Chicago's Best-Kept Secrets: Uncovering the City's Top Attractions and Activities While at the 2023 National Restaurant Show

Chicago's Best-Kept Secrets: Uncovering the City's Top Attractions and Activities While at the 2023 National Restaurant Show

Chicago, home of the National Restaurant Show

Chicago is a city full of surprises and hidden gems. From world-famous attractions to the National Restaurant Show, this city has it all,

Waiter Wallet has been exhibiting at the National Restaurant Show in Chicago since 2012. Over the years, we have explored this wonderful city and uncovered some of Chicago's best-kept secrets. We'll guide you through the hidden shopping gems of the Windy City and take you through the best things to do in Chicago when you aren't at the National Restaurant Show. And, when at the show, be sure to visit Waiter Wallet at booth 5525, North Hall.

Discovering the Hidden Shopping Gems of the Windy City

Visit some of Chicago's most unitque shopping experences.

Exploring the hidden shopping gems of Chicago is a must-do for anyone looking for unique finds. From custom, handmade Montecristi hats to one-of-a-kind oddities, shoppers are sure to find treasures that can't be found anywhere else. Here are some of Waiter Wallet's favorite places to shop when visiting Chicago:

Alchemy Arts

"The most complete Occult and Metaphysical Supply Store on the Face of the Earth."

American Science & Surplus

"An eclectic range of products, many with a science tilt to them, others simply handy or amusing."

Dusty Groove

"Not your average record store."


"To gather high-quality food at sustainable and reasonable prices, and to create an informal place to eat, shop and learn."

Mertz Apothecary

"A pharmacy established in Chicago in 1875, they specialize in unique and natural health, personal care, and beauty products."

Myopic Books

"Tri-level used-books store stocking 80,000 tomes & hosting concerts & poetry nights."

Optimo Hats

"Learn about Optimo's passionate quest to make the world's best hat."

Wicker Park Secret Agent Supply Co.

"Products intended to unlock creativity and curiosity and trigger new adventures for agents of all ages."

Woolly Mammoth Antiques and Oddities

"A curiosity cabinet of odd, amusing & eclectic items resurrected from the past."

Urban General Store

"A nod to general stores of the past but updated to meet the needs of today's modern shopper."

The Best Things to Do in Chicago

Chicago has fun things to do everywhere!

Chicago is a city that has something for everyone, from stunning views to world-famous institutions. With so much to see and do, it's no wonder Chicago is one of the country's top tourist destinations.

Fun, Games, and Nightlife

Chicago's entertainment scene offers more than just iconic attractions. For those seeking a unique entertainment experience, here are a few suggestions:

The Chicago Magic Lounge

"Craft cocktails and small plates, and a generous dose of magic and surprises to provide you with a memorable and marvelous encounter."

The Chicago Theatre

The Chicago Theatre is a cultural and architectural landmark and one of the most significant theaters in the country. Built-in 1921, the theater features an iconic marquee and a stunning French Baroque-style interior. From comedy acts to concerts, Broadway productions to dance performances, The Chicago Theatre attracts some of the biggest names in entertainment. A tour of the theater is an excellent way to uncover its rich history and learn about its unique architecture and design. Attending a show will be a memorable experience for anyone looking for world-class entertainment in Chicago.

Friday, May 19th: Natalie Merchant

Saturday, May 20th: Tina Fey & Amy Poehler

Sunday, May 21st: Tina Fey & Amy Poehler

The Second City

"The world's premier comedy club, comedy theater, and school of improvisation with live shows every night."

Wrigley Field

Located in the heart of Chicago, Wrigley Field is more than just a ballpark. It's a symbol of the city's rich history and culture that has captivated locals and tourists for over a century. The stadium's ivy-covered walls and hand-operated scoreboard have become iconic features of Chicago sports culture, making it a must-visit destination for any sports enthusiast.

Tuesday, May 23rd: Chicago Cubs vs. NY Mets

Explore this Beautiful City

Explore The Bean and other Chicago must see attractions

Chicago is a city full of surprises, and exploring it can be an exhilarating experience. 

Take in Lakefront Trail

Chicago's Lakefront Trail is one of the city's most beloved treasures, offering visitors a picturesque 18-mile path along the shores of Lake Michigan. 

This scenic trail boasts stunning views of the city skyline and easy access to some of Chicago's top attractions, such as Navy Pier and Grant Park. Whether you're an avid jogger or a leisurely walker, the Lakefront Trail is a must-visit destination for anyone looking to experience the beauty and serenity of Chicago's lakefront. So grab your walking shoes and hit this fantastic trail to explore all that Chicago has to offer!

Find Your Inner Peace with a Stroll Along the Chicago River Walk

The Chicago Riverwalk is the perfect spot for those looking to escape the hustle and bustle of the city and find some inner peace. 

A leisurely stroll along the 1.25-mile-long promenade offers stunning views of Chicago's architectural marvels and skyline, paired with the soothing sounds of water flowing through the river. Exploring the Riverwalk's various restaurants, bars, and shops is a must-do activity that will make your trip to Chicago memorable.

Get Lost in the Serenity of Garfield Park Conservatory

An escape from the hustle-bustle of city life, Garfield Park Conservatory offers a serene and peaceful environment to visitors. Spread across 12 acres, the conservatory features a variety of gardens with plants from around the world. 

The Palm House is one of the most popular attractions, featuring a diverse collection of palms from all over the globe. In addition, visitors can explore the Fern Room and Desert House, which offer an immersive experience in unique ecosystems. 

Public Art and Sculptures in Millennium Park

Millennium Park is a haven for art enthusiasts and architecture admirers. The park's eclectic collection of public art and sculptures, such as the iconic Cloud Gate, Crown Fountain, and Jay Pritzker Pavilion, make it one of Chicago's most popular attractions.

Visitors can immerse themselves in interactive installations or enjoy free concerts and events throughout the year. Whether you're an avid art lover or looking for a picturesque spot to take photos, Millennium Park is the perfect destination to explore the best of Chicago's public art scene.

Navy Pier - The Best Place for Family Fun and Entertainment

Navy Pier is an entertaining attraction for families looking to have fun and create lasting memories. This iconic Chicago landmark offers a wide array of entertainment options, including an amusement park with rides for all ages, an IMAX theater, and a children's museum. Moreover, visitors can enjoy scenic lakefront views or take boat tours from the pier. Navy Pier hosts numerous events throughout the year, such as fireworks displays and live music performances, making it a perfect destination for everyone to enjoy.

Cruise the Miricle Mile

The Miracle Mile is a paradise for shoppers and diners alike. With its stunning architecture, exquisite dining options, and high-end stores, this stretch of Michigan Avenue is an exquisite destination that is not to be missed. Whether you're looking for luxury shopping or a fabulous meal, you'll find it on the Miracle Mile.

A cruise along this iconic street will give you panoramic views of some of Chicago's most notable landmarks, including the Wrigley Building and Tribune Tower.

360 Chicago Observation Deck - The Best View of the City

Visiting 360 Chicago Observation Deck is an experience like no other. From its perch on the 94th floor of the John Hancock Center, this attraction offers breathtaking views of the city you can't find anywhere else. With floor-to-ceiling windows and an open-air terrace, visitors can get a 360-degree view of Chicago's skyline. Additionally, interactive exhibits provide information about the city's history, architecture, and culture. For those looking for an added thrill, be sure to try TILT. This moving platform leans over Michigan Avenue for an even more exhilarating experience. 

Willis Tower, AKA Sears Tower

Standing at 1,450 feet, the Willis Tower is Chicago's iconic landmark. The Skydeck on the 103rd floor offers visitors breathtaking panoramic views of Chicago. Step out onto The Ledge, a glass balcony extending four feet outside the building, and observe the city from a unique perspective.

The interactive exhibits in the Skydeck provide insights into Chicago's culture and history. Remember to take your camera along to capture stunning images of the city skyline from this vantage point. A visit to the Willis Tower is a must-have experience for anyone visiting Chicago.

Art and Culture

See some art and culture in Chicago

Chicago is rich in culture and history, with some of the world's best museums, theaters, and well-known, distinctive architecture. 

Museum of Science and Industry

This museum is a fascinating destination for anyone interested in science, technology, engineering, or math. Featuring more than 400,000 square feet of exhibits and interactive displays, this museum is one of the largest science museums in the world.

Visitors can delve into diverse exhibits, including space exploration, transportation, agriculture, and much more. In addition to its impressive exhibits, the museum offers hands-on activities and live demonstrations perfect for children and adults alike. Plan your visit now to explore the wonders of science showcased at this world-renowned institution.

Frank Lloyd Wright Robie House

The Frank Lloyd Wright Robie House is a stunning example of Prairie-style architecture in the Hyde Park neighborhood. This historic house is recognized as a National Historic Landmark and offers visitors a glimpse into Chicago's rich architectural history. With its emphasis on natural materials and horizontal lines, the design of the Robie House is unique and awe-inspiring. During your visit, you can tour the house and learn about its unique features that make it one of Chicago's most celebrated landmarks.

Shedd Aquarium

Chicago's Shedd Aquarium is a must-visit destination for anyone interested in aquatic life. With over 32,000 animals from around the world, this popular attraction offers visitors a chance to explore and learn about diverse marine species. From beluga whales to penguins, visitors can participate in animal encounters and behind-the-scenes tours and witness conservation efforts and education programs. 

Masterpieces at The Art Institute of Chicago

The Art Institute of Chicago is a must-visit attraction for anyone interested in art and culture. As one of the oldest and largest art museums in the United States, it boasts an impressive collection of over 300,000 works of art spanning 5,000 years of human creativity. From Vincent van Gogh's 'The Bedroom' to Grant Wood's iconic 'American Gothic,' visitors can see masterpieces by some of history's greatest artists. The museum also offers special exhibitions, programs, and events to engage visitors with diverse interests and backgrounds throughout the year. 

Field Museum

The Field Museum in Chicago is a fascinating destination for anyone interested in natural history and science. With over 40 million artifacts and specimens, the museum boasts an impressive collection that spans centuries of biodiversity and human history. From the largest T-Rex fossil ever discovered to exhibits on ancient cultures, the Field Museum offers visitors a chance to explore different worlds and learn about the wonders of our planet. Interactive experiences such as virtual reality expeditions and hands-on labs make the visit even more engaging, providing a fun and educational experience for all ages.

Lincoln Park Zoo: A Free Attraction for All Ages

Lincoln Park Zoo is a must-visit destination in Chicago. With free admission for all visitors, the zoo offers an opportunity to experience wildlife from all over the world in an urban setting. Home to over 1,000 animals, including big cats and primates, the zoo also features various educational programs and events suitable for visitors of all ages. 

Dive Bars to Michelin Stars: The Best Places to Eat in Chicago

Waiter Wallet makes even the best servers better.

Chicago is a food lover's paradise, offering an incredible range of cuisine, from classic deep-dish pizza to Michelin-starred restaurants. Dive bars and ethnic neighborhoods round out the mix, making it easy to find delicious meals for any budget. Whether you're searching for a romantic evening or a quick bite on the go, Chicago has plenty of options to satisfy your cravings. So, venture out and discover some of the best eateries this city offers! 

Hottest Restaurants for the 2023 National Restaurant Show

Kindling Downtown Cookout & Cocktails

"A live fire show kitchen, wood-fired plates, and tasty cocktails in the heart of the city."

The M Room

"The perfect harmony of dish and dram."

Brasserie by C&C

"Our goal is to combine the bold flavors of food and drink with authentic service in a warm ambiance."

Adorn Bar & Restaurant

"Showcasing custom dining experiences with ingredient-drive menus."


"Home of the best creole-infused soul delights on the planet."


"A refined hospitality destination serving a modern and engaging Italian menu in a timeless yet alluring setting."


"Beautifully crafted cocktails, craft beer, and small plates that go well beyond bar food"

CheSa's Bistro & Bar

"High-quality food for all those that wish to combine fun and enjoyable ambiance with skillful cooking."

Timeless Restaurants


"Lighter cooking style with influence from the Mediterranean, including Israel, Lebanon, Turkey, and Greece."


"A Michelin-starred restaurant offering seasonal American cuisine centered on beautiful ingredients and expertly executed preparations."


"A modern American restaurant, centering on simplistic fare, seasonal ingredients, and energetic hospitality."

Gibsons Steakhouse

"Since 1989, Gibsons Prime Angus Beef is featured along with fresh fish, classic cocktails, an extensive wine list, and exceptional service."

Girl & The Goat

"As one of the first restaurants on Chicago's famed restaurant row, Stephanie Izard in 2010 began with a goal of serving bold, global flavor."

Joe's Seafood

"One of the most beloved restaurants in the world, it is famous for its Florida Stone Crab, signature sides, and Key Lime Pie."

Qing Xiang Yuan Dumplings

"Selecting authentic ingredients, using special sauces, and following traditional processes, Xiang Yuan is committed to cooking delicious food."


"Since opening in 2016, this contemporary-American restaurant has repeatedly earned two Michelin Stars." 

The Purple Pig

"A James Beard Award-winning restaurant featuring cheese, swine, and wine."

The Dearborn

"The seasons, our scratch-made approach, and our guests make all the difference."

Volare Ristorante Italiano

"The look and feel of an old-world Italian establishment. Our food represents traditional Italian cuisine with modern accents."

Chicago Restaurant Instutions

Au Cheval

"A diner-style bar and restaurant passionate about eggs, Au Cheval elevates traditional diner fare (especially with its signature burger)."

Billy Goat

"Cheesborger. Cheesborger! No fries. No Pepsi, Coke!"


Rome's esteemed pizzas that are so delicious, so creative, it has developed a fanatical following not only in Italy but around the globe."

Calumet Fisheries

"Serving the freshest, most delicious fish around - served with a side of South Side history. Since 1948, we are strictly a take-out business."

Greek Islands

"The most popular Greek restaurant in America."

Johnnie's Beef

"A Chicagoland favorite since 2005, beef, hot, dipped."

Margie's Candies

"Longtime, old-fashioned ice cream parlor serving up ice cream sundaes & homemade candies."

Pequod's Pizza

"Serving pan-style pizza with a caramelized crust edge creating a crust unlike any other."


"A Chicago icon is known for our famous Chicago-style hot dogs and Italian beef."

Getting around Chicago is easy.


While we are all here for the National Restaurant Show, our industry loves to play. Chicago is a city that never sleeps and has something for everyone to enjoy. We hope this lists helps you enjoy your time in Chicago, but be sure not to miss all the amazing exhibitors at the National Restaurant Show at the McCormick Place, Saturday May 20th through Tuesday, May 23rd.

If you are attending this years NRA Show, don't forget to say hello Waiter Wallet, we would love to see you. If you can't make it to Chicago, check us out at