The full guide will be featured in the conference edition of the Influence Magazine, coming soon!
But if I had to narrow it down to just five spots, these are my all-time favorites.
A century old landmark of downtown, St. Elmo is a mainstay among celebrities and locals alike (even featured on a recent episode of Parks and Rec). We went here for our anniversary dinner last year. But if the main dining room is too ritzy, try the second floor 1933 Lounge, perfect for relaxed conversation in deep leather chairs. Go with a group and share an infamous shrimp cocktail and classic appetizers. 127 S. Illinois Street
Thin-crusted, blistered Neapolitan style pizza with inventive topping combinations. Napolese has some of the best dinner atmosphere in the whole city. Any pizza on the menu is available with a gluten free crust. The baked goat cheese, chopped salad, and housemade gelato are perfect additions to whichever pizza you order. 30 S. Meridian Street
Situated slightly south of downtown, this vibrant cafe serves up delicious Turkish cuisine. The owner, Orhan Demirtas, will win you over with his charm, but the food could stand alone. We often order several appetizers to split, including our favorite hummus and tabouli in the city. If you’re looking for an entree, try any of the kebabs or the Sultan’s Delight. 935 S. East Street
The newest hotspot to open on trendy Mass Ave, Bakersfield serves up taqueria standards. Start with chips and the chunky, house-mashed guacamole or queso dip in a sizzling cast iron pan. Then choose a meal-sized torta or go directly to the list of $3-4 double-wrapped soft corn tacos from the simple menu. 334 Massachusetts Ave.
Patachou on the Park (only breakfast or lunch)
When you walk in, grab a mug and head to the self-serve coffee station, free refills. It is always hard to choose between the breakfast and lunch menu options. My stand-bys include the chicken salad, tomato artichoke soup, or the three-egg omelets recommended by Bon Appetit magazine. Whatever you order, when the waitress asks what kind of toast, answer “cinnamon.” (also gluten free friendly) 225 W. Washington