After a long day of shopping and sightseeing in Chicago, settle in for a slap up feast at one of our favourite North Side eateries.
Gibson's Bar and Steakhouse
Restaurant, Bar, Steakhouse, $$$
Interior of Five O'Clock Steakhouse | Courtesy of Five O'Clock Steakhouse
Located in the center of a major shopping district, Gibsons is a great place to settle in for a drink, appetizer or full meal after a day of trying on clothes. Better still, Gibsons lies next to its sister restaurant, the seafood-focused Hugo’s Frog and Fish House. Customers at either location are welcome to order from both menus.
Maple and Ash is a steakhouse with an innovative spin | Courtesy of Maple and Ash
Your meal at this upscale steakhouse is in the expert hands of chef Danny Grant, who has two Michelin stars. In 2016, Maple and Ash was also recognized as one of America’s Best Wine Restaurants. Not only is the restaurant known for its outstanding customer service but also for its dedication to ensuring that its customers have a good time. If you’re looking for a fun and festive night out, Maple and Ash is the place for you.
Located inside The Drake Hotel, this seductive bar and restaurant was the second establishment to receive a liquor license in Chicago in post-Prohibition 1933 (see The Berghoff Restaurant above for the first!). Every weekend, patrons are treated to live piano music at Coq D’Or, a name that means “young rooster.” Coq D’Or has partnered with FEW Spirits, a distillery nearby, to create a delectable rye whiskey; you could even join the bar’s Whiskey Business club that offers members exclusive invitations to tastings throughout the year. Another perk? Philadelphia’s Bookbinder restaurant, which has been in business since 1865, has allowed Coq D’Or to serve its incredible red snapper soup since 1930. A perfect blend of tomato, roux, and fish, the soup was voted best in the city. This is certainly a swanky, classic Chicago spot for expertly mixed cocktails and a taste of the city’s history.
It’s impossible not to notice the distinct lean of The Green Door Tavern. Built in 1872, right after the Great Chicago Fire of 1871, this is one of the only wooden commercial structures still standing in downtown Chicago. Just after being built, the building settled, resulting in its signature tilt. In 1921, the establishment transitioned from a grocery store into a restaurant and bar. The iconic pub got its name because its front door was painted green during Prohibition, an indication liquor could be found somewhere inside. Today, the restaurant serves delicious food and patrons can sit at the bar on some of the stools original to the 1921 establishment. The walls—and ceilings—are also covered in memorabilia from years past, effectively creating three dimensional wallpaper along every wooden panel. For those with a taste for adventure, head to the basement and into The Drifter, a tiny speakeasy space reminiscent of the 1920s. Who knows what you might find inside…
As the sign outside says, Velvet Taco is open really late, but that’s not the only reason to head to this Gold Coast hotspot. Its range of exotic and unusual tacos features such exciting options as spicy tikka chicken, Nashville hot tofu, fried paneer, shrimp and grits and fish n’ chips. Don’t forget to accompany them with tater tots, a slab of red velvet cake and a margarita.
For something a bit hotter, Chicago has two The Halal Guys locations, with the Gold Coast restaurant your best option for late-night eats as it stays open until 4 a.m. on Fridays and Saturdays. Evolving from a single hot dog stand in N.Y.C., this chain has since spread across the U.S. and Asia, selling sandwiches and platters of beef gyro, falafel and chicken, accompanied by hummus, baba ganouj and its famous white and hot sauce.
I|O Godfrey is not as high up as some of the other rooftops in the city, but it’s a swanky spot to hang with your friends where you can still feel the pulse of the city. This rooftop is open year round, and we recommend ordering the lobster Benedict, vegetable spring rolls or the charcoal grilled octopus.
It’s with good reason that Portillo’s has long been a cheap-eats staple in Chicago; the beloved Chicago-style hotdogs are no more than $4 and piled high with mustard, relish, celery salt, chopped onions, tomatoes, a kosher pickle and sport peppers. The rest of the fast-food-centric menu is just as wallet-friendly, peppered with the likes of a char-broiled chicken sandwich ($5.29), an Italian beef sandwich ($6.29), crinkle-cut fries ($2.69) and a chocolate cake shake ($4.29), which is actually blitzed with ice cream and a slice of chocolate cake.
Inside The Drake Hotel, lies an extraordinary restaurant called Palm Court. Palm Court is known for having the most beautiful afternoon tea experience and The Drake has been hosting tea for about a century. History has been made here because of visitors like Princess Diana and Queen Elizabeth. With over 17 different options of tea and accommodating dietary options, this is an enjoyable affair for any occasion. Finally, you can expect a live harp to be playing in the Palm Court everyday except Monday and Tuesday.
This bar and restaurant mixes up the typical nightlife scene in Chicago’s River North neighborhood. Patrons can eat delicious pub food (or amazing brunch options on the weekends) while playing one of 65 vintage arcade games. Plus, the Bloody Marys are insane. Along with pickled veggies like green beans and asparagus, the skewer sticking out of the glass includes meat, cheese, and a full White Castle slider. It’s called the Slip ‘n Slider. A word of warning: Don’t stop at the skewer! The basil and garlic-infused vodka mixed with a homemade tomato concoction with lashings of Sriracha and horseradish is just as tasty – if not more so – as that slider.
This gastropub on the Near North Side has just opened inside a stunningly refurbished 129-year-old building, and the signs are good for Belgian fans. It has two levels and 56 taps, with an exciting selection of Belgians and Wilds, and a decent bottle and can list. The chef has come from Hopleaf, and knows a thing or two about pairing food and beer.
The unsung heroes at Pacific Standard Time are the kitchen’s wood-burning hearths. Soft, pull-apart milk rolls peppered with every bagel spice are yanked out of the fire, golden brown and prepped to be slathered with whipped cream cheese. The breakfast pizza and wood-fired pita, too, are blistered and charred in the oven, delicately crispy and hot. The rest of the menu leans into west coast cooking: bright, citrus salad, okonomiyaki (a Japanese pancake) with kimchi and scallions, and dreamy seven-spice beer bacon.
Since 1961 Butch McGuire’s has been serving up a healthy dose of Christmas spirit on the Gold Coast. All year round they’re a fantastic Irish bar with delicious food and a friendly atmosphere, but the winter is something special. Every year they decorate the bar with ‘a stunning array of lights, garland, quirky mobiles, and two double-decker trains that run throughout the main bar and antique room,’ in what has become a definitive Chicago Christmas tradition. Don’t miss it.
True Food Kitchen caters to a wealth of people, including carnivores, vegetarians and those who are dairy- or gluten-free. The expansive sit-down restaurant serves up elevated café fare such as a cauliflower polenta bowl rife with asparagus and snap peas; an inside-out quinoa burger swiped with hummus and tzatziki; and a spaghetti squash casserole layered with tomatoes, zucchini and mozzarella. Each dish is marked with a ‘v,’ ‘gf,’ or ‘veg,’ so you’ll know exactly what you can order.
Now with three locations, Beatrix continues to serve the Chicago community with vegetable-centric fare. Whether you come for breakfast, brunch, lunch or dinner, there’s always something for non-meat eaters. For brunch, plates of quinoa cakes crowned with poached eggs fly out of the kitchen, and at dinner, you’ll want to snack on soft local burrata prepped with oven-dried tomatoes and a vegan eggplant steak showered with breadcrumbs tinged with garlic. On your way out, stop by the coffee and pastry bar, where you can pick up sweets like honey-butter cinnamon rolls, candied orange scones and butterscotch oatmeal cookies.