Love Your City: Chicago - Dining
I’ve grown up a bit in the sense that when I travel, I don’t want to shop a lot, not for clothes or knick-knacks anyway. If I see something like a piece of unique jewelry or a scarf or blanket while I’m on vacation, then I will buy it. But I tend to buy souvenirs of the edible and drinkable kind - for myself and others. Therefore, it should come as no surprise that I like to dine out when I travel and I especially love living in a city that has such amazing dining options. Chicago is fantastic for foodies, for picky eaters, for people who have tried everything, children, etc! You can please anyone here.
So today, I’m talking about restaurants I love and have been to myself over and over, recommend to friends, and would send tourists to if I were stopped on the street. Diving right in, in no particular order, a few of my favorites.
A long standing favorite of mine. The bar selection (whiskey in particular) is amazing, the cocktail list is seasonal and ever-changing, yet if you’ve been there before and want something on the menu that is no longer on it, the bartenders will usually make it for you. They are attentive, knowledgeable, friendly, and make delicious libations. The food is also great and has a little something for everyone. The have a late menu because they’re connected to a hotel and even though they had a chef change in early summer, the online menu still has some of my favorites such as the pretzel bites, wagyu beef sliders, and the forest mushroom flatbread. My two favorite drinks are the War of the Roses and Elective Amnesia. Please note that this menu here is not the entire drink menu. The atmosphere is a little bit elegant but not stuffy and the crowd is always a good mix of locals, out-of-towners, and all ages. They also have televisions that are usually quiet, but if there is a game of importance, the sound will be on.They take reservations and are on Open Table. 505 N State Street, inside the Palomar hotel but has its own entrance. Serves brunch, lunch, dinner and alcohol.
Longman & Eagle
Fabulous drink menu, LOTS of whiskey (my favorite, can you tell?), really delicious and interesting food menu. Does not accept reservations but a front and back bar allow you to stay entertained and hydrated while you wait. Many other friends will attest to L&E’s deliciousness as well. The last time I was there, I loved the burger and I drank several of their whiskeys (the “where there’s smoke” flight is amazing) and I shared the pretzel appetizer with my friend. It is pretty dark in there, you will encounter couples of all ages and larger groups there, its in a hip neighborhood that is in its final stages of gentrifying, so you have a nice mix of nearly everyone you can imagine. This place is a neighborhood hotspot for a good reason and they do everything well. Interesting and creative food and cocktails, extensive liquor list, and a fabulous beer list that has many local beers and has a few Mikkellers (my new fave one to talk about since discovering it in Reykjavik). 2657 N Kedzie. Serves brunch daily, dinner from 5 pm and a limited bar menu from 3-5.
The epitome of a gastropub, in my opinion. Extensive beer list and a seasonal food menu that is so tasty - the cashew butter and fig jam sandwich (CBJ) and the duck reuben are my favorites! I love this place. I’ve taken many dates to Hopleaf who had never been there and even though none of the men have worked out, they at least were introduced to Hopleaf by me. So they should thank me for that! Hopleaf has as many imports as domestic beers, and a lot of local and Midwest beers and they even make mead! I tried it, I don’t need to ever drink it again. It is in a neighborhood on the far northside called Andersonville, a very quirky and fun area that was once the Swedish enclave of Chicago. You will see anyone and everyone at Hopleaf except children, no one under 21, no exceptions. It isn’t a bad rule and it is heavily enforced by the doorman, the same one who is always there. There are many great dives, bars, and restaurants within walking distance too. 5148 N Clark St, open every damn day from noon to 2 am, 3 am on Saturdays.