Travel

Illinois Specialty

Establishment neighborhood
Gaslight Coffee Roasters
2385 N Milwaukee Ave., Logan Square
It may appear to be one of those hipster, brick coffee houses that are ubiquitous these days, but this Logan Square roaster also happens to serve an excellent breakfast and lunch, too. Locals swear by the duck egg benedict and house made pickles, and the tartines (ricotta with pear, prosciutto and olive oil; salmon with goat cheese, capers and chives) make for great snacks in between exploring the area’s vintage and specialty stores. Pro tip: Buy a bag of Gaslight’s beans to bring home, and you’ll get your coffee order for free.
Oromo
4703 N Lincoln Ave., Lincoln Square
Tired of almond milk? This is your place. This colorful little place gives the health-obsessed cafés of L.A. a serious run for their money when it comes to alternative creamers. Pistachios, pecans, hazelnuts, and coconuts are all soaked, pressed, blitzed, and strained for the perfect velvety, dairy-free latte. These nutty elixirs are spiked with all manner of adaptogens and superfoods (ashwagandha, moringa, maca, camu camu) for a supercharged, super healthy pick-me-up. The coconut Cubano—hot espresso poured over a teaspoon of coconut sugar—is the perfect marriage of syrupy sweetness and bitter heat.
Punch Bowl Social
310 N. Green St., West Loop
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.
Wells Street Market
205 W. Wacker Dr., Downtown
Chicago’s newest food hall is a 10,500 square foot temple to the new wave American culinary themes that have exploded in the last decade. Modern iterations of ethnic cuisine (chicken shio ramen from Japanese noodle bar Furious Spoon, non-GMO Polish pierogi from The Chow Brothers) are right next to farm-to-table fast casual spots, like Fare, which serves organic, produce-driven dishes (try the breakfast bowls with Tuscan kale, slow roasted tomatoes, cage-free eggs, and an herby pesto). For a quick pick-me-up, there’s even a florist, Flowers for Dreams, which offers sustainable, artisanal bouquets starting at $15 and come wrapped in recyclable cloth or vases made of reclaimed wood.
The Chopping Block
The Merchandise Mart Plaza, Suite 107, River North
Owner Shelley Young opened the Chopping Block in a small cottage in Lincoln Park back in 1997 with the goal of sharing her love of prepping a home cooked meal with others. Since then, they've relocated their flagship to an 8,000-square-foot space in the Merchandise Mart. Here, a monthly roster of classes covers everything from knife skills to sushi and pasta workshops (we particularly like the "Know Your Gnocchi" class) and a course devoted to deep dish pizza and calzones—this is Chicago, after all. Classes range from 2-3 hours in length and there's a fully packed weekend schedule if you can't make it during the week. For locals wanting to take their kitchen skills to the next level, it's worth looking into their culinary bootcamp, which teaches professional techniques to home cooks in just five sessions. There's a second smaller location in Lincoln Square.
Jeni’s
1505 N. Milwaukee Ave., Wicker Park
This is the kind of ice cream shop that excels at slightly out of the ordinary, although not too outlandish, flavors: brambleberry crisp, churro, ylang ylang and fennel, Riesling poached pear sorbet, pink grapefruit buttermilk frozen yogurt. Jeni's started in Ohio, founded by Jeni Britton Bauer—James Beard award-winning author of Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams at Home, and has since expanded to other cities. There are two shops in Chicago (Lakeview and Wicker Park), which are both outfitted with modern communal areas to perch with your cones, and which also sell Intelligentsia coffee. (On that note, you should try Jeni's Intelligentsia Black Cat Espresso ice cream.) On the West Coast, there is also a location in LA.
Rainbow Cone
600 E. Grand Ave., Navy Pier
Established in 1926, The original Rainbow Cone Location on 92nd and Western is an interesting little slice of Chicago history—it's long been the spot for family outings (and more than a few dates), and in the war years owner Joseph Sapp installed a radio so customers could get news when they stopped in. The thing to order since the early days has been their iconic rainbow cone, a pointed cake cone piled with layers of chocolate, strawberry, Palmer House (their blend of vanilla with cherries and walnuts), pistachio, and orange sherbet that tastes way, way better than it sounds. Their rainbow ice cream cakes, which include all five flavors layered on top of yellow cake, are nice for a last-minute celebration, as they always have a few on hand that can be personalized on the spot. FYI: They're only open in the summer months, and recently opened this Navy Pier location.
Jeni’s
3404 N. Southport Ave., Lakeview
This is the kind of ice cream shop that excels at slightly out-of-the-ordinary, although not too outlandish, flavors: brambleberry crisp, churro, ylang ylang and fennel, Riesling poached pear sorbet, pink grapefruit buttermilk frozen yogurt. Jeni's started in Ohio, founded by Jeni Britton Bauer—James Beard award-winning author of Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams at Home, and has since expanded to other cities. There are two shops in Chicago (Lakeview and Wicker Park), which are both outfitted with modern communal areas to perch with your cones, and which also sell Intelligentsia coffee. (On that note, you should try Jeni's Intelligentsia Black Cat Espresso ice cream.) On the West Coast, there is also a location in LA.
Scooter’s
1658 W. Belmont Ave, Lakeview
Scooter's is a bit of a mom-and-pop shop: It's owned by husband-wife team Mardi and Denny Moore, who quit their corporate jobs in 2003 to start the family business. Mardi and Denny are both Chicago natives, so local is important to them, whether it's the milk they use (it all comes from dairies in Wisconsin) or the people who frequent their shop, many of whom they know by name. They specialize in frozen custard, which you can see pouring out of their machines all day long. The thing to order is the Boston shake, a milk shake with chocolate syrup and a mini custard sundae—whipped cream included—on top. It's fun to stop by on the last day of summer, when the whole neighborhood comes to hang out.
Rainbow Cone
9233 S. Western Ave., Beverly
Established in 1926, Rainbow Cone is an interesting little slice of Chicago history—it's long been the spot for family outings (and more than a few dates), and in the war years owner Joseph Sapp installed a radio so customers could get news when they stopped in. The thing to order since the early days has been their iconic rainbow cone, a pointed cake cone piled with layers of chocolate, strawberry, Palmer House (their blend of vanilla with cherries and walnuts), pistachio, and orange sherbet that tastes way, way better than it sounds. Their rainbow ice cream cakes, which include all five flavors layered on top of yellow cake, are nice for a last-minute celebration, as they always have a few on hand that can be personalized on the spot. FYI: They're only open in the summer months, and there's now a second location on Navy Pier.
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