As usual, the Nation’s Restaurant News editorial team will be covering the NRA Show in Chicago. Here are their picks for where they’d like to be when they’re not hard at work on the show floor.


Mark Brandau, senior editor

Ever wanted to head over to local cult favorite Hot Doug’s to try one of the alligator sausages or duck-fat fries you’ve been hearing so much about? Better hurry: Hot Doug’s just announced it is closing for good in October. The lines already stretch out the door and through the Avondale neighborhood, but you might have to wait behind even more people making on final pilgrimage.

Hot Doug’s, 3324 N. California Ave., (773) 279-9550

Part speakeasy, part tiki bar, this new Lettuce Entertain You Enterprises restaurant in the River North neighborhood strikes the right balance of escapism and down-to-earth hangout for a serious, stiff cocktail.

Three Dots and a Dash, 435 N. Clark St., (312) 610-4220


Carol Krol, executive editor

My go-to for a late-night beer and bite is Three Aces in Little Italy. Two words, people: Bolognese fries. The restaurant is self described as “The Italian countryside meets the American farmhouse in Keith Richard’s basement bar." Bonus — for me — is the restaurant sign out front, designed by my friend and Chicago artist Tony Fitzpatrick.

Three Aces, 1321 W. Taylor St., (312) 243-1577

Olivia LaBarre, online managing editor

As a lover of craft beer, all things meaty and music, I’m excited to try The Chop Shop — a restaurant, beer bar, butcher shop and music/event space all in one 15,000-square-foot location in Wicker Park.

I would also be remiss not to dine at The Publican, a much-lauded spot that describes itself as “an homage to beer, pork and oysters.” Enough said.

The Chop Shop, 2033 W. North Ave., (773) 537-4440

The Publican, 837 W. Fulton Market, (312) 733-9555


Sarah Lockyer, editor-in-chief

It is impossible to pick just one or two restaurants in Chicago. As my hometown and one of the most exciting food cities in the country, I like to mix up my restaurant visits with both old-school favorites and hot new openings. This year, I’ll be sure to hit up my deep-dish pizza go-to, Gino’s East, as well as what I think is the best fast food in the business, Portillo’s. A Chicago-style hot dog, French fries and chocolate shake are pure Americana, and no one does it better than Portillo’s.  
Looking a bit more upscale, I’m eager to try Cicchetti, where I’ll be dining Wednesday night. Developed by well-known chef Michael Sheerin, Cicchetti offers local, sustainable Midwestern food in a Venetian-inspired setting. Cicchetti was named one of 2014’s best new restaurants by Chicago Magazine. Other picks: Our editorial team is dining at Coppervine on Sunday night; I’d like to check out the newest from Billy Dec’s Rockit Ranch Productions, !Ay Chiwowa! and Bottlefork; and I wish I could try everything on the list from NRN sister brand, Restaurant Hospitality, because those editors know what they’re talking about when it comes to good food.

Portillo's, multiple locations

Cicchetti, 671 North St. Clair, (312) 642-1800

Coppervine, 1962 N. Halsted St., (773) 935-1000

!Ay Chiwowa!, 311 W. Chicago Ave., (312) 643-3200

Bottlefork, 441 N. Clark, (312) 955-1900