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Restaurant Road Trip – Part 4: Chicago

July 23, 2018
7 min. read

This past May, some members of the Martin’s team had the opportunity to exhibit at the National Restaurant Association Show in Chicago, where we shared information about our food service product line to potential customers in the restaurant, hotel-motel, and other foodservice related industries. In between the four days of the show, we also had the chance to stop by and visit some of our existing restaurant customers in the area.

Read on for a recap of the show and our list of must-visit Chicagoland restaurants.

National Restaurant Association (NRA) Show

The show, which was held at McCormick Place in Chicago, IL on May 19-22, is “the foodservice industry’s largest and most comprehensive annual event worldwide,” with more than 65,000 restaurant industry professionals in attendance, and thousands of exhibitors, from across the country and even internationally.

During the four days at the show, Martin’s sales and marketing teams had the chance to speak with hundreds of business professionals in the restaurant and food service industry about their interest in Martin’s food service products. Since our food service area of our business is rapidly growing, this show was a great opportunity to make new connections and spread the word about our product offerings.

Learn more about Martin’s Food Service department at

For more information about the National Restaurant Association Show, visit:


Restaurants to Visit in Chicago, IL

Most nights after the show ended, the Martin’s team had the chance to visit one of the numerous restaurants in the Chicago area using Martin’s products for their menu items. Here are a few great spots we would definitely recommend on your next visit to The Windy City!

Stop #1: Big City Chicken

900 E Grand Ave (Navy Pier) | Chicago, IL 60611

Big City Chicken is located conveniently inside the dining pavilion on Chicago’s famous Navy Pier, alongside popular attractions such as the Centennial (Ferris) Wheel, sightseeing boat tours, and the Chicago Children’s Museum. The restaurant is part of the Lettuce Entertain You Enterprises family.

Their short-and-sweet menu includes items such as crispy fried chicken (original or spicy), chicken sandwiches (original, spicy, or BBQ) with pickles on Martin’s Sandwich Potato Rolls, fries, and root beer floats.

Big City Chicken’s Original Fried Chicken Sandwich on Martin’s Sandwich Potato Roll

Learn more about Big City Chicken at:

Follow them on social media at the below links:


Stop #2: The Loyalist

177 North Ada Street | Chicago, IL 60607

The Loyalist | Facebook

The Loyalist shares a building with sister restaurant, Smyth; both restaurants are owned and operated by husband-wife duo John and Karen Shields. Unlike two-Michelin-starred fine dining Smyth, The Loyalist offers a more casual menu and atmosphere. Located on the basement floor, The Loyalist has an eclectic appearance—artsy urban meets modern rustic—accented by dim lighting, with upbeat 80s music playing in the background; a comfortable neighborhood hangout spot for a night out with friends.

The menu is an eclectic selection of entrees, with items like burgers and ribeye casually mixed in among upscale ingredients such as oysters, escargot, and fois gras.

Speaking of burgers, the Loyalist’s Cheeseburger, nicknamed the “Dirty Burg,” is one of their most popular menu items and was even listed among Bon Appetit’s 3 Best Burgers of 2017. The grass-fed beef patty is blended with bacon, topped with onion mayo, onions three ways (fried, pickled, and raw), American cheese, and pickles, and served on Martin’s sesame-seeded Big Marty’s Rolls, with homemade French fries and garlic mayo and pickle juice for dipping. On Tuesdays and weekends, you can also order their off-menu “Secret Burger,” a short rib patty topped with bone marrow, maitake mushroom mayo, bibb lettuce, and American cheese, on a Martin’s Potato Roll.

The Loyalist Cheeseburger on Martin’s Big Marty’s Roll

Also worth noting is the Shields’ commitment to locally sourced foods—like farm-fresh eggs, berries, black walnuts, and honey—they build the menus for both restaurants in direct collaboration with The Farm, a small local farm owned by a husband and wife team. Together, the two families work together to decide what to plant, experimenting with new items to see what they are able to grow. Learn more about this collaboration here.

You can find out more about The Loyalist at:

Follow them on social media at the below links:


Stop #3: Bub City

435 N Clark St | Chicago, IL 60654

Bub City, another member of Lettuce Entertain You Enterprises restaurant group, is one of Chicago’s favorite barbecue joints, with history dating back to the early 1990’s. Its two locations (one in Chicago and the other in Rosemont) feature a lively atmosphere, loud country music, and modern-rustic décor with industrial accents. The menu is one of southern-style comfort foods like fried chicken, barbecue, burgers, mac and cheese, and fried pickles; all served on picnic-esque faux paper plates.

Americana decor inside Bub City Faux-paper appetizer plates

The Martin’s team enjoyed several of the many menu items using Martin’s rolls, including: Pulled Pork and BBQ Brisket on Martin’s 5-inch Potato Rolls, Buffalo Fried Chicken on Martin’s 4-inch Potato Roll, and the famous Smokeout Burger, a double-decker patty topped with smoked brisket and spicy BBQ sauce, on Martin’s 4-inch Potato Roll!

Bub City’s Smokeout Burger on Martin’s 4-inch Potato Roll

The restaurant offers the usual lunch, dinner, and carryout options, but also weekend brunch, private parties, and “large party carryout” utilizing their “Bub City Rig,” a portable BBQ trailer equipped with kitchen and smoker, beverage bar, and music stage.

Bub City is also a host and long-time participant of Chicago’s Windy City Smokeout, an annual barbecue and country music festival. This year’s event, which recently took place on July 13–15, 2018, included top barbecue pitmasters from around the country as well as performances by Brett Young, Brett Eldredge and Brothers Osborne

Learn more about Bub City at:

Follow them on social media at the below links:


Stop #4: Good Stuff Eatery

22 South Wabash Ave | Chicago, IL 60603

Good Stuff Eatery has several locations, including four in and around Washington, DC (where it originated), one in Chicago, and one in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. The restaurant chain was founded by—and is still operated by—the Mendelsohn family including celebrity chef, Spike Mendelsohn, as part of the Sunnyside Restaurant Group.

Good Stuff Eatery is known for its Americana vibe and commitment to sourcing high quality ingredients and fresh, local produce. The open-concept restaurant has a contemporary farmhouse feel, with painted brick walls, clean lines, bold barn doors framing one wall, and a large cow bell hanging over the ordering counter.

Good Stuff Eatery take-out bag with iconic cow logo and “Goodness Gracious” slogan
Farmhouse decor at Good Stuff Eatery

On their menu, you’ll find items like the Prez Burger and the Michelle Melt (named for the former president and first lady, respectively) and the Steakhouse Burger, topped with roasted cremini mushrooms, onion straws, Swiss cheese, and steakhouse mayo, served atop a Martin’s Big Marty’s Roll.

As for non-burger items, there are farm-fresh salads, Nashville Hot Chicken, and the Fried Green Tomato Sandwich on a Martin’s Potato Roll, as well as handcut fries, in either sea salt or rosemary-thyme seasoning, along with a “Dip Bar” where you can choose from any of the flavored mayonnaises including mango, sriracha, chipotle, and old bay. Then for dessert, they offer a multitude of hand spun shakes and floats in unique flavors like Toasted Marshmallow and Milk & Cookies.

Fried Green Tomato Sandwich on Martin’s Sandwich Potato Roll

Learn more about Good Stuff Eatery at:

Follow them on social media at the below links:


Notable Mentions:

Shake Shack

While we didn’t get the chance to stop there this time around, Shake Shack also has several location in and around Chicago, all serving up their delicious menu of burgers, hot dogs, and chicken on Martin’s Potato Rolls!

Kings Dining

You’ll also find two locations in Chicago for Kings Dining & Entertainment, a bowling, arcade, and restaurant chain, which we covered in Part 1 of our Restaurant Road Trip series. Learn more at


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