Chicago Athletic Association was restored last year into a wonderful hotel, dining destination and playground for the city’s visitors and residents alike. This turn-of-the-century building from the 1800s is an architectural treasure with a vast and wild history.
Located directly across the street from Millennium Park and the Art Institute of Chicago, you can reach Chicago Athletic Association by taking the CTA #3 King Drive and CTA #4 Cottage Grove buses directly there. If you’re riding the train (the ‘L’), the CTA Orange, Brown, Green, Purple and Pink Lines all stop within 2 blocks of the hotel. You can exit at either the Adams/Wabash or Randolph/Wabash ‘L’ stops.
I live a few blocks from Chicago Athletic Association and I have stopped in a few times. I leave there always wanting more. However you decide to spend your time here, I highly suggest you take the FREE 45-minute tour of this historic building. Very interesting. However, today’s blog is about eating and drinking at this awesome place.
During Chicago Restaurant Week, I had lunch at Cherry Circle Room which is an interestingly shaped room with a very private, club-like feel. I am certain that many important business deals and clandestine affairs went down in this space. But I digress. Here’s how my lunch went down:
I ordered this lovely walleye pike and shellfish dish with a fennel and saffron broth. It was really light and flavorful.
An interesting thing about the menu at Cherry Circle room is that they feature historic menu items from when the Chicago Athletic Association first opened. Very cool. I’ll be back to check some of those out.
After lunch and my requisite people-watching, I wandered through “The Game Room” which is also a hopping bar scene. Billiards, foosball, bocce or chess, anyone?!
Next, I passed by the super cool, Milk Room, an exclusive, 8-seat bar, where reservations and tickets are required. This is not an inexpensive place, folks!. Sounds a bit pretentious but I don’t think there is another bar like this anywhere else in Chicago. You arrive at your designated reservation time and the bartender delights you with an historical liquor lesson in the form of pricey, hand-crafted cocktails. There are spirits here that are seriously old and which cannot be found anywhere else. Who would like to treat me to this unique experience? Anyone? Anyone?
Personally, I absolutely love “The Drawing Room.” It is a wide, open, communal space. It’s beautifully appointed with artwork, plants, comfy couches and tables.
There are a few working fireplaces and large windows which look out onto Michigan Avenue and Millennium Park.
You can order, coffee, cocktails and food in The Drawing Room. Not interested in spending any money? No problem. You can curl up with a good book by the fireplace and spend a quiet afternoon while people-watching. Bring your laptop and get some work done, if you like.
Last but definitely not least, Cindy’s Rooftop Terrace is the premier place to dine at Chicago Athletic Association. It is a bright, sunny space with an astoundingly beautiful view of Millennium Park and the Chicago lakefront. They open weekdays at 3pm and weekends for brunch at 10am. Individual entrees are available. However, I suggest you grab some friends and order from their list of family-style platters of brunch items.
Pro tip: Cindy’s Rooftop Terrace is a perfect spot to sip cocktails and watch the Navy Pier fireworks on Wednesdays and Saturday nights during the summer. Make a reservation, though!
Chicago Athletic Association is located at 12 S. Michigan Avenue. Click here for more information.
In keeping with the spirit of Feeding Off The Rails, I encourage you to leave your car at home and take the CTA trains or buses to Chicago Athletic Association. Save on gas. Avoid traffic, road rage and parking. Reduce pollution. Don’t drink and drive!