What’s New In Food: Must-See New Chicago Food & Bev Destinations

By Kevin Wilson

5 Unique Places To Check Out During NRA 2019

Chicago is full of surprises, like cashierless convenience stores, robotic-style dining, eat-ertainment on steroids and so much more. If you’re looking to do something different while in town for the National Restaurant Association Show, you’ll want to hit up these cool, new food destinations everyone’s talking about.

Amazon Go
Image by @chicagobucketlist via Instagram

1. Amazon Go

Four cashierless locations in Chicago, offering ready-to-eat meals and snacks made by local kitchens and bakeries.

No lines, no check out. Just grab and go. Amazon Go stores are designed with a “Walk Out Shopping” experience using the same types of technologies in self-driving cars: computer vision, sensor fusion, and deep learning. When you enter the store, launch your Amazon Go app, take the products you want and leave.

Watch What’s New In Food™: Amazon Go

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113 S Franklin St
Chicago, IL 60606
Mon-Fri, 7am-8pm; Closed Sat-Sun

111 E Wacker Dr Suite LL005
Chicago, IL 60601
Mon-Fri, 6am-8pm; Sat 7am-6pm; Closed Sun

144S Clark St Ste 100
Chicago, IL 60603
Mon-Fri, 6am-9pm; Closed Sat-Sun

500 W Madison St
Chicago, IL 60661
Mon-Fri, 6am-8pm; Closed Sat-Sun

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Punch Bowl Social
Image by @punchbowlsocial via Instagram

2. Punch Bowl Social

A 30,000-square-foot meatpacking factory turned into a grown-up playground and restaurant.

Eat-ertainment is what you’ll find at Punch Bowl Social, featuring a diner-inspired scratch-kitchen menu, craft cocktails and beers, and a full lineup of games including private karaoke, bowling, virtual reality, table games and vintage arcade. 

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310 N Green St
Chicago, IL 60607
(312) 809-9551
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Wow Bao
Image by @wowbao via Instagram

3. Wow Bao

Innovative technology delivers fast, seamless, entertaining customer experiences.

Wow Bao is an Asian fast casual concept based in Chicago that serves fresh, healthy food at the “speed of life” thanks to the restaurant’s end-to-end technology platform. Here’s how it works: you order your food at cashierless kiosks. A real, human chef prepares your order. Your food is placed in your assigned cubby. You grab it and go without ever interacting with a person.

Watch What’s New In Food™: The Fully Automated Dining Experience

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Wow Bao – Theater District
1 W Wacker Dr
Chicago, IL 60601
(312) 658-0305
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Wow Bao – Michigan Plaza
225 N Michigan Ave
Chicago, IL 60601
(312) 226-2299
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Wow Bao – Michigan Ave
200 N Michigan Ave
Chicago, IL 60601
(773) 279-5216
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Cindy’s Rooftop Bar
Image by @glutenfreechick via Instagram

4. Cindy’s Rooftop Bar

Bringing craftsmanship and premium ingredients to the “sober curious” movement

With its breathtaking views of the city, Cindy’s Rooftop Bar is always bustling, and although the establishment isn’t new, they’re serving up something different. The spiritfrees (a.k.a. mocktail) menu at Cindy’s aligns with the new “sober curious” movement for those people looking to maintain a healthier lifestyle but not willing to go all-or-nothing on booze. The movement took off with the December release of the book with the same title, and has caused a new wave of reinvented, sophisticated non-alcoholic beverages like the ones at Cindy’s.

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Chicago Athletic Association Hotel
12 S Michigan Ave
Chicago, IL 60603
(312) 792-3502
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The Darling
Image by @thedarlingchi via Instagram

5. The Darling

Dinner, show and people-watch like never before

There’s definitely something cool – yet peculiar – about the Darling. Maybe it’s the eclectic mix of belly dancers, drum lines, drag queens and magicians that entertain you at this two-story dinner theater. Or perhaps it’s the English manor-style space filled with velvet sofas, vintage mirrors, Persian rugs and trippy artwork. We even think the large format cocktails that serve 6 with quirky names like Peachy Keen and Johnny Appleseed are unique. You, too, will be curiously intrigued by this one-of-a-kind Chicago gem.

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905 W Randolph St
Chicago, IL 60607
(312) 285-2609
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Looking for more things to do while in town? Reach out: social@esrock.com

Kevin Wilson

About the author
Kevin Wilson is CEO of Esrock Partners, a foodservice marketing agency located near Chicago, Illinois.

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