It turns out that some of the city's best dining spots are inside storesseriously.
There are long-established places like The Walnut Room at Macy's, but there are many others, such as Eataly and Restoration Hardware's Eat: 3 Arts Club Cafe.
The Lunchroom is a bustling 40-seat restaurant/cafe within SPACE 519, a concept store in Chicago's Streeterville neighborhood at 200 E. Chestnut St., adjacent to Water Tower Place and the former Hancock Building. The crowd was a mix of workers/students from nearby Northwestern University, tourists and local ladies who lunch; the people-watching
The menu (which reflects global influences) is divided into shareable items, greens (very popular), soups and breads. Nothing's too heavy but everything's delicious.
I started with a worthwhile fresh cauliflower soup with coconut milk. I wasn't trying to go vegan, but it was a lovely way to start the experience.
Shareable dishes include the Zen Queso (gluten-free), which consists of Chihuahua cheese, hatch-green chiles, vegan chorizo and pico de gallo; it's lovely and has the right texture. Plus, there's only the slightest of kick in this itemand I'm extremely sensitive to spice.
If you feel that's not for you, though, there are the farm table burrata, Miss Lucie's Pimento Spread and the It's Greek to Me flatbread.
My dining companion and I also tried a couple of the sandwiches: the avocado toast club and the Gold Coast tuna melt (the latter with potato salad and Kalamata-olive garnish). Even though my friend had never tried avocado, he really took to the club, and even the tuna melt (served on a croissant) seemed posh.
Desserts are tempting, as well. Among the available items are black-and-white cupcakes, addictive Portuguese egg tarts and other pastries.
However, judging from my friend's reaction to the Paloma, The Lunchroom's cocktail section is worth checking out as well. He said this one was the best Paloma he's ever hadand went so far as to say that he'd return to The Lunchroom for that concoction alone.
In the warmer months, The Lunchroom has a 24-seat dog-friendly sidewalk cafe that literally provides a very unique perspective on life, with the people (Streeterville residents, Northwestern University/MCA employees) and the architecture.
By the way, there's also The Lunchbox, which is the food "to-go" concept (with sandwiches, quiches, baked goods and more) and a mini-wine shop. It's delightful and is open for slightly more hours than The Lunchroom (which is open Monday through Friday at 8 a.m.-4 p.m., and on Saturday and Sunday 9 a.m.-3:30 p.m.).
However, if you have the time, stay to dine in The Lunchroomand then peruse the enticing items in the store. You'll most certainly leave with a smile on your face.
More about The Lunchroom is at https://www.space519.com/pages/the-lunchroom.
Note: This visit was arranged.