There’s a famous inspirational quote about saying goodbye: “Don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened.” That’s nice, but here at RedEye, we prefer to eat our feelings rather than smile through them. To honor President Obama’s final days in the White House, we took a look back at a few of his favorite Chicago restaurants. From steak and eggs to decadent Italian fare, here’s how to eat around town the Obama way.
Swift & Sons (1000 W. Fulton Market 312-733-9420): While Obama was in town in October to cast an early ballot in the presidential election, he stopped by the West Loop steakhouse for a private event. As evidence, a group of 10 staffers snapped a pic with a smiley prez and posted it to Facebook with the caption “Best. Friday. Ever. Thank you, Mr. President Barack Obama for dining with us!” Facebook post or it didn’t happen, right?
Valois Restaurant (1518 E. 53rd St. 773-667-0647): When you start looking into the Obamas’ favorite Chicago haunts, this cash-only spot in Hyde Park is one of the restaurants that appears over and over again. And for good reason. Way back when, before he was president, Obama used the restaurant’s dining room to host community meetings. It's a frequent stop when he's visiting these days, too. The steak and eggs is reportedly his go-to breakfast of choice.
Spiaggia (980 N. Michigan Ave. 312-280-2750): The Gold Coast Italian restaurant is a notable special occasion dining destination for the Obamas. In 2008, the year Obama was first elected president, the Chicago Tribune reported that the couple celebrated three very important moments at the restaurant: Michelle Obama’s birthday, their anniversary on Oct. 3 and their first dinner out together after the election victory.
MacArthur’s Restaurant (5412 W. Madison St. 773-261-2316): The famed soul food spot in Austin considers Obama a very loyal customer.
Topolobampo (445 N. Clark St. 312-661-1434): Like us, the president is powerless to Rick Bayless’ charm. Back in 2010, he reportedly made a reservation under an alias at the Michelin-starred Mexican restaurant. According to grubstreet.com, Bayless said Obama noshed on a scallop and lobster dish with tomatillo-corn sauce and sweet corn tamales.
Sepia (123 N. Jefferson St. 312-441-1920): The West Loop new American restaurant is widely rumored to be one of Michelle Obama’s favorites for lunch. A pro tip for all my deal seekers out there: Sepia is participating in Chicago Restaurant Week later this month with a lunch ($22) and dinner menu ($33-$44) to help you channel your inner First Lady.
RPM Steak (66 W. Kinzie St. 312-284-4990): Back in 2014, when Barack Obama was campaigning for then-Gov. Pat Quinn in Chicago, he made a pit stop at the River North steakhouse for a bite to eat with Marty Nesbitt, chair of the Obama Foundation, and White House senior adviser Valerie Jarrett.
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