• Albany Park/North Park/Irving Park

Indulge in a hearty Swedish brunch before hitting the trails

A stroll through Ronan Park’s Multicultural Sculpture Park & Healing Garden or the trails around the North Park Village Nature Center. In the evening, dine at Angelo’s Wine Bar (or Ixcateco Grill if you’re looking for a great BYOB spot).

  • Andersonville

Learn all about the Swedes before a casual dinner and drinks at a local beer hall

For a cultural experience, visit the Swedish American Museum then head over to Simon’s Tavern afterwards for some seasonal glögg (if you’re sticking to the Swedish theme) or George’s Ice Cream & Sweets for a scoop of Fat Elvis ice cream. Evening plans can entail a more intimate Korean dinner for two with sojutini cocktails at Jin Ju or a more laid-back dining experience at Hopleaf, which also hosts food and beer pairings as well as the Tuesday Funk eclectic monthly reading series.

  • Bucktown

Mindy's Hot Chocolate. Keep things going strong with more drinks at The Map Room and late-night dancing at Danny’s if you’re staying in the 'hood.

  • Pilsen

Observe Mexican artwork then drink at the biggest brewery in town

You could hit up Dusek’s, Punch House, and Thalia Hall for three dates in one night, or you could check out the National Museum of Mexican Art, the community’s street art/murals (like the nearby Damen Ave Pink Line station murals and the mural at Casa Aztlan), go on a taco crawl along the way (Los Tres Dias, Birreria Reyes de Ocotlan, and Carnitas Uruapan), and wash it all down with some limited-release brews at Lagunitas Brewing. On the second Friday of every month, explore the 'hood’s exploding art scene at Chicago Arts District 2nd Fridays Gallery Night.

  • Ravenswood

Mix things up by making the perfect whiskey cocktail for each other at a distillery

Tour, sip, and mix at the whiskey wonderland that is Koval Distillery with cocktail-making and whiskey-specific classes. Once you’ve successfully passed the boozy course, bottled varieties are available to take home at a discount. Bring your booze to the intimate BYOB Goosefoot or sport your newfound whiskey knowledge on the Fountainhead rooftop (or fireside if the booze isn’t keeping you warm enough).

  • Later you can break into Double A, a secret speakeasy-style lounge (here’s how).
  • Roscoe Village

Relax under the cabanas at a wine bar all night and hit up a show (if you feel like moving)

Enjoy wine with a variety of artisan cheeses and charcuterie like pork belly on a stick with crispy house-made pancetta and maple mustard under one of Volo Restaurant Wine Bar’s patio cabanas before heading to Scooter’s Frozen Custard for coconut cream pie concretes. Be sure to check Beat Kitchen’s calendar for upcoming concerts (both national touring acts and local bands play there) as well as Chicago Underground Comedy stand-up shows.

  • South Loop

View contemporary photography and explore the galaxy in the same day in this 'hood

Explore Columbia College’s free Museum of Contemporary Photography before eating Spanish-influenced charcuterie, paellas, and small plates next door at Mercat a la Planxa, then hit up a blues show at Buddy Guy’s. Alternatively, Spoke & Bird’s expansive patio is a great little spot to house local brews like South Loop Brewing’s Good Ryes Wear Black before getting starry eyed at Adler After Dark.

  • Ukrainian Village

Eat unbeatable gnocchi then hopefully conquer many ping-pong victories at a dive bar

For an under-the-radar date night spot (it’s located in a house-turned-restaurant) and unsurpassable gnocchi, try A Tavola, where Chef Dan Bocik also offers two- to three-hour cooking classes on select Mondays of each month. If weather is still warm, al fresco dining at Homestead on the Roof followed by Black Dog Gelato is a top date contender. Then hang out in the beer garden or bat around a ping-pong ball at one of Chi’s best dive bars, Happy Village. To get your weekend started with a free pre-dinner show, watch The Hoyle Brothers tear it up at the Empty Bottle (or just pay the cover for a later show).

  • West Loop

Later, impress your date at Blackbird with a heavy-handed Allocated Old Fashioned and artfully prepared food that’s actually filling.

  • Maude’s Liquor Bar

While the exposed-brick and sofa aesthetic of the downstairs bar is beautiful in its own right (and often packed with beautiful people), the seductive charms of the upstairs bar is where Maude’s really takes things to the next level. The dark atmosphere and soft amber lighting are practically begging you to make a friend of the opposite sex. And if you make a fool of yourself trying, it’s too dark for anyone to really notice anyways.

  • Nellcôte

Named after the opulent French Riviera villa where The Rolling Stones recorded Exile on Main Street (quite possibly the greatest rock album of all time), the West Loop’s version of Nellcôte keeps the vibe alive with Stones-themed drinks like the Under My Thumb, Let It Bleed, and Wild Horses served beneath elegant chandeliers and marble columns. In other words, it’s like partying in a palace for rock & roll royalty (or West Loop accountants).

  • The Office

There’s no doubt the modern cocktail emporium of the Aviary is a beautiful place. And it's doing things with cocktails that you’ve only imagined in your most hallucinatory of dreams. But what might be even more beautiful than grabbing a seat in Grant Achatz’s sleek den of cocktail reinvention is scoring a seat to its exclusive downstairs speakeasy The Office and losing yourself in its library-chic vibe.

  • Cellar Door Provisions

When the creative mastermind behind Ruxbin and Mott St tells you that Cellar Door Provisions’ airy croissants are on par with the best he’s had in Paris, you know they have to be something special. Aside from loading up on the perfectly flaky pastries, Chef Kim also enjoys the shop's ever-changing, veggie-focused, seasonal menu: “It always leaves you feeling good about yourself and light on your feet.” Ending a brunch without a food coma? Might make for a nice change of pace.

  • Pannenkoeken Cafe

The Top Chef winner and her husband, Gary, fell in love with the cafe’s namesake -- large, thin, crispy-edged Dutch pancakes -- and make a point of stopping in for brunch often. Stephanie usually orders a savory iteration, like the bacon and cheese or the veggie pannenkoeken, while Gary balances the couple’s order out with something sweet like apple ginger or chocolate banana, so that they can split and have a bit of each. We fully support their solution to the age-old “savory or sweet?” question when sorting out a brunch order.

  • Lula Cafe

Given the proximity of Billy Sunday and Yusho to Lula Cafe, it’s no surprise that Logan Square local Matthias Merges frequents Lula for brunch, or that he considers it the best given Lula’s penchant for fresh farm-to-table fare. “Chef Jason Hammel has been on the square for more than 15 years, flying under the radar with the best brunch in the city,” Merges says. “Innovative and consistent, it’s always my number one spot.”

  • Monteverde

Pull up a seat at Chef Sarah Grueneberg’s (Spiaggia) inviting Italian concept and take in the magic that is the pastificio -- an open kitchen where fresh pasta is prepared and hung on drying racks. The functional yet decorative centerpiece speaks to the restaurant’s menu that is so pasta-heavy it’s actually split into sections like “before pasta” (appetizers), “our pasta,” “Italy’s pasta,” and “after pasta” (entrees). Early standouts include cannelloni saltimbocca with prosciutto, lamb, sage, salsamic, and cauliflower béchamel, duck egg corzetti tossed with duck ragu, taggiasca olives, and pecan pesto, and skate wing schnitzel.

  • Queen Mary

An homage to the original tavern owner, Mary Kafka, this highly anticipated tavern from Heisler Hospitality (Pub Royale, Sportsman’s Club) is the first business to open in the former Polish bar since the 1970s. The beverage menu is comprised of 10 cocktails, many of which have maritime-inspired names (think: Nor’easter, Albatross, and The Admiralty), a rotating daily grog, and large-format-style hot tea punch prime for sharing among friends, and more than a few touches, like anchors and ships in bottles, echo a nautical theme throughout the space.

  • Dos Urban Cantina

Helmed by husband-and-wife team (and former Topolobampo chefs) Brian Enyarts and Jennifer Jones, Dos Urban Cantina diverges from traditional Mexican cuisine with an inventive menu flush with chef-y ingredients and culinary techniques, but make no mistake, soulful Mexican flavors like mole and tomatillo stand at the heart of every dish. Stop in to feast on butter chayote with avocado, serrano chile, and peanut mole, sea urchin with tomatillo & green apple salsa and chicharron cream, and more.

  • Sparrow

The good people behind Bangers & Lace head to the Gold Coast with their latest venture: a rum-centric cocktail bar redolent of the Prohibition era. And while the rum may be flowing freely, don’t expect another Tiki experience; here, the vibe is an intriguing balance of old-timey and cosmopolitan, and the cocktail lineup includes creations like the Hotel Nacional (pineapple rum, pineapple cordial, lime juice, apricot liqueur) and the El Presidente (gold rum, bianco vermouth, Curacao, grenadine).

  • Milk Room

The last component of the Chicago Athletic Association’s bar scene is locked, loaded, and now accepting online reservations through Tock. Backed by mixologist Paul McGee (Lost Lake), the former speakeasy-turned-“micro bar” specializes in rare and vintage spirits, and to drive home its exclusivity factor, seats just eight people.

  • Best Italian: Piccolo Sogno

“Little dream” is right: with its picture-perfect patio and casual-yet-sophisticated dining room, this urban oasis sets the scene for a weekday power lunch, romantic date night, and everything in between. The eats are seasonally driven, rustic, and approachable, while the all-Italian wine list is one of the most thorough and impressive you’ll find in the city. Don’t miss the signature ravioli “Piccolo Sogno,” which features house-made four-cheese-stuffed ravioli tossed with tossed with pine nuts, butter, and Marsala glaze and finished with delicate Parmesan curls or the “sapore” di mare.

  • Best Thai: Arun’s

If you’re willing to throw down a little more cash than usual on Thai, nothing tops the ever-evolving tasting menu at this upscale concept on the Northwest side. Over its 30+ years in business, the restaurant has accrued countless accolades for its outstanding service and hallmark blend of creative Southwest Asian fare and traditional Thai specialties, and shows no sign of slowing.

  • Best Japanese: Kai Zan

From uni shooters and yakitori-glazed duck skewers to grilled scallop nigiri, you can’t go wrong with anything you order off the menu at this always-packed 22-seater, but the chef’s choice omakase experience is undoubtedly the way to go, provided you’re feeling adventurous. Pro tip: it’s nearly impossible to get in here as a walk-in, so your best bet is to plan ahead with reservations.

  • Best Korean: San Soo Gab San

Don’t let its humble looks fool you: beyond an unassuming façade lies a Korean BBQ gem equipped with charcoal grills for superior DIY grilling action. Why charcoal? Because it seals the meats with a smoky, caramelized char that’s unattainable on conventional electric tabletop grills.

  • Gene & Jude's

Oddly enough, the very best Chicago hot dog you can get doesn't technically reside in Chicago, as Gene & Jude's relocated to nearby River Grove in 1950 after four years in the Windy City. You'll find the rendition here blessedly simple for those who find the full-on salad atop many Chi dogs to be a bit much: just mustard, relish, some onion, and a few sport peppers atop a perfect, natural-casing Vienna Beef dog. Oh, there will also be a mound of delicious fries atop said dog. But there will be NO ketchup. Even for your fries. Seriously. You don't need it.

  • Franks ‘N' Dawgs

You must love a city that spans all class structures of tubed meats: Chicago's good for sating basic hot dog needs with a minimalist depression dog, and the demands of high-society hot dog hunters alike. Frank 'N' Dawgs meets the requirements of being a "gourmet" dog joint without jumping the shark. Your breakfast-for-lunch option is the brunch dog, made with Slagel Farm pork loin breakfast sausage that's ground in-house and comes with smoked bacon, a fried egg, and a drizzling of maple mayo. You'd also be wise to add the Krazy Kimchi and Muscles from Brussels to your to-eat list, and you'll even get to pick a different disgraced celebrity mugshot as your order placard each time (hold out for professional wiener-shower Brett Favre).

  • Rhine Hall Distillery

“Rhine Hall apple brandy [Editor's Note: Which is made with local apples] has a very clean, un-aged eau de vie, with ripe, refreshing flavors of apple and a good amount of bite to it,” says John Stanton, lead bartender from Sable Kitchen & Bar in Chicago.

  • Emmit's

Technically opened in 1996 by a couple of firemen, the building itself has a much more extensive history involving secret underground gangster escape tunnels and an ill-fated robbery attempt in the '80s when it was called O'Sullivan's (a couple of shotgun-wielding dudes didn't get the memo that it was a cop bar -- it didn't work out for them). The modern incarnation is a touch more subdued, but Jameson on tap and plenty of pints of Guinness at the ready make sure things remain interesting.

  • Local Option

You may have heard of Local Option -- as the years have gone by its self-labeled beers (brewed off-site in contract with other breweries) have enjoyed increasing fanfare and distribution. But Local Option remains, at its core, a beer bar that looks up to no one in a city deep with excellent ones. You absolutely can (and should!) sample one of the house drafts during your trip, but the rarity of the selections it pulls in from other breweries remains impressive. Also impressive: opening up a no-frills metal bar with kick-ass craft beer on a quiet tree-lined Lincoln Park street often crowded with strollers and French bulldogs. Also, also impressive: the tater tots.

  • Spacca Napoli

Spacca prides itself on authenticity and quality. Many of the ingredients that chef Jon Goldsmith uses in his authentic Neapolitan pizzas are sourced from cheese makers and farmers he has gotten to know. These special relationships mean that his pies are among the few pizzas in Chicago that use such ingredients as Greci a Folzani prosciutto and Nettuno anchovies. While it’s quite a leap from a deep dish–restaurant, Spacca is arguably one of the most authentic Neapolitan pizzerias in the country.

  • Garfield Park Conservatory
  • Exchequer Restaurant and Pub
  • Parlour Car

The clown car known as Parlour Car pulls into town every Thursday at 9 pm in the back of Ukrainian Village’s criminally underrated Bar DeVille. And while we love Second City and all, this luminary standup show won’t sandwich you at a table between a pair of tourists.

  • Gorilla Tango Theater

What’s the most ridiculous way to spend the midnight hour? The list is endless, but right up there has to be a 60-minute performance of A Batman Burlesque at Bucktown’s underground Gorilla Tango Theatre. You’ll never see The Penguin the same way.

  • NOON WHISTLE BREWING

LOMBARD Speaking of history, Noon Whistle speaks to the birth of American beer culture, notably in Chicago. The massive European immigration during the 19th century provided Chicago with a population boom, much of which were wage earners. When the noon whistle rang, those European immigrants longed for traditional, low ABV (alcohol by volume) beer -- Americans transition from ales to lagers was underway. Noon Whistle pays homage to that concept, albeit with both low ABV lagers and ales. However, Noon Whistle also provides beer that enjoys a bit more muscle with its “big beer” series. And, like many Chicago-area breweries, barrel-aging is prominent, including cabernet-barrel-aged beer.

WHINER BEER COMPANY CHICAGO Whiner Beer Co. also embraces history, as well as the art of barrel-aging beer. Whiner is located near Chicago’s historic Back of the Yards neighborhood, known for the large meat-packing area that turned Chicago into the “hog butcher for the world.” Older than that tradition is the barrel-aged brewing techniques of Belgium and France that involve things such as wild yeast, and souring techniques. But, it’s not all traditional at Whiner. Brian Taylor and Ria Neri also understand modern needs, such as running a brewery that is a net-zero energy business, aiming to promote environmentally responsible brewing. The result is beer you can feel good about drinking, and beer that makes you feel good because it is so good.

  • ALTER BREWING

DOWNERS GROVE Alter represents a new style of craft breweries. Instead of a brewer just deciding to take his or her home brewing to the next level, a businessman looked to open a brewery and found the brewer that would be perfect for that vision. In other words, craft is such a good idea nowadays, that even non-traditional beer geeks are deciding it’s worth the investment. For you the drinker, it’s worth investing your time and energy, too -- the beer is delicious. Typical of many breweries where a long-time homebrewer is in charge, one can expect variety and an array of new beers to try. Yes, you’ll get the comforting standards, but Alter is the perfect place to order something familiar while also expanding your horizons. As the staff at Alter notes, “Alter” your mind!

  • HOPEWELL BREWING COMPANY

From the outside, the Hopewell Brewing Co. taproom reminds one of a 19th-century dry goods storefront. Inside, there’s a large sign that reminds one of a 1950s diner, yet the seating and decor hint at a modern cafe or a sunroom. They also host monthly bocce ball. The eclectic mix of decor and activities is fun, to be sure, but what brings people back is the excellent beer. Hopewell is run by three close friends, who once camped their way from brewery to brewery. That experience and a ton of passion result in beers that are far from boring. For example, try the Off-Black Pils, which is described with “subtle roasty astringency of the dark malts interacts in concert with the Styrian Golding hops to give a refreshingly new palate to our take on a pilsner.”

  • FULLERSBURG WOODS

The Fullersburg Woods are a great place to go on a beautiful, easy hike—and also to learn a little about local history and fauna. The woods in Oak Brook are just a little over a half-hour from downtown. The wooded trails run alongside Salt Creek, a tributary of the Des Plaines river that features gentle falls. Depending on the season, you may find migratory birds warbling, here maple trees giving off sap or blooming wildflowers. There's a 2.2-mile multipurpose trail, a smaller interior loop that is 1.3 miles, and there is a short hikers-only shortcut called the Wildflower Trail. Fullersburg Woods have a pretty great educational resources, especially for its size. The Nature Education Center has the remains of a 13,000-year-old wooly mammoth and year-round programming . At the southern end of the trail is a fully functioning historic mill that you can learn about in the Grau Mill and Museum. It was one of the "stations" of the Underground Railroad.

  • MORTON ARBORETUM

There are 16 miles of trails that criss-cross this "living laboratory" of thousands of trees in Lisle, about 40 minutes from downtown. Admission to Morton Arboretum is $14 for adults, which will grant you entrance onto the 1,700 acres of grounds that feature over 4,000 kinds of trees from around the world. (Annual passes are available, too.) You can spot deer and other wildlife, too, among the ponds, lakes, rivers, meadows, prairies and forests. Go for a gentle stroll around Meadow Lake or venture deeper into the property for hills and elevation. The Joy Path, named after the founder of both the arboretum and Morton Salt, has some nice views. Most of the trails are mulched or paved—but you can also trek off the beaten path. There's a PDF of the trails here. Enjoy some sustenance at the Gingko Cafe. The Arboretum is open year-round, and there's always lots of programming from 5Ks to winter lights. Starting in May, there will be origami in the gardens.

  • MIDEWIN NATIONAL TALLGRASS PRAIRIE

A funny thing about the Prairie State is that there is actually very little prairie left. Europeans transformed most of what was once tallgrass prairie in Illinois into farmland, but the U.S. Forest Service is trying to revert at least a small slice of the state back to its former glory. They're conducting something of an experiment on the 30 square miles of land between Wilmington and Joliet, at the former site of the U.S. Army Arsenal, which produced a billion tons of TNT during WWII. Now it's called the Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie, and it's home to 34 miles of hikes. A key part of the restoration project is a small herd of bison from Yellowstone in 2015 to add balance to the ecosystem, by attracting more species of birds, insects and plants while getting rid of invasive grasses. So far they've been very good at attracting humans. There's no guarantee you'll see bison on any given day, but bring your binoculars and head to the Iron Bridge Trailhead and take the Group 63 Trail for your best chance. The southern half of the dirt trail takes you right up to the expansive fenced-in area where the bison graze. This 3.6-mile trail will take you past rows of bunkers where explosives were once stored. You can go inside and see workers' graffiti that includes drawings, profanity and even some good old shit-talking. This loop links up with the Twin Oaks Trail, which is a 6-mile loop, if you want a longer hike. Check the calendar, and you can get a guided ranger hike through October, a "ghost tour" of the arsenals or even a lecture on the health of the local bison. One word of caution for summertime hikers: by definition, there's very little shade on a prairie.

  • INDIANA DUNES NATIONAL LAKESHORE

There's more than just sand dunes at the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore, just across the Lake from Chicago. The Cowles Bog Trail will give you a taste of a little bit of everything the Indiana shoreline has to offer, from prairie to lush, shaded wetlands to beach. The 4.7-mile lollipop-shaped trail begins in the marshy woodlands before you reach a loop that takes you to the shoreline dunes. On a clear day you can view the Chicago skyline. If the weather is right, this is a nice spot for a dip in the lake as well as a packed lunch. (Though you won't be able to shower off) The hike is moderate, though trekking up the dunes themselves at the midway point is on the strenuous side. The trail is named after Chicago botanist Henry Cowles, whose work studying the rich plant life you'll see on the trail like the black oak savanna, led to the Indiana Dunes being nationally protected. The Lakeshore boasts 50 miles of trails and the website has a long list of suggestions.

  • JOLIET IRON WORKS

If you like your hiking with a dose of gnarly post-industrial ruins, head to Joliet Iron Works. Once upon a time, it was home to one of the country's largest steel mills and thousands of workers, but it shut down by the 1980s. In the 1990s, the Forest Preserve District of Will County acquired the 52 acres of property. No buildings are left intact, but the foundation remains and it's pretty fascinating. There's a short paved trail that tells you the history of the factory and the ruins left behind, including the epic blast furnaces. The Joliet Iron Works site is also a great starting point to the limestone-paved Centennial Trail/I&M Canal Trail that runs over 10 miles north to the Cook County line to the Romeoville Prairie Nature Preserve.

  • Road trip to Galena

Its Main Street wasn’t named “Best Main Street in the Midwest” for nothing. Galena’s tiny storefronts are packed with vintage treasures, artisanal olive oils, wine tasting rooms, even a distillery.

  • ORIENTAL INSTITUTE MUSEUM

Imagine coming face-to-face with a 17-foot-tall statue of the infamous King Tut, being so close you can see the subtle pleats in his kilt. Or, picture gazing upon a set of shattered Persian plates from royal tables, broken when Alexander the Great destroyed Persepolis. Or, visualize walking right up to a gigantic stone bull head, knowing that it was the same one used to guard kings at Persepolis in 500 B.C. It's all at the Oriental Institute Museum.

  • PRITZKER MILITARY LIBRARY

Don't let the name fool you – there are more than just books at Pritzker Military Library. More than 35,000 books, posters, photographs, videos and artifacts ranging from military medals to swords tell the revealing story of American history through the eyes of the citizen soldier. Take a 30-45 min. tour on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Saturdays, or wander collections ranging from training comics from WWII and Korea to medical research files on topics like early ambulances and Civil War nurses.

  • CLARKE HOUSE MUSEUM

What was life like for the typical Chicago family during the city's formative years, just before the Civil War? You can find out at the Clarke House Museum, built in 1836 and widely considered Chicago's oldest home. This Greek Revival-style structure has survived fires, financial hardships, severe floods, changes of ownership, updates to its exterior, a stint as a church office and even two moves, the last of which brought it to its current home on Indiana Avenue. Today, visitors can walk through the twice-restored Clarke House Museum and marvel at the original design, historic furnishings, vibrant décor and overall resilience of this memorable property.

  • MCCORMICK BRIDGEHOUSE & CHICAGO RIVER MUSEUM

Did you know Chicago has the most movable bridges of any city in the world? Tucked beneath busy Michigan Avenue on the lower riverwalk level, McCormick Bridgehouse & Chicago River Museum is your ticket to discovering the inner workings of the city's most famous movable bridge. Chicago was founded as a busy water route and movable bridges were necessary to handle the land and water traffic on the bustling Chicago River. The parade of bridgehouses that spans the waterway now come in all architectural styles and this museum (open for the season each May to October) is located right inside one of the historic landmarks. Travel up it's five stories for 360-degree views out the porthole windows — a perspective you can't get anywhere else — and step inside the working gear room, where on bridge lift days you can see the engineering marvel at its finest.

  • GLESSNER HOUSE MUSEUM

The year is 1887. Chicago's elite Prairie Avenue – "that holy of holies where only the elect do dwell," said the Chicago Evening Journal in the late 19th century – has just seen the completion of a 17,000-square-foot modern day castle. The residence, designed by architect H. H. Richardson for wealthy Chicagoan John Glessner, shattered the designs typical of the period and created a structure unlike anything ever seen. Inside the fortress-like stone walls of the Glessner House Museum, you can still see the original sun-lit courtyard, 11 fireplaces, 14 staircases and several levels of cozy hospitality. For 50 years, Glessner and his family lived in the home, and now you can travel back in time to see the residence firsthand.

  • PLYMOUTH RESTAURANT & BAR

The rooftop at Plymouth Restaurant & Bar is South Loop's best (and maybe only?) all seasons outdoor hang. Heaters warm the upstairs getaway and removable enclosures are on hand for when the temperature really dips.

  • HOMESTEAD

Considering Homestead is a restaurant that exists pretty much entirely on a rooftop, it would be pretty tough to justify NOT having a plan for the winter. Luckily, they do, so you can keep enjoying their delicious farm-to-table creations year round.

  • THE VILLAGE TAP

There's nothing like patio fun at a great neighborhood tavern. Luckily it never stops at The Village Tap's year-round beer garden.

  • FIRESIDE

It's the indoor fireplace and charming, heated patio complete with a retractable roof that makes Fireside one of the coziest destinations around.

  • DARK HORSE TAP & GRILLE

Wrigley Field might be in winter hibernation until April but walk down the street to enjoy some outdoor fun at Dark Horse's year-round beer garden. The rustic, 50-seat space has panel enclosures for extra chilly days.

  • THE ROYAL GROCER & CO

Though it may be one of the newest additions to Wicker Park’s restaurant lineup, The Royal Grocer & Co. did not come to play. It may not be on everyone’s Top 10 list just quite yet, but with their drool worthy brunch and curling rink, it’s sure to be up there soon.

  • BBQ Supply Co.

It can be a bit of a struggle to find good, affordable BBQ in Chicago – but by golly BBQ Supply Co. has done it. With great smoke and even better sauces, they truly deserve more credit than they get.

  • MAK

If you haven’t had it yet, you need MAK’s falafel in your life. This fast casual “modern asian kitchen” has flown low on Chicago’s radar for a while now, and it’s high time it made it onto yours.

  • BEST INTENTIONS

Best Intentions is the late night bar of your dreams. I could tell you more about it, but it would totally ruin the atmosphere. You’re just gonna have to see for yourself.

  • Split-Rail

Settle in for a spell at this welcoming West Town restaurant. Antique rugs, brick walls and artwork depicting Americana scenes are the perfect backdrop for the seasonal comfort food served up by Chef Zoe Schor. Dubbing her cuisine New Americana, Chef Schor takes diners on a nostalgic culinary trip, offering chicken nuggets with honey-mustard sauce as a side dish, along with maple syrup-drizzled French toast bread pudding that’s crowned with whipped cream. Sip a fanciful drink like The Purple Rose of Cairo, a delightful mix of cranberry puree, grapefruit, lemon and hibiscus. The restaurant’s soundtrack is mined from Chef Schor’s own vinyl collection, so expect to hear the likes of Miles Davis and Regina Spektor.

  • CLEVER RABBIT

Vegetarians should hop on over to this veggie-centric Wicker Park restaurant. Snag a seat on a purple tufted banquette and be surrounded by modern artwork – including a Ziggy Stardust portrait! Garden-fresh vegetables are the star of the show here, although there are some non-vegetarian dishes on the menu (like The Fat Rabbit double cheeseburger). Sample the Butternut Farms Scramble, made with egg whites, butternut squash, avocado, marinated eggplant and quinoa. The sweet potato pancakes are layered with spiced mascarpone and candied pecans. Keep with the rabbit theme and order a carrot margarita, mixed with tequila, carrot and agave, garnished with sage.

  • The Press Room

This subterranean wine bar is all but hidden on a quiet corner in the West Loop. But once you step inside, you'll get the sense that it's every nearby resident's favorite secret. Owned and operated by the folks behind upstairs bed-and-breakfast Publishing House, the Press Room offers a robust selection of special wines by the glass and bottle. Sip picks from Chile, Spain, Argentina, Israel, Washington and beyond. Pours are best paired with La Grande Board, an assortment of charcuterie and cheese, or the dreamy chocolate cremeux.

  • Bar Pastoral

The restaurant attached to Lakeview's Pastoral is a dim, cozy spot for drinking an interesting selection of wines by the glass, along with the food you want while sipping wines—cheese plates, charcuterie and pâté. Half glasses of wine are just $5–$8, so you can sample a variety. If you like what you taste, well, Pastoral's shop is just next door.

  • DiSotto Enoteca

Old World wine list and Mediterranean small plates: Scott Harris has nailed the formula at Purple Pig and Davanti Enoteca, so why mess with a good thing? Admittedly, the scales at DiSotto (in the cellar-like basement of Francesca’s on Chestnut) tip toward drinking—the food is limited to antipasti, bruschetta, cheeses, salumi and a small selection of pasta. But when you’re spreading thick ricotta and fragments of honeycomb on toasted bread or sampling warm, marinated olives or indulging in the toast with a truffled egg yolk at its center, the appeal of this wine bar can’t help but feel unending.

  • Red and White Wines

An environmentally conscious wine shop, Red & White specializes in natural wines and hard-to-find and obscure booze in all forms. The storefront's new wine bar unsurprisingly pours from the same vein, though guests can expect to find different bottles than what's available up front. The beautiful, modern space also serves a variety of small nibbles including smoked trout with warm fingerling potato salad, anchovy toasts and an assortment of charcuterie and cheeses.

  • Lush Wine and Spirits

This combination wine store and bar has a few outposts, but we enjoy hanging out at the one in West Town. You'll find a sizable glass list and an abundance of snacks (we like the crispy chickpeas), and since you're there already, you should take a bottle of wine or beer home, too. For convenience.

  • Yuzu Sushi
  • Bonci pizza
  • HaiSous
  • Mi Tocayo Antojeria

A neighborhood place serving favorites like Peanut Butter y Lengua (beef tongue with spicy peanut-based salsa) and the frequently photographed Tres Leches. In warm weather, snag a table outside on one of the city’s prettiest boulevards and watch the neighborhood go by.

  • Proxi
  • Eris Brewery and Cider House

Occupying a former Masonic Temple on Chicago’s Northwest Side, Eris claims fame as the city’s first taproom dedicated to cider. Even more notable? Eris is led by an all-woman team. The sprawling space offers a number of guest taps, plus six house ciders and six house beers, all spearheaded by head brewer Hayley Shine. The food menu, meanwhile, is meant to complement your cider adventure, ranging from small bites (get the candied bacon) to full-blown entrees (you can’t go wrong with the steak frites).

  • HAPPY VILLAGE

Happy Village the patio dive you’ve been waiting for. With a feel more akin to your best friend’s backyard than an actual bar, Happy Village doesn’t have to worry about getting people in, it’s getting them to leave that’s the problem.

  • HOPLEAF

Just when you didn’t think it was possible, Andersonville’s staple late night hang gets that much closer to perfection when it’s outdoor space opens up in the spring. Whether you’re trying one of dozen beers on tap or enjoying some of the tastiest dishes this side of the river, Hopleaf is a patio must.

  • CESCAS MARGARITA BAR & GRILL

Tacos? Check. Giant margaritas? Check. A patio to die for? Check, check and check. Cescas is a Chicago spring destination for sure.

  • SIMONE’S

Pilsen has no shortage of amazing outdoor spots, but this sidewalk stop in the heart of the neighborhood puts the rest to shame. Head here on a lazy Sunday for drinks that are anything but standard and an shady afternoon you’ll wanna repeat time and time again.

  • Flo

Name another restaurant with Fruity Pebble French Toast...we'll wait. Flo serves up some unique in flair in West Town, plus mimosa flights during brunch!

  • Whisk

Whisk is another Chicago Avenue option with its sites on your sweet tooth with treats like Snickers Stuffed French Toast. The restaurant also has plenty of savory breakfast options that would make Ron Swanson proud. (You’ll find several portraits of the steak-and-eggs-loving Parks & Recreation character hung throughout the dining room.)

  • Dove's Luncheonette

Right at in the heart of Wicker Park, one can get some of the best Mexican and Southern-inspired brunch food in Chicago. Dove's Luncheonette has a classic diner feel to it for that low-key morning outing with friends.

  • Sheffield's Wine and Beer Garden

With BBQ Benedict, Irish Chilaquiles and Banana Bread French Toast on the menu, Sheffield's Wine and Beer Garden puts other Wrigleyville brunch spots to shame. Also on the menu...IPA salad. We're not sure what that entails but anything with beer sounds good to us.

  • Toast

Much like its name, Toast’s menu is simple. The restaurant (locations in Lincoln Park and Bucktown) doesn’t need wild food combinations or other gimmicks to draw brunchers in. Its food is simply great and that’s no secret around Chicago.

  • The Bongo Room

The Bongo Room is a Chicago brunch classic! Its decadent menu (lobster roll benedicts, chocolate tower french toast) has amassed such a fanbase that The Bongo Room now has three locations—Wicker Park, Andersonville and South Loop.

  • Bite Cafe

After you’ve slept off your late night at Empty Bottle, wake up and head right back to the same stretch of Western Avenue for brunch at Bite Cafe. This cute BYOB spot has everything from breakfast necessities like eggs benedict to an Asian-inspired braised pork belly dish.

  • MUSEUM OF CONTEMPORARY PHOTOGRAPHY

Tucked away in the South Loop, within Columbia College, the Museum of Contemporary Photography is one of Chicago’s best-kept secrets. It’s a small but mighty museum, regularly carrying the work of local photographers. The museum’s Midwest Photographers Project cycles through new and established midwest photographers, each examining a different social experience, from the slums of Mumbai to electronics and teens.

  • CHICAGO DESIGN MUSEUM

Located at Block 37 on State Street (aka shopping mecca), this tiny (and free) museum displays incredibly creative changing exhibits on everything from design to architecture. Recent exhibitions have included paper arts from around the world, and games in our modern culture. Next up is Great Ideas of Humanity: Out of the Container, April 20-August 18, 2018, which “highlights a broad spectrum of human thought and reminds us that, sometimes, looking to the past helps to comprehend the present.”

  • Apogee

The outdoor space offers a relaxed country club feeling, but the beautifully made, fun cocktails are the real standouts. They're made with top-shelf spirits and exotic ingredients—burnt Manhattan marshmallow, lemongrass and pear ice, edible butterfly—and served in creative vessels.

  • Cabana Club

Cabana Club—with its triangle-shaped dipping pool and wide-angle views across the city—is great for groups and lazy-day hangouts. There's a party atmosphere with great music, fantastic views, and good-enough drinks. It's fine to go when the weather isn't great, but most fun when the sun shines.

  • The Up Room

You're coming to the 13th floor for cocktails, but staying for the view at this Mad Men-like cocktail lounge. Here, you get irreverently named drinks, a great eastern view of the skyline, and a look at lesser-touristed parts of the city you don't usually get to see from this high up. Depending on the night, the vibe can range from clubby to mellow.

  • Fountainhead

While the English-style pub is dark, cozy, and perfect for a frigid late fall or winter Chicago day, it’s the open-air rooftop where you want to snag a table in warmer months. It's a great bar for a few rounds of drinks and a simple, laid-back evening with friends.

  • Sportsman's Club
  • The Sixth
  • Pizzeria Bebu
  • La Crosta Woodfire Pizzeria Italiana
  • Marshall's Landing
  • Smoke Daddy
  • Bistronomic
  • Ludlow Liquors

This new bar (with awesome Filipino-inspired food from sister spot Old Habits) has been packing guests in for a couple of months, but just wait until the patio opens. Ludlow Liquors will boast a dog-friendly backyard garden with two-tiered stadium seating, so you will hopefully not have to wait to find a spot. There’ll even be a service counter outdoors, so you don’t have to go inside to grab a drink, and the owners have teased some boozy slushies for the future.

  • Lonesome Rose

The space at Lonesome Rose is so bright and airy, it almost feels like you’re outside already. It’s about to get even better with patio season: Lonesome Rose will have both a sidewalk café area and a rooftop patio. The full food and drink menu is available in both places, so you can grab a seriously credentialed margarita (by expert barman Paul McGee) and a great taco and bask in the sun.

  • Joy Yee

At Joy Yee, the interior is almost as colorful as the menu. This contemporary restaurant specializes in regional Asian cuisine, from Vietnam to China and everything in between. Besides their boundless menu, Joy Yee is known for their extreme portion sizes - you can get 13 Japanese beef dumplings for $5.95. How is that legal?

  • Qing Xiang Yuan Dumplings

If a restaurant has the word “dumplings” in its name, that’s obviously the dish to get, right? Qing Xiang Yuan Dumplings brings the delicious dumplings of northern China to Chicago.

  • Pot Sticker House

If traditional vegetable or pork dumplings aren’t doing it for you, Potsticker House in Bridgeport has a menu that offers 23 different types of Dim Sum.

  • Mango Pickle

Foodies listen up. Mango Pickle is the perfect twist on traditional Indian food. What brings customers back for more is its seasonal samosas. Every season brings new flavors. Every season brings a new flavor such as the red kuri squash, carrot, cinnamon, nutmeg and chutney samosa or the seasonal veggie, cilantro chutney samosa paired with hibiscus date sauce!

  • Joong Boo

Joong Boo is a Korean market that specializes in traditional street food, which includes a dumpling stand! We suggest the softball-sized kimchi dumpling.

  • Smak Tak

Smak Tak is another place that has a mixture of pierogi flavors available in cheese, meat, strawberry, blueberry, cherry, plum, sauerkraut and mushroom as well as the classic cheese and potato.

  • Pierogi Heaven

Pierogi Heaven’s name says it all, this spot has reasonably-priced pierogis that will overjoy your taste buds and your wallet. You get six pierogis for $6. It doesn’t get better than that, people. Try one of the thirteen different flavored pierogis: meat, meat and spinach, kraut, kraut and mushrooms, mushrooms, potato, potato and cheddar, potato and cheese, sweet cheese, spinach, strawberry, blueberry, cherry and plum.

  • Flo & Santos

If one type of pierogi isn’t doing it for you, Flo & Santos has a sampler which includes two of each potato and cheese, meat, mushroom and sauerkraut pierogi. They’re served with a side of sour cream and apple sauce, of course! If you’re feeling adventurous the ravirogi is a ravioli-pierogi crossbreed. Picture a meat pierogi topped with a creamy tomato bacon vodka sauce. Uhhh, yum.

  • Lao Sze Chuan

Lao Sze Chuan is right on the Mag Mile. What separates its menu from others is that this traditional Chinese restaurant serves Zhong’s boiled dumplings. Traditionally, you would find these bad boys at street vendors in Chengdu, China. It may take a little extra time for them to come out of the kitchen, but, trust us, it’s worth it.

  • Cozy Noodles

Cozy Noodles & Rice sits down the street from Wrigley Field. This cash-only spot is known for its “two C’s”: Cubs memorabilia and crab rangoon! The extra-generously stuffed rangoons remind us that what’s on the inside matters most.

  • The Bristol

There is ravioli and then there is The Bristol's famous raviolo. What is a raviolo you ask? It is one giant egg-filled ravioli that is perfect for sharing! This colossal piece of pasta is also filled with ma

  • Alinea

On the worlds best restaurant for 2018

  • Have A Few Drinks At Happy Village Before Taking A Selfie In Front Of Shit Foundation

You'll find one of Chicago's most unique public art pieces just a drunk stumble south of premiere ping pong bar Happy Village. Shit Fountain—created by and displayed outside the home of local artist Jerzy S. Kenar—is meant to remind people to pick up after their pooches. It makes for fun Snapchats, too, though.

  • Take a Weird Chicago Tour

Learn a thing or two about the creepy details behind Chicago's storied history via Weird Chicago Tours. Take the Devil & The White City Tour to learn about America's first serial killer—who also made Chicago his home. Get the gritty details of Chicago's past on the True Crime And Mystery Tour. Receive eye-opening insight on the city's local sex industry on the Red Light District Sex Tour (no kids allowed). Oh, and there are ghost tours, too. Duh.

  • See Chicago's Biggest Button Collection At The Busy Beaver Button Museum

3407 W. Armitage Ave.

Passionate about what pinback buttons you choose to adorn your denim jackets with? Get ready for some next level inspiration at the Busy Beaver Button Museum, featuring hundreds of buttons from all eras of the 20th century.

  • The Chicago Magic Lounge

5050 N. Clark St. - Andersonville

Chicago's newest theater doesn't host theatrical performances or live music. It's entirely devoted to magic. A secret entrance—no, this isn't you're average laudromat—gives way to two theater spaces and a cocktail lounge with nightly performers. You can also explore a library full of priceless trinkets from magic's long history and some of its most famous names. Getting out of here without having fun would take an escape artist better than Houdini.

  • Lawry's The Prime Rib

Since Lawry's The Prime Rib opened in 1974, it has earned a reputation as one of Chicago's great steakhouses. It's also housed in one of the city's greatest landmarks — before it was a restaurant, the stately four-story Italian Renaissance building first served as the McCormick Mansion (society maven Constance McCormick is said to haunt the building), then as 1940s fine-dining restaurant The Kungsholm, and finally as the Kungsholm Puppet Theater (if you're lucky enough to snag a tour of the rarely seen second level, you'll see original puppets and a miniature opera workshop). On the main floor, under glittering chandeliers and arched ceilings, Master Carvers wearing towering hats steal the show. As the name implies, Lawry's The Prime Rib is the place in Chicago for prime rib. Each standing rib roast is carefully selected, aged for 25 days and roasted on a bed of rock salt till supremely tender. Master Carvers — who undergo six months of training and wear a medallion to signify their status — slice the locally famous prime rib tableside from massive, gleaming silver carts, which also include accompaniments such as gravy, au jus, mashed potatoes, creamed corn and creamed spinach (be sure to order a Yorkshire pudding to sop up the steak juices). Keep the show going with Lawry's signature Meat & Potato martini, crafted with Chopin potato vodka, shaken and poured tableside, and garnished with olives stuffed with horseradish and prime rib.

  • Drawl

Southern restaurant with whiskey tastings every Thursday night

  • Il Porcellino

Good happy hour

  • Sushi-san
  • Sweet Pepper Venezuelan Food Bar
  • Princi
  • Bixi Beer
  • Soho house rooftop
  • US Pizza museum
  • Wiener’s Circle — Hot Dogs

This small hot dog shop in Lincoln Park has one of the best hot dogs you’ll ever have — and some of the most irreverent commentary in the city. It’s a perfect place to stop in for a snack while doing some wandering around Lincoln Park (and get some foul-mouthed fun in the process). The sign out front is always changing to feature funny and cheeky phrases and commentary on politics or pop culture, and the employees aren’t afraid to give you a little show. You’ve been warned.

  • Tanoshii — Sushi

You don’t go to Tanoshii for your usual sushi meal. When you sit down, “Sushi Mike” comes out and asks your likes, dislikes, and dietary restrictions. From there, he puts together the perfect menu for your table — so expect to eat the best-tasting sushi ever. And FYI, soy sauce is a no-no here. If that’s not a sign of a good sushi place, I don’t know what is.

  • Labriola — Pizza

It wouldn’t be a Chicago city guide if I didn’t mention deep dish pizza, right!? While there are about a million places you could go for a tourist-heavy deep dish experience, I prefer to guide you to a less-populated option in the heart of the city. Labriola is a great way to taste Chicago’s most famous staple while still enjoying a classy dining experience. If you’re staying in the Loop (Michigan Avenue area), this is just steps away. Note: If you’re looking for more touristy (but still delicious) deep dish, try Gino’s East (most fun), Lou Malnati’s (best sauce), or Giordano’s (best crust).

  • Quartino — Italian

This is one of Team Everygirl’s favorite places to take out-of-towners. It’s in a great location downtown, so easily accessible from all your major landmarks, yet it feels cozy and snug and charming. It’s always bustling, but it’s not hard to get a table and the food is INCREDIBLE — and yet, it’s not break-the-bank expensive. Plus, every time I have been there, all the waiters are incredibly hot guys wearing futball jerseys, so that is a real win.

  • Summer House Santa Monica — American

If you’re looking for a classy spot for a pretty well-mannered brunch, this is the move. While you could come here for lunch, dinner, or drinks too, brunch is when Summer House truly shines. With a retractable glass ceiling, it’ll feel like summer no matter what the weather’s like — and a seasonal rosé cart doesn’t hurt either! Their wide selection of brunch sandwiches and entrees is perfectly complemented by the tropical decor and the festive cocktails.

  • The VIG — Gastropub

You have to go to The Vig for brunch so you can experience the gorgeous building in daylight. It looks almost out of a movie aka it’s what Instagrams are made of for the locals. Wear your most stylish outfit here! The chicken biscuit sliders are heavenly. If you want to go crazy (maybe a 21st bday or bachelorette celebration!), get a mimosa tower. You (except maybe your liver) won’t be disappointed.

  • Parlor Pizza

Not only is the pizza here omgsogood, but it’s the vibe here that really sets it apart from every other pizza place in the city. All three locations of this bar/restaurant have amazing outdoor spaces — and both are great places to lose yourself for an afternoon and make some new friends (and meet some boys — who said that!?).

  • Green Street Smoked Meats

Casual, quirky, and always buzzing, Green Street is Team Everygirl’s go-to happy hour spot (which almost always turns from happy hour into dinner into late-night drinks…). You can go for the food (slabbed meat, sandwiches, and comfort food sides), but you’ll want to stay for the vibe. The only tables are long and cafeteria-style, lending to the feel that you’re amongst lots of friends. The drinks are pretty cheap, the music’s not too loud, and they play ’80s movies on TVs in the background. The outdoor section feels like something out of 1920s NYC, but the indoor section is great too (meaning you can go in any season and have a good time). Quick anecdote: I almost ALWAYS forget something, drop something, or leave something when I’m there. The bartenders are so friendly and always help me find my stuff with a smile. I seriously LOVE it here.

  • Lottie’s

Lottie’s would be super cool no matter what (it’s a laid-back neighborhood bar with cheap drinks and a crowd that’s ALWAYS down for dancing), but it’s made even cooler by the fact that it’s the former set of the bar frequented by characters on Chicago Fire. The show has since built a set to resemble the bar, but all season one bar episodes were filmed right at Lottie’s. It’s a cool piece of trivia, a great spot for friends, and a must-visit for Chicago Fire fans!!

  • The Dawson

Not only is this chic spot a coffee shop, event space, and bar/restaurant, but it also has one of the most stylish outdoor spaces on the west side of the city. Conveniently located right near the L Blue Line, the cozy patio will make you forget you’re in the middle of a bustling city. Plus, a menu that includes “Mac and cheesefries” is a winner in our book.

  • Z Bar

The Peninsula's stunning rooftop lounge has it all: sweeping city sights, globally inspired cocktails and a roster of delicious, shareable snacks. Sip cocktails like the Disco Fever, with vodka, mandarin, passionfruit, champagne and fresh lemon, or opt for a spirit-free beverage, like the Garden Party, which is infused with cucumber and pea blossoms. On the food front, there are plenty of crave-worthy snacks: Chicago-style pizza pockets, daikon frites and steak fondue.

  • Ballast Point

The West Loop gets a taste of the West Coast with this casual brewpub that has more than 40 beers on tap, including several "R&D" Chicago exclusives. Pair your suds with bar snacks like a Bavarian pretzel, California nachos or the California Kölsch steak burrito. If the weather cooperates, a massive rooftop beckons upstairs, with room for 150 beer fans.

  • Troquet — French (River North)

Whenever anyone asks me for a brunch recommendation in the city (no matter the season), I always come back to Troquet. The French-inspired menu is full of delicious favorites (I love the Croque Madame, but the burger with fried egg is good too!), and the bottomless mimosa deal is relatively non-pricy (For $29 you get a brunch entree and 1.5 hours of unlimited bubbles). You can sit inside or out, but even if you elect to sit inside, the huge front windows allow you to enjoy the weather without getting bugs in your drink. If you’re deciding between a few places, I can almost guarantee this will be a hit. ($29 for a brunch entree and 1.5 hours of mimosas)

  • Sepia (West Loop)

While it’s not the most picturesque patio in town, Sepia just may be one of the most convenient. Located just a hop, skip, and a jump away from the Metra stations and just about every train line, Sepia is the perfect spot for a post-work cocktail. The happy hour menu consists of cocktails, wine, beer, and snacks — and it’s the best under-$10 French 75 I’ve ever had. Happy Hour Deal: $7 cocktails, wine, beer, snacks; $10 wine flights

  • Le Colonial
  • Loba Pastry in Lakeview

The most exciting pastries in town (plus, great coffee) and see what chef Valeria Taylor is pulling out of the oven. It might be a mole croissant or a fruit danish dusted with violet sugar. But my truest love will always be the pineapple sourdough muffin (a staple on the otherwise constantly changing menu), which is unlike anything I have ever tasted — tart, sweet, funky — and one of the absolute best things to eat in Chicago.

  • Field and Florist

Both a sustainable flower farm in southwest Michigan and a perfect little shop in Chicago’s Wicker Park neighborhood. They sell their blooms, as well as a stellar range of accessories, home goods and beauty products. They even let me curate a collection of cookbooks (both vintage and recent releases) that are for sale in the shop. Stop by for a copy of Vibration Cooking and an armful of peonies.

  • Pizzeria Portofino
  • Torchio Pasta Bar
  • Flora Fauna
  • Bungalow by Middle Brow
  • Rooh

We had the pleasure of visiting ROOH on opening night and it was hands-down some the best Indian food we’ve ever tasted. Progressive cuisine like Jackfruit Kofta, and spicy cocktails such as Pink City, put ROOH at the top of our list. If you’re in the mood for a sexy atmosphere and mouthwatering Indian fare, we highly recommend this new West Loop hotspot.

  • Ghareeb Nawaz

With two stores in West Ridge and Little Italy, Ghareeb Nawaz is easily the most well-known Indian and Pakistani pitstop around. Sure, it’s fast food (with halal meat), but everybody knows that the smaller the store is, the more genuine-tasting the meals are. Plus, a cup of chai here is only 75 cents, adding samosas to your order is just 50 cents, and everything on the menu is under $7…how could you possibly go wrong?

  • The Indian Garden

Luxurious, Indian dining at its absolute best, The Indian Garden makes delicious and upscale fare for its hungry patrons. Self-classified as the “Culinary Nirvana”, this lavishly decorated restaurant features a trendy bar and a vast menu of delectable dishes.

  • The Spice Room

Hailing Northern Indian food central to Mumbai, the Spice Room brings Indian culture to Wicker Park. The chefs at this minimal restaurant serve up incredible Northern Indian fare for relatively cheap, so it’s always worth a visit.

  • Uru-Swati

There’s something especially unique about this place: the walls are designed like Mumbai’s skyline, leaving you to feel like you’re settled into a little café next to the honking cars of India’s busy streets (without the noise, of course, though it’d be pretty clever if that was their playlist). Uru-Swati offers up undeniably authentic Northern Indian delicacies with a hint of Southern influence.

  • Cumin

By incorporating Nepalese and Indian staples, Cumin gets that perfect blend of spicy and mild dishes on the menu without reducing each of these distinctive cultures. Besides, they have far more Indian food available in this upscale restaurant, so it was absolutely worth including on this list.

  • India House Restaurant

Head to River North for a taste of authentic Indian. This amazing lunch and dinner buffet is cheap as hell, offering all-you-can-eat Indian food for just under $15 during the week and under $18 on weekends.

  • Tandoor Char House

Another fusion restaurant, Tandoor Char House pulls influence from both India and Pakistan, as its owner, Faraz Sardharia, has roots in both countries. Many of these recipes are cultivated from the mind of Sardharia, but you’ll find some classic dishes here, too, made with halal meat.

  • Rangoli

Easily the most aesthetically pleasing restaurant on this list, everything at Rangoli is ready to be Instagrammed: the food, the walls, the decor, the vibe. It’s all a perfect blend of ancient and modern Indian culture, and it’s yours to enjoy in Wicker Park.

  • Fatso's

Hot dogs

  • Utopian Tailgate

Rooftop bar

  • Galit
  • NoMi
  • Riccardo Osteria
  • Publican
  • Moti Cafe
  • Chiya Chai Cafe
  • Union Full Board
  • Osteria Langhe
  • Boxcar Betty's
  • Left Coast Food
  • The Butcher and Larder
  • Old Grounds Social

Bottomless mimosas, games

  • BLVD
  • Bellemore
  • Tortello Pastificio
  • King of Cups

Sow your royal cocktails at this imperially themed bar in Chicago’s Lincoln Park. And in addition to the over-the-top Rococo-style décor, including an interactive throne, the cocktails are many and come on tap, with a swizzle, stirred or shaken. The perfect cool companion, the Absolute Rule is a carbonated tap cocktail blending bourbon, brandy, and Guinness while The Lady India is likened to a whiskey sour and shakes together a strange brew of bourbon, sweet vermouth, lemon, IPA, beer syrup and angostura. And if you’re mood for a boozier creation, try the well-stirred Ginger Grant, with Scotch, fry vermouth, pomegranate balsamic and orange bitters.

  • The Library at Gilt Bar

After stuffing your face at the cozy Gilt Bar, best recommended with a side of burnt brussel sprouts, you may be searching for a nightcap. Oh, where could you go? Make your way downstairs, past the photo booth (where you'll most ultimately make a pit stop later after a bottle of red), through a long hall filled photos (where you'll leave your mark in speakeasy history), to The Library. This dimly-lit room, lined with bookshelves and wooden moldings, will welcome you with arms wide open and cushy velvet booths to sink into. With a stacked cocktail menu and wine list, last call will come sooner than you think. How to get in: Down the stairs you go, below Gilt Bar.

The Ladies Room First of all, do yourself a favor and stop by Fat Rice Bakery, the egg tarts are divine and may even treat you better than the ones in Portugal. Okay, back on track. Once you have an egg tart in hand, walk through the curtains near the bathroom to find The Ladies Room (pun intended). The ambiance hits you like someone flipping the lights on after a dark movie - but in reverse. This reservations-only spot feels straight out of the Macau red light district. Once your eyes have adjusted to the dim lights, you'll notice the pin up posters covering the walls and the intimate space that will take you back into the early 20th-century for some unconventional cocktails. How to get in: Enter the bakery and walk towards the bathroom where you'll find a curtain to the bar.

  • Janitors Closet

What was once a janitors closet is now a janitors closet with a bartender. Here you'll find all the tools necessary for a good night like wrenches, power tools, tequila, and a 15-seat bar. Your friends might think you've lost it the minute you open a janitors closet for a night out, but they will be ecstatic to see the custodian behind the bar - trust us. How to get in: Located within River North boutique hotel FieldHouse Jones, this speakeasy is in the most literal sense, a janitor's closet.

  • Bordel

Fringe, lights, ACTION! From the restaurant group that brought you the majestic Beatnik on the River, is Bordel. They've set out, once again, to transport you into a different period - Paris' Belle Époque mixed with Chicago's Prohibition Era. The bar features a rotating cast of jazz musicians, burlesque performers, magicians, cabaret dancers, comedians, *takes deep breath* and more. The velvet-lined chairs, bohemian styled wallpaper, and nipple tassles are sure to leave you with a night you won't forget... How to find it: Above Black Bull via an unmarked door and a red stairwell.

nov 16 2015 ∞
nov 20 2019 +