and everyone received Stan’s Donuts hats and t-shirts, coffee mugs and gift cards at random,” said Becker. Two customers also took home Stan’s signature pink Kitchen Aid mixers.

In a Dec. 30 Facebook post, the doughnut shop thanked “all the brave souls who weathered the weather” for the grand opening and congratulated the two winners. Temperatures were below zero the morning of the celebration.

Stan’s Donuts and Coffee, 181 N. Michigan Ave., held a grand opening for its first Loop store on Dec. 30. Photo courtesy of Stan’s Donuts.

The grand opening also featured free High Brew Coffee, one of many types of cold brew the shop offers. With 10 tap lines of cold brew, the new shop will appeal to coffee lovers just as much as donut fanatics.

Just after the grand opening, Stan’s also announced a surprise special for the new year – croissant donuts. Stan’s described the special as a European-style croissant dough with a granulated sugar coating, a pastry cream filling and a thick vanilla glaze. The square frosted donuts were available limited edition from Dec. 31 to Jan. 1.

One of the first 100 customers at the grand opening of Stan’s Donuts, looks inside their box to see if they won a golden donut and free donuts for life. Photo courtesy of Stan’s Donuts.

Donut-lovers who visit the new shop will find Stan’s usual light pink and white decor, with a fun new feature on the ceiling. Above the seating area, which fits 50 customers, rows and rows of pastel colored doughnuts line the ceiling.

The new flagship store is the first Stan’s to be located in the Loop, giving New Eastsiders easy access to all the doughnuts and coffee they could want.



Salad chain ‘sweetgreen’ opens new location near New Eastside

By B. David Zarley | Staff Writer

November 15, 2017

Salad chain sweetgreen’s newest location is now open in the Crain Communications Building at 150 N. Michigan Ave.

Area residents line up for free food at salad chain sweetgreen’s Community Day on Sunday, October 22. The new Loop location at 150 N. Michigan Ave, officially opened October 23. Photo by B. David Zarley.

Manager Margaret Doherty said sweetgreen is a farm-to-table, from-scratch restaurant. “We do everything in house every day, from our dressings to our drinks,” she explained. Sustainability is a primary concern for sweetgreen. All its products are compostable and biodegradable, and local produce arrives daily. “We try to use all growers from Illinois and the Midwest region to source all of our product in store to help sustainability in the Midwest and our region,” Doherty said.

The local ingredients are used in an array of salads, called “warm bowls.” Ingredients such as wild rice, kale, tofu and mushrooms, or quinoa, corn, chickpeas and chicken, are offered in a build-your-own salad bar. Seasonal salads rotate through out the year, highlighting what is in season in the Midwest.

Cristian Villalta, a Washington, DC, sweetgreen manager, was in town to help with the launch. “Since right now we’re in the fall season, we’re featuring brussels sprouts, curry cauliflower and the apple pear cheddar [salad]—all fruits and vegetables that are harvested in the fall,” Villalta said.

The branch officially opened on October 23, with a charity initiative marking the occasion. Proceeds from opening day went to Chicago-based charity Growing Home, which assists people with employment barriers—including homelessness, mental health issues and criminal records—and helps them learn job skills via paid, on-the-farm training.

“Come try us,” Doherty said. “We’re super awesome, very fun and eclectic. You’ll have a good time here and hopefully a great salad.”

Renovations complete at local Chinese restaurant MingHin

By Stephanie Racine | Staff Writer

November 15, 2017

Renovations transformed the interior of MingHin’s Grant Park restaurant, 333 E. Benton Pl. with updated blue and gold decor and an addition of an exterior door. MingHin has been a staple in New Eastside since 2015, drawing customers from all over the Loop with consistently delicious Chinese cuisine.

“The remodel includes new chairs and new tables. We will continue to get more new chairs and tables in a month,” said manager Leo Ho. The newly added tables and chairs are of a contemporary, but classic style, using both dark and light wood. New blue leather booths are paired with works of red and gold wall art that were commissioned from Chinese artists. Complementing the blue seating are fresh light fixtures adorned with classic blue Chinese drawings.

New MingHin updates include gold sculptur-al frames and blue leather booths. Photo by Stephanie Racine

“The remodel was completely for style,” Ho adds. “We designed the paintings here ourselves, but they were made in China.” Ho said. The artwork includes a vivid painting of red Koi fish set against a silver background that is hung in the main dining room. There are also geometric works made of a golden metal throughout the newly decorated dining room, in both framed paintings and structural designs.

As part of the renovations, a new revolving door on the south side of the restaurant was added, and glass barriers surrounding the exterior of the restaurant were opened to allow better access to customers.

New paintings, tables, chairs and artwork adorn the renovated MingHin. Photo by Stephanie Racine.


333 E. Benton Pl.

Suite #300

Open daily 11 a.m.–10 p.m.

Food trucks of New Eastside

Residents of New Eastside have a lot of choices when it comes to food. There are plenty of restaurants and markets, but there is also an underrated op- tion—food trucks. Here we profile two of our favorites that can be found on weekdays in New Eastside.

La Cocinita

A truck serving Venezuelan cuisine and famous for its arepas parks on Upper Columbus Dr. across the street from the Park Millennium (222 N.Co- lumbus Dr.). “We are the only food truck in the city that serves arepas,” says La Cocinita Food Truck Manager, Victor Reyna. La Cocinita’s delicious arepas consist of cornmeal patties

that have meat inside, along with pico de gallo and cheese. They also have vegetarian and vegan arepa options, along with plenty of other Venezuelan delights. La Cocinita’s food truck visits New Eastside twice a week—either Monday or Tuesday and Wednesday or Thursday. They also have a brick- and-mortar location in Evanston, two blocks away from Northwestern’s cam- pus and will be serving arepas at this year’s Taste of Chicago. To learn more about La Cocinita, visit their website,, or visit their Twitter or Facebook pages.


One of the founders, Shawn Podgurski, describes their cuisine as “German street food, inspired by Turkish immi- grants and British soldiers post-World

War II.” Podgurski and some of his fellow founders were in a rock band and often traveled around Europe and saw how popular döner kebabs were, so they decided to start a food truck that sold them with other culinary options, such as currywurst. In fact, they recently added a poutine to their menu; their version includes cheddar curds and chicken gravy. There is also a brand-new brick-and-mortar location at California and Belmont, called DMen Tap. To learn more about DönerMen, visit their website at www., or visit their Twitter or Facebook pages to check the truck’s serving locations.

If you’re in the mood for a different cuisine, be on the lookout for The Ca- jun Connoisseur, which serves classic Cajun dishes like jambalaya and po boys. There is also 5411 Empanadas, which serves empanadas with modern twists—including one with Nutella. Bop Bar is also a great choice for Ko- rean cuisine, including kimchi dump- lings. And last but not least, try The Fat Shallot for gourmet sandwiches, like the truffle BLT.

The Cajun Connoisseur:

5411 Empanadas:

Bop Bar:

The Fat Shallot:

— Stephanie Racine, Community Contributor

Fresh salad vending machines thrive in New Eastside

Sitting at the base of the 111 E. Wacker Pedway escalator, a teal-colored nook holds a culinary surprise: A five-foot-wide box dispensing recyclable jars filled with salad.

“It’s very transparent what’s in the actual salad,” said Paul Williams, who, like many Farmer’s Fridge fans, visits the wood-pan- eled vending machine multiple times a month. The kiosk, installed in 2016, was the first of two to open in the area. A second opened in Lake Point Tower (505 N. Lake Shore Dr.) earlier this year.

“These machines have been solid for us to date,” says Farmer’s Fridge Marketing VP Nadine Rich. “People have been receptive and happy to have wholesome [meals] conveniently located nearby.”

After spending months on the road as a traveling salesman, Farmer’s Fridge CEO

Luke Saunders longed for healthy, fresh food at his fingertips. He founded Farmer’s Fridge in 2013, with the philosophy that “eating well shouldn’t be hard.”

“It’s easy, [and] it’s cheap,” says Herbert Wennink, who stumbled upon the 111 E. Wacker machine a year ago. Wennink was especially impressed the machine gave him credit when a salad slot was empty.

Salads are made fresh each morning at a Fulton Market facility and are distributed to more than 60 kiosks across the region. At the end of the day, each fridge sends a produce order to the kitchen, over a cloud-based wireless network.

“Our menu is dynamic, day-to-day,” says Rich. Salads include fresh-cut vegetables like carrots, avocado and asparagus, which are stacked underneath layers of greens and a carton of dressing. Customers punch in orders on an extra-wide touchscreen, and pay by cash or credit card. A vigorous shake is all it takes to combine the ingredients in the jar. According to Rich, a typical transac- tion takes between 30 and 45 seconds.

The menu includes a selection of about seven salads, ranging from about $8 to $12, along with snacks, a handful of breakfast items and LaCroix water. The 111 E. Wacker kiosk offers bags, plates, napkins, forks and spoons, though supplies can run low at lunchtime.

According to Rich, the future for more Farmer’s Fridges in New Eastside looks bright.

“We are constantly looking to expand our locations,” says Rich.

— Tricia Parker, Staff Writer

Little truck, big dreams

Big World’s Tortas joins growing Aon food truck scene

His truck may be tiny — the smallest in the lunchtime brigade — but that doesn’t stop AJ Castillo, 26, from having Aon-sized ambition.


Big World boss AJ Castillo (photo: Patton)

“I envision having my own restaurant, with a patio area and a food truck outside,” says Castillo, owner of Big World’s Tortas, which began serving up Mexican specialties outside the Aon Center in August. Big World’s is the latest addition to a burgeoning number of food trucks on an otherwise culinary barren strip of Columbus, from Randolph Street to the CVS.

Growing up near Midway Airport, Castillo says he was inspired by his father, who was both a police officer and Laundromat owner. Castillo’s space galaxy-themed truck, with its painted-on stars and picture of the Chicago skyline, represents what he calls the “in between” state.

“I’m somewhere in between Mexican and what’s around me — American society,” says Castillo, who claims he’s “100 percent Mexican” but was born in the US. “‘Big World’ was my nickname growing up — I liked to eat a lot, and was chubby.”

Two to three times a week — Castillo can’t always predict which days — Big World’s wedges itself in between bigger competitors like Bop Bar and Tamale Spaceship, where it dishes up five kinds of torta sandwiches. His number-one seller is the $9 steak sandwich, which smothers steak, sautéed onions, and tomatoes in between fresh bolillo bread from Nuevo Leon bakery in Pilsen.

Castillo admits it’s a “little messy,” but that sandwiches on Mexican-style French bread are a fun departure from typical desk-to-Pedway fare.

“I’ve never been an office guy, but I can imagine being stuck in the office,” he says. “Here, you aren’t going to get the same thing everyone’s used to. There’s always something new opening up.”

img_2837bTo Castillo and the city’s 54 other licensed food truck vendors, Columbus Drive represents new daytime opportunities — and challenges.

“The Aon Center isn’t a super developed truck stop yet,” says Castillo. “We want to start going there more often and building a customer base.”

“A lot of the businesses don’t know that the food trucks are down here,” added Deanna Liberty, manager of The Cajun Connoisseur, as she glanced upwards toward the Aon building at the end of a recent lunch hour.

According to CDOT spokesperson Susan Hofer, the city will put increasing pressure on the Loop’s major food truck zone to move elsewhere this fall, which could mean even brighter possibilities for local truckavores.

“A large dining space containing more than a dozen restaurant options opened on the west side of the block,” she said, referring to the 100 block of S. Clark. “We are working with the City Council to introduce an ordinance this fall to relocate the zone.”

— Tricia Parker, Community Contributor

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