Chicago ITW Hacks
I am extremely envious of everyone attending ITW in Chicago this week.
Having spoken to so many of you preparing to travel to Chicago this week that has passed, it has brought on some nostalgic feelings.
In honour of ITW and all of you racking up steps from navigating the Hyatts West Tower, East Tower, Swiss Tower, Gold and Purple Levels, here are some of my “ITW Hacks”:
Reasonably priced food places
I find the food places at the Hyatt and some of the restaurants in the vicinity, expensive and not to my taste. I am slightly restricted, as I can only eat Halal food, so some of those options in and around the Hyatt are probably more worthwhile for the non-Halal eater.
Sopraffina, One Illinois Center (connected to Hyatt Regency)
I stumbled on this place a few years ago, and it’s a short walk from the Purple level. Every morning I would make my way for breakfast for a small breakfast burrito, porridge (oatmeal) and fresh fruit. All in all $12 including water and coffee.
Tokyo Lunch Box, One Illinois Center (connected to Hyatt Regency)
I love sushi, and this place is a little gem. Last year I only had a chance to have lunch once here, but I remember exactly what they had in their special boxes. It was an Ebi roll with a slightly spicy flavouring. Simple, inexpensive at around $15 plus tea and water and great flavour.
Epic Burger, 227 East Ontario Street (round the block from Hilton Double Tree)
I found this place by chance last year, and I treated my colleague Jonathan Kamil to a burger. First of all, this place is fully Halal and Jonathan and I thought the burgers were very good. At the time, you had to construct the full burger, including the type of burger bun used, the salad, the cheese and the condiments you wanted on your burger.
I really liked the concept, and I remember making a beef burger, double patty, blue cheese, some salad and some sort of sauce. It was delicious, and this place is highly recommended.
Tabaq, 1245 N Clybourn Ave (At the intersection of Division and Clybourn)
My favourite food place in Chicago, but not because of the food, but because of the service. When I first attended ITW in 2013 I started eating at this place. It’s a family run establishment, that is open close to 24 hours per day, 7 days per week and loved by local taxi drivers. You tend to notice the sea of yellow cabs parked outside.
You get home cooked Punjabi food. Fresh roti or naans, daily specials cooked for the masses, prayer room in the basement and a small bodega selling prepaid calling cards! A $15 taxi will get you here from the Hyatt, but don’t go alone, fill a taxi and enjoy a social meal.
Up market restaurant with halal meat
Roka Akor, 456 N Clark St
Funnily enough, I went here last year and I didn’t eat any halal meat. I didn’t know the place was halal until we were all leaving the restaurant. Regardless, I ate seafood and sushi, and it was fantastic.
If you’re trying to impress, but want a great meal as well as some halal options for those who require, then Roka is definitely worth a visit.
Toilets in the Hyatt
The toilets at the foyer and all the major walkways for Purple and Gold Levels, as well as around the accesses to East and West Towers are disgusting! I don’t envy the staff who have to clean them, and I always try to use as a last resort.
However, if you take the escalator to the next floor down from the foyer, and immediately turn left and keep walking towards the function halls that are used for evening drinks receptions and parties, you will find some toilets off the beaten path.
During the day these areas don’t have a huge amount of footfall, toilets are quiet and clean, and perfect for those of you, like me, have a slight phobia of dirty toilets and people waiting outside the cubicles.
So, I hope my little homage to ITW and to all of you who are currently there enjoying Chicago and the event of ITW, comes in useful.
If anyone has any recommendations of “reasonably priced eateries” or “Halal food places” then please feel free to leave some comments (on Linkedin or Medium) or alternatively shoot me an email.
Stay safe people and enjoy.
Kashaf Bashir, COO @ Opt1mize / SVP Innovation @ Medii8