- Daphne Chen
There is no shortage of fancy or innovative cocktails in Chicago, but sometimes it’s nice to take a break from mixed drinks, and focus instead on the complexity and elegance of a fine wine. The collection of wine bars on this list are incredibly diverse, ranging from casual to upscale, cozy to sprawling, local to internationally focused. Here are our 10 must visit wine bars in Chicago.
RM Champagne Salon
RM Champagne Salon is a touch of luxury in an unexpected location. Nestled in the back of an alley, the bar sits on an expansive open patio dotted with small tables and bright blue chairs. The initials stand for ‘récoltants manipulants’, a term for grower champagnes. Founded by the people behind Nellcôte and Old Town Social, RM’s carefully selected wines are primarily French, with a relatively extensive collection of rosé. To accompany the drinks are incredible French-inspired dishes, such as crispy oysters, a Brie and spring pea crepe, and signature mignardises. For colder days, the indoor seating is equally as elegant, with a cozy feel enhanced by vintage Moroccan lamps, making RM Champagne an accessible getaway all year.
RM Champagne Salon, 116 N. Green St., Chicago, IL, USA , +1 312 243 1199
Webster’s Wine Bar
Webster’s Wine Bar has one of the largest wine selections in the city, with around 20 different wines available by the glass, and over 500 bottles in the cellar. If you’re overwhelmed by the choices, which include rare, limited-quantity wines, then a knowledgeable staff will guide patrons through the selection. The space itself, which the bar recently relocated to, is filled with wooden tables and minimalist lights. In addition to its incredible wine collection, Webster’s has an extensive beer list and delicious small plates, ranging from seafood to pastries and pie. Various tastings, specials, and artist events pop up throughout the year, making this one of the best places to have a relaxing night with friends.
Webster’s Wine Bar, 2601 N. Milwaukee Ave, Chicago, IL, USA, +1 773 292 9463
Ada Street is a minimalist, quasi-hipster wine bar that appears on almost every Chicagoan’s top list. Its wine selection is sourced primarily from California and Napa Valley, though there are also plenty of options from France, Argentina, and Spain. Its specialty cocktails combine unexpected, summery flavors, like the memorable Killing Floor 10, made with jalapeno-infused tequila and watermelon. The menu is equally as ambitious, featuring contemporary American small plates including Denver lamb ribs, roasted Brussels sprouts, and sweet pretzel-bread pudding. One visit to this casual yet elegant bar will be enough to confirm its rightful place amongst the best in Chicago.
Ada Street, 1664 N. Ada St., Chicago, IL, USA, +1 773 697 7069
Tucked underneath the restaurant Francesca’s on Chestnut, DiSotto Enoteca’s rustic and elegant atmosphere reflects its name, which means ‘underground wine bar’ in Italian. Dim lights cast a pale, golden glow onto its stone walls, and the bottles fill a sprawling wooden shelf. Its well-curated collection features over 100 wines, primarily from France, Italy, Spain, and the US, and its cocktails are botanically infused with ingredients like blue lotus and Helichrysam flowers. In addition to the homemade pastas and cured meats hanging in the back, DiSotto Enoteca is known for its truffled-egg toast with shaved asparagus and Fontina cheese. The place especially welcomes restaurant and nightclub employees, so its longer hours mean more time to luxuriate in fantastic food and drink.
DiSotto Enoteca, 200 E. Chestnut St., Chicago, IL, USA, +1 312 482 8727
D.O.C. Wine Bar
The initials of this bar stand for Denominaziane di Origine Controllata, an Italian term that refers to wines fitting certain geographic and process standards. D.O.C. Wine Bar has an incredible selection of wine bottles and flights, as well as spirits and beer. Small plates, like Belgian fries, grilled sweetcorn, and bacon pizza, highlight fresh ingredients, and different cow’s milk cheeses and cured meats round out the boards. The interior of the bar is cozy and decked out with a fireplace, couches, and wooden floors. On different days D.O.C. features food and drink specials, for example $10 wine flights on Sundays, and discounted bottles on Mondays, making it an affordable and fun place to enjoy some great wine.
D.O.C. Wine Bar, 2602 N. Clark St., Chicago, IL, USA, +1 773 883 5101
Enolo Wine Cafe
Enolo Wine Cafe focuses on wines from small vineyards, sold by the glass, bottle, or three-wine flight. The relatively short menu is an accessible collection of well-curated, elegant wines, with pre-selected flights featuring different flavor profiles – crisp and vibrant, floral and fruity, textured and complex. A favorite on the food menu is its bruschetta, which comes with sophisticated toppings, such as pesto-cured salmon with fried capers, and brie with lavender honey. Other tasty bites include crispy smelts and stuffed squash blossoms. The interior of the bar is bright and unique, with a golden ceiling, textured walls, dangling chandeliers, and an open kitchen. With its accessible menu and incredible food, Enolo is one of the best places for casual wine fans.
Enolo Wine Cafe, 450 N. Clark St., Chicago, IL, USA, +1 224 325 4989
Perhaps the most unique component of Gather is that it strives to foster a familiar, open atmosphere. Patrons are encouraged to sit at the kitchen counter, where they can watch the chefs prepare their dishes up close. The food and drink reflects Gather’s community approach, placing emphasis on local products and accessible wine picks. Among its fresh new American dishes are steamed manila clams, steak tartare, and Arctic char, as well as an incredible smoked-salmon board. The food offers clever and innovative flavor parings with its curated assortment of European wines. On Sundays, Gather offers a family-style dinner complete with sides and dessert. For a homely yet sophisticated bar experience, this place is second-to-none.
Gather Chicago, 4539 N. Lincoln Ave., Chicago, IL, USA, +1 773 506 9300
Rootstock Wine & Beer Bar
Founded by former employees of Webster’s Wine Bar, Rootstock is an intimate yet casual place to meet up with friends. The bar features handpicked small-production wine and beers, with extra consideration for organic, local, and biodynamic farming. Plenty of wines are available by the glass, with an incredible selection of rarer bottles in stock. Rootstock’s passion shines through in its personal, detailed descriptions of the origins and complex flavors of each wine. The place also has an extensive selection of charcuterie and cheese boards, as well as Spanish and French influenced small bites that play on fresh, upscale ingredients like foie gras and marinated boquerones.
Rootstock Wine & Beer Bar, 954 N. California Ave, Chicago, IL, USA, +1 773 292 1616
Vera is a Spanish-style wine bar nestled in the West Loop, one of the hippest culinary areas in Chicago. Consistently named one of the best in the city, the bar stocks an incredible selection of seasonal wines and sherries. Though its food menu may be relatively small, the complexity and range of flavors available is comprehensive. Along with drinks, Vera serves generous portions of traditional tapas with bright flavors, including tangy tomato bread, smoky octopus, and salty aged manchego. The interior is intimate and casual, with soft lighting and a glistening counter. As a bonus, Vera offers cooking and wine classes that guide attendees through the nuances of different flavor pairings, expanding the bar experience beyond the immediate drink.
Vera, 1023 W. Lake St, Chicago, IL, USA, +1 312 243 9770
Zia’s Lago Vista
An offshoot of acclaimed restaurant Zia Trattoria in Edison Park, Lago Vista shares the same amazing food, while also honing appreciation for wine. The place is modeled after Italian wine bars, and features high ceilings, draping curtains, and tasteful chandeliers, as well as a giant horseshoe bar. The wine selection, which sits in a beautiful glass room in the dining area, emphasizes bottles from Napa Valley, California, and Italy. The food menu is more extensive than most, complete with gluten-free options and a Sunday brunch dedicated to the Chicago Bears. On Fridays, selected wines go for $5 a glass and $20 a bottle, making Lago Vista the perfect place to head to after a busy week at work.
Zia’s Lago Vista, 3819 N. Ashland Ave., Chicago, IL, USA, +1 773 883 0808