With the 2018 ACR/ARHP Annual Meeting nearly upon us, the time has come to plan your trip to Chicago. The Annual Meeting is Oct. 19–24 at McCormick Center, which means attendees will see beautiful views of Lake Michigan and the Chicago skyline, highlighting the city’s unique architecture.
The weather in October, although unpredictable, is generally brisk and beautiful. We asked a couple of local ACR/ARHP members to share their choices of things to do, places to see and favorite bites: Carrie Richardson, MD, a rheumatologist at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago, and Anisha Dua, MD, MPH, assistant professor, Fellowship Program director and director of the Vasculitis Center at the University of Chicago.
“If you forgot to make your reservations at Alinea [a Michelin three-star restaurant] and the Publican [with a menu that’s an homage to oysters, pork and beer] last April, don’t despair,” says Dr. Richardson. “There are still plenty of things to do while you’re at the Annual Meeting in Chicago.”
Dr. Dua says, “There are a ton of great places to eat and explore in Chicago. The convention center is not quite in the city center, so things do require short cab rides.”
“Although walking anywhere from the convention center is a challenge,” adds Dr. Richardson, “there is an L stop that connects the convention center to the rest of the city, making getting around easy.” You can learn more about getting around on the L by visiting the Chicago Transit Authority website.
If you’re looking to do something in between sessions at the Annual Meeting or in the evenings, here are a few classic, affordable ways to enjoy your spare time in Chicago:
What to Do
“Run along Lake Michigan [on the Lake-front Trail] or down by the Riverwalk,” a pedestrian walkway on the south side of the Chicago River, says Dr. Dua. Dr. Richardson’s choice would be to “walk, jog or roll along the Lakefront Trail, which stretches for 18 miles along the Lake Michigan shoreline. It runs near many major tourist attractions and fantastic neighborhoods, and the view of the lake is always stunning. If you don’t have time to see the whole trail, the part of the trail between the Field Museum of Natural History and the Chicago River is particularly scenic.”
A visit to the Field Museum is free on Oct. 21, points out Dr. Dua. It has a collection of more than 24 million objects—including dinosaurs—allowing you to explore the past, present and future of the physical earth, its plants, animals, people and cultures. She also notes the museum and the Shedd Aquarium (with 32,500 creatures from aquatic habitats around the world) are about a mile walk from the convention center.
Dr. Dua also recommends the following activities: “Walk around Millennium Park, visit the bean, and/or check out the Art Institute.”
Yes, you read that right—the bean. Dr. Richardson explains, “Cloud Gate, located in Millennium Park, is a giant, bean-shaped, burnished steel sculpture. It’s underwhelming on paper, but it’s breathtaking in person. It reflects the people and structures around it, so it changes with the weather and the crowds. It’s a surprisingly entertaining place to take a photo or people watch.”
The Art Institute, open daily until 5 p.m. (8 p.m. on Thursdays), features an impressive collection of impressionists and post-impressionists—including Georges Seurat’s A Sunday on La Grande Jatte.
Other suggestions from Dr. Dua: “Visit Navy Pier (navypier.org), which offers shopping, rides and games, public art, Chicago tours and more. Shop on the Magnificent Mile.”
Another Chicago local (and frequent contributor to The Rheumatologist), Lara C. Pullen, PhD, says, “For an evening out, consider booking tickets at Chicago Shakespeare Theater, and plan to spend an evening at Navy Pier. The renowned theater will be presenting the North American premier of Nell Gwynn, the 2016 Olivier Award Win-ner for Best New Comedy. The romantic comedy is set in 17th century London and should set the stage for a fine Chicago evening.”
And lest we forget, Chicago is home to not just one Major League Baseball team, but two. Dr. Richardson says, “I was raised a Sox fan, but wish the Cubs well.” As this issue goes to press, the Cubs are in first place in the NL Central, so the playoffs are a possibility, and Chicago could be in the midst of pennant fever during the Annual Meeting.
What to See
“Take in a great view for (kind of ) free,” says Dr. Richardson. “Skip the lines and fees at the Sears Tower and head to Chicago’s most underrated skyscraper, the John Hancock Center (‘The Hancock’). It’s not quite as tall as the Sears Tower, but you can head up to the 96th floor for free, and have a drink or an appetizer while you enjoy the view.”
Dr. Dua says the best view of the city with good (but slightly pricey) cocktails can be had at Cindy’s (12 S. Michigan Ave.).
What to Eat
Dr. Dua and Dr. Richardson agree that there’s one place to get the ultimate Chicago-style, deep dish pizza: Pequods (2207 N. Clybourn Ave.). It’s “my favorite deep dish,”says Dr. Dua.
“For the best Chicago-style deep dish, Pequod’s in Lincoln Park is a local favorite,” agrees Dr. Richardson. “The crust is crunchy and caramelized to the point that parts of the crust are almost burnt, which makes the pizza a little more complex than some of the other buttery, greasy, deep dish pizzas out there.
“For the best Chicago-style thin crust, Vito and Nick’s (8433 S. Pulaski Rd.) is worth a trip,” continues Dr. Richardson. It’s way off the beaten path on the South Side, and the décor is unassuming—to put it euphemistically—but the Italian beef and giardiniera (‘jar-din-AIR’ in Chicago-speak) pizza is phenomenal.”
Dr. Dua says that closer to McCormick Center, you can get deep dish pizza “that’s still pretty good” at Giordanos (1340 S. Michigan Ave.) or Lou Malnattis (805 S. State St.). She says other places to eat close(ish) to McCormick Center include:
- Opart Thai House (casual, tasty Thai food): 1906 State St.;
- Tapas Valencia (good for larger groups): 1530 State St.;
- South Coast Sushi: 1700 Michigan Ave.; and
- Pizanos (pizza and pasta): 2106 Indiana Ave.
She suggests you head to Chinatown for:
- Strings Ramen: 2141 Archer Ave.; or
- Lao Sze Chuan: 2172 Archer Ave.
Chicago is clearly a foodie’s destination. So whatever type of food may tempt your palate, Dr. Dua likely has a recommendation. She says, “Some of my favorite restaurants (not necessarily close to the convention center)” are:
- Portillos (Chicago-style hot dogs): 520 W. Taylor St. or 100 W. Ontario St.;
- Au Cheval (amazing burgers, no reservations): 800 Randolph St.;
- Small Cheval (mini version of Au Cheval): 150 N. Riverside Plaza;
- Siena Tavern (Italian): 51 Kinzie St.;
- Gilt Bar (American): 230 Kinzie St.;
- Sunda (Asian fusion): 110 Illinois St.;
- Chicago Cut (steak house): 300 LaSalle Dr.; and
- Girl and the Goat (Stephanie Izard from Top Chef): 809 Randolph St.
Welcome to Chicago
Whether your preference is Great Lakes and gardens, architecture and art, dinner and theater, or people watching, Chicago will deliver. Check out www.choosechicago.com for more information on most of these activities and places—and a lot more to see and do in Chicago.
Keri Losavio has been the Wiley staff editor of The Rheumatologist since 2014.