Aug 25, 2023 - Food and Drink

Chef John Manion's Best Day Ever in Chicago

guy in front of fire

Photo courtesy of Emma McGregor

Last month El Che Steakhouse chef and owner John Manion announced he's opening a fiery Latin concept called Brasero in West Town this fall.

  • It's welcome news for those who sorely miss his La Sirena Clandestina, which closed in 2019.

Despite demanding duties in the kitchen, the longtime Chicago chef still tries to save time for fun. We asked him to share his top picks for an ideal day in the city.

What he's saying: "Since moving to Berwyn with my wife, Nicole, a couple of years ago, having two small children and a busy restaurant, I relish the opportunity to be a tourist in the greatest city in the world."

🍤 Breakfast: "I'm not much of a breakfast person (yogurt, fruit, seeds, boredom) so back to my old stomping grounds for an extremely early lunch at Dove's.

  • "[I'd have] Back to Life seafood cocktail, chicken fried chicken smothered in salsa macha."
lion at zoo
Lion at Lincoln Park Zoo. Photo: Monica Eng/Axios

🦁 Morning activity: "My perfect day is definitely a family day. Amply fortified, we're ready for the 1-2 punch of the Lincoln Park Zoo (although Brookfield is our home turf) and the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum.

  • "We've got a 3- and a 5-year-old, so at these ages (and attention spans) you have to keep them moving and can cover a lot of ground."
View from the Chicago Architecture Center boat. Photo: Monica Eng/Axios

🛳️ Lunch activity: "It's been a few years, so an afternoon architectural tour on the river always puts what a magnificent city Chicago is into perspective.

  • "A quick cider at the Northman (the weirder the better), then home to drop the kids with the babysitter before heading back out."

🦐 Dinner: "Crushing a seafood tower at the bar at Obelix. I'd love to say there's a nightcap, but home and in bed before 10 sounds like heaven."


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