Haute Secrets: Ronero’s Nils Westlind

Ronero Rum 2

As the owner of the West Loop’s popular Latin American restaurant and rum bar Ronero, Nils Westlind is has made a unique mark on Chicago’s restaurant row. He comes by his culinary perspective authentically, having spent his childhood in Colombia. After 17 years in Chicago, however, he’s also got a strong opinion on the best his adopted home has to offer. Westlind breaks down everything from his favorite under-the-radar Italian restaurant to where he gets his impeccable wardrobe, and the local steakhouse that reminds him of Buenos Aires.

Where were you born: Born in Glendale California, but spent the first 15 years of my life in Colombia.

How long in Chicago: 17 years

Neighborhood: Originally lived on North Side of Chicago in the North Park area, but I’ve been living in the West Loop for over ten years now. 

Occupation: Owner / Operator of Ronero & Esco Bar in Chicago

Favorite Restaurant: Such a loaded question with all the incredible options in Chicago, but a recent favorite of mine has become Cherry Circle Room

Best Sushi: No question. When it comes to quality, Macku Sushi in Lincoln Park is the best. Executive Chef Macku is a longtime friend of mine. We have shared a passion for collecting exotic fish for 16 years now, since we first met when I moved to Chicago. It’s a hobby that started for me growing up in Cartagena where I would often dive around the local reefs and on Isla Baru.

Best Italian: Hands down, Nando Milano Trattoria (a boutique gem every Chicagoan should visit). Owner Dario & Chef Alessio are amazing people and we used to play soccer together – we’re soccer fanatics alike.

Best dessert: Is it bad to say dessert for breakfast? I love good coffee & a doughnut. Doughnut Vault or Stan’s has got my vote!

Best place for a romantic date: RM Champagne. I think it has one of the most unique indoor/outdoor spaces in Chicago and it’s just gorgeous.

Best Sunday brunch: Tre Kronor up on the North Side. I went to College at North Park University and this was my spot back in the day. It still is if I feel like taking a drive!

Best place for a power business meeting: Chicago Cut

If you have out of town guests, which hotel would you recommend? I love The Langham Hotel if they’re shooting for a bit more classic, or the iconic Drake Hotel if they want a more touristy vibe along Michigan Avenue.

Favorite shopping venue/boutique: For work I do suits on the weekends and casual suit attire on weekdays. My two favorites in the city are Nicholas Joseph on Grand and Suitsupply on Oak & Rush. At Nicholas Joseph, the quality and attention to detail is incredible. Plus, whenever you can have a hand in the look, design, color, etc., that makes the experience that much more special. If I’m looking for a quick fix, Suitsupply is also my go-to. I can pick something up off the rack that fits perfectly, and I’m often moving fast so it’s great if I’m in a pinch.

Favorite place to buy jewelry/watches: Tourneau for watches

Best Spa: Surfing the Caribbean Sea is the most relaxing spa treatment for me. If I must go inside, the Cowshed Spa at Soho is my pick.

Favorite Charity Event: Heartland Alliance & Immerman’s Angels 

Favorite Cultural Event: Chicago Film Festival, now in its 53rd year!

Favorite Cultural Institution: Chicago Cultural Alliance 

Best Steakhouse: I love Tango Sur! A good Bife de Chorizo takes me back to time spent in Buenos Aires. 

Best Pizza: If I’m going for classic Chicago deep dish, Lou Malnati’s (The Lou) all the way! If I’m looking for some authentic Italian Napoletana, I go to Forno Rosso on Randolph. The owner, Nick, cooks up some incredible pies.

Best Lunch: Publican Quality Meats

Best Gym/Athletic Facility: I prefer to be outside in the summer, and I try to get involved in as many indoor soccer leagues as possible during the winter. I’ve recently been getting involved at the PrivateBank Fire Pitch.

Best Massage: Mario Tricoci

Best Limousine/Driving Service: Uber seems to make most sense these days.

Best Museum/Exhibit: Chicago’s Museums have always fascinated me, especially the Museum of Science and Industry.  Van Gogh’s recent exhibit at the Art Institute was also a bucket-lister.  

Describe your city in three words: Hospitable, elegant, real

Favorite historic/legendary place to see or explore:  If I’m looking for design inspiration, I like to visit Frank Lloyd Wright home or places like Architectural Artifacts. The Botanic Gardens are my favorite if trying to get outside and clear my mind.

All-around favorite spot in Chicago: I love a good walk down Restaurant Row to visit neighbors and friends. Start with a burger at Au Cheval and let the party begin!

Best Aspect of Chicago: Chicagoans! There’s a warmth and friendliness in Chicago that you won’t find in other big cities. Having lived in L.A and traveled all over the world, coming home is always a comforting, special treat.