The baristas at The Rock House wouldn’t lavish their attention on any old beans picked out of a wholesale catalogue—they needed a more personal experience with the coffee-growing industry. To guarantee the wholly non-exploitative origins of each cup of java served at their shop, the coffee brewers partnered with growers to develop their very own crops and went the extra mile to ensure quality by roasting all the beans in-house. As the baristas brew single cups with an artisanal pour-over method, customers can sip Sri Lankan teas, sift through rock-’n’-roll-inspired merchandise under the light streaming from naked light bulbs, chandeliers, and disco balls.
House-made cuisine isn't supposed to be flashy, and Mario's Mondo Cafe doesn't try to impress diners with anything beyond an unwavering dedication to Old World flavors. Inspired by generations of family recipes, Chef Mario cobbles together a menu of familiar Italian staples while incorporating local and sustainably sourced ingredients whenever possible. The Chicago Tribune praised the restaurant for its commitments to tradition and unpretentious comfort food, calling the eatery, "a casual, hidden treasure."
Even the decor aims to create a cozy ambiance. Butcher paper covers the tabletops and a single shelf lines the pale orange walls, displaying a variety of homestyle mementos, such as framed pictures and bronzed kickball trophies.
The Chicago Botanic Garden Wine Festival invites oenophiles, aficionados, and amateur wine-intakers to the lush, flowery foliage of the Chicago Botanic Garden for a weekend of wine tasting. More than 200 wines will be available for swirling, sniffing, and shipping at this year's festival, with a line-up of speakers and musicians providing enlightenment and entertainment for festival attendees. Local restaurants, including Abigail's American Bistro, Caoba Mexican Bar & Grill, and Bluegrass, will be on-site to sell gastronomic goodies, with an array of vendors showcasing everything from cookware to vacation services.
Tommy Nevin's Pub was founded by Steven Prescott and christened for his grandfather Thomas Nevin, a WWI veteran. The flagship location in Evanston touts a bright red façade that pays homage to the renowned Temple Bar in Dublin, and the menus at all three locations likewise salute the culture of the Emerald Isle. Though it inhabits a decidedly Celtic corner of the pub world, Chicago Bar Project deemed the Evanston outpost “the best bar in the suburbs” for its “intriguing combination of country Irish pub, modern Chicago bar and cutting-edge alternative music venue.” Chefs whip up corned beef and shepherd's pie as bartenders handle taps and spirits. Friends can cheer on local sports teams on TV or wrack their brains to remember the name of Azerbaijan's currency and most popular potato-chip flavor at weekly trivia nights.
In pubs across Ireland, the craic, which means enjoyable conversation and gossip, is everything. It's the same at The Curragh Irish Pub & Restaurant, with regular live music, Irish dancing, and live streaming of rugby and soccer matches from around the world. The Curragh's menu relies on its Irish ancestry, with traditional dishes such as corned beef and cabbage or chicken boxty. Beers follow suit, with dozens of Irish ales, including Smithwick's and Guinness, on tap. Whiskeys such as Jameson and Bushmills are also poured through tap-like spigots at the wood-paneled bar. In the summery months, The Curragh's patio radiates with warmth and conviviality, often humming with the cheer and snorted laughter of catered parties.
The redolent aromas of a medley of unique culinary syntheses permeate the cleverly mismatched furnishings of Vibe's lively lounge. After perusing the menu, ease into an evening as smooth and enjoyable as a hang-glide session with Fabio by romping through the tilapia ceviche, a piquant citric noshable served with tortilla chips ($9.50). Works by local artists gaze watchfully from the walls as diners tear into bacon, apple, and blue cheese pizza ($9) while basking in the glow of one of the many vibrant orange sofas or the lounge's outdoor seating. Meatloaf sliders, crowned with fried onion and jalapeno mayonnaise ($2.50 each), serve up a new twist on a traditional dish akin to Emeril's famous chicken-noodle schnapps. Vibe's bar pours mirth into the glasses of guests who enjoy colorful environs framed by hanging curtains and eccentric lighting, which host a variety of live musical performances and well-known artists 3–4 times a week and other events.
At a three-times-weekly gathering at A’s Bar, The Chubby Bullfrog combines fine cheeses and smooth sips of five 6-ounce import and craft beers with sausages provided by Perl’s All American Sausage Company and Chicago mainstay G.I. Joe, The Sausage Man, a traveling meat salesman featured on ABC’s 190 North. Sausages' smoky notes commingle with beers' bitter and sharp accents, sending a wave of flavor crashing over sleeping taste buds and destroying their sandcastles. If the Chicago Bears play during Sunday’s class, students receive free food.