In a surprising turn of events yesterday, Mayor Rahm Emanuel announced that he won't seek re-election in 2019. "This has been the job of a lifetime, but it is not a job for a lifetime," Emanuel said in press conference on Tuesday. No matter what you think about his eight-year tenure at City Hall, there's no denying that Emanuel is a champion of Chicago's expansive food and drink scene—and we have a feeling that won't change in retirement (or whatever he has planned next).
The 58-year-old mayor has been known to chow down at Taste of Chicago, support new restaurants and even attend the James Beard Awards at the Lyric Opera. We're taking a look back at some of Emanuel's most beloved Chicago establishments—the places he's raved about and has been spotted at again and again—to figure out where we might find the public figure dining and drinking in his newfound free time.
In an episode of ABC 7's Hungry Hound, Steve Dolinsky took Rahm to this new-ish Pilsen spot, where they sampled the refreshing papaya salad and a crispy crepe filled with pork and shrimp. "I love spicy food, I love peppers, I could eat 'em all day long," Emanuel told Dolinsky.
After being re-elected in 2015, Rahm celebrated with a late night at one of his all-time favorite watering holes, River West cocktail bar Matchbox. "You are looking at somebody who had the insight to go to the Matchbox after the staff party last night, so my capacities are inch-by-inch capability," he said the following morning at a news conference.
In 2012, Acadia chef-owner Ryan McCaskey told us that Emanuel stopped by before Acadia even opened to the public to "weed out some of the red tape in City Hall," which means that he can probably get a table at this Michelin-starred restaurant whenever he needs one.
This summer, we spotted Emanuel grabbing dinner with his wife, Amy, at Lettuce Entertain You's red-hot new rooftop bar Aba. Judging by the carefree look on the mayor's face as he dined, we're willing to bet he'll be back for more of chef CJ Jacobson’s delicious Mediterranean fare.
5. The Duck Inn
In a Chicago Tribune article chronicling his favorite restaurants, Emanuel discussed his tactic for picking a great date-night spot (and dropped a few recommendations): "I’ve been to Duck Inn, Nana’s, Han 202 a handful of times, and they’re great. But we have a real struggle in our house: When we find a good restaurant, my wife wants to go back, but I want to explore a neighborhood more, see what else it offers," he told the newspaper in 2016.
It's no secret that the mayor adores Chicago's craft beer scene. Last year, he even kicked off his mayoral podcast series, titled Chicago Stories, by sitting down with Haymarket’s Mike Gemma and Trevor Hagen to chat about beer. Give it a listen here.
7. Lula Cafe
According to Lula's chef-owner Jason Hammel, Emanuel has to wait just like the rest of us when he shows up at this popular Logan Square spot. On at least one occasion, Hammel told us "[Emanuel] was just plunked right in the middle of the room at the only table we had available."
8. Four Moon Tavern
We have to give Emanuel credit for doing this interview with Dean Richards at Four Moon Tavern in Roscoe Village. It sure beats the typical stodgy office backdrop most politicians prefer. Further proof that he loves this bar: He name drops it as one of his most beloved drinking spots in his Chicago Stories podcast.
Emanuel devoted an entire episode of Chicago Stories to Manny's Deli's 75th birthday last year, which means he must really love this family-owned operation. Plus, he shared his go-to order: "Onion kaiser roll, half corned beef, half pastrami, three pickles, one potato latke."
10. Billy Sunday
In an interview with the Chicago Tribune, Emanuel commended Chicago's innovative bartenders and mentioned a few favorites: "I think another of our big contributions are to drinks and to the liquor scene," he said. "Look at bars like Tiny Lounge, Billy Sunday and Scofflaw. They’ve got a great scene, and they’re creating new classics."