Establishment neighborhood
302 N. Green St., West Loop
Hovering above Fulton Market in Ballast Point, Aba is the brand new, 4,000 square foot rooftop restaurant that’s turned into one of the city’s buzziest warm weather hangouts (though with several fireplaces spread throughout, it’ll likely remain a hot spot well beyond the summer season). The best way to tackle the Mediterranean-themed menu is by sharing everything, especially the small plates that includes five kinds of hummus (the avocado and fava bean is our favorite), and the red beet tzatziki with horseradish, dill, and finger limes. For dessert, the frozen Greek yogurt with olive oil and sea salt is simple, but so satisfying.
Spilt Milk
2758 W. 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.
2901 N. Sheffield Ave., Lincoln Park
While Mexican fare is the anchor of the Barcocina menu, the food takes cues from other parts of the world, too, like Korea (short ribs with kimchi) and Thailand (a chicken quesadilla with spicy chiles and peanuts). It’s a testament to chef Matt Williams’ skill that everything is equally great, and the large, warehouse-style space is made cozier with communal tables and wood-paneled walls that give off a warm, welcoming feel. There’s a fire pit on the patio for pre- or post- dinner cocktails. Our favorite is the House Fire, made with Cointreau, jalapeno-infused tequila, and the homemade sour mix.
180 N. Morgan St., West Loop
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.
Timberline Knolls
40 Timberline Dr., Lemont
Timberline Knolls is a residential program for girls (and women) twelve and older. The staff works to treat the full spectrum of eating disorders, as well as depression and other mood disorders, trauma, and addiction. They take a holistic approach by supplementing clinical and medical care with creative activities including art and dance. The campus is about an hour south of Chicago. Residents live in lodges (organized by age group) for the duration of their stay.
Molly Flavin
259 Market Sq., Lake Forest
Molly Flavin knew she wanted to be a florist when she got her first job: sweeping stalks, petals, and leaves off the floor of a Chicago flower shop. For twenty years Flavin remained (mostly) under the radar, working via word of mouth. But demand for the florist’s classic, sophisticated arrangements grew, and by 2016, she needed a store. Flavin calls her shop a "floral boutique" and stocks a selection of linens and home accents that make concepting themes and bouquets a lot easier. She offers event consultations and in-home installations as well as bespoke arrangements. To learn how to do it yourself, book one of her sought-after flower-arranging classes.
Cornell Florist
1645 E. 55th St., Hyde Park
Yes, the flowers are the main event, but honestly, half the pleasure of visiting Hyde Park's Cornell Florist is the store itself. In the same location since 1939, the latest owners, Lindsay Levita and Steven Lucy, have retained all of the original features of the space, including the antique cash register. Known for their earthy, natural-looking arrangements of foliage and seasonal blooms, Levita and Lucy benefit from a Rolodex of regulars stretching back three decades. Nothing fazes these two, and both are especially skilled at walking through a venue and easily dreaming up an original vision—a godsend to indecisive couples. And should this be on your wish list: Cornell Florist also makes especially beautiful flower crowns.
Boutique Bites
224 N. Ada St., River West
Elaina Vazquez spent her early years honing her fine-dining skills (her résumé bullet points include the Culinary Institute of America as well as the kitchen of Joel Robuchon). But a strong entrepreneurial streak and a familial pull to Chicago took over: Boutique Bites was founded in 2008. In the last ten years, Vazquez has built one of the most in-demand catering companies in Chicago. There are few chefs who could pull off a six-course tasting menu (with wine pairings) for a large wedding like Vazquez. The BB team also handles the rentals, setup, staffing, and execution. And for those clients stuck for space, Boutique Bites has recently opened its own event venue—a beautifully restored warehouse in the West Loop neighborhood called Brique.
Snow & Graham
4021 N. Ravenswood Ave., Uptown
What started as a simple design studio back in 1998 has grown into a fully-fledged digital company more than adept at handling the stationery demands of the modern, time-starved customer. Snow & Graham's predesigned lines are perfect for those wanting to send out invites, announcements, or save-the-dates in a pinch. And clients wanting to design bespoke stationery are also well taken care of. All custom pieces are handmade on the softest double-thick 100 percent cotton-pulp paper—pasted by hand with nontoxic adhesive.
Nancy Chase Arrangements
Nancy Chase started out on a creative, nonfloral trajectory. A fine art graduate, Chase pursued a career in corporate art sales for years, then entered the interior design arena, before finally landing on flowers. The beauty and benefit of a career such as Chase's is that she has an unlimited pool of inspiration to draw on for her lush, colorful arrangements. Chase excels at weddings, and with the inclusion of one of her large-scale installations, little other decoration is necessary.