I spend a lot of my time eating and drinking out and a lot of my other time telling people about where I ate and what I drank. Although I love yelp (Elite 8 years baby) there is something to be said about the short and sweet list to just reference when you need a quick idea instead of scrolling through hundreds of flowery reviews.
I had a colleague ask me for such a list for Chicago so he didn’t have to keep coming to me for places. In his words he wanted “places that are cool and hard enough to get into that my friends think I’m cool”. I don’t know how cool these are but here are the spots that came to mind.
Avec – very small, sometimes hard to get into because it’s so tiny but amazing food. Sitting at the Chef’s Counter is a really cool experience.
Duck Duck Goat – same chef as Girl & the Goat and there is a lot more than meets the eye here. The menu is built from traditional Chinese staples. I tried the Peking duck and it was pretty good. I like their private room as well, very intimate.
Maple & Ash – I always recommend this place to locals and visitors a like. Swanky without being stuffy and just really good food.
The Publican – very cool space in West Loop built around long communal tables. Always really crowded and has some of the best vegetables in town.
Nico Osteria – gorgeous patio if it ever gets warm enough to open. Very good light Italian food. Burrata is heavenly.
Monteverde – very much a hot new place, very hard to get a reservation just due to availability so this is a good one to plan ahead for. Italian fare in a sleek yet approachable setting.
Leña Brava – Rick Bayless’s newest spot. I haven’t even been here yet! But have heard great things. I just can’t every seem to get a reasonable reservation time.
Bavette’s – classic steakhouse, cool setting, you will always have a good time.
La Sirena Clandestina – this has become one of my favorites in the West Loop. Cool menu with Mexican and Brazilian flavors and truly great cocktails.