Dig in to your favorite American meal at Ivy.
Drinks are also on the menu here, so guests can start the night off right.
This restaurant is a terrific spot for families to gather with its kid-friendly ambience and menu.
Ivy has a large dining room, making it easy to seat large parties.
Ivy offers patio seating in the warmer months.
The restaurant takes reservations, so you can plan your next get-together ahead of time.
Business casual attire is acceptable, so guests can let go of the "dress to impress" standard.
Dining out isn't your only option here — pickup is available, too.
Drivers can leave their vehicles in the many street-side spaces. Or, for busier nights, garage parking is also nearby.
Ivy provides ample space for bikers to store their bikes.
Who s hungry for great grub at a reasonable rate? Ivy s yummy creations will leave a mark in your memory but not a dent in your pocketbook.
If you're more of an evening diner, you're in luck. Though all three meals are served, the restaurant's dinner menu will blow you away.
Ivy is a great place to go for lunch or dinner, so make your way over to the restaurant today and munch on an American classic.
"You can tell pretty quickly the pizzaiolo knows what he's doing," Steve "Hungry Hound" Dolinsky once said of Bricks' chef. And Dolinsky—who's currently on a quest to find the best pizza in Chicago and who has perhaps eaten more pies than anyone in town—knows what he's talking about.
Bricks has its fair share of inventive pies (cinnamon roll, honey-sriracha), but Dolinsky was wowed by the delectably simple margherita. The arrangement of fresh mozzarella, shredded basil, Alta Cucina tomatoes, and EVOO gets crisped up in a wood-fired oven that reaches 900 degrees Fahrenheit (901 degrees Gigaboot) and thus bakes the pizza in just three minutes.
But with any of Bricks' pies, it's the dough that makes the margherita truly special. Made fresh each day from high-protein flour, it sits for 48 hours before use to ensure that distinctive Neapolitan chewiness.
Houlihan's is a relaxed restaurant with an elegant decor and classic American dishes.
You can also catch the latest scores on the TVs in the bar.
This restaurant welcomes kids, too, so you can feel good about bringing the whole family.
Stay in the loop (and online!) by tapping into Houlihan's' free wifi hotspot.
At Houlihan's, there's no need to confine your meal to a traditional dining room — outdoor seating is available when the weather is warm.
Parties of any size can easily be seated at Houlihan's.
Patrons pack the restaurant on weekends, so it's a good idea to make a reservation to ensure prompt seating.
Forget the stuffy formal wear! Houlihan's' business casual dress code sets the tone for ease and enjoyment.
Catering from Houlihan's will take your party to the next level.
Want to enjoy this restaurant without the wait? Get it to go.
At Houlihan's, diners will receive complimentary parking at the lot next door.
Store your bike at one of the many racks outside of Houlihan's.
Houlihan's offers a nice selection of mid-range cuisine, so you can expect a meal there to cost about $30 or less per person.
For a quick and easy payment solution at Houlihan's, pay by major credit card.
Head on over to Houlihan's first thing in the morning or last thing in the evening — Houlihan's is open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
For a dish just like mom made, you'll definitely want to stop by Houlihan's' tasty restaurant.
Houlihan's serves up a variety of American eats in a casual setting. Swing by today and munch on some of your favorite dishes.
If you're seeking a highly-rated American restaurant in the area, look no further than Houlihan's.
Swing by Wheaton's Chick-Fil-A for a quick chicken lunch or dinner.
G-free and low-fat are just a couple of examples, come here for a quick bite that will leave you feeling healthy.
This restaurant welcomes kids, too, so you can feel good about bringing the whole family.
Chick-Fil-A is a suitable restaurant for both large and small groups.
Complimentary wifi is available as well.
Wanna soak up the sun? Come grab a bite at Chick-Fil-A and sit out on their gorgeous patio.
It's strictly first-come, first-served at Chick-Fil-A, so plan an early arrival for your pick of tables.
Jeans are just right for a meal at Chick-Fil-A, which embraces a casual vibe.
For those in a hurry, the restaurant lets you take your meal or snack to go.
Through their catering service, Chick-Fil-A can also set out a delicious spread for your next party.
Chick-Fil-A is located near a parking lot, which many diners take advantage of.
Chick-Fil-A is a prime location for cyclists to park their bikes and enjoy a bite to eat.
Chick-Fil-A offers a wide variety of payment options, including payment by major credit card.
Head on over to Chick-Fil-A first thing in the morning or last thing in the evening — Chick-Fil-A is open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
Enjoy something great and enjoy it quick with the chicken at Chick-Fil-A.
When you're in a rush, stop by Chick-Fil-A and enjoy a quick and easy solution for lunch or dinner.
Whether you prefer sausage, 'roni, or all-around veggie, Jack Straw's Pizza's easy-to-please pizza has fans dishing out top-notch ratings.
Jack Straw's Pizza is our corner of happy and healthy with rich flavors and bold ingredients.
This pizzeria is more than willing to accommodate families, so kids are welcome to tag along.
Jack Straw's Pizza's outdoor seating is available during the warmer months.
Show up a bit early if you want to be seated right away — Jack Straw's Pizza doesn't take reservations.
Not a popular place for dress-up dining, most Jack Straw's Pizza patrons come in casual attire.
Prefer to dine from the comfort of your own couch? Swing by this pizzeria for carryout, or have them come to you with delivery.
Jack Straw's Pizza will even bring the amazing food from their kitchen to yours.
Street parking is available, or, on busy nights, a nearby lot is another option for drivers.
Store your bike safely at one of the main bike racks near Jack Straw's Pizza.
Breakfast bites, light lunches, and delicious dinners are all offered at Jack Straw's Pizza.
Who doesn't love pizza? And who doesn't love pizza with great ratings? Jack Straw's Pizza is home to some of the best slices in the neighborhood, so order a hot one today.
So when pizza is calling your name, head on over to Jack Straw's Pizza and give into your craving.
If fine food and refreshing beverages are on your to-do list, check out The Cellar Bistro in Wheaton.
Indulge in gluten-free and healthy menu options at The Cellar Bistro.
Complement your meal with a beer or wine from this restaurant's delightful drink menu.
Reserve your own room at The Cellar Bistro so that you can create your own private party.
Outdoor dining doesn't get much better than the beautiful patio at The Cellar Bistro.
Give the restaurant a call to reserve your table ahead of time.
Don't spend time or money shopping for a new dinner outfit
The Cellar Bistro's laid-back vibe accepts jeans, T-shirts, and everything in between.
Enjoy this restaurant's cooking from your own home with their carryout and delivery options.
Those driving to The Cellar Bistro can choose to find street parking or leave their vehicle in the nearby lot.
For those who prefer to travel by bike, The Cellar Bistro is a great option due to its generous bike parking options.
Most items on the menu are reasonably priced, so expect to spend around $30 per person at The Cellar Bistro.
The Cellar Bistro accepts all major credit cards, including Visa, MasterCard, Discover, and American Express.
The restaurant is open from morning through evening, but the dinner menu serves the tastiest reviews.
Clockwise from top: Birria in action—rich, briny consommé and tender goat meat, stewed for hours with bay leaves, cinnamon, and other spices. // Ceramic bowls absorb the birria's heat, keeping the broth warm throughout meals. // When Rick Bayless recommended Birrieria Reyes de Ocotlan to "Esquire" magazine, he described the eatery’s birria as "full of flavor, incredibly homey and satisfying."
In Ocotlán in Jalisco, Mexico, the temperature rarely dips below 40 degrees. That's mild by Chicago standards; however, when the Reyes family immigrated 2,000 miles from Ocotlán to Chicago, they brought with them a recipe that would prove thoroughly compatible with the colder weather. That recipe is birria—a savory stew made by simmering goat meat for hours with herbs and spices. On a cold day in mid-March, I made a trek across town to the family's Pilsen restaurant, Birrieria Reyes de Ocotlan, to taste it myself.
As soon as I entered the eatery, I smelled the warm, rich aroma of simmering goat meat. Goats were also present in the decor: miniature replicas decorated shelves and cupboards, and a mounted goat head kept watch over the booths, a toothpick dangling humorously from its lips.
After I ordered birria at the counter, a server presented me with three dishes. The smallest held pickled onions and lime wedges, which are traditional birria condiments, and an oblong basket cradled warm, fresh tortillas. The largest bowl brimmed with rich, briny consommé, chopped onions and cilantro, and hunks of tender goat meat.
The first spoonful of broth tasted bright and smoky with hints of ancho peppers and cinnamon. I separated a piece of goat meat with light pressure from my spoon. Leaner than beef, the meat still had pieces of bone inside, which infused the meat with the flavor of their marrow. The crisp onions and fragrant cilantro stood out against the birria's savory elements to create a harmony of flavors that was especially comforting on a cold day.
After exiting the gates at Union Park this weekend, the first thing on your mind will likely be finding a place to sit down. These five destinations offer a place to rest your feet, have a drink, eat deep-fried bacon, and maybe even break into a bank vault—if that’s your thing. If not, there’s always dancing.
If you wore heels all day and are ready for whiskey and snails while reclining on a sofa:
Maude’s Liquor Bar | 840 W. Randolph St.
After the last set, drag your weary hooves up to the Green Line platform and head two stops east to Restaurant Row, where you’ll find Maude’s long, leather couches perfect for slouching. The escargot is made in the traditional French style—in one of those absurdly French dishes created exclusively for cradling escargot, piping hot out of the oven and swimming in butter, herbs, and garlic—with plenty of crusty bread. To drink, Maude’s has five kinds of smashes, but you should order the whiskey smash, because it’s my favorite. (If you’re feeling exotic, try the Smokey Violet.)
If your inner biker bro is craving a craft brew:
Twisted Spoke | 501 N. Ogden Ave.
Just a few blocks away up Ogden, Twisted Spoke’s rooftop patio is the perfect spot to enjoy one of many brews from an enormous beer list—if you’re not sick of being outdoors. If you are, kick back at the long, curving bar with one of its epic bloody marys. Available in a handful of boozy variations (from classic vodka to spicy tequila), each bloody is garnished with a pile of pickled veggies, cheese, and cured meat, and served with a beer back of Genesee Cream Ale. Twisted Spoke also has deep-fried tempura-style bacon—need I say more?
If you’ve always dreamed of drinking tequila in a bank vault:
The Bedford | 1612 W. Division St.
Tucked away beneath the bustling six-way intersection of Milwaukee, Division, and Ashland, the Bedford is a cool, marble-and-chandeliers destination where the lighting is low enough that no one will notice how dusty your shoes are. The rehabbed bank basement invites imbibers to lounge inside the old bank vault—complete with gleaming safe-deposit boxes—on plush chairs and couches or at one of the many tables and booths in the main space. Groups can order a whole bowl of the refreshing (and potentially dangerous) chamomile tequila punch, a combination of chamomile-infused blanco tequila, grapefruit liqueur, lime, grapefruit juice, and grapefruit soda; it’s also available by the glass and half-bowl.
If you fudged your manicure when someone crowd-surfed over you:
Beauty Bar | 1444 W. Chicago Ave.
Cashing in on the signature $10 martini-and-mani combo, spiff up your nails at one of the manicure stations while sipping on something called the Relaxer, which is actually just a dirty martini but will likely do the job. With a DJ in the booth every night, you can shake a leg under the disco ball once your nails have dried. (Namely, you can bump 'n' grind to the sounds of R. Kelly on Saturday evening during the city’s longest-running tribute night to the local R&B legend.) Or, you could always take a seat in one of the many '50s-style dryer chairs, pull the bowl down over your head, and not talk to anyone.
If you no longer have the energy to speak but do have the energy to chew:
Au Cheval | 800 W. Randolph St.
The burger topped with cheese and fried egg—which Bon Appétit argues is the best in the nation—is the perfect excuse to sit in silence. This two-patty wonder is stuffed between a soft, chewy bun and will keep you and yours occupied long enough to at least try to conjure up a knock-knock joke or something. Accompanied by a Dr. Devon’s Pickleback (one shot of irish whiskey and another of the housemade pickle brine), the combo will likely leave everyone ready for bed, which is perfect because you’re going to need to rest up to do it all over again tomorrow.
Photo credits: 1. Kari Skaflen – Maude's Liquor Bar 2. Michelle Klosinski – Twisted Spoke 3. Brandon Jones – The Bedford 4. Jessica Schultz – Beauty Bar 5. Kari Skaflen – Au Cheval
How do you find Chicago's most Chicago restaurant? You begin by taking the world's best decision-making device: the bracket. Then you combine it with Chicago's best device to represent its messy, opinionated landscape: the ward map. Some have called this pursuit "patently absurd." We humbly disagree. By taking our logic above (bracket + ward map) and extrapolating it into a larger, totally airtight algorithm, our computers have found a winner for the title of Chicago's most Chicago restaurant. See the finalists and read more about the search here. Below is one of the finalists.
Gabrielle Darvassy was tired. Tired of the grind her 20 years in a corporate job subjected her to. Tired of the homogenous food options in her adopted neighborhood. Tired of having to make the trek to the other side of the Loop to procure any kind of quality goods and services.
Looking back, the layoff from her 9-to-5 seems to be a blessing in disguise. “People have to like what they’re doing, and they have to feel fulfilled,” Gabrielle is fond of saying. She began selling nutrient-packed smoothies at the 61st Street Farmers Market, and soon, together with her husband, she opened up B’Gabs Goodies (6100 S. Blackstone Ave.), a raw vegan eatery, on a quiet stretch on the border of Hyde Park and Woodlawn. Not the first place someone would think to serve food that’s been made with absolutely no animal products (not even butter!) nor heated to above 104 degrees.
Doing this helped put Gabrielle’s beliefs about food to the test. When she talks about food, she uses the word love, a lot. Food, she says, gives the body energy, but the people who make it also imbue it with energy.
“If the people who make it and bring it to you aren’t in love with it, it’s not going to be good for you.”
To that end, she procures all her produce from one vendor, who she knows loves what they do. “So everything we make from beginning to end is lovely. I’m not about to put in that type of work [without love]. I did that for 20 years.”
A commitment to the neighborhood
Gabrielle and her husband live in Hyde Park, where he grew up. Their home is close to the border of Woodlawn, which is known as one of the city’s “food deserts,” meaning it’s a trek to a good grocery store or any other source of unprocessed whole foods. And though Hyde Park, as the home of the prestigious University of Chicago (and our current president), holds considerably more options than Woodlawn, they’re not necessarily healthful ones. At least, not by her standards, which—besides vegan fare—include foods made without soy or gluten.
Noting how reluctant business owners were to invest in her neighborhood, Gabrielle decided to keep her endeavor close to home. Though she knew she would be more profitable north of the Loop, it was important to her to show faith in her community, knowing that, just as she has to make the drive up north for certain things, Northsiders would make the drive south, if what she was doing was viable.
“If you want your community to be better, you have to do the work in your community,” she says.
A community that keeps coming back
On our visit, we almost drove right past B’Gabs Goodies’ door. It shares the block with what looks like a warehouse on one side of the street and an empty industrial lot on the other. The address on its Facebook page adds the parenthetical “(green door)” after the address, the tiniest clue to locating it.
“People find us by word of mouth,” Gabrielle tells me, once I’ve found my way in. “They feel like it’s a vegan speakeasy.”
In fact, the only publicity they’ve ever done since they opened in 2011 has been running a Groupon and doing stories with any interested publications.
And yet, they have a loyal following, which Gabrielle calls “small but mighty” and is growing exponentially. Two U of C students chatted at a table next to us, recognizing a former professor who walked through the doors. Four women came in and out for a to-go order. A father and son shared a meal as we left. “I love this place!” the boy proclaimed—to everyone. And all the while, the staff hustled to get a catering order prepped for a community photography show next door.
Perhaps one of the best examples of the love they’ve engendered in the community is the gleaming—and pricey—Norwalk juicer a customer gifted to them. “It’s magic,” Gabrielle says.
B’Gabs Goodies’ prep “kitchen” is an approximately 3-foot-long stainless-steel counter in a nook behind the cash register. They prepare food without heat, which is believed to break down the nutrients and good energy in food. It’s basically cooking without cooking.
I must admit, learning this gave me some trepidation. My previous experience with raw vegan food was similar to that of any lifetime carnivore: my meal was so bland I barely remember it. The menu at B’Gabs left me stumped: tacos made with seeded nacho “meat,” pad thai salad with zucchini and carrot “noodles,” jicama “fries.” As someone who’s averse to many processed foods, I’m naturally suspicious of any food whose name is in quotation marks.
So I approached this from a culinary standpoint, sampling the cuisine the way I would any that I hadn’t much experience with.
I opted for the classic burger.
Gabrielle shuns all soy products, as well as fake meats such as seitan, because she, and many of her customers, are suspicious of GMOs. While I was expecting a one-note dish, this burger turned out to be a medley of flavors. The crisp onion “bread” was balanced by a savory seed patty and brightly flavored housemade ketchup. A pile of kale filled the rest of the plate, its bitterness ameliorated by the sweet tang of the accompanying dressing. To wash it all down, I chose the Fiji Hammer Time smoothie: peaches, strawberries, and bananas, boosted with maca root and yohimbe bark.
I’d walked into B’Gabs feeling a little run down, tired or perhaps coming down with a cold. I left, literally, with a skip in my step, so energized that I almost forgot to pay for my meal. A slight buzz rang through my body—was it the seeds? The yohimbe? The Norwalk juicer’s magic?
No matter; it was the richest vegan meal I have ever tasted.
Teaching someone to fish
Gabrielle’s mission is not only to provide healthy food for people in her community, but also to create lasting changes in the way they eat. “The only way to do that—regardless of economics—is to teach them how,” she says. To that end, she and her staff teach “uncooking” classes and workshops, helping people incorporate raw foods in their diets.
They also dedicate half the space to a herb and spice shop, with more than 300 varieties of plants, all lovingly sourced. They all have healing properties, if that’s your thing, which Gabrielle believes doubles down on the nourishment her food provides. Most of the herbs and spices are packaged, if not harvested, by staff, and all were selected because, not only do they make food taste better, but they’re also known to have some kind of effect on health. The yohimbe bark in my smoothie is believed to ease depression—and improve the libido (rawr)!
“A lot of people come to me when they’re sick and have exhausted all options,” Gabrielle says.
Or, as the restaurant’s motto states: “It’s not the food in your life, it’s the life in your food.”
Photos by Timothy Burkhart, Groupon