The Chicago restaurant scene has been booming over the last few years, with new spots popping up almost daily. Spend your extra summertime daylight hours exploring some of the city’s best eats, from neighborhood classics to trendy newcomers — the bikini body is a myth anyway. Here’s where to kick back with good food and good beer this summer in the Windy City.Read More
Where to Eat and Drink in Chicago This Summer
1. Sun Wah BBQ
This Hong Kong-style barbecue restaurant has been around practically forever (okay, since 1986), but it took until 2018 for the James Beard Foundation to take notice and honor it with the America’s Classic award. Even before that, though, Uptown residents knew that Sun Wah was the place to come for their famous Beijing Duck Feast, complete with duck soup and duck fried rice. The family-owned favorite offers more than just duck, of course: There’s also a choose-your-own-adventure noodle cart, as well as options like fried pig intestine for any offal fans out there.
With its creative blend of Korean and American culinary influences, Avondale’s Parachute is a no-brainer for any Chicago foodie. Former Top Chef contestant Beverly Kim opened the restaurant with her husband, Johnny Clark, in 2014, and the accolades, including a Michelin star and some James Beard award love, came rolling in. Menu staples like the baked potato bing bread are always available, along with a series of rotating dishes that run the gamut from beef tartare with ramps to duck hearts. A thoughtful wine list, as well as a fun selection of beers, cocktails, and non-alcoholic beverages round out the experience.
3. Fat Rice
Have you ever had Macanese food? Don’t be embarrassed if the answer is no; the tiny region of Macau isn’t as well-known as other parts of China. But now is the time to remedy that, because this Portuguese-influenced food is like nothing else you’ve ever tried. Fat Rice touts Macanese food as “arguably the first fusion cuisine,” and that’s easy to see in dishes like the guisado de grao, a chickpea stew with cured salt cod and plantains. The restaurant also includes a bakery, for specialties like Portuguese egg tarts, and a cocktail lounge called the Ladies’ Room. Fat Rice has a seriously awesome Instagram, so that you can get yourself even more excited for the experience.
4. Cozy Corner Restaurant and Pancake House
Cozy Corner has several outposts in Chicago, but perhaps none is as beloved as its Logan Square iteration. Located just off the California Blue Line stop, the diner specializes in outstanding versions of classic Mexican and American breakfast food, with both chilaquiles and country fried steak available from 6 am until 4 pm. (There’s even a nod to the surrounding neighborhood with the “Hipster Benedict”: biscuits, sausage, and gravy, served benedict-style.) Wash it all down with a Goose Island 312 — because breakfast beer is totally a thing now.
5. Mindy’s Hot Chocolate
Of course you come to Hot Chocolate for the dessert (and hot chocolate), but to ignore the rest of the menu at James Beard winner Mindy Segal’s eponymous restaurant would be a mistake. This Bucktown classic has been drawing in crowds since it opened in 2005, due in large part to having a savory selection that’s just as impressive as the sweet; in addition to a killer brunch menu that includes Mindy’s housemade bagels, the signature mac and cheese on the dinner menu is not to be missed. Add in a smattering of classic cocktails and a well-chosen beer and wine list and you have a practically perfect meal.
6. Café Marie-Jeanne
Since opening two years ago on Humboldt Park’s California Corridor, the stretch of California Avenue that includes several other hip-but-homey spots, including the Rootstock, where Café Marie-Jeanne chef and co-owner Mike Simmons used to work, has been a critical darling. A French-inspired menu that somehow combines decadence and comfort food (think seared foie gras and griddle cakes for breakfast) is dished up alongside a stellar drink list, with a beer selection that’s a nice balance of European and local. Don’t miss the $36 prix-fixe meal on Wednesdays — it’s one of the best deals in town.
7. Girl & The Goat
Chef Stephanie Izard may have a small fleet of restaurants now, but Girl and the Goat is the original. This family-style spot has been packed since it opened in 2010, even when it was one of the only places open on what is now Randolph’s saturated Restaurant Row. The menu is divided up into sections including vegetables, fish, and goats (of course), so people of all dietary persuasions can visit, knowing that they’re guaranteed to find something delicious available. A beer list that highlights local Chicago brews, like the Goose Island Summer Hours lager, complements the creative, approachable food perfectly.
8. Parlor Pizza Bar
Parlor’s Neapolitan-inspired pizzas have been a hit in Wicker Park ever since the new location of this local chain opened up in 2016. With a rotating selection of specialty pizzas, as well as a DIY option, the chewy, individual-sized pies are beloved by everyone from families to late-night bargoers. Like the original location, the Wicker Park outpost has a large patio and an even larger beer selection, with both unusual options and “tried and true classics” like Goose Island’s Sofie farmhouse ale. And don’t forget the “Tacolato” dessert menu, which is sweet taco shells filled with gelato, sauces, and toppings like gummy worms, hazelnuts, and jellybeans, just to name a few.
9. Emporium Wicker Park
All right, nerds, listen up: you can talk about the ethics of AI in Westworld all night, but we know what you really want is to play 90s arcade games and skeeball until your eyes cross. That’s where the original Emporium Arcade Bar location in Wicker Park comes in. Go nuts on any of the 14 pinball machines while you try out a few of the 24 rotating draft beers from breweries like local favorite Goose Island. Grab a date or a group of friends and get ready to relive some childhood memories.
10. Publican Anker
The group behind the Violet Hour, Dove’s Luncheonette, Big Star, and more continues its takeover of Wicker Park’s Six Corners with Publican Anker, an American gastropub located in the former Francesca’s Forno space. Publican Anker is more bar-focused than the Publican, its sister restaurant, with a larger wine program. That doesn’t mean that they’ve abandoned their stellar beer list, though, with interesting selections like the Goose Island Bourbon County Barleywine, among others. Vegetarians may want to plan to eat elsewhere, because they’re not going to find much on the meat-heavy menu that includes roasted chicken with escargot sausage and octopus ceviche. And if you’re feeling adventurous, there’s always the duck-heart toast on the weekend brunch menu.
11. Links Taproom
Links Taproom is so serious about you getting the beer you want that they have live monitors on their website telling you how full their kegs are. There are brews from all over the country, but the focus is on Midwestern pours, like their Goose Island Next Coast IPA. There’s also a special list of reserve and barrel-aged bottles, perfect for if you’re looking to impress some hop-head buddies.
12. Kaiser Tiger
A bit off the beaten Restaurant Row path, this west-West Loop restaurant is a temple to all things sausage-and-bacon. There’s even a Bacon Board featuring four different types of the smoky meat, alongside various accoutrements. Their signature dish, the Bomb, is five pounds of spicy beef and pork sausage stuffed with pepper bacon and wrapped in a brown sugar bacon weave, which is then smoked and served up either whole, or by the slice as a sandwich. With all that salty, spicy, smoky goodness, you’re going to need something to wash it down. Luckily, Kaiser Tiger has an extensive beer list, including the hard-to-find Goose Island Juliet 2015, a tart, sour ale aged with blackberries in Cabernet barrels.
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