Well, we couldn’t think of a better person to ask about the best of the city than actor, model and former Miss Illinois Zena Malak. After all, being Illinois was her job for a year. We’ll have whatever Zena’s having.
Galavante: We want to run into you on a Saturday. What is your routine?
Zena: My Saturday routine involves letting myself sleep in past 7 am and waking up to get some morning yoga in. Nowadays I’m practicing at home, though when times will be normal again after the pandemic, I’m a member of the East Bank Club. Everyone there is so friendly and there are so many options for recreational activities, so if I want to do pilates one day and play some basketball the next, it’s all available in one place.
Then I’ll go grab coffee at Starbucks or I like Beatrix or The Ambler in Fulton Market if I decide to venture to the area. The West Loop is booming right now, which is also where Google has its headquarters. Things are a little different in the city with the current situation, but this is one area that has retained its vibrance. I’ll then go for a nice long walk in the city to one of the local farmers markets to stock up on produce for the week. Then I’ll usually be boring and answer some emails and get some work done before whatever plans I have later at night. The hustle never stops!
Galavante: We’re addicted to caffeine. Thanks for those great recs. What is your favorite coffee shop?
Zena: My favorite coffee shop is Limitless Coffee & Tea. This may make me basic but the vanilla latte with oak milk is my go to.
Galavante: What about food? What are your favorite brunch spots for the weekend?
Zena: My go-to brunch spots are Beatrix or Summer House Santa Monica. The aesthetic makes you feel like you are in sunny warm weather and you really can’t go wrong with anything on the menu.
Galavante: What else should be on the agenda for a weekend in Chicago?
Zena: If you’ve never been to Chicago, or you’re always in Chicago, the Gold Coast and Michigan Avenue area is a classic place. I stay out of the really tourstiy area affectionately called “The Viagra Triangle” by locals, but every once in a awhile, it’s fun for a walk. I love RL Restaurant though that’s closer to the Park Hyatt and Peninsula Hotels, which have some of the best hotel food venues in the city. They have a great mezcal cocktail at RL, and I love the lobster roll. The Dover Sole is of course a classic. My favorite table is in the bar area in the corner banquet as it’s always fun people watching. I’m not eating indoors at restaurants and RL has the most beautiful garden patio for lunch and dinner.
Galavante: What about when you want to have a fun girls night out?
Zena: Best girls night out spot… I recently went to the newly opened Nobu Chicago, and THAT VIEW! Just breathtaking. Also, the food (and service) is absolutely decadent. Nobu is maybe my favorite new spot. They opened on July 1st and props to them for opening in the midst of the pandemic and creating a beautiful place to get away from it all. It’s the best of Chicago at the moment.
Galavante: Thank you so much for sharing your Chicago with us. We can’t wait to visit.