There was a time pre-Tik-Tok, even before Instagram, where gatekeeping was as common as a Starbucks on every corner. To wine, dine or move in certain spots required you to know about it, be sponsored into it or have to pay money to participate in it. One place that’s been a convening spot for many within the City of Chicago since 1999 without the need for a members card or sponsor has been RL Restaurant Chicago (115 E. Chicago Avenue). It was the first foray into dining for the illustrious Ralph Lauren fashion brand. It exudes country club chic exclusivity without the pricey membership. When Oprah lived and hosted her ever so popular The Oprah Winfrey Show here in Chicago, this was her spot. There was a special table in the restaurant that was known as the Oprah booth. To celebrate the final taping of her show, this was where many of her VIPs and loved ones gathered. Over the years RL Chicago restaurant has hosted and catered to a bevy celebrities, power brokers, tourists and regulars alike. If you’re a mover and a shaker, wheeler and dealer in Chicago or aspiring to be, RL was and still is the spot. The best way to start your #summertimechi fun is at RL Restaurant Chicago and here’s why.
Their brown leather bound, RL emblazoned menu is simple but elevated and oh so very dependable. The classic RL Burger is still on the menu, the Dover Sole will make your palette dance merengue before delectable desserts. One dish that will really send you into a shimmy this summer is the seasonal soft shell crab. Served in an appetizer (1) or dinner (2) portion size, its placed atop a bed of fresh corn/redpeppers deliciousness; like the corn was just husked induct from the cob. I recently had lunch with my family and when faced with either the chicken sandwich or the soft-shell crab dish, I went with the crab and let me tell you, best.choice.ever!
The outside lounge/patio at RL Chicago, now open for the summer season, is like none other. Its intimate, even when the ambulance sirens from the nearby hospitals blare away, you hardly notice. You’re surrounded by high lush green hedges, something I notice rich people use instead of gaudy fencing to create a privacy barrier. If its a nice sunny day, snag a seat outside, order a drink and let the people watching begin.
There has never been a day I’ve dined at RL Chicago that their service staff wavered in delivering. You’re offered bread basket upon seating. Even if you’re not a power broker/celeb or the type, you’re still treated well. Do make sure you also leave a nice tip when great service is rendered. There’s a certain, somewhat indescribable but awesome vibe that RL restaurant Chicago offers, especially in the summer. Before you head to the beach, shopping on Oak Street or dancing the night away at TAO, make sure you start off your summertime in Chicago fun at RL.
If time does not allow for you to be able to enjoy the outdoor dining lounge at RL restaurant Chicago, you can still order online their delicious dishes to pickup or deliver. In a time where all you hear is quiet luxury, RL Chicago has been doing that since before these Gen Z clock app loving youngins were born and I am sure will continue to deliver. Enjoy the summer.
pronounced: Boh-la-jee, like the Bellagio but w/o the O. SLC Founder and Editor, loves to write about topics at the intersection of career and lifestyle for today's young professional and future leaders.