The best dog-friendly restaurants and patios in Chicago
There are few things better than spending a beautiful summer day outside at a beer garden or rooftop restaurant, so why not share the fun with your furry best friend? Many of the city's best outdoor bars and outdoor restaurants welcome dogs on their patios, with some even making them feel extra welcome by providing water bowls or special menus with pup-approved meals. These are our favorite dog-friendly patios in Chicago to bring our pooches, where you're sure to meet plenty of canines chilling under tables and like-minded dog lovers. RECOMMENDED: The best rooftop bars in Chicago
The 17 best Lincoln Park bars
Lincoln Park truly lives up to Chicago’s “city in a garden” motto, with its massive namesake park, long stretch of beaches, and a free zoo and conservatory that provide a perfect way to spend an entire day immersed in nature. But you shouldn’t head out as soon as the sun sets. The neighborhood offers an eclectic mix of nightlife destinations ranging from a cocktail bar offering tarot readings to a legendary blues club. You can take in the gorgeous views of Lake Michigan from a rooftop bar or get lost in another world at a pop-up focused arcade bar. Enjoy everything Lincoln Park has to offer by checking out one of these great bars. RECOMMENDED: Discover more of the best bars in Chicago
The best bars in the West Loop to try right now
The West Loop is one of the city’s hottest neighborhoods, home to some of the city’s most celebrated restaurants. Reservations at the best West Loop restaurants can be hard to come by, meaning you might wind up visiting at odd hours or having to wait for a walk-in table. Use the downtime to your advantage by checking out one of these West Loop bars, which include some of the top Chicago breweries. The area is also home to some of the best cocktail bars in Chicago, making it worth the trip even if you aren’t trying to score a seat at a place run by a high-profile chef. So hit up the best bars in the West Loop and see what all the buzz is about. RECOMMENDED: Discover more of the best bars in Chicago
The most luxurious dishes and drinks in Chicago
While Chicago has many great options for cheap eats, sometimes you just want to really indulge and are willing to pay a premium to do it. You could visit one of the best restaurants in Chicago for a fancy tasting menu, but if you’re in search of something more specific—flights of vintage spirits, perfectly-cooked cuts of steaks and platters of caviar and seafood—the following spots are happy to oblige. So treat yourself by ordering the most luxurious and expensive dishes and drinks in Chicago. RECOMMENDED: Discover Chicago's Michelin-starred restaurants
The 32 best pizza spots in Chicago
Chicago might be best known for its signature deep dish pizza, but the city actually offers a diverse range of slices ranging from quick-fired Neapolitan pies and Detroit-style squares to homespun variants like Pilsen-style made with dough that incorporates Old Style beer. You can enjoy a taste from the comfort of home by ordering delivery or takeout, or visit one of the best restaurants in the city to enjoy your piping hot pie fresh out of the oven. This list highlights Chicago institutions, New York imports and everything in between so you can take your taste buds on a tour around the world when you try the best pizzas in Chicago. RECOMMENDED: The best Italian restaurants in Chicago
Where to find the best bottomless brunches in Chicago
Sometimes you want to use the weekend to get things done, and sometimes you want to get day drunk with friends before going home to take a nap. For the latter type of day, there’s no better deal than a bottomless Chicago brunch. Share a lively meal with free flowing mimosas and Bloody Marys at one of the best bars in the West Loop or relax at an outdoor restaurant while cooling off with endless sangria. The best bottomless brunches in Chicago will keep the refills coming while you sit back and enjoy the food and conversation. RECOMMENDED: Find the best restaurants in Chicago
The 30 best outdoor restaurants in Chicago
Chicagoans love to make the most of the warmest months by eating outside. Some of the best restaurants in Chicago offer alfesco dining every spring and summer with outdoor seating. When the weather is pleasant, you can grab a seat on a sidewalk table that affords great people watching or on a huge enclosed patio at one of the best pizza spots in the city. Whether you’re looking to soak up the sun in a lively atmosphere or want a chill outdoors bar, you’ll have plenty of options. So check the forecast and head to one of the best outdoor restaurants in Chicago for a fun and breezy time. RECOMMENDED: Scope out the best rooftop restaurants in Chicago
The best day trips from Chicago
You don’t have to go far or spend a lot of money to enjoy a nice escape from Chicago. A simple day trip offers a fun change in scenery and is cheap and easy. Luckily, there are many exciting destinations within driving distance or accessible by train that provide the perfect getaway. Spend an afternoon soaking up the rays on beaches along Lake Michigan, go hiking near Chicago in a state park or sample a variety of beers and cheeses up north in Wisconsin. The attractions are endless, ranging from amusement parks and Japanese gardens to museums and historic lighthouses. So whether you’re low on PTO or just trying to keep travel costs down, check out our guide to the best day trips from Chicago to explore everything the Midwest has to offer. RECOMMENDED: The best weekend getaways from ChicagoRECOMMENDED: The most unique day trips from ChicagoRECOMMENDED: The best Chicago staycation ideas
The 20 best weekend getaways from Chicago
As amazing as Chicago is, sometimes you just need to get away for a weekend. Fortunately, there’s a host of untapped food, arts and culture scenes within a five-hour drive. From post-industrial cities reclaiming their place on the Midwest map to quirky university towns proving they’re more than just a temporary destination, you’ll find places perfect for family weekend getaways, adventurous hiking or wine and whiskey tastings. So when you've run out of things to do in Chicago, explore, rejuvenate or get weird at unexpected attractions any time of the year—your next weekend getaway from Chicago is waiting. RECOMMENDED: The best day trips from Chicago RECOMMENDED: The most unique day trips from Chicago
The 28 best brunch spots in Chicago to try right now
The origins of this late morning meal may be contested, but there’s no questioning Chicago’s admiration for brunch. From standards like pancakes and French toast to creative fusions such as schnitzels and waffles and royal breakfast pies, you’ll find brunch dishes at the best Chicago restaurants for every craving—or hangover. And whether it’s cozying up inside with close friends on a cold winter day, enjoying a Sunday Funday with a bottomless brunch or fueling up before exploring the city, there's a spot that has exactly what you need. So read on to discover our picks for the best brunches in Chicago. RECOMMENDED: Find the best breakfast in Chicago
The best secret menu items in Chicago
If you’re the type of diner that likes to scope out what looks good on other tables, you might be surprised to encounter a dish you didn’t even realize was available. Beyond regularly changing specials, Chicago's best restaurants offer secret menu items just for regulars and insiders. These hidden options can be hacks that combine multiple dishes in surprising ways, offerings that have been taken off the menu but are still available for those in the know or outrageously fancy drinks and dishes for customers looking to show off. You can expect to find decadent oysters topped with caviar at one of the best steakhouses, luxe maki rolls from the finest sushi spots and even a dessert-inspired martini. So keep reading for the scoop on 13 secret menu items in Chicago that will make you feel like a VIP. RECOMMENDED: Discover more Chicago secrets you should know about
The 10 most romantic getaways from Chicago
Whether you just started seeing someone new and want to fan the flames of romance or are looking to rekindle the spark of your long-term relationship, a romantic getaway can be the perfect way to heat things up. Chicago has some excellent romantic hotels if you’re looking for a relaxing staycation, but there are also plenty of intimate weekend getaways you can plan if you want to visit somewhere new without the hassle or expense of a plane ticket. Whether you want to spend the day chatting on a gorgeous hike, share an intimate meal or relax together at a spa, these 10 destinations provide the perfect place to make some memories. RECOMMENDED: The most romantic Airbnbs near ChicagoRECOMMENDED: The best lakefront Airbnbs near ChicagoRECOMMENDED: The best Airbnbs with pools near Chicago RECOMMENDED: The best historic homes near ChicagoRECOMMENDED: The best Airbnbs in ChicagoRECOMMENDED: The best boutique hotels in Chicago
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Chicago Fair Trade Pop-Up Shop
Support economic and environmental justice at the ninth annual market running at Newcity in Lincoln Park through December 24. More than 30 Chicago businesses bring together works from artisans around the world including glassware, ornaments, sweaters, coffee and candles. Come from 4-7pm December 8 to meet some of the makers, catch a weaving demo, and sample coffee and chocolate.
Toys et Cetera
With a Hyde Park store and a robust e-commerce website, Toys Et Cetera puts more than 10,000 toys from around the world at your fingertips ranging from puzzles to art supplies. Shopping locally has never been more convenient—we're talking complimentary gift wrapping and orders that can be placed online and picked up in person.
Hayride of Horror
Ride through Dellwood Park encountering forgotten spirits and mysterious forces, then journey underground to explore the new Curse of the Bayou attraction. Navigate a maze with uneven trails and low ceilings as you explore a swamp that a voodoo priestess has filled with monsters from the realm of the dead. Watch creepy movies playing on a 20-foot screen while waiting in line and banish your chills by warming up around a bonfire. Kids are welcome for a Not So Scary Hayride on October 10 featuring games, face painting and s’mores.
Former food truck chefs Amy Le and John Keebler blend their childhood food memories at this Asian-Latin fusion restaurant in the Loop. The lunchtime favorite serves imaginative dishes like the chorizo egg rolls, which are stuffed with chihuahua cheese and served with jalapeno aioli. No order is complete without a few Bacos (a.k.a. bao tacos): Choose from flavors like pork carnitas, panang chicken curry and soy-ginger tofu.
A haven for the indecisive, Epic Kitchens lets you put together a meal from multiple restaurant chains. Come in early for a breakfast burrito from Egghead or visit for lunch and dig into a Korean barbecue bowl and kimchi fries from bopNgrill. Meanwhile, your friends can opt for a poke bowl or a Beyond Meat burger. Online or kiosk ordering makes it easy to mix and match between the concepts. Epic Kitchens also satisfies eclectic cravings with a Lakeview location.
Leather booths and chandeliers bring old school elegance to this Theater District staple located within the historic Roanoke Building. The menu centers on rotisserie and hearth-roasted fare like prime rib with horseradish while the drink list emphasizes old fashioneds and flights of bourbon and Scotch. Dine on the cheap with a $39 three-course Sunday dinner featuring clam chowder, rotisserie chicken and gelato, or come for a boozy brunch with blood orange mimosas paired with a prime rib hash skillet.
VU Rooftop Bar
This 13,000-square-foot all-seasons rooftop bar in the South Loop provides great views of the skyline from 22 floors above street level. The cocktail menu features seasonal drinks like the Tropical Lush (aged rum, cachaca, mango, saffron, lime juice and pineapple). On the food front, enjoy scallion kimchi flatbread or chicken thighs with sweet chili sauce.
Executive chef Saúl Román draws on his experience cooking in Mexico City and at Lincoln Square’s Artango Bar & Steakhouse for a menu of playful dishes including Korean sticky mushroom tacos, grilled skirt steak with crispy cactus, and lobster flautas. The bar offers a massive collection of mezcal and tequila you can try in a flight or as part of a cocktail like the Tijuana Unicorn Show (mezcal, lemon and prickly pear). Finish with the Churroulette, an assortment of housemade churros, one of which is laced with habanero.
Jimmy’s Pizza Cafe
After more than a decade in Lincoln Square, Jimmy’s Pizza Cafe moved to bigger digs in Ravenswood earlier this year that provide more seating and additional ovens to keep up with demand for its New York-style pizza. Sidle up to the counter and craft your own pie or try a slice of one of their specialties like the BDW made with chopped dates, applewood bacon, crushed walnuts, gorgonzola and Mike’s Hot Honey, or the Windy City, which features housemade sausage, mushrooms and roasted red pepper.
Brian Tondryk followed in the footsteps of his grandfather, Gino’s East co-founder Fred Bartoli, by opening Bartoli’s Pizzeria in Roscoe Village in 2013 and adding a West Town location in 2020. The restaurants serve both deep dish and tavern-style pizza, with signature pies including the Union Stockyard made with Italian sausage, bacon, pepperoni, prosciutto and Italian beef, and The Diavolo, a spicy blend of soppressata, capocollo, ricotta, Calabrian chili peppers and Mike’s Hot Honey.
Former Hubbard Inn and Joy District executive chef Matt Wilde developed his own Pilsen-style pizza by replacing water in the dough with Old Style beer. The result is a 16-inch pie that has the thickness of a New York-style slice but the puffy crust found in Neapolitan pizzas. With locations across the city and suburbs, Bob’s serves quirky creations including the Pickle Pizza made with garlic cream, mortadella, sliced pickles and fresh dill, and the Korea BBQ Chicken Pizza featuring housemade kimchi, scallions, roasted chicken thigh and creamy apple barbecue sauce.
A haven for East Coast transplants, Crushed serves 12- and 16-inch pies with favorites including the Louie made with sausage, spicy capicola, pepperoni, roasted red peppers, cremini mushrooms and their signature crushed tomato sauce and the Venus, which features sausage, shaved parmesan and caramelized onions. Customize your pie with add-ons including garlic butter sauce, sriracha ranch and pickled jalapeños. The counter-service spot is BYOB but sells a wide selection of specialty soft drinks.
This new bar at 360 Chicago boasts some of the city’s most stunning views
Chicago has 77 neighborhoods, but tourists seldom make it out of the downtown area to explore them. 360 Chicago, which operates the 94th floor of the building formerly known as the John Hancock Center, is aiming to provide a taste of what they have to offer with a $2 million update centering on a new bar. “Central to all of our decisions around investments and concepting in the space is trying to find the opportunity to amplify Chicago's neighborhoods,” said Nichole Benolken, managing director of 360 Chicago’s parent company Magnicity. “We did that by identifying partners out in the neighborhoods that could bring influence to our food, our merchandise, and our cocktails.” The menu at CloudBar, which had its grand opening on September 14, lists a neighborhood inspiration for every dish and drink. Some are broad, like quesadillas and carnitas for Pilsen or margarita flatbread ascribed to Little Italy, but others are based on partnerships with local businesses. The cocktail menu features two exclusive cocktails from Lakeview’s Kit Kat Lounge & Supper Club including the Heavenly Martini, a blend of lemon vodka, Alize and blue curacao topped with dry ice to provide a cloud effect. CloudBar already has a menu of eight more Kit Kat drinks that they will roll out slowly. Photograph: Courtesy of CloudBar at 360 Chicago “We have a broader vision for both the cocktail menu and the food menu that will expand and evolve over the next two or three months as we learn more about what our g
A seafood-centric Mexican restaurant debuts in Fulton Market
Seafood-focused Mexican restaurant Fora opened on the first floor of Fulton Market’s The Emily Hotel on August 11, but restaurant staff say they’re already planning to drastically change their menu. “We'll double [the number of dishes] in the next two weeks,” said chef Billy Caruso, who developed the restaurant concept. “Then we'll start doing the larger tableside proteins—some veal, maybe some large fish. We’ve got a couple secrets up our sleeve. We just took some baby steps. I'm really excited about what's about to come down the pipeline.” Served in a plant-filled dining room or at fire tables on the restaurant’s outside patio, Fora’s current small menu features dishes inspired by the fare of Tulum, Mexico City and Oaxaca including a light and spicy hamachi ceviche made with pomelo and avocado and a kanpachi aguachile with smoked beets that give the fish and earthy flavor. Another summery dish is the chayote, a Mexican plant that tastes similar to a green apple and is served in a salad with cilantro, mint and shiso. Many of the herbs used to season and garnish the dishes come from the hotel’s rooftop garden. But the real star of Fora is masa, which is ground in house using heirloom corn from Mexico and the rooftop. Executive chef Matt Danko’s menu uses it in a super crispy tostada topped with steak tartare and in blue corn tortillas that accompany pasilla-glazed bone marrow served with lime and pickled onions. Fora is also serving tetela, a triangle-shaped Oaxacan snack rem
A beloved Ravenswood rooftop patio been revived
Fountainhead’s closure during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic deprived Ravenswood of one of the few rooftop bars outside the downtown area. But after sitting vacant for nearly two years, the space is once again open for alfresco dining and drinking, thanks to the arrival of LM Restaurant Group's third Land & Lake location earlier this month. “When we saw that this space was available, the owners came and checked it out and saw a lot of potential, especially with the rooftop, for doing something really cool,” says LM communications director Lauren Hammond. “They thought that Land & Lake, given its commitment to being very neighborhood centric, would do really well here.” The renovated rooftop has a huge covered bar with ceiling fans and umbrellas that provides space for 30 people, plus open seating for another 50 at banquettes and high top tables. The rooftop nearly doubles the restaurant’s interior space, which features an open kitchen best viewed from the 15-seat bar. The new owners also installed a dumbwaiter to make it easier to bring food and drinks to the roof. Photograph: Courtesy LM Restaurant Group “The rooftop has been a big hit,” Hammond says. “Everyone is really excited about it. To have that in the neighborhood with a very family friendly vibe really appeals to people.” The restaurant will largely have the same menu as Land & Lake’s locations in Andersonville and the Loop, serving classic American fare along with cocktails made with local spirits such a
11 reasons why you should move to Chicago
Chicago may be known as the Second City, but to the people who live here it’s second to none. While some locals love to complain about the weather, traffic and corrupt politicians, the pride of residents runs so deep that many want to show it off wherever they go, wearing the city’s four-starred flag on shirts, hats and even inked into their skin. The city welcomes transplants from around the world, so long as you’re willing to learn the unofficial rules of living in Chicago, pick up a little Chicago slang and prepare to have you hot dog condiments scrutinized. If you’re considering a new place to call home, here are 11 reasons to move to Chicago. 1. The dining scene It’s impossible for a tourist with a few days in the city to fully explore the best restaurants in Chicago, which range from world-renowned chef-driven fine dining establishments to 80-year-old ice cream stands. Chicago helped establish the farm-to-table and tasting menu trends, but it also boasts plenty of casual establishments where you can save some money while enjoying everything from empanadas to Chicago-style hot dogs. You'll quickly learn how to eat like a local. 2. Midwestern warmth See someone on the street waving to you? Don’t panic and think it’s someone whose name you’ve forgotten—it’s probably just a stranger being friendly. While New Yorkers are known for bring brusk and Los Angelinos just want to peruse your IMDB profile, Chicagoans are typically a welcoming bunch that are usually happy to give you