I get asked for my restaurant recommendations All. The. Time. And I love to give recommendations, but I tend to shoot off a text here…a Facebook message there…an email once and awhile. So I didn’t have a comprehensive list that I could send people to whenever they asked. This serves that purpose. I hope you enjoy!

Splurge:

  • Alinea - Chef Grant Achatz draws foodies with New American tasting menus featuring highly creative plates.

  • Schwa - Chef Michael Carlson showcases inventive New American fixed-price menus in a simple, homey space.

  • Oriole - Intimate, high-end kitchen serving an extended New American tasting menu in a stylish space.

  • Spiaggia - Refined Italian cuisine with modern touches, plus tasting menus, featured in swanky environs.

Special Occasion:

  • BLVD - Swanky destination for upscale New American fare based on classic dishes with cocktails & champagne.

  • Blackbird - Chef-owner Paul Kahan's sleek flagship known for inventive fare & a popular fixed-price lunch menu.

  • Joe's Seafood, Prime Steak & Stone Crab - Classic steak & seafood fare, including signature stone crab claws, served by a tuxedo-clad staff. I put this one on the list for the “liquid gold” aka CRAB BISQUE

  • Boka - Creative American cuisine in a stylish, modern setting with a lounge & candelit back garden patio.

  • Girl & the Goat - Hot spot where Stephanie Izard serves up innovative small plates from a dramatic open kitchen.

  • Tanta - Inventive Peruvian fare served in a stylish Peru-inspired space; known for its pisco sour cocktail.

  • Sepia - Seasonal, inventive, upscale American in a brick, tile & wood interior evoking classic Chicago.

Date Night/Out with Friends:

  • The Purple Pig - Adventurous small plates plus house-cured meats & a lengthy wine list in small, lively quarters.

  • Monteverde Restaurant & Pastificio -Stylish spot serving refined, contemporary Italian fare such as fresh pastas, plus global wines.

  • Au Cheval - The open kitchen at this upscale "diner" works with ingredients ranging from bologna to foie gras.

  • avec Restaurant - Inventive small & large plates served in a cozy, minimalist space with communal seating.

  • Parachute - Funky-chic place serving modern, creative Korean-American fare plus wine & cocktails.

  • Quartino Ristorante - Bustling, bi-level space where groups go for small & large plates plus cocktails & carafes of wine.

  • Farmhouse Chicago - Funky farm-themed hangout with salvaged decor serving American comfort food, regional beers & wines.

  • Sofi Restaurant - Upscale Northern Italian trattoria dispensing gourmet fare & diverse wines amid intimate tables.

  • Chicago Q - House-smoked Southern BBQ plus a full bar & bourbon flights in an upscale setting.

  • Pacific Standard Time - brings the warmth and authenticity of California farms and artisans to the heart of downtown Chicago

  • RAMEN-SAN - Rustic ramen joint for noodle soups, buns & chicken wings plus cocktails, sake & lots of whisky.

  • Summer House Santa Monica - Sunny restaurant serving New American grub, tropical drinks & more in an airy space with an atrium.

Budget and Delicious:

  • Cafecito - Coffeehouse specializing in pressed Cuban sandwiches plus salads, platters & more in modern digs.

  • Velvet Taco - Tacos with global flavors in a counter-service setting with beer & margaritas.

  • Friends Ramen - Hip spot for mini bowls of ramen & izakaya-style pub plates in a rustic space with an open kitchen.

  • Fish Bar - Small, casual restaurant serving sustainably sourced seafood in fried, sandwich, soup or taco form.

  • Lowcountry Lakeview - Southern seafood boils, cocktails & beer served in nautical surroundings with a backyard look.

  • Glenn's Diner - Fresh fish, American diner fare & weekend brunches in a no-frills, wood-accented space.

  • Oyster Bah - Multilevel, New England–inspired seafood spot with 2 bars & a rustic, nautical look

  • Portillo's Hot Dogs - Chicago-born chain for hot dogs, Italian beef sandwiches & more, plus beer & wine, in retro digs.

Best Place to get a Cocktail:

  • the Albert - this is primarily a book blog so I obviously love this place for the bookish decor. But the staff was super fun and they had delicious cocktails.

  • The Gage - I love to go here after touring the Art Institute of Chicago

  • Cindy’s - Best views of the Millennium Park + the have cocktails everyone in your party will enjoy

  • The Broken Shaker at Freehand Chicago - I slipped into this cozy bar one day when it was raining and it was the absolute perfect setting.

  • The Berkshire Room - Every time I come here I order the dealer’s choice which allows you to choose your spirit, flavor profile, and glassware.

  • Sparrow - I discovered this place with a friend right before I moved away from Chicago and I still dream about it. It is a cozy little place with tiki drinks.

  • Centennial Crafted Beer & Eatery - this place was right down the street from my old apartment. We would walk here All. The. Time. to grab an appetizer and cocktail.

  • Three Dots and a Dash - a classic tiki bar. It is getting a little touristy but it is still a fun place to go with girlfriends.

  • City Winery on the Riverfront - I love to sit here and people watch. It has great views of the river, Marina City, and a decent glass of wine.

  • The Barrelhouse Flat - a friend of mine took me here late one night when I was back in town for a visit. I had a Midnight in Paris experience - I was totally transported back in time.

  • The Aviary - how can I explain The Aviary? It is several courses of nothing but cocktails. And these cocktails are the most imaginative cocktails you’ll ever experience.

  • The Violet Hour - a super romantic spot. It is hard to go here as a group as the setting is quiet and intimate.

For Breakfast:

  • Pierrot Gourmet at The Peninsula - a cute little french bistro with the best quiche

  • Beatrix - there are several locations with a nice selection of unique breakfast dishes. They also have a coffee bar and pastries for breakfast on-the-go

  • Cafe des Architects - I used to walk here from my apartment to get the Ham and Greyere crepes. They probably aren’t the best place in Chicago for breakfast and may be overpriced but I loved that I almost felt like I was in Europe.

  • Kanela Breakfast Club - Eatery that puts a modern spin on breakfast favorites & offers Greek-inspired dishes & lunch, too.

All of these are places I’ve tried myself, usually multiple times. If there is a restaurant you want me to try that isn’t on this list, contact me here:

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