The world outside Lollapalooza: The best food and fun near the fest
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Lollapalooza is stepping it up for this year’s fest. With more than 35 options at the Chow Town food festival, two new cocktail lounges and order-early mobile options for pizza, it has never been easier to grab a quick bite between sets. But there’s only so much they can do to appease the masses within festival bounds, so we rounded up the best things to eat — and do and see — around Grant Park.
Wildberry Pancakes and Cafe
130 E. Randolph
If you’re looking for a hearty meal before heading out to the earliest shows, Wildberry is among the best in Chicago. It’s infamous for hour-plus waits (and food well worth it), so be prepared to encounter long lines — but doors open at 6:30 a.m. for ambitious brunchers. Located just north of Millennium Park, Wildberry is the ideal breakfast spot if you want to make tourist pit stops downtown or by the Bean.
767 S. State
Nothing is more Chicago than a classic hot dog. A quick, cheap choice if you want a breather from the madness, Devil Dawgs offers a range of hot dog and burger add-ons. You can upgrade any meal to a “double dawg” or burger to a double or triple, all for under $6, including multiple vegetarian options. Doors are open until 3 a.m. on the weekends, so feel free to stop by and recharge after a late aftershow.
1045 W. Randolph
This is no ordinary McDonald’s. If you’re new to Chicago, it’s well worth paying a visit to Hamburger University, the West Loop location that opened just this summer and offers international options from wasabi fries to exclusive sundaes. And if that weren’t enough, the chain has promised to give out free french fries with a mobile app purchase for every Friday of 2018.
Exchequer Restaurant and Pub
226 S. Wabash
At the heart of a historic Chicago restaurant district, Exchequer is rumored to have originated as a Prohibition-era speakeasy. The pub has been rebranded multiple times since, including a full renovation in 1969, and now offers memorabilia, drink and food. It’s often open past midnight, perfect to wind down after a long day in the park.
1 W. Wacker
Chicago’s Theater District has no lack of dining options, but admittedly, they’re pricey, extravagant and largely limited to Italian or American. Wow Bao offers quick and hot baozi (filled buns), dumplings and bowls that can be ordered through kiosks for an easy pop-in during your festival weekend.
130 E. Randolph
We couldn’t write a Grant Park guide and not include deep dish pizza, especially a Giordano’s location right next door to landmark Chicago locations. With thousands of customer reviews, Giordano’s is both the local and tourist go-to for classic deep dish pizza, and there’s no better place to get it than at Prudential Plaza.
Cherry Circle Room
12 S. Michigan
If you’re looking for something a bit more upscale, head to the second floor of the Chicago Athletic Hotel in the heart of downtown. The Cherry Circle Room, with origins dating back to the 19th century, is open practically all day, whether you want a simple brunch, an elaborate dinner or a classic cocktail.
Millennium Park/The Bean
The park is the closest Chicago landmark to Lolla festivities, and one that you’ll probably be checking out whether you intend to our not. Beyond The Bean, however, its less bustling areas may be an ideal spot to grab a quick bite or break. The park’s offerings include concessions at the Goose Island Beer Garden, an actual 3.5-acre garden and casual fare at the Park Grill.
The Art Institute is often an hours-long affair not to be taken lightly. The nearly 1-million-square-foot museum is one of the largest in the world and overwhelming to say the least, but the perfect destination if you have any days to spare in the city. Just like Lolla, take it like a marathon, not a sprint. You’ll be sure to find something for your tastes, with current exhibits featuring Chicago-based paintings and photography.
Museum of Contemporary Art
A less ambitious option but just as quintessentially Chicago, the modern art museum is mere blocks away from Navy Pier and lakeside beaches. It’s offering eight temporary exhibits during Lolla weekend, including Chicago-based photography of scenes right outside the building.
You can spend a whole day at Navy Pier, but if pressed for time, a quick meal on a cruise may be the best way to cross the historic pier off your bucket list. It offers brunch cruises on Sundays to cap off Lolla weekend, or public jazz and reggae performances for a break from the huge crowds in the park.
A premier aquarium located a short walk from the Grant Park chaos, the Shedd is an internationally renown conservation center and a must for first-time Chicago visitors. If you’ve also been eyeing the Art Institute, it may be well worth purchasing the Chicago CityPASS, which includes the museum and VIP Shedd entry in addition to Skydeck and the Field Museum.
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