A lifelong resident of the Chicago area, Emma writes about dining, events, local news, cultural curios and other happenings throughout the city. Prior to joining Time Out she lived in Berlin for a year, where she reported on gentrification issues and European politics for the English-language radio station KCRW Berlin. Emma is a serial hobbyist and loves watching movies, attempting new recipes and ambling around the city on foot.
February 2024 events calendar for Chicago
It may be the shortest month of the year, but you'll find that February is still jam-packed with stuff to do in Chicago—especially because some of the city's beloved annual events will be taking place. Grab discounted tickets to acclaimed shows during Chicago Theatre Week or woo your significant other on Valentine's Day in Chicago. Later in the month, celebrate the Lunar New Year in Chicago and strip down to your unmentionables for a good cause during the annual Cupid's Undie Run. Looking for even more stuff to do? Get ready to make the most out of the month of love with our February 2024 events guide. RECOMMENDED: Events calendar for Chicago in 2024
The 23 best spas in Chicago
The stresses of day-to-day life pile up fast. Luckily, Chicago is home to a selection of world-class spas designed to loosen your tightened muscles, invigorate your senses and whisk your worries away (if only for a few blissful hours). Choose your own relaxation adventure: Our favorite Chicago spas run the gamut from a luxury hotel spot outfitted with private napping nooks and splurge-y massage offerings to affordable bathhouses where you can spend the day sauna-hopping and unwinding on a budget. You’ll even find intriguingly niche options among our list, like a Japanese-style spa dedicated to doling out head and scalp treatments. Whether you’re looking for romantic things to do in Chicago, planning an upcoming bachelorette party or craving a bit of solo serenity, explore Chicago’s best spas and prepare for some much needed R&R. RECOMMENDED: The best spa hotels in Chicago
Where to find the best paczki in Chicago for Fat Tuesday
Fat Tuesday is right around the corner and you know what that means: paczki. These pillowy, sugar-coated Polish doughnuts (pronounced "poonch-key" or "punch-key") are typically reserved for the last day before Lenten season and in Chicago, you’ll be able to find them at many of the best bakeries. They come with a variety of delectable fillings, ranging from classics like raspberry jelly and chocolate custard to unique flavors such as limoncello, and are simply irresistible. Whether you’re grabbing one to enjoy with your morning coffee or picking up a box for the office, we strongly suggest ordering ahead because places will sell out. So indulge in some of the best donuts in Chicago when you order paczki from the following bakeries. RECOMMENDED: Discover more of the most popular Mardi Gras foods
The best children's museums in Chicago that kids and adults will love
Whether it's too cold, hot or rainy, children's musuems in Chicago can save the day when it comes to keeping little ones occupied. The Chicagoland area is home to several institutions that cater to kids with dynamic and educational exhibits. Options skyrocket when considering most of Chicago's top museums have programming specifically for children. Check out the best children's museums in Chicago for hands-on learning disguised as play, and be sure to explore our full guide to the best kid-friendly things to do in Chicago. RECOMMENDED: Discover the best kid-friendly restaurants in Chicago
21 Michelin-starred restaurants in Chicago
When it comes to dining out, Chicagoans are positively spoiled. As of 2023, the city is home to 21 Michelin-starred kitchens that range from one of the best Mexican restaurants in Chicago and a beloved Filipino-American spot to a fine dining Indian concept. One of the fanciest breweries in Chicago even made the list. And eating at a Michelin-starred restaurant doesn't mean dropping an entire paycheck on a meal—there are a handful of relatively affordable options on this year's lineup. What's the deal with a tire company handing out stars to restaurant? The Michelin Guide (which began as a physical book issued to drivers) assesses the best restaurants in Chicago on a number of criteria, but the coveted stars are awarded based on quality of food alone. Inspectors look for top-notch ingredients, mastery of flavor and cooking techniques, the personality of the chef in his or her cuisine, overall value and consistency. One star represents high quality cooking that's worth a stop; two stars indicate excellent cuisine that's worth a detour; and three stars denote exceptional cuisine that's worthy of a special journey. With all of that in mind, take a look at the Chicago restaurants that earned Michelin stars for 2023.
15 best places offering virtual classes and workshops in Chicago
Want to try out some new skills? Whether you've already got jars of sourdough starter stored away in your kitchen cabinets or you're looking to dip your toes into the world of at-home hobbies for the first time, you've come to the right place—online classes are some of the best things to do in Chicago this winter. Learn how to make impressive new dishes with classes from the chefs behind the best restaurants in Chicago, create knitted masterpieces to gift to family and friends or learn the basics of a new language; there's truly something for everyone (and every budget). Keep your brain busy with the help of these online classes and workshops available in Chicago this winter. RECOMMENDED: The best restaurants for takeout and delivery in ChicagoRECOMMENDED: The best coding classesRECOMMENDED: The best graphic design classes RECOMMENDED: The best virtual team building activities
The best cheap eats in Chicago
Though Chicago has no shortage of Michelin-starred, fine dining restaurants serving inventive tasting menus, cheap eats are just as important to the fabric of the city’s dining scene. Hot dogs and Italian beef are among the most iconic affordable meals, but there are plenty of other options spread across the city’s neighborhoods, from BBQ pork buns in Chinatown to carnitas in Pilsen to biryani on Devon Avenue. Whether you’re looking to sit down for a satisfying meal that won’t break the bank or just grab a bite before heading back to work, these restaurants offer some of the best cheap eats in Chicago. With inflation continuing to impact the restaurant industry, some prices may be higher than what we have listed. It’s getting harder to find a good meal for under $10, but we’ve done our best and nothing on this list should cost you more than $15. RECOMMENDED: Discover the best free things to do in Chicago
The 15 best lakeside Airbnbs for a unique getaway from Chicago
While Chicago has its charms, from lively Cubs games at Wrigley Field to indulging in the city’s famed deep-dish pizza, sometimes a peaceful break away from the bustling crowds is just what you need. That’s where a weekend getaway kicks in. Luckily, Chicago is surrounded by tones of lakefront Airbnbs, perfect for a few days of relaxation or an extended family vacation. From charming waterside cottages to luxurious homes overlooking Lake Michigan, these rental spots cater to all preferences and budgets. Whether it's a quick getaway or an extended stay for some much-needed R&R, they’ve got you covered. To simplify your search, we've curated a selection of top lakefront stays in and around Chicago. From unique properties, like boats or treehouses, to spacious mansions for a group getaway, we like to think there’s a little something for everyone. So, pack your swimsuit, grab an enticing beach read, and get ready to unwind in these fantastic Airbnbs. RECOMMENDED: 🏠 See our list of the best Airbnb cabins near Chicago🇺🇸 Discover the most unique Airbnbs in the U.S.🏖️ Check out the best Chicago beaches🥾 Learn the best places for hiking near Chicago Who makes the cut? While we might not stay in every Airbnb featured, we've based our list on top reviews, hosts, and amenities to find you the best stays. This article includes affiliate links. These links have no influence on our editorial content. For more information, see our affiliate guidelines.
The best restaurants in Chicago you have to try in 2024
February 2024: On our latest roundup of the city's best eateries, we're welcoming Chicago's hottest newcomer, Akahoshi Ramen, and West Town's all-day hybrid, Nettare. Also joining them is South Side favorite Bronzeville Winery. Many of the city's best chefs and restaurants are in Time Out Market Chicago as well, and you can scroll through the full vendor lineup at the bottom of this page. The best restaurants in Chicago come in all shapes and sizes, from pizza joints and Michelin-starred heavyweights to some of the best cheap eats Chicago has to offer. The cuisines are just as varied, with every corner of the globe represented through Korean, Mexican, Italian, Mediterranean and Indian fare. Whether you're a lifelong resident or simply visiting for the weekend, stuffing your face at one of these restaurants is easily among the best things to do in Chicago. This belt-busting food scene shows no signs of slowing down, so we cut to the chase and ranked our essentials—the absolute best restaurants in town. Our editors scour the city for great dishes, excellent value and insider info. They pay their way and sometimes, like the rest of us, their delivery driver gets lost (here's how we eat through Chicago to make the list). We hope to provide an authentic snapshot of Chicago's ever-evolving dining experience right now: We update it constantly with the best new restaurants in Chicago as well as decades-old stalwarts that keep us coming back for more. It could be a mega-hyped destinat
The best free things to do in Chicago
It often feels like the second you step outside, money is immediately sucked from your wallet. Prices for things like concerts, a fancy latte or trendy bars are getting higher and higher, but that doesn't mean that everything in Chicago will break your budget. There are plenty of activities around the city that don't cost a penny. Give your bank account a rest by exploring captivating Chicago museums during free museum days, checking out a beautiful park or going for a run on one of the city’s best trails. Our list of the best free things to do in Chicago is here to save you some dough. RECOMMENDED: Our complete guide to the best things to do in Chicago
10 unique Airbnbs in Chicago, from South Side to Lincoln Park and Chinatown
Think you’ve done Airbnb-ing in Chicago? Think again. There’s a whole host of seriously one-of-a-kind places to stay, and it’s likely you ain't seen nothin’ yet. Think treehouses tucked away deep in the woods, stylish lofts converted from factories, and 1880s workers' flats. Bucket list-worthy stuff. So if you want to make your buddies jealous (and you’re looking for a staycation), book one of these Airbnbs for an unforgettable experience. It’ll feel like you’ve gone somewhere totally new. RECOMMENDED: 🌇Check out the best Airbnbs in Chicago🏨Or stay in one of Chicago's swankiest hotels💘How about a romantic break in Chicago? Who makes the cut? While we might not stay in every Airbnb featured, we've based our list on top reviews, hosts and amenities to find you the best stays. This article includes affiliate links. These links have no influence on our editorial content. For more information, see our affiliate guidelines.
The 24 best flower shops in Chicago
If you're looking for the perfect arrangement to spruce up your home or to give to that special someone this Valentine's Day, look no further than the many expert florists right here in Chicago. From hip, new flower shops to decades-old family-run plant stores, all of these options have an abundance of colorful bouquets and impressive arrangements. Prepping for a special occasion? Most of these options offer same-day flower delivery, too. So whether it's just add some character to your dining-room table or express your appreciation for a loved one, these flower shops in Chicago are sure to get the job done. RECOMMENDED: Sweeten the deal with the best chocolate shops in Chicago
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Tuesdays on the Terrace
Tuesdays on the Terrace returns to the Museum of Contemporary Art's Anne and John Kern Terrace Garden this summer for free weekly concerts. This year's series expands beyond jazz to include hip hop, house, blues, bomba and more. Grab a cocktail or a glass of wine from a bar on the museum's upper terrace and hear tunes from artists like the Victor Garcia, Alysha Monique & The Family Divine and The Jazz Hoofing Quartet, plus tons of others from the local community.
How does one begin to encapsulate the multi-decade career of Alpana Singh, the sommelier-turned-TV host-turned-restaurateur? You could focus on her two turns as host of the Emmy-winning WTTW show Check, Please!—or the multiple restaurants she’s opened—but wine might be the most salient talking point. At 21, Singh passed the Court of Master Sommeliers’ advanced certification test; two years later, she was hired as sommelier at Everest; three years after that, she became the youngest woman ever to achieve the rank of master sommelier, a test with a pass rate hovering somewhere around 5 percent. (Admirably, Singh elected to renounce her master sommelier title in 2020 following numerous sexual assault allegations within the organization.) So it was no surprise earlier this year when Singh debuted her latest project, Alpana, as a wine-focused concept in the Gold Coast, and a new capstone in her career. Located in a former LYFE Kitchen space made glamorous with hanging plants and sleek lighting, Alpana bills the selections on its dinner menu as “wine-inspired cuisine,” designed to accentuate the taste-broadening world of pairings. “When developing recipes, I use the same techniques to analyze a dish as I would a glass of wine,” Singh writes on the restaurant’s website. “Our ultimate goal is to provide our guests with a menu that has been carefully crafted to highlight and accentuate the flavors [of] wine.” If wine remains your primary consideration, Alpana is an unimpeachable suc
Those shuttered storefronts and empty office buildings don’t lie: Despite valiant efforts, the Loop isn’t quite the bustling city center that it used to be. But there’s a silver lining to be found amid this particular tale of pandemic woe in the form of GoodFunk, a new wine bar and café that’s poised to become a destination fit for downtown commuters—should they ever return—and wandering wine enthusiasts alike. Run by hospitality company Bonhomme Group (Beatnik, Porto), GoodFunk specializes in the vast and trendy world of natural wine, a catch-all term that generally refers to wine produced without the use of pesticides, herbicides or additives. Like many of its compatriots in the natural wine biz, the bar takes an almost philosophical approach to drinking, eschewing the “privilege and complicated language” of the wine industry for a bottle list that spotlights eclectic producers from across the globe, with special attention paid to regions not typically associated with wine production. You get an immediate sense of the globe-trotting sensibility upon walking into GoodFunk, which is located along the Chicago River—next to its sister restaurant, Beatnik on the River—in a slender space outfitted to resemble a 1930s European cafe. Leafy potted plants twist above a 16-seat bar of pale pink marble; behind the bar, wine bottles, rows of tinned fish and baguettes arranged in baskets lend a more intimate touch, like the inside of a well-curated pantry. This heady ethos and millennia
To book a reservation at Armitage Alehouse, Brendan Sodikoff’s latest addition to the Hogsalt Hospitality restaurant empire, you’ll need a routine—and likely a fair bit of luck, too. The Anglo-Indian gastropub releases new openings every morning at 9am, which fill up astonishingly fast (as in less than a minute) even for less appealing weeknight slots (as in 10:15pm on a Wednesday). Walking in appears to present similar difficulties: When I visited on a Tuesday night, a few walk-ins lingered forlornly in the restaurant’s front vestibule; on weekends, I’ve heard stories of lines leading out the door. So why are people electing to wait around in a Chicago winter—or frantically refresh Resy every morning—to eat at Armitage Alehouse? It might have something to do with Hogsalt’s pedigree and the hospitality group's reputation for drumming up excitement around its restaurants (look no further than block-long lines outside Doughnut Vault or multi-hour waits, even years after opening, for the famous Au Cheval cheeseburger). I’d also stake a bet on the restaurant’s decor, an intimate homage to the pubs of 1920s England that offers some of the most gorgeous dining scenery I’ve ever experienced in Chicago. Hogsalt’s proclivity for dim lighting and glitzy design is on full display here, with walls covered in clusters of antique oil paintings, chandeliers overhead and hand-carved wooden detailing lining the booths—it's a little like stepping into an episode of some BBC period drama, or
“You’re our advertising right now,” a server joked while uncorking a bottle of wine for my dining partner and me on a recent visit to Dear Margaret, a French-Canadian restaurant near the border of Lincoln Park and Lakeview. We were tucked into a cubby-like space at the front of the restaurant, our table framed by a window draped with gauzy blinds facing out onto Lincoln Avenue, where passersby might be able to sneak a look at our meal. There probably wasn’t enough foot traffic at 9pm to allow for many chance glimpses, but still—I’ll happily serve as advertising for Dear Margaret, which has provided some of my favorite dining experiences of the past year or so. Helmed by executive chef Ryan Brosseau (Le Sud; Table, Donkey and Stick) and owner Lacey Irby, Dear Margaret opened in early 2021 as a takeout-only venture, when COVID-19 closures left indoor dining off the table. I’m told Dear Margaret’s food stands up well as takeaway, but I can’t imagine eating it anywhere other than the sweet little restaurant itself. Warm and nearly always bustling, it’s the type of place that gives you a good feeling the instant you step inside, with wide-paneled wooden flooring, honeyed lighting and a smattering of homey decor befitting of its namesake—Brosseau’s grandmother, the muse behind the restaurant’s French-Canadian menu. Brosseau also draws inspiration for the menu from his upbringing in the agricultural reaches of southern Ontario, a region not entirely unlike the Great Lakes states o
Brunch N Burgers
A word of advice: Don’t come to Brunch N Burgers if you’re anything less than ravenous. Do you know those weekend mornings when you linger in bed so long that you accidentally work up an all-consuming hunger, reduced to feverishly googling “brunch near me”? That’s when you should make the trip to Brunch N Burgers. And when you do, I promise it’ll be worth any pain and suffering you’ve incurred from the wait. Located on a quiet stretch of Taylor Street in Little Italy, Brunch N Burgers is the first restaurant of chef Erica McGhee, a former chef de cuisine at the Hilton Chicago. McGhee’s menu, as you might have guessed from the name, focuses on brunch (think breakfast sandwiches, shrimp n’ grits, chilaquiles and hash) and burgers loaded with assorted toppings, plus a handful of other sandwich offerings. Visitors order at the counter and take their own seats in the restaurant’s dining room, which is outfitted cozily with an electric fireplace on the wall. I’d been nursing my appetite all day when I arrived at Brunch N Burgers for lunch on a recent Saturday, having seen photos of the restaurant’s towering burgers online ahead of my visit. Still, I don’t think I’d fully prepared myself for the formidable creation that landed on my table. Called the Southern Draw and served teetering atop a small wooden charcuterie board, this five-inch-tall stunner of a burger stacks two steak patties with slabs of pork belly and slathers them in bubbling pimento cheese, pickled onions, mayo, toma
I’d barely spent 30 seconds inside of Esmé before a server asked if I’d like a glass of champagne. “Complimentary,” she specified, ushering my date and I toward a standing table where we’d kickstart the evening’s tasting menu with a series of canapes. A minute later we stood peering over our first bite, dubbed the “cheeto.” Molded with a custom grain extruder machine, the crisp little corn puff—only loosely evocative of its Frito-Lay namesake, though just as addictive—arrived dusted with an umami sprinkling of mushroom powder. Consider, for a moment, the whimsy of drinking champagne and eating a single fancy Cheeto: It would be a touch too on the nose if it weren’t so delicious. Located on a well-to-do corner in Lincoln Park, Esmé is the first solo restaurant from chef Jenner Tomaska (Next) and his wife/business partner Katrina Bravo. It’s billed as a reimagined take on fine dining—one that, aside from the rarefied food on the table, is driven by art and philanthropy—and a sort of love letter to the community-building power of art. Taking a lead from their shared mentor (the similarly community-minded Virtue chef Erick Williams) Tomaska and Bravo plan to offer collaborative, artist-inspired dinners and, as the restaurant’s website reads, for philanthropy and art to be “integrated into the foundation of the experience, an expression of [Tomaska and Bravo’s] shared vision for the community-focused restaurant.” What does it mean for art to be integrated into the dining experienc
Do you remember a few years back when lifestyle writers and home retailers became briefly obsessed with hygge, the Scandinavian conceptualization of wintertime coziness? I won’t speak to the merits of buying knitted socks or drinking glogg all the time (that’s what the Danes do, according to the aforementioned lifestyle writers), but I think I could spend more than a few nights escaping the Chicago cold this winter at En Passant. When I visited the Logan Square restaurant on an especially blustery October night, stepping inside made me feel like I was warming up in front of an invisible fireplace. The dining room, outfitted with wooden tables and mismatched chairs, is shrouded in flickering candlelight and the glow of crystal chandeliers overhead; on the walls, wide, impressionistic brushstrokes of paint and assorted clocks lend a homey touch. I felt like I’d walked into a European bistro decorated with the sensibilities of a Midwestern mom—charming, somewhat kitschy and very, very cozy. Named for an obscure chess move, En Passant is the first solo venture from chef Sam Engelhardt (a veteran of Au Cheval, where he helped mastermind its famous burger), with a focus on “globally-inspired comfort food” befitting of its intimate space. That approach manifests as a menu of starters, sides, sandwiches and hearty mains, many of which are of vaguely European origin, like chicken liver mousse and mushroom risotto. It won't take you long to consider the entire menu while cracking open
“Have you ever had omakase before?” my server asked at the beginning of a recent visit to Hinoki Sushiko, a two-level izakaya and omakase restaurant that opened earlier this year on a quiet strip along the Elston Industrial Corridor. My date and I were ascending a dim stairwell leading to the second level of the building that's reserved exclusively for omakase dinners, where I’d booked a table for the 15-piece dining experience. Candidly, I had not had omakase before. The Japanese dining style, which translates to something along the lines of, “I’ll leave it up to you,” allows chefs to curate imaginative, ingredient-driven menus night-by-night, or even course-by-course, if inspiration strikes. It’s also expensive—prohibitively so, for most of my life thus far—often fetching upwards of $120 a head to compensate for the skilled labor and hard-to-come-by cuts of fish (at Hinoki Sushiko, table service runs $150 a person, while the more intimate counter service is $175). Chicago has experienced something of an omakase renaissance over the past few years, including the Michelin-starred likes of Omakase Yume and Mako. As a first-timer, I figured I could do worse than to put my trust in the hands of chef Otto Phan, who also runs the acclaimed 14-seat omakase restaurant Kyōten in Logan Square. Phan partnered with chef Gustavo Barahona to open Hinoki Sushiko, giving Barahona control of the first floor izakaya (where you’ll find more casual small plates, like chicken karaage and donburi
I’m not normally the type of person who gravitates toward beef tartare, but the version of the dish offered at Parkside—a new restaurant from the folks behind the specialty grocery store L&M Fine Foods in North Center—might make me rethink my raw meat squeamishness. Instead of its traditional preparation, in which ground beef is topped with raw egg yolk, the dish arrived at my table in a cloud of cured egg yolk and white cheddar shavings, with pieces of tender beef in tallow chimichurri and brackish pickled mustard resting on a hashbrown disc. It's sort of like the platonic ideal of the kind you’d find in a McDonald’s breakfast meal—and probably nothing like what's accompanied the beef tartare you’ve had at more buttoned-up establishments. That unstuffy, slightly unusual treatment of the dish is characteristic of Parkside, which takes a self-professed “playful” and ingredient-driven approach to American cuisine. Led by chef Justin Kaialoa (The Bristol, Violet Hour), the ever-evolving menu shifts based on seasonality, which can include minute adjustments. For example, on the night of my visit, an appetizer of duck prosciutto came with slices of September honeycrisp rather than its usual artichokes. I’d recommend grabbing a tipple from beverage director Allassandra Ventola’s cocktail menu (developed with BLVD and Rose Mary’s Robert Shamblin) while you browse dinner options, because orders are placed all at once and coursed out—a somewhat hefty decision-making process right f
Bloom Plant Based Kitchen
Shortly after taking a seat at Bloom Plant Based Kitchen, I overheard a server attending to the table next to mine offer a very of-the-moment endorsement for the Wicker Park restaurant’s baja tacos: They were TikTok famous. My date and I didn’t bother to fact check the claim until after we had already ordered, when a cursory search through TikTok revealed at least one video on the subject (albeit with a middling amount of likes). No matter—if these tacos haven’t already achieved TikTok fame, they deserve to. Banana blossom, a fibrous flower that grows from the end of its namesake fruit, is tempura battered and fried until shatteringly crisp, then nestled within a bed of fermented cabbage and hemp seed tortilla; on top, paper thin radishes, cilantro and a drizzle of chili oil provide crunch and heat. With its picture-perfect presentation and novel list of ingredients—I’d hazard a guess that many Americans haven’t yet tried banana blossom—the dish could easily spark some kind of TikTok micro-sensation. It also tasted a good deal like a fish taco, though I’m aware that might be a reductive comparison. Like its name suggests, Bloom Plant Based Kitchen is 100 percent vegan, and gluten-free to boot. Chef Rodolfo Cuadros, who heads the nearby pan-Latin restaurant Amaru, initially launched Bloom as a ghost kitchen last year before opening the airy brick-and-mortar location this summer with an express goal of bringing health-conscious, plant-based food to the Chicago dining scene.
Walking into Logan Square’s Lardon—a meat- and cheese-centric cafe off the California Blue Line stop—is a bit like entering an amalgamation of every little bistro you’ve ever seen on the European episodes of Parts Unknown, down to the whorled wooden tables and hanging cylinders of house-cured salumi behind glass. Of course, most European bistros aren’t spinning records, nor do they serve Wisconsin-made hunks of gouda, but that’s what happens when you bring the Old World to Logan Square. Lardon operates as an all-day concept, serving Metropolis coffee and baked goods from Aya Pastry in the morning, sandwiches for lunch and charcuterie and drinks in the evening, plus a selection of dinner entrees on weekends (the schedule evidently leads to some confusion: On a recent visit, no fewer than four customers walked in and tried to order sandwiches for dinner). It’s worth popping in to try the cafe’s cured meats during every meal, but we recommend grabbing a table in the evening for a meat-and-cheese board, which you can customize or order from a set of pre-selected combinations. The chef’s board pairs two smaller meat and cheese plates onto one generously-sized slab of wood, with a presentation that almost begs a surreptitious photo before you dig in—full of glistening Bresaola, salami, honeycomb, smears of house-made preserves, rosemary-flecked truffled lardo and Midwestern cheeses, it looks like a still life sprung into reality. Split between two people, the chef board is nearly e
See when fall foliage will peak in Chicago with this handy map
OK, so maybe you’re not ready for summer to be over quite yet (neither are we). But if you're the planning type—or a fall fanatic—it’s time to turn your attention to the 2023 edition of the Fall Foliage Prediction Map, an interactive guide from SmokyMountains.com that shows folks when trees will hit their peak autumn splendor across the U.S. every year. To make its predictions, the website’s model uses an algorithm that sources millions of data points from governmental and non-governmental sources like the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration—everything from historical temperatures and precipitation to peak observation trends. Once the data has been inputted, the model creates 50,000 predictive data pieces that are mapped out for users to browse as the season progresses. It’s not a completely fail-safe process, but the end result generates an exciting sneak peek at what's to come for the country’s fall foliage. Wondering when fall foliage in Chicago will begin to appear this year? According the the guide, local trees will start to show patchy coloring during the week of September 25; by October 23, they'll achieve peak color. As we know, that color is all too fleeting—the city’s trees will be past their peak once we hit the week of October 30, just in time for Halloween. This story was originally published in 2022 and has been updated with new information for 2023.
This new restaurant hosts Chicago’s only Champagne wine pairing experience
New Year’s Eve has come and gone, and memories of popping midnight bubbles may now feel as hazy as last year’s resolutions. But Champagne—although a famously celebratory drink—doesn’t have to be relegated to the realm of holidays and birthdays. At Valhalla, a new fine dining concept by chef Stephen Gillanders that opened at Time Out Market Chicago last September, diners can augment their meal with a wine pairing option composed entirely of Champagne. Not run-of-the-mill sparkling wine, or Cava, or Prosecco, or Cremant: real, capital-C Champagne, grown and bottled in the French region of the same name. It’s the only pairing option of its kind in Chicago, designed to function as both a luxe tasting menu accompaniment and a deep dive into one of the world’s most illustrious winemaking hubs. “The Champagne region has so many different styles, and so many different expressions,” says Jelena Prodan, Valhalla’s sommelier and service director. “I don’t think there’s a region that’s so thought-provoking like Champagne, because it starts a conversation. ‘Why is this special? Why is this so different?’” Known for its chalky soil and cool weather, Champagne’s adversarial growing conditions, coupled with France’s notoriously strict wine laws, produce highly prized (and highly priced) wine. Big-name Champagne houses like Moët & Chandon and Perrier-Jouët garner lots of attention, but Valhalla’s program spotlights mostly grower Champagne, a label applied to wine that’s grown and bottled by
9 things to look forward to in Chicago in 2023
As we near the end of 2022, it's time to start looking ahead to what’s coming in the new year. Lots of big projects are in the works, including a Guinness brewery, several new music venues and NASCAR’s first-ever street race. So don’t let the winter blues get you down—there are plenty of bucket list-worthy activities on the horizon. While delays can, and invariably do, happen, we’re optimistic that the next 12 months will bring the city a wealth of notable openings. Without further ado, here are the things we’re most looking forward to in Chicago in 2023. RECOMMENDED: The best new Chicago restaurants and bars of 2022 Photograph: Winter Churchill Finding out who’s best in show at a new dog show coming to Chicago Kick off 2023 with the first annual edition of the Great American Dog Show, a dog show extravaganza that’s taking up residence in the Renaissance Schaumburg Convention from January 6-8 with more than 200 breeds and four participating kennel clubs in competition for a series of prizes. Tickets start at $25 per person ($20 for seniors and $15 for seniors) and grant access to demonstrations, a marketplace full of vendors selling dog-friendly goods and a series of “Meet the Breeds” booths to acquaint you with different types of pups, among other interactive features. — Emma Krupp Photograph: Heather Leah Kennedy Dinner and a movie at Alamo Drafthouse In February, the Texas-based movie theater chain Alamo Drafthouse—famous for its food options, themed screening nig
Aritzia will debut its first Chicago-area outlet location this weekend
Attention, fashion lovers and clean girls of Chicagoland! Aritzia, the Canadian fashion company beloved by Gen-Z, is officially opening its first Chicago-area outlet location this Friday. Known for its popular vegan leather pants, work-to-evening-friendly basics and a portfolio of in-house brands, Aritzia already boasts a flagship Chicago boutique in the Gold Coast, plus a forthcoming location on Michigan Avenue. It’s also become something of a TikTok mainstay for its classic—albeit slightly expensive—wardrobe staples, with more than one billion videos under the #aritzia hashtag displaying shopping hauls, vlogs, OOTDs and parodies. The new outlet shop, located at Fashion Outlets of Chicago (5220 Fashion Outlets Way) in Rosemont, will offer more sales and lower prices than its counterpart, though shoppers will still find some of the company’s signature amenities (like personal “style advisors”) on-site. @rafiah.ali Check out these deals at the Aritzia Outlet!!#fashiontiktok #fyp #capsulewardrobe #summercapsulewardrobe #fypシ #summerlooks #summeroutfit #summerstyle #cleangirl #thatgirl #comeshopwithme #aritzia #aritziaoutlet #aritziastyle #aritziaoutfits #noonecanstopme #styleicons ♬ original sound - Rafiah Wondering what kind of bargains await you? A quick scroll through “Aritzia outlet” on TikTok shows shoppers in Toronto hunting down Melina vegan leather pants for $90 (normally $148), plus other deals on puffer jackets, bodysuits and athletic wear, so you might be
Take a bite out of Time Out Market Chicago’s new holiday specials
It’s December, which means your schedule may or may not be chock-full of visits to Christmas lights, festive markets and other classic holiday events scattered throughout the Chicago area. Looking for even more ways to bring on feelings of holiday cheer? If all that merry-making leaves you hungry, you’ll find tons of exciting new options under one roof this month at Time Out Market Chicago. RECOMMENDED: The best things to do during the holidays in Chicago To celebrate the holiday season, chefs from the Fulton Market food hall have created special limited-time dishes available throughout the month of December. Some offer familiar festive flavors (like peppermint hot chocolate) while others (like Mississippi pot roast and pumpkin soup) provide a certain soul-warming quality perfect for cold winter weather. Whatever you choose to dine on, we recommend enjoying your meal beneath the Market’s twinkling holiday lights for a picture-perfect experience. Want a preview of what’s on offer? Take a look at Time Out Market Chicago’s holiday specials below and prepare to have visions of curry udon, loaded fries and other toothsome delights dancing through your head. Photograph: Jaclyn Rivas Arami In addition to its regular spread of sushi, Arami is cooking up a riff on the classic Japanese street food dish takoyaki ($12). The fried octopus fritters are drizzled with a combination of Japanese mayo, yum yum sauce, salt-pickled ginger, thin-sliced kizami nori and bonito flakes for a tangy
Ralph Lauren just opened its first Chicago coffee shop, and it’s very chic
Looking for an extra bougie place to grab a cup of coffee? You’re in luck: Ralph’s Coffee, the highly photographable coffee shop from fashion brand Ralph Lauren, just opened its first Chicago location inside the brand’s flagship store on Michigan Avenue. Scores of luxury brands have expanded into the hospitality biz—think Gucci Osteria in Beverly Hills or Armani Ristorante in New York City—but cafés offer a more affordable entry point into the design-minded world of fashion dining and drinking. In New York, Ralph’s Coffee shops have become something of a staple on TikTok (one even made an appearance on the new HBO Max Gossip Girl reboot), and the Chicago location promises a similarly aesthetic-driven experience. Located adjacent to RL Restaurant—the brand’s first-ever hospitality offering, which debuted in 1999—the 16-seat shop channels Ralph Lauren’s signature preppy vibe with herringbone wood floors, wainscoting, tufted banquettes and a crisp green-and-white color scheme, plus a fireplace and large windows overlooking Michigan Avenue. Even the staff, who dress in Ralph Lauren striped shirts and matching ties, kind of look like they’re in a catalog. Photograph: Courtesy of Ralph Lauren But you’re not just here for the aesthetic! The shop offers a series of specialty coffee blends and espresso drinks from La Colombe—which you can take to go and sip while browsing in the adjoining retail store—along with a selection of pastries, yogurts, overnight oats and other sweet trea
Levain Bakery is opening in the West Loop this weekend
The wait is finally over, cookie lovers! After announcing a planned expansion to Chicago in March, beloved NYC-based sweet shop Levain Bakery will officially debut its famous chocolate chip walnut cookies in a new West Loop location this Saturday. Levain’s Chicago outpost—which marks the brand’s first location outside the East Coast—is located on Randolph Street’s Restaurant Row, home to some of the city’s buzziest dining spots. Co-founders Pam Weekes and Connie McDonald say they chose to open in the foodie-centric West Loop after visiting Chicago to research potential areas for expansion and finding themselves “enamored” by the neighborhood’s offerings. "We spent a couple of years making trips to Chicago, trying to get to know neighborhoods and spaces, and it felt like a place where we could come and join a community and really be part of the neighborhood," Weekes told Time Out Chicago in March. View this post on Instagram A post shared by Levain Bakery (@levainbakery) Previously, Chicagoans could only pick up the famous Levain cookies via the brand’s retail options (which come frozen and ready-to-bake) at places like Foxtrot and Whole Foods. In addition to the chocolate chip walnut flavor, Levain’s Chicago location will offer cookies in dark chocolate chip, oatmeal raisin, dark chocolate peanut butter chip and two chip chocolate chip varieties. Customers can also opt for artisanal breads, load cakes, sticky buns, seasonal items and other decadent t
Check out the inaugural lineup for The Salt Shed’s new indoor venue
Earlier this year, the outdoor portion of The Salt Shed—a new entertainment complex housed at the site of the Morton Salt building—made its debut with a lineup of summer concerts, featuring acts like Andrew Bird, Mt. Joy and Death Cab for Cutie in an open air venue along the Chicago River. RECOMMENDED: Here’s what it’s like to attend a concert at The Salt Shed If you didn’t get a chance to catch a show before the brief outdoor season concluded, it’s time to turn your attention to The Salt Shed’s next phase, an indoor venue called The Shed. The long-awaited indoor space features multi-level grandstand seating (including VIP balcony opera boxes) and an L-Acoustics sound system, according to a news release, and will eventually offer food and beverage options along with a schedule of indoor markets and other cultural events. The venue’s initial lineup kicks off on February 17 with a performance from Scandi-pop artist Tove Lo and “Mine” singer Slayyyter. Other notable shows this season include a performance from punk icon Iggy Pop (March 10), the first Bikini Kill appearance in Chicago since the group reunited in 2019 (April 22) and the Flaming Lips celebrating the 20th anniversary of Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots (May 5). More concerts are expected to be announced in the coming months. Tickets for the indoor shows go on sale Friday, November 18 at 10am on the venue’s website. Take a look at the full list of performers announced so far below. February 17: Tove Lo w/ Slayyyte
This mental health organization wants to feed 10,000 Chicago families by the end of August
Late in 2018, Chicago hip-hop musician Christopher LeMark broke down in the middle of a Millennium Park Station Starbucks. A stressful work life and relationship issues—coupled with decades of unresolved childhood trauma—had finally bubbled up to the surface, leaving the usually stoic LeMark in tears and feeling “like he had hit a wall.” “I spent a long time trying to be cool, hiding the fact that I was struggling with heavy depression, PTSD and social anxiety,” LeMark said. “In that moment I said, you know what, it’s time for me to go to therapy.” Once in therapy, encouraged for the first time to talk through his issues with vulnerability, LeMark had a realization: Why couldn’t these kinds of conversations happen more often in hip-hop, in his community? Through his music, he’d already been candid about the hardest realities of his childhood and teen years, what it was like to grow up facing abuse and homelessness. Why had it taken so long for him to reckon with the pain behind those experiences? Fueled by this idea, he created Coffee, Hip-Hop and Mental Health (CHHAMH), an organization dedicated to normalizing therapy on the South Side through coffeehouse-style events and, with the help of an online database, connecting people in need to therapists. Normally, CHHAMH get-togethers go a little like this: For the first hour, a DJ plays music while attendees mingle, sipping coffee drinks and getting comfortable with one another, before LeMark and his band get onstage to perform
This year’s Christkindlmarket mug is once again not a boot
Believe it or not, we’re just two weeks away from opening day at Christkindlmarket, the German-themed bazaar that pops up in Daley Plaza and Wrigleyville every holiday season. If you were still holding out hope for a boot-shaped souvenir mug for sipping the market’s famous glühwein, though, better luck next time—this year’s Christkindlmarket mug is once again not a boot, but rather a regular-shaped mug. RECOMMENDED: Your guide to Christkindlmarket Chicago Organizers announced the 2022 design, which features a cityscape spanning landmarks from all three Christkindlmarket locations, in a news release Friday. Observers will note some creative liberties have been taken to execute this fantastical skyline view, placing the Marina City towers and Hancock Building (Daley Plaza) next to Hotel Zachary (Wrigleyville) and the Paramount Theatre (Aurora). Foregrounding that design is a scene of Christkindlmarket and the Christkind angel, encircled by a row of dancers meant to pay tribute to the Year of Chicago Dance. This year’s non-alcoholic mug, on the other hand, features a penguin design for the third year in a row. You can enter a contest to name the penguin, who’s depicted dancing while dressed in a German dirndl and holding a Christkindlmarket ornament, via Instagram from November 4–7 for a chance to win both mugs. Photograph: Courtesy of Christkindlmarket The much-cherished boot shape last made an appearance in 2019 following a four-year hiatus, so it might be a few more Chri
You can once again fly to every inhabited continent from Chicago
Craving a bit of far-flung international travel? You’re in luck: As of last weekend, Chicago is once again one of five cities in the world offering direct air service to every inhabited continent, according to the Chicago Department of Aviation. RECOMMENDED: 8 places in the Midwest that look like Europe O’Hare International Airport now offers flights to cities in North America, South America, Europe, Africa, Asia and Oceania, joining New York City as one of just two cities in the Americas with nonstop air service to all six inhabited continents. Overseas, the only other cities in this category are London, Dubai and Doha. The news comes after Air New Zealand relaunched its direct service from O’Hare International Airport to Auckland Airport on Sunday, once again connecting Chicago with Oceania. Travelers will be able to hop on the 16-hour flight, which was suspended during the Covid-19 pandemic, at least three times a week through April. It’s been a big year for O’Hare’s international travel bonafides as the airport continues to beef up its global route offerings, many of which were put on hold during the pandemic. Last month, the data firm Official Aviation Guide crowned O’Hare as the world’s most internationally connected airport for the first time since 2016. The distinction is measured in part by the number of connections possible within a specific time frame, with 43,350 possible connections available within a six-hour window during O’Hare’s busiest day of aviation.
20 things Chicagoans officially want to ghost
Sure, maybe you’ve ghosted a bad Hinge date or abruptly cut the cord on a meandering situationship—but what if you could ghost your least favorite thing about living in Chicago? In the spirit of all things ghostly and Halloween-inspired, we polled readers on Facebook and Twitter to find out which aspects of Chicago life they would ghost if they could, and received answers ranging from the practical (winter, potholes) to the political (crime, the mayor) to the personal (shout out to the respondents who replied, “Your mom” or “My ex-husband”). Take a look through some of our favorite answers below and consider which things you’d ghost—just don’t say the CTA, because the ghost trains and buses are way ahead of you on that one. RECOMMENDED: 12 businesses Chicagoans want to bring back from the dead 1. “People who live in the ‘burbs but say they’re from Chicago.” 2. “People who call it ‘Chi-Town.’” 3. “Privatized city street parking and traffic cameras.” 4. “The anti-ketchup people.” 5. “CTA not showing up when it says it will.” 6. “Malört.” 7. “The Bat Cave, aka Lower Wacker Drive.” 8. “Getting off the Red Line and catching wind off of the lake on a 20-below day.” 9. “Never-ending construction on the Kennedy.” 10. “People who only want to talk about ‘random’ violence and ‘gang bangers’ that typically no one ever truly encounters here.” 11. “Deep dish pizza.” 12. “All the politicians! All of them.” 13. “The Taste of Chicago.” 14. “The men.” 15. “Everywhere you go it smells lik