Wow Bao: Meet Chicago’s First Robot Restaurant!

“You mean I get to eat delicious food and not have to deal with anyone?” my wife asked me. “It’s perfect!”

I know exactly what she means. It’s the definitions of the first-world problem, but sometimes when you go out to eat, an amazing edible experience can be ruined by overly-angry (or really, an overly-friendly) servers. No one wants to feel uncomfortable on a nice night out.

Luckily, Wow Bao knows your pain. They want to help.

The fast-casual bao and dumpling eatery is introducing the first automated restaurant to Chicago and I got a chance to check it out last night.


Now, it’s not totally automated as some people have said, since the food is still made in the back by cooks. However, the ordering and the pick-up are all done digitally, and, I have to state this clearly, it is done incredibly well.

Here’s how it works. You start by picking out your food on a digital screen…

Then you see your name on the board and wait for it to turn green…

When it does, you get an animation where the screen goes black and steamy. Then the food is placed into the little cubicle from the kitchen, and when it’s ready, you get an adorable animation wiping the steam away and showing you the meal. All you have to do is then knock twice and it opens up for you to grab…

Really, this is where they crush it. Not only is the process automated, but it’s UNBELIEVABLY adorable. It’s almost hypnotic to watch the little animated baos run by, fly in, or bang on the glass to get your attention. I watched people not only Instagram their food, but Instagram the experience of waiting for their food. When was the last time you saw that?


Now, nothing matters if the food isn’t good, and I’m telling you, it is good.

It’s not a giant menu, basically baos, dumplings, potstickers and rice or noodle bowls, but what they do, they do well. There are a ton of different meat and rice combos, and while not everything worked for me (I just couldn’t get behind Orange Chicken inside a Bao), the ones that did, like the spicy Mongolian Beef or the sweet Coconut Matcha bao, were amazing. Plus, everything is priced really reasonably, allowing you to mix-and-match and try a bunch of different items, discovering exactly what you would like.

This new Near North restaurant is Wow Bao’s sixth location in Chicago and 14th across the country. It opens officially on December 1st and proudly declares that the future of food is now. No people allowed.

Want to see my entire Instagram story from the experience. Why, you’re in luck, it can be viewed right here:

Don’t forget to follow @AlexShebar on Instagram for all Chicago adventure to come!