Ikram Barakat | Discover Renaissance Hotels
Ikram Barakat, Navigator at the Renaissance Chicago Downtown Hotel
Chicago Navigator

Ikram Barakat

Navigator Ikram Barakat taps into her creative side to helps guests find adventure in Chicago.

Navigator Biography

Born in Morocco and raised in Paris, Ikram Barakat may seem an unlikely advocate for the thrills and spills of Chicago. But after visiting the city in 1996, she has remained there ever since, and now helps guests at the Renaissance Chicago Downtown Hotel discover this spellbinding metropolis all for themselves. The truth is she was blown away by the Windy City at first sight. She cites “the diversity of cultures, architecture and the vibe of each neighborhood” as inspiring her relocation, and never tires of “biking along Lakeshore Drive and exploring different routes to work”. A former architect, Ikram enjoys the creative side of being a Navigator. She works with guests to build an itinerary matched to their precise needs; one that will help them discover a Chicago all of their own. “No request and discoverer are alike,” she says, “and that keeps the routine away from my daily experiences. But the best part is I get to share my discoveries with my discoverer.”Her finds include a gorgeously located riverside winery and a charming French café situated close to the hotel (and you can trust the Parisian on that one). But in a city as hip-and-happening as Chicago there are always more jewels to be uncovered. She backs up her self-taught knowledge through online research and newspapers. Another ace up Ikram's sleeve is her innate flair for languages - she speaks four currently and plans to learn more - which allows her to figure out exactly what her guests require from their stay. And when it comes to sharing her passion for Chicago, the Navigator is contagiously fluent.

Art Institute of Chicago - find
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Art Institute of Chicago

Like the Louvre in Paris, visitors from all over the world come to Chicago to view the many gorgeous exhibits showcased here.
From popular Rembrandt masterpieces to recent works by lesser-known artists, the Art Institute of Chicago houses one of the finest art collections in the world. Spanning centuries of human creativity, exhibits include a distinguished collection of prints and drawings, an internationally acclaimed collection of Impressionist and Post-Impressionist paintings, sculptures, photographs, Asian, African and American arts, architectural drawings, textiles and more. Many pieces are on loan from the famed Terra Foundation for American Art. Educational programs and guided museum tours are available. Art books, reproductions, postcards and other items are available in the museum shop. Free public lectures are given during weekends.
Address: 111 South Michigan Avenue, Chicago, 60604, United States
Phone: +1 312 443 3600
Opening hours: Monday to Wednesday from 10:30 AM to 05:00 PM,Thursday to Friday from 10:30 AM to 09:00 PM,Saturday to Sunday from 10:00 AM to 05:00 PM
Hotel: Renaissance Chicago Downtown Hotel
Distance: 0.6 mi
Jazz Record Mart - find
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Jazz Record Mart

Boasting the largest collection of jazz and blues records in the world, lovers of these genres owe it to themselves stop by here.
Although not as massive as its former State Street location, Jazz Record Mart is still one of your best bets in the country to locate that prized jazz record your mother threw away 30 years ago. Unlike former years, the “Mart” now carries used CDs as well as vinyl, but some things do not change. The staff is just as knowledgeable as ever and are usually willing to bend over backwards to help you find what you are looking for.
Address: 27 East Illinois, Chicago, 60611, United States
Phone: +1 312 222 1474
Opening hours: Monday to Saturday from 10:00 AM to 08:00 PM,Sunday from 12:00 PM to 07:00 PM
Hotel: Renaissance Chicago Downtown Hotel
Distance: 0.3 mi
Willis Tower - find
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Willis Tower

Gaze in wonder at the famous Chicago skyline from atop the Sears (now Willis) tower. Enjoy exhibits and a gift shop as well as the view.
While no longer the world's tallest building, the Willis Tower (formerly Sears Tower) still stands proud. High-speed elevators climb 110 stories to the observatory deck, and when clear, the view from 1454 feet (443 meters) can be stunning. Enjoy bird's eye views of Lake Michigan, both the North and South Sides of the city, the surrounding suburbs and, on a clear day, parts of Indiana, Wisconsin and Michigan. The Skydeck Tour also includes a multimedia presentation and an exhibit with information on the Sears Tower and other architecturally significant buildings.
Address: 233 South Wacker Drive, Chicago, 60606, United States
Phone: +1 312 875 0066
Hotel: Renaissance Chicago Downtown Hotel
Distance: 1 mi

Haberdash EDC

If your sartorial vision is a little blurry, let the guys at Haberdash deck you out; they know how to finesse the details.
No place better epitomizes Chicago style than Haberdash, as menswear shop on Chicago's Gold Coast. Laid out like an old-school haberdashery, this menswear shop offers a vision of the man you want to be, from classic and rugged to tailored and groomed, all in high quality all-American brands.
Address: 1350 North Wells Street, Chicago, 60610, United States
Phone: +1 312 440 1300
Hotel: Renaissance Chicago Downtown Hotel
Distance: 1.8 mi
South Water Kitchen - find
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South Water Kitchen

South Water Kitchen is your place for Midwest cuisine cooked to perfection. You can't miss with their huge selection of burgers.
South Water Kitchen's proximity to the Theatre District is the prime reason for its success. The American menu offers items, such as Grilled Iowa Pork Loin with peaches, Kansas City Barbecued Beef Brisket with maple-bacon baked beans and garlic, and Rosemary Chicken Breast. While huge rectangular mirrors adorn the walls, the wooden flooring gives the ambience a certain warmth. Then, there are the T.V. Dinners - for every specific day of the week, a specialty is served. Mom's Ketchup Glazed Meatloaf on Mondays, Roasted Pork Loin on Wednesdays and so on and so forth. The dessert menu provides for the perfect end to a hearty meal.
Address: 225 North Wabash Avenue, Chicago, 60601, United States
Phone: +1 312 236 9300
Opening hours: Monday to Friday from 07:00 AM to 10:30 AM,Monday to Friday from 11:00 AM to 03:00 PM,Monday to Friday from 05:00 PM to 10:00 PM,Saturday to Sunday from 07:00 AM to 02:00 PM,Saturday to Sunday from 05:00 PM to 10:00 PM
Hotel: Renaissance Chicago Downtown Hotel
Distance: 0.1 mi
Bavette's Bar and Boeuf - find
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Bavette's Bar and Boeuf

Reserve a booth at this new, old-school style steakhouse and blow your Chicago clients away – most locals don’t even know about it yet.
Address: 218 West Kinzie Street, Chicago, 60654, United States
Phone: +1 312 624 8154
Hotel: Renaissance Chicago Downtown Hotel
Distance: 0.6 mi
Square One Wine Bar - find
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Square One Wine Bar

End a long day of meetings at this sophisticated-but-hip wine bar, with a crisp, bubbly Rosé and a platter of Vermilion Blue cheese and Serrano ham.
Address: 1400 South Michigan Avenue, Chicago, 60650, United States
Phone: +1 312 786 1750
Hotel: Renaissance Chicago Downtown Hotel
Distance: 1.7 mi
Vivere - find
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Vivere's chefs take yearly trips to Italy to discover new dishes, treating you to delicacies from a culinary paradise.
Vivere is considered by many to be one of the best restaurants in all of Chicago. This trendy establishment has been designed by Jordon Mozer with gold and red hues, hanging lights and copper sculptures. It serves contemporary Italian cuisine, with new takes on traditional dishes like raviolis and spaghetti with meatballs. The wine list here is also one of the most extensive around.
Address: 71 West Monroe Street, Chicago, 60603, United States
Phone: +1 312 332 4040
Opening hours: Monday to Thursday from 11:30 AM to 02:30 PM,Monday to Thursday from 05:00 PM to 10:00 PM,Friday from 11:30 PM to 02:30 PM,Friday from 05:00 PM to 11:00 PM,Saturday from 05:00 PM to 11:00 PM
Hotel: Renaissance Chicago Downtown Hotel
Distance: 0.5 mi


Indulge in chupe, a traditional Peruvian stew with prawns and swoon over the chicharrón, a pork belly confit complete with a barbecue glaze.
If you can't get to Peru right away, try the next best thing with a visit to Tanta. At this bright and trendy restaurant, diners can sample the beloved foods of Peru like cebiche, leche de tigre, causitas and anticuchos. The specialty cocktails are also Peruvian influenced, with the majority being based on pisco (a grape liquor native to Peru) and modern versions of traditional Peruvian drinks. So come to Tanta and experience the lively flavors of this ancient land.
Address: 118 West Grand Avenue, Chicago, 60654, United States
Phone: +1 312 222 9700
Opening hours: Sunday to Monday from 05:00 PM to 09:00 PM,Tuesday to Thursday from 05:00 PM to 11:00 PM,Friday to Saturday from 05:00 PM to 12:00 AM
Hotel: Renaissance Chicago Downtown Hotel
Distance: 0.6 mi


Exceptional cocktails and cuisine have created a cult like following for this trendy eatery. Try the rich man po' boy with lobster and foie.
Bottlefork is a stylish restaurant and cocktail bar that serves the best of both worlds. Featuring an American menu and a bold cocktail list, you really can't go wrong with any selection - but here is a tip: For starters, try the delicious deviled eggs - popular for their yolk mixture - before opting for the smoked lambs. In terms of cocktails, don't miss Bottlefork's original cocktails, including the Little Miss Dynamite, which consists of Starlite Vodka and vanilla. The decor is trendy and warm, so bring your friends and coworkers for a hip dining experience.
Address: 441 North Clark Street, Chicago, 60654, United States
Phone: +1 312 955 1900
Opening hours: Daily 11:30am-11pm
Hotel: Renaissance Chicago Downtown Hotel
Distance: 0.4 mi
Avec - find
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Enjoy Mediterranean-inspired and wine-focused communal dining. The chorizo-stuffed bacon-wrapped dates is a must-have!
A favorite on Chicago's restaurant scene, Avec is the brainchild of an award-winning culinary team. Its cedar wood furnishings are juxtaposed by its steel bar, with communal tables encouraging a lively dining atmosphere. Their menu is wine-driven, with Mediterranean flavors given a contemporary take. Their selection of European boutique wines are sourced from small wineries in Spain, Italy and France. Uncork a bottle or select from 30 varieties by the glass to complement delicious small and large plates. The brandade, cured olives, pork shoulder, braised lamb neck and roasted wild salmon are recommended.
Address: 615 West Randolph Street, Chicago, 60661, United States
Phone: +1 312 377 2002
Opening hours: Monday to Thursday from 03:30 PM to 01:00 AM,Friday to Saturday from 03:30 PM to 02:00 AM,Sunday from 10:00 AM to 01:00 AM
Hotel: Renaissance Chicago Downtown Hotel
Distance: 0.9 mi
River Roast - find
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River Roast

Experience a dining tradition centered around the whole roast entree, served with sides and wine on Chicago's most coveted riverfront patio.
Rustic yet refined best describes the culinary style and ambiance at River Roast. This restaurant, on the Chicago River, features a contemporary take on traditional American roast dishes by an award-winning team of chefs. Share a board of Foie & Duck Terrine and Fire Roasted Shrimp with their Farmer’s Market Punch, specialty cocktails or beer. For the main course, Big Fish, Roast Beef or Whole Chicken and sides are roasted to perfection, artistically plated and carved by your table. For one of the best outdoor dining experiences in the Windy City, when the weather permits, head out to their patio for breathtaking views of the skyline.
Address: 315 North Lasalle Street, Chicago, 60654, United States
Phone: +1 312 822 0100
Opening hours: Monday to Thursday from 11:30 AM to 10:00 PM,Friday from 11:30 AM to 11:00 PM,Saturday from 11:00 AM to 11:00 PM,Sunday from 11:00 AM to 09:00 PM
Hotel: Renaissance Chicago Downtown Hotel
Distance: 0.4 mi