A Stroll down Southport Corridor (adults only)

The Southport Corridor may be known for strollers, moms and boutiques, but recently, there has been a surge in places for adults to play. So ditch those strollers, grab a glass of wine, and take a peek into some adult friendly places popping up on the Southport Corridor.

Coda Di Volpe-  Boasting Southern Italian fare like pizza, steak and seafood, they are most known for their Neapolitan pizza that comes with a side scissors to cut your own slices. Chef Thompson brings his own flair with a seasonal menu, house-cured meats, along with a contemporary vibe that all creates a great spot on Southport.

Coda has a great wine list (award winning in fact) and a creative cocktail menu.  As for starters, my absolute favorite appetizer is the goat cheese with beets appetizer (I am not sure this is on the menu anymore, sigh…) and the pork & prosciutto Meatballs.

How’s your Friday night looking? #chicago #tailofthefox

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Goat Cheese and Beets Appetizer

Next, pizza! The Funghi and Diavolo pizza are both delicious, but really, they all look fantastic.  Thompson crafts traditional VPN-certified Neapolitan pizzas served with authentic pizza shears that adds an element of fun to the dining experience.

Next up, pasta. All the pastas are made in-house and available gluten free upon request. A stand out dish is the Trombette Trapanese made with Coda’s fennel sausage, tomato, almond, garlic, and basil. It’s also just beautiful to look at.

They are also now serve brunch on the weekend. It’s perfect for date night or a night out with the ladies.

Ella Elli- The newest addition to the 4 star restaurant group, is the wine bar, Ella Elli. This sexy, romantic spot is so swanky, I felt like I had been transported downtown to a fancy hotel in River North. The over sized lanterns, fireplace and couches, make for THE perfect date night spot.

We love Fridays! Stop in for a drink at the bar before we fill up! 📸: @nadia.ryan

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 The wine list is extensive, but Pinot Noir Rose by Willamette Valley really paired nicely with our cheese board.  We also tried the creamy mushroom toast with creme faiche and thyme, this would make me come back. Everything is presented beautifully and our server paired everything really well with our wine.

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Ella Elli

They have pizza great for sharing, pasta and burgers. The burger is supposed to be outstanding, as well as their brunch menu  When I visited, we shared the charcuterie  and toasts, which really can be a meal in itself. Next time, the burger is on my list.

@Eater_Chicago named our pizzas as some of the hottest in Chicago!! Have you tried them yet?

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If you need a date night, Ella Elli should absolutely be on your list.

Tied House– Just opening in February 2018, this is brand new on Southport. The reviews are rolling in and everything about Tied House has been outstanding.

Schubas Tavern has been around for three decades, and now there is a new addition  with the opening of Tied House, the owners’ new restaurant next door. The modern architecture and the courtyard that separates the restaurant from Schubas with a giant outdoor fireplace just dazzles from the inside and out.

Schubas will continue to have the same menu, Tied House’s chef, Debbie Gold (who happens to be  James Beard Award-winning chef) to create her own menu, including short rib, crudo, porridge with beets and house made ice cream.

Tied House will be perfect for pre and post concerts and is a great addition to the area looking for more “adult” friendly dining.

With so many options now on Southport, there is really something for everyone.

Until next time.

Christine

 

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National Margarita Day (but that could be any day really…)

Turquoise Margarita Day Trivia Facebook Post

If you know anything about me, I enjoy two kinds of drinks: a glass of Cabernet and a margarita with salt.  But margaritas can be overly sweet, watered down, or just really, really bad. Whether it is Cinco de Mayo or a warm day in Chicago, a margarita is the perfect cocktail to sip on. To help you get your buzz on,  I have rounded up a few of my favorite marg’s around the city.

Big Star– This might be the most obvious choice, but their margaritas are really tasty. Either by the pitcher or glass, I prefer the Big Star mezcal rather than the Classic. The classic is made with blanco tequila, which doesn’t give the smoky taste I prefer like the Big Star. They have an amazing patio and it’s perfect for the warmer Chicago months, and of course, let’s not forget their tacos.

Masa Azul– This Logan Square Mexican and cocktail bar is a little gem that might have the best margaritas in the city. Seriously. Their margaritas are that good. With almost 20 cocktail options to choose from, all ranging from $6- $12 dollars, lots of tacos (lots of vegetarian options), this is my top 5 favorite Mexican places in Chicago. This is a bold statement, considering my husband’s discerning taste. With such a variety of options, there might be a margarita for everyone.

#nationalmargaritaday

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The two margaritas I recommend are the Prickly Pear and Where there is smoke. This has mezcal joven with a Serrano Chile. Smoky with a little spice.  Pair it with their guacamole = perfect meal.

Crio Bar and Restaurant– Located in West Lincoln park on Clybourn Avenue, this Latin American gastropub has some really flavorful margaritas, great empanadas and drink specials throughout the week. On Tuesdays, Margaritas are only $6 dollars.

New Guava Margarita 🙌🏽 it's so refreshing, already had 10 😜

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$6 margaritas for Lunch and Dinner 😜 #happytuesday #tacotuesday

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I have two go-to drinks here. First, the hibiscus marg is a delicious combination of sweet and spicy.  Second, they have a version of a Moscow mule, made with mezcal, which is really good. Plus, for all you instagrammers, the mural and flower wall make a great photo opportunity.

Del Toro– Located in Pilsen, this little gem is always packed and always worth the wait. The tacos are delicious, but the margaritas is make me coming back. My favorite is the  jalapeno margarita.  It literally comes with a flaming jalapeno which is not only entertaining, it makes for fun experience. It was also delicious – which is a double plus.

These are just a few places, but Chicago is full of so many amazing places to grab a margarita. I’d love to hear your go-to places!

Until next time…

Christine

Bring Your Own Date and Booze: My Favorite BYO Spots in the City

Gold Fancy National Wine Day Social Media Graphic

BYO (bring your own booze, beer or wine) is one of those great restaurant qualities that  many look for when dining out. It’s cheaper (usually), much more casual and a great place to dine with groups. Chicago has an abundance of BYO options ranging from casual to upscale dining, so I have rounded up a list of my favorite spots throughout the city.

Sushi Mon – Located in Lincoln Park, this BYO sushi restaurant has a wide variety of sushi rolls, sushi bowls, pressed sushi and an impressive list of veggie rolls. My personal favorites are the Godzilla, V6 and Sparking rolls (see all three below). They recently expanded from one tiny room to now a much bigger space. The service is friendly, prices are great and no corkage fee. Go check it out and tell them I sent you 🙂

Sushi mon is a BYOB in lincoln park

Various Rolls at Sushi Mon

Sushi Mon: 2441 N Clark St, Chicago, IL 60614

90 Miles Cuban Cafe– My family has been coming to 90 Miles for years now for their traditional Cuban cuisine. We have celebrated graduations, anniversaries and birthdays here. It is huge, has an outdoor seating and the decor all make for a fun dining atmosphere. The empanadas and ropa vieja are not to be missed, some of the best I have ever had (sorry mother-in-law!)

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Photo by Lindsey Howald Patton

The service is top-notch, especially since there are many large groups at time. They take reservations and it is definitely recommended. In addition to being BYOB, they have a sangria and mojito mix, so bring wine or rum they will make you a cocktail. There are a few locations in the city. To find out more information, click here.

1. 3333 W Touhy Ave, Lincolnwood, IL 60712

2. 3101 N Clybourn Ave, Chicago, IL 60618

3. 2540 W Armitage Ave, Chicago, IL 60647

Home Bistro Chicago– The first time I dined at the cozy and quaint Home Bistro, was on a date (with my now husband years ago) when we first started dating. Located in Lakeview, with a constant changing New American menu, along with no corkage fee, this is the ideal date night spot.  They have an option for a prix fix on Wednesdays and Sunday brunch. For parties of 7 of more, they have a family style prix fixed menu at $45/person. They take reservations and are highly recommended.

Photo from Home Bistro

Home Bistro Chicago: 3404 N Halsted St, Chicago, IL 60657

Caro Miro- For our very first Valentine’s Day (7 years ago…), we came to the Italian BYO Caro Miro and have gone several times since. Located in Ravenswood, this cozy, neighborhood spot has homemade pastas with huge portions, big enough to share. The pesto filled gnocchi is the best and chicken parmesan is also another favorite. There is not a corkage fee, but if you plan on sharing entrees, there is a $4 sharing fee. They recently expanded their dining room and take parties to up to 80 people now. Reservations are taken for parties of 4 or more. Bring your appetite and a bottle or two for some delicious Italian food.

Gnocchi Gratinati @ Caro Mio Italian Restaurant

Photo from Food Spotting.com

Caro Miro: 1833 W Wilson Ave, Chicago, IL 60640

Semiramis- This Lebanese restaurant is intimate, welcoming and the food is fantastic. I love the mixed grilled platter, falafel, and hummus are delicious. There is plenty of street parking, but it is located right off the Kedzie Brown Line stop. There is a corkage fee and don’t take reservations, but so worth the wait. Promise.

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Photo from @TammyGreen

Semiramis: 639 N Kedzie Ave, Chicago, IL 60625

There are plenty of BYO restaurants to choose from in Chicago and a little something for everyone. Now get those appetites and bottles poppin’. 🙂

Until next time…

Christine

Top 5 Kid-Friendly Brunch Spots

(See collaborating post here with Fab Food Chicago)

One of my favorite weekend activities to do in Chicago is to try different brunch spots around town. But after I had my son, my brunch requirements changed. I didn’t want to stop going, but needed to find accommodating places. A children’s menu with lots options (or at least something kid friendly on the menu), good service and a welcoming atmosphere are all qualities I look for now. With so many brunch places in Chicago, I have narrowed it down to the top 5 kid friendly brunches in the city.

Stella Barra

Located in Lincoln Park, Stella Barra is connected to Summer House and serves an All You Can Eat Chef Inspired Brunch for $19.95 for adults and kids under 12 eat free. There are so many options for the adults and children. They have pancakes, French Toast (my son’s personal favorite), house made cinnamon buns, biscuits and gravy, chilaquiles (this is a must) yogurt parfaits and so on. Mimosas and Bellini’s are $5 dollars as well. The service has always been great; giving children crayons, coloring menus and very accommodating on seating. There is also stroller parking in front and lots of dining space. Great food and service really make this place kid friendly. They also take reservations.

Stella AYCE brunch- kid friendly brunch

AYCE Brunch-Photo @StellaBarra

TIP: They have an outdoor patio in the back with lots of seating for large groups.

Location: Lincoln Park || 1954 N. Halsted, Chicago, IL || P: (773) 634-4101

Cornerstone Café

With two locations, Lincoln Park and Logan Square, this diner is the first brunch we ever brought our son to. This casual café is an easy diner to bring children of all ages for breakfast or an early lunch. It is a great value, friendly service and have breakfast and lunch served daily. 

Friendly brunch spots at Cornerstone Cafe

Brunch-Photo @tjs_grams

They open at 7am and you can find lots of children and families there. They are very accommodating with seating and strollers and will make you feel right at home. They have plenty of sweet and savory options, with delicious pancakes and French toast for children and a variety of omelette options for the adults, all large portion sizes. Their corned beef hash and sweet potato fries are great options for brunch too. Service is fast, friendly and the food is all worth checking out. They do not take reservations, so I recommend going early.

TIP: The Logan Square location is BYOB.

Location: 

Logan Square || 2753 N. Western Ave, Chicago, IL || P: (773) 235-1155

Lincoln Park || 2200 N. Clybourn Ave, Chicago, IL || P: (773) 270- 4343

Knife and Tine

Knife and Tine was a place I was initially hesitant to bring my son. It is small and rather intimate, but I cannot say enough about their service and willingness to work with you and your children. And of course, the food. I have been several times with my son for happy hour, dinner and brunch, and each time, the food and service go beyond expectations. I have even dined by myself with my son and they have been extremely helpful. They will help you with the stroller, seating accommodations, and even give your little ones a box of Legos, stickers and crayons with coloring sheets. For the adults, the shrimp and grits with scrambled eggs is amazing. It is made with white cheddar and apple smoked bacon. For the children, they have banana pancakes, French toast, grilled cheese and other fun dishes. The food is incredible, service is very good every time. They also take reservations.

Pumpkin spice French toast#knifeandtine #breakfastlover #frenchtoast #foodlife #pumpkinspice

Pumpkin Spice French Toast-Photo by @tymtrouble

TIP: They have delicious coffee cocktails.

Location: Lincoln Park ||1417 N. Fullerton, Chicago, IL || P: (773) 697- 8311

Wishbone

This Lakeview and West Loop Southern comfort restaurant is great for any meal, but the perfect place to bring your family for brunch. The crab cake benedict, red eggs and their biscuits are delicious. Definitely don’t skip the biscuits, they are some of the best I have ever had. You can also ask for a side of honey.

For children, my son loved the strawberry pancakes. He devoured them. There are other options like eggs, grits and mac and cheese for children. All the portions are large and easily could be shared.

The service is friendly, fast and accommodating. There is lots of dining space for you and your family. They do take reservations, but only for parties of 6 or more on the weekends.

om nom nom nom 🙌🏾 Belgium waffles are my favorite, halleloo lordt.

Belgium Waffles-Photo by @mochiibear

TIP: One Free entree from the Kids menu for every regular adult breakfast (must be ordered by 9 am)

Location

Lakeview ||3300 N Lincoln Ave||, Chicago, IL || P: (773) 549-2663

West Loop ||1001 W Washington Blvd, Chicago, IL || P: (312) 850-2663  

Kingsbury Street Cafe

This Near North Side upscale diner has extremely good food, innovative dishes and fast service. The menu has items like lemon pancakes, shrimp egg white frittata, and salmon hash. One of their most well known dishes is the Piggy Moo Cluck Sandwich, which is eggs, ham, bacon and cheese served on ciabatta bread. It’s amazing and not your average brunch sandwich. They serve some really delicious coffee and brunch cocktails to accompany the food.

Friendly brunch spots with my son at Kingsbury Cafe

Lemon Pancakes-Photo by @TopChicagoEats

For the children’s menu, it isn’t extensive, but they have typical items like pancakes and chicken fingers. However, many of the items on the adult menu could be shared with children, even for the pickiest eaters. My son and I shared the lemon pancakes and we both loved them.

This cafe is great weekend brunch with a fun, lively vibe with a little something for the entire family. It does get very busy on the weekends. I would highly recommend reservations.

TIP: They sell pastries to go.

Location: Near North Side||1523 N Kingsbury St||, Chicago, IL || P: (312) 280-1718

Until next time,

Christine

Back to the Basics: Grassroots Eatery

There are several places to eat on Southport Corridor in Chicago. But there isn’t one that can truly claim they are farm-to-table. And to be honest, that terms gets thrown around so much now. But what does it actually mean? At Grassroots Eatery at 3747 N Southport Ave, they are a neighborhood eatery serving American contemporary farm-to-table dishes. Everything is sourced from local and Southwest Michigan Farms. All the produce and protein is hand selected by the owner at places like Kaminski Farm in Three Oaks, Michigan and produce from Frank Farms in Berrien, Michigan. Additionally, they grow their own herbs, tomatoes, and kale. There is nothing more farm-to-table than that.

Some stand out dishes on the dinner menu is the pork chop. It is a 10 oz organic, Iowa raised pork chop served with roasted sweet potatoes and pickled Red Haven peaches.

Or the cheeseburger from Kaminki Farm that is 14 day dry aged house ground beef with a tomato jam and apple smoked bacon. One of my personal favorites is the buffalo cauliflower and house-made mac & cheese with an option to add mushrooms, bacon or lobster. Absolutely fantastic.

Mac & Cheese at Grassroots Eatery on Southport

Mac & Cheese

Buffalo Caullflower from Grassroots Eatery on Southport in Chicago

Buffalo Cauliflower

They also serve several local beer, spirits and wine. The Pinot Noir from Dablon Winery (learn more about this winery here.) is delicious and the Smoke & Spice cocktail with mescal and jalapeno was perfect.

Smoke & Spice Cocktail from Grassroots Eatery on Southport

Smoke & Spice Cocktail

What I also like about Grassroots is the kids menu. Too many times have we dined with Noah and the only options are either cheese pizza or chicken nuggets. Not nutritious for him at all. What’s unique is they are offer the same organic and free range food like the regular menu. Even the cheeseburger on the kids menu is a 14 day aged ground beef patty. Best part, all kids meals are $6 dollars.

They serve weekend brunch that includes $15 dollar bottomless mimosas and $5 dollar bloody mary’s. Other specials during the week are 1/2 price bottles on wine on Wednesdays and a daily 3 course pre-fix menu for $27 dollars.

Avocado Toast- Brunch Menu at Grassroots eatery

Avocado Toast- Brunch Menu

Chicken and Waffles- Brunch Menu at Grassroots Eatery on Southport

Chicken and Waffles- Brunch Menu

It is definitely a place you can take your family, head to brunch with friends or out on a date night (a great location because it is attached to Mercury Theater and next to the Music Box). Try getting back to the basics and enjoy a true farm-to-table meal at the approachable Grassroots Eatery.

Let me know what you think.

Until next time,

Christine

Old is New Again: The Berghoff

My parents grew up going to The Berghoff in downtown Chicago. Most Chicagoan’s probably have. I used to go as a kid, but the last time I was there, I was in high school. In fact, I thought for the longest time it was closed. Recently, I had the opportunity to dine and tour the restaurant and was so impressed. Not only because of the history, but the revival of the menu.  The Berghoff is known for their German food like Weiner Schnitzel’s, bratwursts and giant Bavarian pretzels. Of course, those dishes are legendary, but there are new additions to the menu that are more modern and appealing to a younger generation. More contemporary dishes that even include certified gluten-free options. But first, let me tell you about the history and how it all began. 

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The Berghoff has been around since 1898, and is rich in Chicago history.  Herman Berghoff posted right outside the Chicago’s World Fair in 1893, similar to a pop-up cafe. His success from that, is how he made enough money to bring his family to Chicago and open his cafe.  

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End of Prohibition- 1935 (Photo Courtesy of The Berghoff)

During the prohibition, the bar remained opened by selling a “Near Beer” which contained less than 0.5% alcohol. This made it possible for Herman to sell and stay open. After prohibition ended, The Berghoff was issued Chicago’s first Liquor License. Chicago has honored this every year and they will always receive the first license.

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The Berghoff had a separate men’s only bar until 1969, when Gloria Steinem demanded service and this ended the male-only streak.

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Now for the food. We sampled a lot of everything, some classic dishes and contemporary ones. I also had the opportunity to meet Chef Matt and Chef Javier. Their love for not only the food, but their passion for working at the restaurant shined through. They have been at the restaurant for years and are dedicated to making great food. Chef Matt went into detail on how everything is made in house. With a bakery and 4 kitchens in the 50,000 square feet space, everything is made on site. That is something unique and many Chicago restaurants can’t claim. To take a closer look at the behind the scenes in the bakery, look here.

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With all that being said, my top 3 dishes are:

3. Red Velvet Cake- I am not usually one for dessert or sweets in general, but this red velvet cake is fluffy with the right amount of sweetness. Served with a side of vanilla ice cream, this dessert will make anyone go out of their way to dine here.

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2. Braised Short Ribs- This is fantastic. Melts in your mouth good. Served with a side of mashed potatoes and topped with fried onions. The textures are just right. Perfect comfort food during the cooler months.

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1.Butternut Squash Lasagna- Layered with diced butternut squash and Manchego, then topped with grilled asparagus and glazed walnuts, it is outstanding. The combination of the sweetness from the squash with the cheese is perfect. It is light enough to eat year-round and vegetarians should go crazy over it. Definitely a stand out dish.

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The Berghoff is also known for Oktoberfest. This runs from September 7th- October 7th. With live music and food specials, it will put you in the mood for the fall festivities ahead.

Whether you are from Chicago or here to visit, The Berghoff is a must stop for great food and some Chicago history.

Until next time…

Christine

 

SafeHouse with our Junior Spy

We are always on the hunt for fun activities to do as a family. Things that are different and unique, but still kid friendly. We recently went as a family to the spy-themed restaurant, Safehouse on 60 E. Ontario in River North and had such an adventure! This was probably the most unique dining experiences we have had in Chicago. I am usually not one for themed restaurants, but they go all out and stay in “character” the entire time.  There is so much for everyone to do, you could spend hours just exploring. But not only is it entertaining for the entire family, the food is INCREDIBLE. Read more at Motherhood & Family

Getting Fresh Retro at Rhyme and Reason

Between sports bars and brunch spots, it’s difficult to stand out on Division Street. But, Le’Qoinne Rice and Zafer Genc are doing it with Rhyme or Reason, 1938 W. Division. Their 70’s themed interior, menu from Chef Chris de la Cueva, and live entertainment, all help bring a fun, retro vibe to the Wicker Park area.

Plush rugs, velvet couches and mirrors sets the mood for the 70’s eatery with shareable food and innovative cocktails. The mural around the base of the bar is by Jas Petersen, a Chicago visual artist and painter, which surrounds the circular bar. With an open kitchen, large windows, and an outdoor patio with seating up to 75 people, this is a perfect spot to spend the warm summer months ahead.

The Tuesday through Friday dinner menu has a touch of comfort food like fried oysters, lamb meatballs, wings, burgers and poutine, while the weekend brunch has some of my favorites.

On the brunch menu is a delicious edamame toast, an upgrade from avocado toast. For those who enjoy a little heat, the fried chicken and donuts topped with fresno chili is the perfect choice. Their Bloody Mary comes with a slice of house smoked bacon and mini grilled cheese sandwich. It’s like a meal before the meal or a side for your drinks of choice.

The $1 oysters as well as the bottomless mimosas for $18.95 with orange, hibiscus and grapefruit juices are more reasons for Rice’s and Genc’s Rhyme or Reason to be one of your favorite brunch spots too.

During happy hour from 4pm to 6pm, Tuesday through Friday, $5 dollars gets you bites like lamb sliders, fried oysters and the West Town pizzette. Wash it all down with Prosecco on tap and a glass of Retro Fruit Punch.

Tuesdays are special community giveback to Chicago Public Schools. CPS receives a donation of 15% off all sales.

Rhyme or Reason’s music scene is live Friday and Saturday and ranges from local funk to soul and disco. During the week, the vinyl only DJ booth is coolest and brings a unique quality to the venue.

Le’Qoinne Rice and Zafer Genc opened the business in February 2016 and have been friends for years. Rhyme or Reason reflects their relationship, coming from opposite backgrounds, but managed to develop a relationship and now business.

Whether you stop by for food, drink or music, you’ll find there is both rhyme and reason.

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Favorite Places for a cocktail or ✌🏼

 

With this beautiful weather Chicago has to offer lately (for February, it’s near short of a miracle), I’ve been thinking a lot about my favorite places to grab a glass or wine or cocktail. Not in any order, below are some fun places for any day of the week, date night, solo or with the whole family.

London House (Date night/solo)

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London House

Just there views alone are breath taking. Like seriously, amazing views of downtown Chicago. They have a great cocktail list and an extensive mezcal list, which is my favorite. They also have a 3 course Power Lunch menu for $20 dollars (a legit steal for downtown). It’s a three course meal from their lunch menu. This is great for date night, out of town friends, have a ladies night or solo. I went during the day on a Tuesday and had he rooftop to myself. Either way, the views and cocktails are top notch.

Bar Cocina (Sunday Funday/Friends) Heading up north, this taco spot has a year round patio. Brunch outside or ice skating during the winter, it’s a year round spot for great cocktail with your friends or family. Their Bottomless Brunch for $39.95 with Chef Stations and Drinks is a must. Their biggest selling point is their year round patio, which isn’t too common for a bar/restaurant. With large couches, heat lamps and plenty of space, the day could be spent here sipping away!

Parson’s (Sunday Funday/Family)

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Parson’s

Head to Humboldt Park and sit outside (in winter, it is an ice skating rink) with the entire family. The chicken, hush puppies and slushies are my personal favorite. There is so much room for strollers and doggies, that you could spend hours eating and drinking. My kind of place.

J. Parker (Date Night/Friend/Parties)– With some of the best views in Chicago, this rooftop is located at the Lincoln Hotel in Lincoln Park. They now currently have a year round roof, so enjoy it any time of the year.

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J. Parker

Some of my other favorites are the mocktails at Santa Monica House, Big Star and Dark and Stormy slushies at Chop Shop.

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Chop Shop

Chicago is a place for eating and drinking so there’s so many more. Let me know what you think!

~xoxo~

CGL