Signature Lounge – John Hancock Building, Chicago, IL

by Todd on September 10, 2009 · 3 comments


View from 96th floor of John Hancock Building. Sears Tower is on the far right (Loop financial district) - it is the tallest actual building in North America (C.N. Tower is just a big radio tower). The dark area to the left is Lake Michigan.

There’s nothing really food related about this post, just a travel tip for all you folks that love exploring very unique bars and clubs.   I used to live outside Chicago and here’s a neat trick I learned.

If you ever find yourself visiting or hanging out in downtown Chicago – do not go to the Sears Tower.   You will wait in line with screaming children and sweaty tourists.  I mean, why hang out in the tallest building in North America when you can hang out in the 6th tallest building in North America, and gaze upon the tallest building as it shimmers across America’s greatest downtown!?  That’s right friends – head on over to the John Hancock Building at the North end of Chicago’s Magnificent Mile (Michigan Ave.).

As you head in, do not go to the observation deck – it costs money and you will remain thirsty as you gaze over the city from the top of the world.  Also, do not go to the Signature Room – this is one of the most expensive restaurants in Chicago and it is actually BELOW the Signature Lounge (95th floor, instead of the 96th!).  Instead go to the Signature Lounge for these reasons:

  1. It is Free.
  2. It has the most amazing views of Chicago.  Ever.
  3. You will receive good service from hilarious and friendly waiters/waitresses.  I have been several times and they’ve always impressed me!
  4. Drinks in downtown chicago are expensive.  It is the 3rd largest city in America, so drinks are almost as much as they are at the airport.  Alcohol is rare there.  Drinks at the Signature room are no more expensive than anywhere else in the area!  Apparently, the booze takes the elevator for free, just like you did!
  5. If it is busy…wait for a table next to the windows.  Wait an hour.  Wait 2 hours if you have to.  For Goddsake, you’re waiting on top of a skyscraper.
  6. Wait for a table on the south side of the building.  You’ll know you’re on the south side by the lights…since it faces THE ENTIRE CITY OF CHICAGO.
  7. You can linger without problems if you nurse a bottle of wine (many are under $40) or a couple of martinis.  I recommend the Chocolate Martini – “I believe I detected a hint of Hazelnut?  Was that Frangelico?”

In summary: I don’t care how trendy you are, or what kind of DJ, or furniture, or nonsense fads you peddle in order to get customers.  If you’re a bar and you don’t happen to be damn near a quarter of a mile in the air, you probably just can’t compete with the Signature Lounge.  Period.


I recommend lingering into the evening....


This is Navy Pier at night. You can see this from the East side of the building that looks into the darkness of Lake Michigan. I recommend avoiding Navy Pier at all costs - if you do not want to stumble into the ultimate tourist trap

The Signature Lounge at the 96th
875 N. Michigan Ave.
Chicago, IL 60611

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