A Southerner's Chi-Town

This story appears in the Winter 2014/15 issue of Eidé Magazine. Read it here, or click to read it in the issue below. 

It’s the optimum union of location, style and spirit. Iconic in name, the Hard Rock Hotel Chicago seamlessly blends the sleek appeal of modern design with classic elements and attention to detail. Earthy, wooden headboards offset damask-inspired carpeting, shiny fabrics and plush pillows. But the truly eye-catching feature of this hotel is the view of the city. Reaching nearly 40 stories high, the hotel rests in the Carbide & Carbon building, an Art Deco masterpiece of historic significance, designed by the Burnham Brothers in 1929. Incredibly apropos, the construct was assembled to resemble the shape and color of a Champagne bottle — a party spot, indeed. The omnipresent rock ‘n’ roll theme with mounted guitars, signed posters and framed albums is just enough to be fun, but not cheesy. And this Hard Rock Hotel pays Southern tribute featuring a lavish medieval style coat that was worn by Atlanta-based Elton John to Elvis Presley’s birthday party in 1971. 230 N. Michigan Ave. hardrockhotelchicago.com

If you’re staying at the Hard Rock, why not eat at their resident restaurant, Chuck’s: A Kerry Simon Kitchen? Chef Simon is known for his win of the “Iron Chef America” Battle Hamburger challenge, among other things. But if you’re not in the market for a burger, it’s hard to go wrong with the Lollipop Lamb Chop made with red wine and garnished with bacon greens. Try it with a side of creamed spinach with bechamel, parmesan and white cheddar. And if you want a fresh take on a Southern favorite, brussels sprouts, their version is tempura battered.

If you’re venturing out, it’s a 15-minute walk from the hotel to Carriage House, a restaurant featuring Lowcountry Carolina cooking located in Wicker Park. Here, you’ll find Charleston favorites mingling with new-South interpretations. You’ll taste a modern take on home when you try the baby back ribs made with pepper jelly glaze, pickled onions and topped with spicy peanuts. 1700 W. Division St. carriagehousechicago.com

The Hard Rock Hotel Chicago has a lot to offer right on its campus. Take advantage of their “picks” program, which offers a menu of 20 legendary Fender guitars you can select from to play for free — they’ll even deliver one to your room with an amplifier and headphones. No need to air guitar when you can play on a classic Stratocaster like your favorite Nashville star. Then kick back at their bar, Angels & Kings, where there are events nearly every night (and a “Gone Country” gathering each month replete with Firefly Moonshine and Jim Beam Kentucky Fire). Stand-out events include an annual Playing It Forward Ping Pong Ball (yes, there’s a ping-pong table right off the lobby). When you’re ready to tour the city, it’s just a short walk to The Magnificent Mile, the theatre district and Navy Pier. Don’t miss a showing at the Chicago Shakespeare Theater; patrons rave that seeing a show there feels like being at The Globe. 800 E. Grand Ave. chicagoshakes.com