windy city food tour…

Food & Beverage KioskChicago, one of America’s classic cities, has it all – from retail to incredible Architecture to most importantly RESTAURANTS… it is really a design paradise – even when the wind chill is -10 degrees.

I recently had the opportunity to do a walking food tour with food gurus Lettuce Entertain You Consulting Group and found the diversity of the overall food concepts, signage and eclectic culinary offerings to be inspiring. Here are some of the ‘tasty’ highlights…

The WOW BAO hot asian buns concept (also shown at the top of this post) specializes in one star product – the steamed, NOT fried, bao – “a harmonious combination of dough and filling”. This WOW BAO, in the Michigan Avenue entrance to Water Tower Place, demands attention with the over scale signage and consistent Brand color message. WOW BAO is also capturing a tech savvy customer with adjacent ordering kiosks and smart phone apps.

foodlife, Water Tower Place’s lower level food court offers something for everyone. With a mix of 14 ‘from scratch’ kitchens – foodlife showcases the food as the star and gives options for any taste from sushi to mexican to ‘comfort food’. The ambience of the space was spot on. Low lighting levels throughout the dining space make it extremely comfortable for the guest and helps the focus stay on the various kitchens which then look approachable, bright and clean. Simple typographic signage and menu boards (with little attention to price) help the guest navigate quickly to their desired offering and allow them to buy with their eyes and stomach vs their wallet.

Celebrating their 1-year anniversary, BigStar, an olde time garage/gas station space has been converted into a popular outdoor and late night bar spot where $2 tacos rule and special attention is paid to the hand-crafted and often exclusive beer, tequila and whiskey offerings. For their anniversary, Goose Island has crafted Duguello, a special beer made specifically to honor their success. The branding is simple – just the big star symbol – no name, no fuss. The interior is also minimal, comfortable and authentic with a long centralized bar ringed by built-in laminated plywood booths and at most paint on the walls. Feels good, feels real… plus with $1 glasses of schlitz – can you really go wrong?

Eat. Drink. Be Merry.

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