Time Out Love Chicago Awards 2014: Near North Side

A locals' guide to the Near North Side. Here are the area’s top stores, bars, coffee shops, music venues and restaurants
By Time Out contributors, edited by Laura Baginski |
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Time Out readers have spoken, and below are the venues they named their absolute favorite in Old Town, River North, Streeterville, Mag Mile and Gold Coast. So the next time you’re on the Near North Side and in need of food, drink or retail therapy, make a beeline for these places and you won’t go wrong.

RECOMMENDED: Full list of Time Out Love Chicago Awards winners

The winners

GT Fish & Oyster
PhotographL: Eric Kleinberg
Restaurants, Seafood

RESTAURANT: GT Fish & Oyster

icon-location-pin River North

While Lake Michigan provides a beautiful view and plenty of summertime leisure activities, it does not grant us the seafood treasures of coastal cities. GT fills that void by providing us with one of the best places to eat seafood in Chicago. You can find every creature from the sea here—there are oysters on the half shell, creamy clam chowder, buttery lobster rolls and grilled prawns. Close your eyes and you might even believe you’re eating on the shore.

Berkshire Room
Photograph: Martha Williams
Bars, Lounges

BAR: Berkshire Room

icon-location-pin River North

The Berkshire Room is a comforting oasis in the bustle of River North. Its cocktails and bar snacks will help you easily pass the time between work and dinner or help you relax after a long afternoon of shopping. Just tell the bartender your desired spirit, flavor profile and glassware, and he’ll take care of everything.

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417.rb.ft.sodikoff.sb.DoughnutVault1xSS.jpg
Photograph: Martha Williams
Restaurants, Cafés

COFFEE SHOP: Doughnut Vault

icon-location-pin River North

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.

Shopping, Specialist food and drink

SHOP: The Spice House

icon-location-pin Old Town

That heavenly, heady smell of spices on this stretch of Old Town can be attributed to Patty Erd, the daughter of Milwaukee’s royal spice family, the Penzeys. Patty and husband Tom inherited the biz, expanded to Chicago and have been the go-to for bakers and cooks seeking seasoning for decades. Stock up on staples like sea salt and whole peppercorns, plus learn the difference between cinnamons (there are many) while splurging on saffron and snacking on crystallized ginger.

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Underground02.Venue.jpg
Photograph: Max Herman
Bars, Lounges

MUSIC VENUE: The Underground

icon-location-pin River North

When you're talking Near North Side, you're talking night clubs. And when you're talking night clubs, you're talking popularity, bodies, cocktails…a lot more than music. Billy Dec's Rockit Ranch Productions revamped this River North dance destination in 2013. Primary, Spy Bar and Sound-Bar may lure in bigger-name DJs from far afield, but this pretty-people haven won your vote with its dedication to the local scene, throwing modern house weeklies like the Every Damn Wednesday parties and Chicago Industry Alliance Sundays.

View winners by category

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