As thorough as our critics are, nobody knows the city’s restaurants, coffee shops, bars, stores, storefront theaters and music venues like Time Out readers.
With this in mind, back in October we launched the Love Chicago Awards to find out more about the local businesses that make your area of the city incredible. Now, after an intense voting period in which nearly 7,000 of you had your all-important say, it’s our great pleasure to reveal the restaurants you love above all others. There were a few close calls (and a few freakin’ landslides), but through it all one thing was clear: Chicagoans are truly passionate about their neighborhoods.
All of which just leaves us to say congratulations to all of this year’s winners, and a hearty thanks to everyone who voted. Now get out there and show your winners some love.
RECOMMENDED: Full list of Time Out Love Chicago Awards winners
Top local coffee shops
Seattle gave the world Starbucks, Oakland birthed Blue Bottle, but Chicago is the hometown of Intelligentsia (which now has outposts in New York and LA), where coffee is roasted and prepared with clinical precision. On an average weekday morning, you’ll find a line of Loop workers queued up at the shop’s two downtown locations while a team of baristas prepare cup after cup of pour-over coffee. It’s the rare caffeine fix that’s actually worth the wait.
Located just steps away from the Berwyn Red Line stop, Kitchen Sink is the kind of place where you can get a meal with your afternoon coffee. In addition to Metropolis Coffee, the homey Edgewater cafe serves housemade sandwiches, soups and salads. With plenty of seating (including an outdoor patio, when the weather is nice) and free wi-fi with purchase, it’s a great place to spend a productive afternoon.
Don’t let the bikes in the window fool you—this Lakeview shop applies the same level of care to its coffee as it does to its handcrafted frames and Italian leather seats. Sit down at the communal table with a cup of Stumptown java, enjoy a pastry sourced from the nearby Southport Grocery and observe as master craftsmen construct tricked-out rides.
When Brendan Sodikoff opened this River North spot, Chicago’s doughnut craze was still in its infancy. Now, the Doughnut Vault has a roaming van and a second location near the French Market, each serving a rotating selection of glazed treats and cups of Bow Truss Coffee. You may have to wait in line, but we can think of few better ways to start the day than with some fried dough and a cup of joe.
Pilsen's cozy hidden gem has a full-service espresso bar, a super-rich hot chocolate and a rotating selection of sandwiches and pastries (plus it’s BYOB). With lots of art and an eclectic assortment of furnishings, it’s an ideal place to settle in for the day.
If doughnuts and coffee make the ultimate pairing, then the combination of coffee and pie is a close second. At Bang Bang Pie, the kitchen’s crusty creations are the main attraction, but they’re complemented by coffee roasted at the nearby Gaslight Coffee. Don’t let the weekend lines scare you away—you owe it to yourself to sit down with a slice and a cup of joe at this Logan Square institution.
In West Town, Dark Matter Coffee is the premier vendor of caffeinated beverages, but not even the area’s residents could decide which of the brand’s shops is superior. Dark Matter’s “Mothership” is a small shop set up in the front of the brand’s roasting facility that specializes in to-go orders. Around the corner, Star Lounge Coffee Bar offers creative concoctions made with Dark Matter beans, Do-Rite Donuts and ample seating for laptop loungers.