The Chicago Guide
Chicago is easy to love. First, there’s the famous Midwestern charm, which can’t be overstated and seems genetically wired in its inhabitants. People are just really nice here. Then, of course, there are world class museums, parks, parks, parks everywhere you look, and so many great restaurants we’ve barely made a dent in our checklist. And every year, it just gets better. Formerly off-the-beaten path neighborhoods, like Logan Square and Bucktown, are now front-and-center when it comes to Chicago’s new crop of hip watering holes, while old school haunts, like The Peninsula (one of GP’s favorites), are getting fresh, modern makeovers. As much as we love sharing everything new, though, we’re also rediscovering cultural institutions, shops, and restaurants that deserve newfound attention. It’s this uniquely Chicago mix, after all, that makes this city so endlessly exciting.
Parson’s Chicken & Fish2952 W. Armitage Ave., Logan Square | 773.384.3333
As the name suggests, you can come here for excellent chicken and fish, both fried to perfection and not at all greasy. But an emphasis on booze is to be expected from the guys that brought you Longman & Eagle. The bar stays open till 2am nightly (3am on Saturdays!) and serves craft cocktails and beer on tap, as well as a lethal Negroni slushy. They also make excellent use of the outdoor space (complete with freestanding bar and ping-pong tables) which functions as a patio in summer or an ice skating rink in the colder months.
Big Star1531 N. Damen Ave., Wicker Park | 773.235.4039
Unlike so many of the city’s more popular watering holes, this indoor-outdoor Tex-Mex spot is bright, airy, and massive in size. It’s part of One Off Hospitality Group (Dove’s Luncheonette, Avec) and as evidenced by the deep tequila/beer/cocktail list and 2am closing time, values a good time above all. To balance out the copious amounts of booze, order tacos and lots of guacamole from the walk-up window—it's usually faster than waiter service.
Sable Kitchen & Bar505 N. State St., River North | 312.755.9704
Located in Hotel Palomar, Sable is the destination for a few drinks or a full meal. They serve gastropub dishes with an American twist, and a long list of wood-fired flatbreads. Their 14-page cocktail menu is garnering plenty of attention, too, for its mix of old-fashioned drinks (a long list of options for a good old Martini) and new twists (Ice & Fire, for example, is a tequila-based drink with Sriracha, cucumber, agave, and fresh lime).
Salone Nico1015 N. Rush St., Gold Coast | 312.994.7100
Nestled a stone's throw from Nico Osteria at the Thompson Hotel, this upscale lounge leans heavily on low-proof drinks (juleps, spritzes, and the like), meaning you can indulge without getting too sloppy. One of Nico’s most prominent design features, other than the luscious stretch banquette and pops of jewel tones, is a plant wall which, in addition to lending a dreamy indoor-outdoor quality to the space, absorbs noise.
R&M Champagne116 N. Green St., West Loop | 312.243.1199
R&M Champagne takes its name from a specific variety of bubbly, Grower Champagne, the grapes for which come from a single vineyard, as opposed to dozens. This intimate drinking salon in the West Loop has taken on the ambitious task of building a drink menu focused entirely on exploring this specific corner of the champagne world. Along with a solid dinner offering and a boozy weekend brunch, they’ve put together a romantic outdoor patio ideal for tucking into one of their excellent cheeseboards.
Punch Bowl Social310 N. Green St., West Loop | 312.809.9551
A 1950’s style diner, a bowling alley, karaoke rooms, and an arcade room are all under one roof at Punch Bowl Social, a 30,000 square-foot adult playground in the West Loop. It’s a little kitschy but fun when you’re in the mood to let loose. Even if a round of bowling or belting out a few karaoke tunes isn’t in the cards, it’s worth a visit for the food alone, which leans towards comforting staples, like buttermilk-brined southern fried chicken and big burgers made with grass-fed, hormone-free beef. Otherwise, healthier, lighter fare is available too, including a superfood grain bowl, loaded with quinoa, kale, radishes, sprouts, roasted carrots, pickled chiles, and shiitake mushrooms.
Spilt Milk2758 West Fullerton Ave., Logan Square
There’s no shortage of bars worth a visit in Logan Square, but Spilt Milk stands out for its dimly-lit, Prohibition-era mood, with elegant William Morris floral wallpaper and a forty-foot mahogany bar. The menu is short and sweet, and there’s nothing typical about it—we love the Turkish Delight, made with Prairie organic vodka, pistachio, lemon, pineapple and rose petal, but the local beers on tap (including brands like Moody Tongue and Solemn Oath Brewery) provide a few more reasons to stop in.
Federales180 N Morgan St., West Loop | 773.831.9696
It’s always a good sign when you need sunscreen for lunch. Federales is such a place. It has a retractable roof above a massive patio, serves the perfect spicy-but-not-too-spicy margaritas, and the homemade tortilla chips and guacamole are the kind that could sustain you until tomorrow. It’s the kind of place you want to bring a group of friends—or hell, strangers—and stay for an entire afternoon under the sun. Those lively afternoons turn into even livelier evenings once the tequila starts flowing (there are over forty varieties) and the tacos (adobo shrimp, pulled chipotle chicken) are some of the best in the West Loop.