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This is part of NRN’s special coverage of the 2013 NRA Show, being held in Chicago, May 18-21. For the latest coverage from the show visit NRN’s NRA Show page and NRN's editor blogs, plus follow @NRNonline on Twitter. Also find the most compelling digital buzz from the show in one place at NRN's new social media hub.
The Nation’s Restaurant News editorial team has been covering the NRA Show for years. When our editors aren't covering happenings on the show floor they're likely exploring the culinary delights of the Windy City. Here are some of the staff's top Chicago dining picks to try during the the 2013 event.
Robin Lee Allen, executive editor
Here’s a recommendation for early in the show when you’re feeling energetic: Tavernita, featuring cuisine by Ryan Poli, was on Chicago Magazine’s list of best new restaurants for 2012, where it was described as “a Spanish-themed sorority mixer.” Well, any place that can take me overseas and back to college simultaneously seemed worth visiting. I did — along with my colleagues — and it was.
And for those later days toward the show’s end when you just want to sit and recover: Tea in the Drake Hotel’s Palm Court.
Mark Brandau, senior editor
Siena Tavern opened earlier this year in Chicago’s River North neighborhood, and while much of the buzz is driven by the popularity of chef-partner Fabio Viviani, the restaurant’s rustic Italian food and vibrant pizza bar scene back it up. The 10,000-square-foot space has three different bars and a private-dining room, as well as housemade pastas, pizzas and crudo, to accommodate most occasions.
Siena Tavern, 51 W. Kinzie St., 312-595-1322
Erin Dostal, Southeast bureau chief
A huge beer selection, crispy French fries and gourmet sausage on the menu. What more could a Midwestern girl (or really anybody) ask for? The Hopleaf bar in Chicago’s Andersonville neighborhood is a perfect laid-back place that’s hip — but not too hip. The service is friendly, the bartenders knowledgeable and the clientele is an unpretentious, beer-drinking, charcuterie-munching good time.
Besides, it gets you out of the Gold Coast and the Loop. Come see how the rest of Chicago lives. Trust me: It’s way more fun.
The Hopleaf, 5148 N. Clark St., (773) 334-9851