Reese's Gourmet Banana-Mana's sweetscrafters whip up a diverse menu of desserts showcasing their own spin on banana pudding infused with fun flavors. Nine-ounce cups, 9"x11" pans, and 3-foot-deep kiddie pools of the fruity confection can be served frozen, as a chilled pudding, or heated into a sugary plasma. Crunchy cookies sink into the surface of the shop's eight varieties, with such flavors as original banana, lemon crunch, piña colada, and cappuccino.
Great American Bagel Burr Ridge's family-owned bakery doles out dozens of its fresh-made dough discs from its brand-new location. Each bagel is mixed from scratch and steam-baked every day for maximum chewiness. The ring bearers also offer catering services, with platters for business meetings and wedding cakes made entirely from bagels slathered in cream cheese.
Official "Breadlady" and Foodie's MarketCafé owner Cathy Cameron stacks sandwiches on just-baked Labriola bread, hushes stomach rumbles with house-made soups and salads, and cultivates a sense of community among her dining clientele. From the comfort of striped love seats and lime-green chairs, sandwich fans decode the classified messages scribbled in the spicy secret mustard sauce topping the Top Drawer Tom’s pretzel roll with roasted turkey and swiss. Sandwich fans grab hold of the florentine foccacia fusion, sporting sun-dried-tomato-speckled bread piled high with italian salami, ham, and provolone that swaddles baby spinach under a mobile of roasted-red-pepper sauce. A vegetarian-style fusion delivers the classic flavors in an herbivore-friendly package. Asian salad and chopped cobb salad provide refreshing takes on specially dressed veggies, avocado, and greens, and spoons bear-hug dollops of steak and ale or fire-roasted-veggie soup. Brownies and lemon squares pen the meal's epilogue to eager sweet teeth.
The Art Institute of Chicago seeks to educate and inspire the public with collections of artwork from all over the world, representing the immense potential and variety of human creativity. Intricate sculptures created in South Asia date back as far as the second century, and photography exhibits trace the work of lens masters all the way back to 1839. The Institute's contemporary sectors build on that embrace of humanity's more recent mediums of inventiveness by showcasing wild outgrowths of artistic genres, including new media, conceptual installations, and self-portraits painted using only blue cheese salad dressing. A two-story modern wing, meanwhile, houses nearly 1,000 influential pieces by American and European artists such as Pablo Picasso, René Magritte, and Salvador Dalí.
It’s rush hour at Ogilvie Transportation Center, and from the Canal Street entrance, you have a great view of late commuters sprinting to catch their train. For those who have a few minutes to spare, however, the long concourse offers more than a ride out to the suburbs. Explorers who follow the Chicago French Market’s red and blue sign will find the cute French café—Le Cafe du Marche.
Helmed by the owner of the popular restaurant, Bistro Voltaire, Le Cafe du Marche offers decadent French café fare, including housemade quiche, organic soups, and tuna niçoise and duck-confit sandwiches. The menu, which mirrors classic dishes from the cafés of France, is no doubt more casual than its parent restaurant. However, the attention to detail remains unchanged between the two establishments—chefs manually torch the sugar atop each housemade crème brûlée.
When looking at it from a distance, the Aqua building's façade seems to ripple and cascade; that's due to its funky, irregularly curved balconies, which jut out in undulating patterns against bluish-green reflective windows. The modern skyscraper, which soars up 82 stories over Lake Michigan, is the tallest woman-designed skyscraper in the world. And inside this landmark tower resides the brand-new Radisson Blu Aqua Hotel Chicago, which rests above famous destinations such as Navy Pier and the Magnificent Mile, steps away from renowned Millennium Park.A sense for the chic characterizes sleek, pet-friendly city-view guest rooms such as the spa-like Naturally Cool pad, its design scheme featuring light hardwood floors amid splashes of blue décor. There's a regal feel to the Mansion House room, which dons black slate in the bathroom, dark wood floors, a king bed wrapped in sumptuous linens, and opulent guest-room details. At night, large windows present an unhindered view of Chicago's glittering lights and disoriented seagulls.Downstairs in the hip Filini Lounge, guests can sip two signature cocktails as they scan the menu, which presents creatively prepared mini plates of Italian cuisine. An 8,000-square-foot fitness center lays out ample space to stretch, and a 25-meter lap pool, cabanas, and a 1/5-mile running track comprise the 70,000-square-foot outdoor garden behind the hotel.Radisson Blu Aqua Hotel's front doors open less than a quarter-mile from the designer shops and distinctive restaurants of Michigan Avenue's Magnificent Mile. Sidewalks flood with sightseers and locals, who window-shop and hoist slices of Chicago's famed stuffed pizza. The narrated riverboat tour is one of the most popular ways to catch unseen angles of the city's celebrated skyscrapers and learn about the outsized egos and diamond-encrusted wrecking balls of their quirky architects. For an aerial view of the skyline, it's off to the observatory floor of one of the tallest buildings in Chicago, the John Hancock Center, to sip drinks and watch clouds drift over the city.