River North Restaurants
218 W. Kinzie St., River North
Like most establishments on Brendan Sodikoff’s roster (Au Cheval, Gilt Bar), the décor at this River North steakhouse is old time-y and darkly romantic (tufted leather booths, hard-wood floors, vintage mirrors) with a dinner offering that clearly values tradition over pomp: meatloaf, crisp wedge salad, and really really good steak frites. Wash it all down with something from the classics-minded cocktail list (regulars tend to go for the Dark & Stormy).
Doc B’s Fresh Kitchen
The Shops at North Bridge, 55 E. Grand Ave., River North
This self-professed “fast-casual” eatery prides itself on giving guests a 100% customizable experience. The tech-to-table system allows for lightning-fast service (order from a digital menu board, and then take a wireless tracker to your table), though if traditional waiter service is more your speed, there’s that too. Food-wise, the focus is on healthful, fresh fare, with the menus at both locations brimming with veggie-driven dishes (for the most part, produce is sourced locally) like kale slaw and grilled artichokes, in addition to comfort staples like matzo ball soup and close to a dozen burger variations (the turkey burger is a GP favorite). There's also a location in Gold Coast.
230 W. Kinzie St., River North
The first thing you need to know about Gilt Bar is that it’s not a bar—it’s a full-on restaurant, with a pared-down menu of small-plates that rarely eclipse the $20 mark. Here you’ll find pork meatballs, ramp risotto, and steak tartare served on toast. What’s more, there is an actual bar downstairs. It’s called Curio, and with its candlelit, subterranean vibe, and impressive classic cocktail selection, it’s arguably the best date spot in town.
464 N. Halsted St., River North
A collaboration between a chef and a wine connoisseur, Chef Tony Priolo and Ciro Longobardo opened Piccolo Sogno in 2008. The modern and rustic Italian food is all about the freshest, seasonal ingredients and Italian wines. The best seats in the house, especially in the summer, are in their quiet outdoor patio.
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