- CHICAGO -
Rain, wind, or shine– Chicago has some of the best eats in the nation. Here’s your guide to the best of ‘em.
Oh, and a few other activities, if you’re so inclined.
BUT FIRST, BRUNCH
Lula | 2537 N Kedzie Ave
Logan Square is the center of Chicago’s food revolution, and Lula is its leader. This hip spot is king at brunch, (but you can’t go wrong for lunch or dinner there as well) with great tunes, spicy bloody marys, and a menu that demands you order one of everything.
Little Goat | 820 W Randolph St
The little sister to the infamous Girl & The Goat, Little Goat is easier to get in to, and perfect for a casual brunch bite. Inventive dishes and comfort food classics grace the menu.
3 Greens Market | 354 W Hubbard St
The perfect stop when you’re on the go. Excellent espressos, great grab & go and plenty of comfy spots to plop down with your latte.
Free Rein | 224 N Michigan Ave
Beautiful restaurant in the historic Carbon and Carbide Building, which is worth visiting for the architecture alone– but the biscuits benny and creamy oat milk lattes don’t hurt, either.
Bang Bang Pie & Biscuits | 2051 N California Ave in Logan Square & 4947 N Damen Ave in Ravenswood
A summer in Chicago MUST. Biscuits galore with all the toppings you can dream of, and pie to wash it down. Because at brunch, there are no rules.
The Allis at Soho House | 113-125 N Green St
This Instagram haven actually delivers on food: the warm coconut pudding has all the crunchy toppings you can hope for, and the stunning surroundings– tall chandeliers, eclectic art, oriental rugs, comfy seating– will make you want to hang out all morning long.
Floriole | 1220 W Webster Ave
This bakery is a dream: Paris-level perfection graces the pastry case in the coziest setting with exposed brick walls and great patio seating for enjoying warm Chicago summer days.
Dusek’s | 1227 W 18th St
The real power lunch, because you can– for real– show up here for a killer soup and sandwich, day drink all day from an impressive beer list, stick around for a Michelin starred dinner, and if you’re still standing– see a show afterwards at Thalia Hall. If you can manage, grab a boozy punch bowl downstairs at Punch House.
Chicken & Farm Shop | 113-125 N Green St
Sure to conquer any appetite, country style fried chicken sandwiches towering with pickles– or, heck, a whole dang rotisserie bird– will leave your lunch crew fat & happy.
Blue Door Farm Stand | 2010 N Halsted St
This place checks all the boxes: great spot to take the parents, a client, or your girlfriends for a healthy and hearty lunch. Think perfectly executed farm-to-table classics like grilled cheese, cobb salad, crab cakes, fried chicken sliders– all of the above paired perfectly with a crisp rosé.
Middlebrow Bungalow | 2840 W Armitage Ave
A new favorite, this experimental brewery opened shop in a darling Logan Square bungalow, and fires up housemade bread (for yummy toast options like prickly pear jelly and ricotta) and pizzas all day long. Drink all the beer to wash it down.
Small Cheval | 1732 N Milwaukee Ave & 150 N Riverside Plaza & 1345 N Wells St
The little sibling to the infamous Au Cheval, Small Cheval slings mouthwatering burgers, without the wait.
WINE & DINE
Duck Duck Goat | 857 W Fulton Market
Celeb chef Stephanie Izard (Girl and the Goat, again!) transports you to an old school, upscale version of Chinatown with all of the Szechuan spice and snazzy cocktails you could hope for. Super fun spot to take a group and try lots of new things!
Daisies | 2523 N Milwaukee Ave
The most ideal place to spend the evening with a bottle of funky wine and a dining partner with an appetite. The inventive dishes here will stick with you for a long time. Order everything.
Monteverde | 1020 W Madison St
The sweetheart of Chicago’s Italian food scene, and for a reason. All of the rustic charm of Italy, without the jet lag.
Marisol | 205 E Pearson St
One of Chicago’s best hidden gems– the chef behind Lula Cafe runs this unassuming restaurant inside the Museum of Contemporary Art, and consistently delivers some of the best meals I’ve ever had.
Beatnik | 1604 W Chicago Ave
Quirky small plates and fun cocktails in seriously bohemian digs. Worth the visit for the decor alone!
Fat Rice | 2957 W Diversey Ave
The neighborhood party vibes are real here with the communal tables and bumpin’ music, but we’re really here for the dumplings.
Avec | 615 W Randolph St
Great spot for a date night that feels upscale and somehow like a local hangout at the same time, thanks to the close quarters.
RPM Italian | 52 W Illinois
A bit of a posh Italian mafia vibe (martini in hand practically feels mandatory), but the food is excellent– it’s an RPM establishment, after all.
Maude’s Liquor Bar | 840 W Randolph St
Like midnight in Paris, but with steak tartare worth writing a letter home to mom about.
Piccolo Sogno | 464 N Halsted St
A trip to Chicago in the warmer months is truly incomplete without a patio dinner here– the boisterous crowd, the twinkling string lights weaving into the trees– the atmosphere is almost ethereal. A perfect summer night.
El Che Steakhouse & Bar | 845 W Washington Blvd
Transport yourself to Argentina- this stylish bar serves wood-fired meats and creative South American cocktails.
The Dawson | 730 W Grand Ave
Lively spot with a big patio, plenty of seating and quick service.
Young American | 2545 N Kedzie Ave
Seriously inventive cocktails grace the menu here (you can even add CBD to make your morning a bit easier), and the decor feels like nothing else in Chicago– part 80’s day dream, with a bit of modern and lots of late night– you can easily kick off happy hour here or stay until the wee hours.
Estereo | 2450 N Milwaukee Ave
I would hang out here all day, every day, if I could somehow make that happen. It’s everything I want in a bar: everyone is friendly, the latin-inspired cocktail menu has more tequila and mezcal than you could dream of, and you might even spot a tamale vendor making his way through the crowd.
Cindy’s Rooftop | 12 S Michigan Ave
If rooftops are your jam, then you can’t beat the view at Cindy’s– it’s crowded when the sun’s out, a reservation is the way to go.
Bad Hunter | 2308, 802 W Randolph St temporarily closed due to fire
Great spot in West Loop to grab a fresh cocktail– the vegetable-centric restaurant channels garden fresh flavors into their drinks, many of which are low alcohol, so it’s a great spot to kick off your night before dinner.
SHOP, SEE, DO
There’s no shortage of great tourist activities in Chicago (yes, besides eating)– visiting museums, biking around the lake, shopping and people watching on Mag Mile– but here are a few special spots I love:
Farmers’ Markets | Lincoln Park on Saturdays & Logan Square on Sundays & SOAR on Tuesdays
From Lincoln Park to Logan Square, and even the little pop up markets like the SOAR Market in front of the Museum of Contemporary Art on Tuesdays, there’s nothing more fun than a summer day at the farmers’ market in Chicago.
Space 519 | 200 E Chestnut St
Tucked away near Mag Mile, Space 519 is a respite from the busily shopping hoards. The boutique boasts a fantastic selection of gifts, home wares, skincare, womens’ clothing and more– all top quality– but the real charm lies in the fact that you can stick around for a class of wine or a bite at the cafe.
Pilsen | 4.5 miles from downtown Chicago
Not only home to the epic Thalia Hall, this historic neighborhood has plenty of beautiful buildings to go see, and lots of neat little spots to explore like Shady & Rest Vintage & Vinyl, the Shudio for cute little planters and creative earrings, and Alapash New Home for unique home goods.
Jayson Home | 1885 N Clybourn Ave
If I had a magic lamp, I would spend all 3 wishes begging for the entire contents of Jayson Home. It is THE mecca for interior design, and their greenhouse is quite impressive as well.
Oak Street Beach | 1000 North Lake Shore Drive
Sitting on the beach with Lake Michigan and the skyline both in view all at once never gets old. Pack a picnic and some towels, and watch the sailboats go by.