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A large dining space with a long green banquette and four-top tables.
Kinsley weaves modern design into a historically influenced space.
Barry Brecheisen/Eater Chicago

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Explore the Loop’s World’s Fair-Inspired All-Day Restaurant and Bar

Kinsley by Fairgrounds is coming in September with funnel cake fries and classic cocktails

An expansive new all-day restaurant and bar from the Chicago group behind cafe mini-chain Fairgrounds Craft Coffee & Tea is coming in September to a prominent Loop location across from the city’s Lyric Opera of Chicago. Kinsley by Fairgrounds, a distinctive project from the brand in both its scale and scope, will marry contemporary food, drink, and design to architecture drawn from the city’s historic 1893 World’s Fair. It’s slated to open Monday, September 19 inside an office tower at 1 N. Upper Wacker Drive.

Named for Herbert M. Kinsley, a Chicago restaurateur of the era who oversaw dining at the fair, the restaurant seeks to look into the future despite its roots in the past: the 5,100 square-foot space is designed to lure the stream of workers returning to offices in the building and the neighborhood, as well as local residents.

The entrance to a dining space flanked by two large white rails that read “Kinsley by Fairgrounds.”
Kinsley’s team is counting on a steady stream of workers returning to downtown offices.

Equipped with 15-foot ceilings with arched trellises, the space seats 135 in spacious green velvet Pullman-style booths, banquettes lined with quartz tables, and comfy-looking stools along an enormous white bar. Designed by local firm Barker Nestor, also behind the noteworthy design at spots including Bazaar by José Andrés and Utopian Tailgate, it seeks to tap into the excitement of the era with pendant light fixtures that resemble fireworks mid-burst and colorful artwork from the fair’s Columbian Exposition. It also promises a distinctively of-the-moment aspect: a 50-seat three-season outdoor patio on the building’s Franklin Street plaza.

While the soaring white space stands out among the Fairgrounds team’s casual, family-friendly cafes, the menu walks the line between already popular dishes and new options. Cafe regulars can expect hits such as breakfast tacos and funnel cake fries dusted with powdered sugar alongside seasonal selections including an Angus smash burger with American cheese and bacon, and s’mores French toast doused in chocolate ganache and marshmallow sauce.

A white bar space with a green tiled bar and high four-top tables with backed stools.
A small set of stairs in a white hall space lead down to room with a long table.
A row of roomy green plush and leather booths along a wall decorated with green tile and an oval-shaped mirror.

Pullman-style booths are another nod to Kinsley’s historic inspiration.

Fans can also expect the group’s large menu of coffee and tea drinks, as well as seltzer on tap. Bar patrons will find classic cocktails and riffs with more old-school references, such as Applegreen’s Old Pal with apple brandy, Maker’s Mark, and Luxardo cherry syrup. The name pays homage to H.M. Kinsley’s famed bartender John Applegreen. A menu of bar fare fully leans into modern festival foods like mini corn dogs, caramel corn, and nachos.

Despite the 19th-century conceit, true crime aficionados may find Kinsley’s arrival to be serendipitous: Hulu’s long-anticipated mini-series Devil in the White City (co-produced star Keanu Reeves alongside Martin Scorsese and Leonardo DiCaprio) is set to finally start filming in 2023. The show is based on author Erik Larson’s best-seller about Chicago’s 1893 World’s Fair and the simultaneous criminal exploits of serial killer H. H. Holmes.

Explore Kinsley and some of its menu items in the photographs below.

Kinsley by Fairgrounds, 1 N. Upper Wacker Drive, Scheduled to open Monday, September 19.

A small metal tray holds a burger in a bun and a pile of fries.
A metal tray holds a copper cup on its side. Fries are spilled out of the cup and onto the tray, and dusted with powdered sugar.
A round white bowl of grains topped with greens, kimchi, and a fried egg.

Seasonal options will rotate over time.

A long dining space with table and a rectangular white bar. Hanging lights resembling fireworks hang from the ceiling along a wall of windows.
Firework-shaped light fixtures aim to bring a touch of festivity to the space.
The entrance to a dining space flanked by two large white rails that read “Kinsley by Fairgrounds.”
The restaurant is named for Herbert M. Kinsley, the 19th-century restaurateur who oversaw dining at Chicago’s 1893 World’s Fair,
A row of marble two- and four-top tables.
Kinsley seats 135 in total.
Two rows of two-top tables along a wall of windows.
The walls are dotted with historic artwork from the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition.

Fairgrounds Coffee & Tea

4514 Cole Avenue, , TX 75205 (214) 774-9180 Visit Website
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