Chicago is RSNA’s Kind of Town

Annual Meeting Attendees Recommend Favorite Restaurants, Attractions

Whether this is your third or your thirtieth RSNA annual meeting, you probably have your favorite things to do, see and eat when you are in Chicago. RSNA polled social media followers to learn more about how attendees spend their down time in Chicago.

Some members make it a priority to get out into the city for architecture tours or to visit the world-famous museums. Others make reservations at trendy restaurants or trek to restaurants with local flavor.

No matter how you spend your free time during RSNA, you might find a new favorite among the recommendations from your fellow meeting attendees.


Eating Well in Chicago

Chicago offers a wide variety of hometown and ethnic dining options no matter what your budget or taste. Whether it is the latest food critic rave or a restaurant offering comfort food favorites, you are sure to find a meal that sates every appetite.

Fatima Mubarak, MD, associate professor and neuroradiologist at Aga Khan University in Karachi, Pakistan, likes to visit Sabri Nihari restaurant on Chicago’s North Side, a family-friendly spot serving Pakistani fare. “I head to Sabri because it has traditional food with a Chicago twist,” Dr. Mubarak said.

Chicago is known for its pizza and you will find restaurants serving up pies with traditional and modern ingredients.

Local radiologist Vahid Yaghmai, MD, vice chair for operations and professor of radiology at Northwestern University in Chicago, recommends several options, including Coalfire Pizza in West Town and Bonci in the West Loop.

“At Coalfire Pizza, be sure to try the honey and salami pizza, which is the perfect combination of savory, sweet and spicy,” Dr. Yaghmai said. “Bonci makes Roman style pizza at this location, which is the only one outside of Rome. You order your pizza by weight and the ingredients change daily based on local availability and the season.”

For a sample of deep-dish pizza, Dr. Yaghmai suggests Lou Malnati’s in River North or the Gold Coast.

Cecil G. Wood III, MD, radiologist at Northwestern University in Chicago, recommends several unique and diverse restaurants, including Momotaro, a modern Japanese restaurant and Piccolo Sogno, offering rustic Italian fare, including squid ink seafood pasta and wood oven roasted branzino.

“Attendees should also consider Tanta Chicago, which offers a modern twist on Peruvian cuisine. I highly recommend the ceviche and roast chicken,” Dr. Wood said. “Those looking for Indonesian and Chinese food should try Imperial Lamian, which is known for their soup dumplings.”

If you are looking for a relaxed breakfast or brunch location, both Dr. Yaghmai and Monica Arzanauskaite, MD, a consultant radiologist at Liverpool Heart and Chest Hospital in the United Kingdom, recommend the courtyard garden of 3 Arts Club Café, located in Restoration Hardware on Chicago’s Gold Coast.

When you need a place to debrief at the end of the day, Dr. Yaghmai said The Loyalist in Fulton Market offers small plates and great cocktails, while Dr. Arzanauskaite recommends the Lockwood in the lobby of the Palmer House for drinks. Dr. Wood said that Cindy’s, on south Michigan Avenue, offers one of the best views of the city while you enjoy rooftop dining and cocktails.

Several attendees recommended the food at Twin Anchors, a BBQ restaurant that has been a city staple since 1932. Another popular recommendation is the unique dining experience at Oriole in Chicago’s West Loop, which offers an extended ta`sting-menu option.

A restaurant currently the favorite of Chicago food critics is Pacific Standard Time in the River North neighborhood. If you are heading to the South Side, try Majani Vegan Restaurant, offering vegan cuisine using ingredients from local gardens. Those looking for a communal restaurant will enjoy the colonial beer hall at The Publican in Fulton Market, where you sit at large tables to enjoy beer, pork and oysters.

Out and About in Chicago

When it’s time to take a break from sessions or stretch your legs and mind in a different direction, Chicago offers a variety of outlets.

Dr. Arzanauskaite highly recommends the walking tour available through the Chicago Architecture Center.

“Last year, I did the Art Deco Skyscraper tour in the Loop and I am hooked,” Dr. Arzanauskaite said. “Read the tour descriptions well and select a tour that matches your tastes and expectations. Also, buy your tickets in advance because there may be fewer tour slots just before or after the meeting each day.”

If the weather permits, Dr. Yaghmai also recommends the boat tour from the Chicago Architecture Center for a detailed history of Chicago and its skyscrapers. Navy Pier is also a favorite spot for exceptional views of the city, unique sculptures and the Centennial Wheel, a 196-foot-tall Ferris wheel.

Chicago museums cover wide-ranging topics, whether your interest is science, culture or history. (See Sidebar on Chicago museums and special exhibits available during RSNA 2018 or visit to locate other Chicago-based activities.)

Dr. Wood recommends a visit to the Art Institute of Chicago, including its modern wing, and the Museum of Science and Industry.

“If you still have a curious little kid in you, or if you brought your kids to the meeting, a great way to spend the day is to visit the Museum of Science and Industry,” Dr. Wood said. “There are numerous interactive exhibits and if you’re feeling in the holiday spirit, the museum displays decorated trees in its ‘Christmas Around the World’ exhibit.”

If you’re a fan of blues or jazz music, head to Kingston Mines, B.L.U.E.S or the Green Mill. Dr. Arzanauskaite recommends that first-time club visitors head to Buddy Guy’s Legends, a classic blues club in downtown Chicago where Buddy Guy appears on stage some evenings.

Chicago is also home to The Second City, a comedy and improv theater that launched the careers of Dan Akroyd, Steven Colbert and Tina Fey, among many others.

Dr. Mubarak recommends visiting Water Tower Place on Michigan Avenue for more than 100 shops featuring uniquely Chicago items.

A walk through the Lincoln Park Zoo, which is free to visitors, can help clear your head after participating in numerous sessions. A newer and closer walk is the renovated Chicago Riverwalk in the Loop, which offers unique views of the city.

No matter how you spend your free time during the annual meeting, make sure you get out to enjoy some of what Chicago has to offer, even in cooler weather.

“Taking some time during the busy annual meeting to step away and enjoy a solitary walk through a museum or meet your colleagues and friends for dinner can increase your satisfaction of the myriad educational experiences available during RSNA,” Dr. Yaghmai said.

Local hospitality experts will recommend restaurants and city attractions, make dining reservations and offer concierge services.

Visit the Concierge Desk in the Grand Concourse, Level 3 lobby.

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Places to Visit in Chicago

Along with special exhibits and activities at Chicago-area museums, RSNA 2018 attendees might consider exploring several unique neighborhoods that are close to McCormick Place. Here are a few highlights:



A quick cab or rideshare drive down Cermak Avenue gets you within walking distance of more than 45 restaurants and unique gift shops.


A Near West Side community along South Halsted Street that includes lively Greek tavernas, restaurants and traditional pastry shops.

Little Italy

If you are looking for Italian food and specialty shops, head to the far west side of Chicago along West Taylor Street.


Art Institute of Chicago

Don’t miss one of the oldest and largest art museums in the U.S., home to more than 300,000 works of art, including iconic pieces such as Georges Seurat’s “A Sunday on La Grande Jatte,” Pablo Picasso’s
“The Old Guitarist,” Edward Hopper's “Nighthawks” and Grant Wood’s
“American Gothic.”

Chicago History Museum

Founded in 1856, the Chicago History Museum is the city’s oldest cultural institution and home to millions of historical objects, images and documents.

• Special Exhibit – “Amplified: Chicago Blues”

Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago

One of the world’s largest contemporary art venues, housing thousands of objects of post-World War II visual art.

Field Museum

Natural history museum open since 1894 that is home to more than 40 million natural exhibits, cultural artifacts and specimens, including Máximo, the titanosaur towering over one of the main entrance halls.

• Special Exhibit – “Egypt 3D: Secrets of the Mummies”

Museum of Science & Industry

One of the world’s largest science museums with over 400,000 square feet of hands-on exhibits including a full-size replica coal mine, the German submarine U-505 captured during World War II, a 3,500-square-foot model railroad, the command module of Apollo 8 and the first diesel-powered streamlined stainless-steel passenger train.

• Special Exhibit – “The Science Behind Pixar”

• Special Exhibit – “Christmas Around the World”

All photos courtesy of Choose Chicago