The Trade Show Road Warrior’s Restaurant Review: Chicago

If you’re a road warrior (and if you’re reading this, you probably are), you know that traveling from one trade show to another can be exhausting. But there can be perks, too. You can see new cities, try new foods, experience different local cultures and see sights you wouldn’t see anywhere else. Today’s post focuses on trade show dining in Chicago.

Skydeck Willis Tower in Chicago

The Ledge at Willis Towers in Chicago

There’s one thing everyone should do while you’re on the road: really experience the city you’re in and take in some of the surrounding color. We’re here today to give you some suggestions on what to see, eat and do while you’re in The Second City.

For a great introduction to Chicago, get yourself to the Skydeck on the 103rd floor of the Willis Towers. At 1450 feet, it once held the record as the country’s tallest building. You can also check out The Ledge, where you step into a glass-enclosed balcony that will give you a vertigo inducing view not only to the horizon, but also directly under your shoes to the street, 1353 feet below.

On a clear day, you can see into four states. The city vistas are beautiful, and you’ll gain a new perspective on the Great Lakes when you see how large Lake Michigan really is.

To experience trade show dining in Chicago, you’ll want to check out at least one of the city’s great deep-dish pizzerias. That style of pizza pie started here, and Chicago is where you’ll find dozens and dozens of restaurants vying for the title of the Best of the Best. Which one takes the crown? It really comes down to personal choice. Here are a couple of my favorites:

Uno Pizzeria & Grill
This Northside favorite is the restaurant that started it all back in 1943. It’s still serving Chicago-style deep dish pizza with a delicious golden brown crust. Loaded with sausage, sliced (not grated) mozzarella and crushed tomatoes, this is the true original.

But you can also try new takes on the beloved archetype, like a Shroom Pizza, which marries marinated mushrooms, spinach, garlic, mozzarella and grated romano. Or give the Spinocolli a try, with spinach, broccoli, tomatoes, garlic, feta, cheddar, mozzarella and grated romano. It’s trade show dining in Chicago at its best.

You’ll love each bite. You’ll probably eat too much, but you’ll remember it fondly.

The Purple Pig Restaurant - for trade show dining in Chicago

The Purple Pig Restaurant

Address: 29 East Ohio Street, Chicago, IL 60611
Phone: (312) 321-1000
Hours: M-F: 11:00AM-1:00AM, Sat: 11:00AM-2:00AM, Sun: 11:00AM-11:00PM

Pequod’s Pizza
This one is at the top of the list for many Chicagoans. Why? It might be the signature caramelized crust. The thick, crispy, slightly blackened edges make the perfect backdrop for a variety of toppings, like Italian beef, meatballs, spinach, giardiniera (an Italian relish made from pickled vegetables), and lots and lots of cheese. For trade show dining in Chicago, this place is a highlight.

Address: 2207 N Clybourn Avenue, Chicago, IL 60614
Phone: (773) 327-1512
Hours: M-Sat: 11:00AM-2:00AM, Sun: 11:00AM-12:00AM

Housed in an 1890 print shop in a gentrified industrial area, Sepia offers great food and high style. The restaurant’s farm-to-table menu features organic ingredients from local artisan growers. A great place to dine with a client, the atmosphere is rustic and contemporary. Each meal’s presentation is a work of art. The restaurant and its executive chef, Andrew Zimmerman, are celebrating Sepia’s 10-year anniversary this month.

Address: 123 N Jefferson Street, Chicago, IL 60661
Phone: (312) 441-1920
Hours: M-F lunch: 11:30AM-2:00PM, M-Sun dinner: 5:00PM-9:00PM

There are literally dozens more superb and unique eateries in Chicago; for those looking for more ideas, this listing is very popular.

What do you do after all that pizza and other good food? Well, Chicago also happens to be a great walking city, with plenty of things to experience along your path. There’s great public art, like “Cloud Gate,” the enormous mirror-finish bean-shaped sculpture in Millennium Park. The surrounding park is beautiful and tranquil, as well.Cloudgate in Chicago

There’s also the Field Museum, Navy Pier, the Shedd Aquarium, the Art Institute of Chicago and the Museum of Science and Industry.

I remember going there as a boy and seeing a U-boat that had been captured from the Germans in the middle of the Atlantic and towed 3,000 miles inland and along the Chicago River to the Museum. The U-505 is the only Type IX-C U-boat in existence today.

In addition to its other attractions, Chicago is also known for its incredible architecture. One of the best ways to take it all in is on a boat tour along the Chicago River.

Chicago Architecture Foundation River Cruise
Named the top tour in Chicago, and one of the top ten tours in the US (according to TripAdvisor), these 90-minute cruises are led by docents from the Chicago Architecture Foundation. They’ll tell the stories of more than 50 buildings along the Chicago River. You’ll discover how Chicago grew from a small settlement into one of the world’s largest cities in less than 100 years. On this $46 tour, you’ll learn the interesting history behind of some of Chicago’s most iconic architecture.

Address: 224 S Michigan Avenue, Chicago, IL 60604
Phone: (312) 922-8687
Hours: Tours leave approximately every half hour from 9:00AM-7:30PM, M-Sun

You and I both know that trade shows can be difficult and tiresome. Here at American Image Displays, we work every day to help our clients make their shows more successful. I hope this article has given you some tips that will make your next show in Chicago a little more interesting and enjoyable. Bon appetit! To learn more, call us at (800) 676-3976 or email [email protected].


Doing a show somewhere else? Check out our reviews of restaurants in San Francisco and Las Vegas.