Ikram Barakat | Discover Renaissance Hotels

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.


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
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
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
Vivere - find
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Vivere

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

Tanta

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

Bottlefork

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
Avec - find
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Avec

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
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
Grace - find
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Grace

This high-end restaurant will leave you with a fond memory of an incredible dining experience.
Perfection! That's what Grace is all about - from the welcoming staff and the stylish décor, to the creative menus packed with fresh takes on delicious dishes, this high-end restaurants has it all.
Address: 652 W. Randolph St., Chicago, 60661, il, us
Phone: + 1 312 234 9494
Naha - find
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Naha

This Mediterranean venue reinvents its menu often to keep their offerings fresh and exciting.
This contemporary and cozy venue offers an ever-changing menu that is complimented by a superb wine list and excellent selection of desserts. Dishes like the golden white fish caviar with hard-cooked quail egg keep locals and visitors alike coming back for more.
Address: 500 N. Clark St., Chicago, 60654, il, us
Phone: + 1 312 321 6242

The Gage

This gastro pub offers an amazing and creative menu.
This tavern serves sophisticated American cuisine in a cozy and casual setting. Visitors can enjoy traditional tavern fair like Scotch Eggs, or they can sample unique takes on traditional dishes, like the venison burger, which is sure to delight.
Address: 24 S. Michigan Ave., Chicago, 60603, Il, us
Phone: + 1 312 372 4243

Sunda

Sunda's menu is filled with an incredible amount of dishes dedicated to many parts of Asia.
Sunda offers a unique menu packed with traditional dishes that hail from all over the Asian continent. Visitors will find creative cocktails, sushi, and noodles in a variety of curry sauces and soups.
Address: 110 W. Illinois St., Chicago, 60654, IL, US
Phone: + 1 312 644 0500