Ada St. An unmarked brick facade on an industrial stretch between Elston and the river is an unlikely destination for restaurateurs David Morton and Michael Kornick, who also own DMK Burger Bar and Fish Bar. But it’s here that they’ve brought together small plates (such as fried quail) from chef Zoe Schor and an extensive cocktail and wine program. 1664 N Ada St (773-697-7069).
The Barrelhouse Flat You come to the Barrelhouse Flat for cocktails—it’s one of the finest drinking establishments in the city, thanks to head bartender Stephen Cole’s list of 70 classics that range from familiar (whiskey sour) to arcane (Jimmie Roosevelt, anyone?). But you stay at the Barrelhouse Flat for the food, a short but thoughtful menu from chef Nick Hertel, who has skeptics eating their words with every delicious bite of pig-face poutine and blue-cheese-and-mushroom beignets. 2624 N Lincoln Ave (773-857-0421).
Barn & Company Just like Grand Central here before it, Barn & Company knows its demographic and slays it, giving the young, drunk and hungry sports fans a place to drop their dough (not to mention a solid beer and whiskey list to spend it on). There’s “redneck sangria” in mason jars, dated Southern music playing and a menu of barbecue (baby-back ribs, pulled pork, smoked Texas sausage) created by local expert Gary Wiviott. 950 W Wrightwood Ave (773-832-4000).
Derby Horse racing is the theme at this genteel sports bar, where woefully sweet mint juleps are made with Woodford bourbon and shaved-to-order ice, the menu speaks of Hot Brown sandwiches, and the fine-looking bar is built of polished dark wood. As for the crowd, the upwardly mobile young professionals have no interest in nor trouble with the Bourbon County motif, as long as the game is on the screen and a cold beer is in hand. 1224 W Webster Ave (773-248-0900).
Linkin House Reasons you might go to this multilevel Lincoln Park bar: You’re looking for a quick drink before heading to the movies at Webster Place. You’re curious what the deal is with a place that plays both NBA games and house music. Or you’ve been waiting your whole life for a burger topped with Nutella. (That last part is, unfortunately, not a joke.). 2142 N Clybourn Ave (773-857-1111).
The Local Option Though it’s nestled on a quiet, treelined street, this is anything but your average Lincoln Park bar. The drafts (which rotate weekly) are a suds-geek’s dream come true, the stereo is heavy on metal, and the bartenders (often owner Tony Russomanno and manager Noah Hopkins, who are experienced brewers themselves) know their shit, making this one of the most underrated beer bars in the city. Translation: Expect lots of beards. 1102 W Webster Ave (773-348-2008).