Chicago hotel restaurant scene blooming

(Hyatt Place Chicago/River North building)

Several Chicago hotels are updating or creating new food-and-beverage items to wow guests and locals. Announced just this week, the luxury Kimpton Gray, which is opening in the Loop’s restored, historic New York Life Insurance Building, will feature a rooftop restaurant that serves dishes inspired by Latin American street food. The restaurant will include an all-season retractable glass roof, according to the Chicago Tribune.

The hotel and restaurant, called Lola Braza, are scheduled to open in June. The hotel also will feature a lobby bar that features rare wines, spirits, and Champagne and caviar carts.

Lola Braza promises “authentic Peruvian and Argentinean street fare” stated a Kimpton release, with 4,000 square feet, seating 150, all under that retractable glass roof. Pisco and mezcal cocktails will be poured late into the night, paired with “seductive, worldly beats of live music.”

Steadfast, a restaurant on the main floor, is expected to open in May. The lobby bar Vol. 39 will be found on the second floor, with 2,000 square feet, and was named for vintage encyclopedias discovered during renovations. A hosted evening wine happy hour will be available to all guests.

The Hyatt Place in the River North area of Chicago, which offers a grab-and-go breakfast as its only F&B option, will be gaining a restaurant in late June. Chef C.J. Jacobson and partners Rich Melman and Marc Jacobs will open Ēma, a Mediterranean small plates restaurant, according to Eater.

Assorted small plates, or mezze, will feature unique spices and encourage sharing. A rotisserie will provide roast chicken and legs of lamb served with housemade bread that Jacobson described as a cross between naan and a pita that is brushed with butter. Jacobson, who also is the executive chef at Girasol in Los Angeles, plans to source greens and seasonal vegetables from local farmers and farmers in California.

The full-service restaurant will also have a full bar with beer, cocktails and a wine list that channels the Mediterranean. Guests will also have the option of selecting rotisserie meats, salads, and housemade frozen Greek yogurt from a grab-and-go counter.

In addition, HOTEL MANAGEMENT reported recently that Chicago’s only "tri-level" rooftop bar will open this spring at the future LondonHouse hotel — allowing people to drink atop one of the city’s most distinctive downtown buildings. 

A rendering of the swanky outdoor bar crowning the riverfront hotel is posted to the website of the LondonHouse, a 452-room conversion of a landmarked Beaux Arts tower at Michigan Avenue and Wacker Drive.

The rooftop will also offer "private drinks and dinner" in the distinctive cupola atop the 23-story tower, according to the LondonHouse website.

Once open, the hotel will also include a 2nd-floor lobby bar called "Bridges" and a street-level retail tenant that has yet to be announced. In December, LondonHouse announced that former Godfrey Hotel chef Riley Huddleston would handle food and drinks at the new hotel.