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The Go-To Restaurants for Mindshare Chicago, June 2019 (2)

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Working downtown means that you’re spoiled for choice when it comes to dining options. But that can also mean the potential for serious analysis paralysis: How do you decide? Luckily, we’ve done exhaustive research into this matter and are here to make sure you can eat well. Most of these spots can be found within a few blocks of the office, with a couple options a bit farther afield for days when you know that feedback on your new campaign won’t be coming in for a while. Besides, who couldn’t use a walk?

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Note: Restaurants on this map are listed geographically.
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Pacific Standard Time

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BEST NEW RESTAURANT
Chicago’s food scene got a jolt of fresh air when former Avec and Nico Osteria chef de cuisine Erling Wu-Bower opened this breezy California-inspired restaurant in River North in conjunction with his One Off Hospitality mentors Paul Kahan and Donnie Madia. Bower and team churn out a casual menu of light fare utilizing precise execution and exquisite ingredients, spanning a myriad of light cuisines from warm weather locales such as Middle Eastern-inspired large-format duck, pitas that utilize ahi tuna and beef tartare, dumplings and pizzas. Reservations are recommended, although tables are easier to find during lunch and brunch services at the reigning Eater Chicago Restaurant of the Year.

Barry Brecheisen/Eater Chicago

BEST NEW RESTAURANT
Lettuce Entertain You’s West Loop restaurant has quickly become a go-to destination for al fresco dining and summertime vibes. The popularity is in part due to its rooftop patio, which is decked with cozy couches, lush greenery, and even heated igloos during winter. CJ Jacobson supplies ramped-up Mediterranean and Middle Eastern food, such as hummus, kebabs, and housemade Stracciatella.

Intelligentsia Coffee Millennium Park Coffeebar

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BEST LOCAL COFFEE SPOT
Local specialty coffee chainlet Intelligentsia offers tea drinks made from Kilogram Tea. Pick from English Breakfast, Chamomile and Jasmine Green teas, in addition to matcha drinks and turmeric tonics available at select locations. 

Kilogram Tea 
Intelligentsia [Official Photo]

Dark Matter Coffee - The Mothership

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Dark Matter Coffee, with its Star Lounge Coffee Bar, offers a small artisan company with amazing fair-trade coffees from Central and South America.

Big Star

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BEST OUTDOOR DINING
The most-visited patio in town needs little introduction. Come early (dogs are welcome) or expect to wait a while as the line is sometimes hours long. Those who tough it out are rewarded with tacos, margaritas, whisky, and a prime spot for people watching. A second location is at Hotel Zachary across from Wrigley Field.

Parson's Chicken & Fish

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BEST OUTDOOR DINING
A massive patio? Check. Negroni slushies? Ready to go. Fried chicken? Of course. The party never stops at Land and Sea Dept’s sizzling chicken shack, where patrons can easily spend an entire day hanging out. The food is worth sticking around for; the lineup of greasy goodness includes hush puppies, fried fish, and crunchy chicken that’s been brined and dipped in buttermilk hot sauce. A second Chicago location is now open in Lincoln Park.

Parson’s Chicken & Fish 
[Official Photo]

RPM Steak

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BEST RESTAURANT TO TAKE A NEW CLIENT
RPM Steak is the dramatic brother to RPM Italian. Chef/partner Doug Psaltis is sourcing meat from all over the county (and Japan), but vegetables, seafood, lamb and poultry will also have a place here. Another thing to be excited about are the throwback cocktails from Paul McGee.

Girl & The Goat

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BEST RESTAURANT TO TAKE A NEW CLIENT
Since winning season four of “Top Chef” in 2008, Stephanie Izard has been one of the city’s most popular chefs. Her original restaurant, Girl & the Goat, is still tough to reserve as fans continue to flock in to try bold, signature dishes like oven-roasted pig face and goat empanadas. Izard capped off her quick rise to fame with a Best Chef: Great Lakes award in 2013. She’s since expanded her Chicago footprint with acclaimed restaurants Duck Duck Goat, Little Goat Diner, and Cabra.

Three Dots and a Dash

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BEST FANCY HAPPY HOUR
Walk through what feels like the Pirates of the Caribbean ride into one of the best tiki bars in America. Enter the subterranean skull and hut-adorned standout through a back alley in River North.

Marc Much/Eater Chicago

The Aviary

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BEST FANCY HAPPY HOUR
The Aviary is what happens when the people behind one of the world’s best restaurants (Alinea) open a cocktail bar: revolutionary drinks that excite every sense and a mixology show behind the fenced in “cocktail kitchen.” It’s a must for any cocktail fan passing through the Windy City, and who can even try to get into the tiny cocktail bar the Office underneath.

Barry Brecheisen/Eater Chicago

Portillo's Hot Dogs

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BEST HOT DOG
A Chicago-style hot dog is a can’t-miss while visiting the Windy City, and eaters don’t have to leave downtown to check out the most beloved local chain in the area for dogs, Italian beef, addictive milkshakes, chocolate cake, and much more for cheap.

Gene & Jude's

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BEST HOT DOG
The hot dog is an iconic Chicago staple, but arguably its most famous purveyor is actually located in near suburban River Grove. This venerable stand, in operation since 1946, has been hailed as one of the country’s best for its Chicago-style variant, the “Depression Dog.” Each bun features a Vienna Beef frank topped with onions, relish, mustard, sport peppers, and a heap of French fries. Don’t ask for ketchup, don’t be scared away by the long line because it moves quickly, and order a grape drink to enjoy while eating in the car or on the curb — there’s no seating inside.

Gene & Jude’s
[Official Photo]

Revival Food Hall

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BEST RESTAURANT FOR A TEAM LUNCH
This busy Loop destination was the first of several dedicated food halls to have opened in the past few years. Some of Chicago’s most popular restaurants have outposts here, including Smoque and the Budlong. So if folks are suffering through a long workday, tender brisket and Nashville hot chicken can help make things better.

La Pizza & La Pasta at Eataly Chicago

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BEST RESTAURANT FOR A TEAM LUNCH
The only Midwest location for Joe and Lidia Bastianich’s Italian food wonderland, the Chicago spot includes two floors full of restaurants focusing on an array of dishes, grocery and retail items, a microbrewery, a Nutella bar, gelato, and much much much more. Former partner and disgraced celebrity chef Mario Batali sold his shares and stepped away from the business in 2017.

Lou Malnati's Pizzeria

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BEST NEARBY PIZZA
The Malnati Chicago Classic: Chicago is synonymous with deep dish pizza and Lou Malnati’s famed pies are a glorious overload of cheese and carbs that no true Chicagoan is ashamed of loving. The Malnati Chicago Classic takes it to the next level with a layer of lean sausage patty atop an oh-so-good buttercrust.

Gino's East - River North

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Chicago deep dish chain Gino’s East is known for Chicago-style deep dish pizza that has been made the same way it was 50 years ago. 

Maple & Ash

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MOST BEAUTIFUL (INSTAGRAM-WORTHY)
Chicago steakhouse culture was turned on its ear when this Gold Coast jewel combined uniquely chef-driven meat dishes with a sultry scene in fall 2015. Acclaimed chef Danny Grant brought his talents back from South Beach to fire up the wood-burning hearth where his team churns out the lavish cuts steakhouse fans expect as well as creative twists including towers of roasted seafood, sauternes soaked foie gras, and the 40-ounce “Eisenhower” cut for $175. The wine and bubbly selections are also top-notch, all served in a gorgeous space jammed nightly with partying A-list locals, so if blowing a good chunk of the expense account isn’t in the cards the downstairs bar and patio is also there for a more affordable night.

Maple & Ash
[Official Photo]

Duck Duck Goat

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MOST BEAUTIFUL (INSTAGRAM-WORTHY)
Named one of Eater critic’s Best Meal of 2018, Duck Duck Goat “always knocks it out of the park without being gaudy. I also went back to Acadia and had an incredible time. One of the most consistent and endlessly exciting restaurants I’ve been to.”

BEST FOR DINING ON T&E
Grant Achatz and Nick Kokonas’ three-Michelin-starred avant garde fine dining institution is quite simply one of the world’s best restaurants. Food obsessives make pilgrimages from around the globe to the 10-year-old Lincoln Park restaurant to experience Achatz’s emotional, interactive and expensive tasting menus, which play out in a recently renovated backdrop that now features three distinct dining options. It clocked in at No. 34 on the most recent World’s 50 Best List in 2018 and was among Eater National’s best restaurants in America. Dishes predictably change often on the tasting menus, but the edible balloon and tabletop dessert are among those that put it on the world stage.

Matthew Gilson

Gibsons Bar & Steakhouse

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BEST FOR DINING ON T&E
Chicago’s steakhouse tradition can be best experienced at Gibson’s, the swanky Gold Coast institution that Eater readers voted the best steakhouse in America’s meatiest city. Celebrity sightings are frequent in the dining room and on the photos on the walls, while white-jacketed servers provide exquisite meat displays at a quintessential Chicago restaurant experience.

Barry Brecheisen/Eater Chicago

Cindy's

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BEST ROOFTOP BAR
Cindy’s, the uber-popular rooftop bar and restaurant on the 13th floor of the acclaimed and restored Chicago Athletic Association hotel in the Loop, built a new outdoor bar on its terrace overlooking Millennium Park and Lake Michigan. Come for boozy popsicles and ice cream pops, multiple rosé options, a rotating large-format cocktail menu, and more.

LondonHouse Chicago, Curio Collection by Hilton

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BEST ROOFTOP BAR
Trendy hotel LondonHouse offers three spots to eat and imbibe — lobby space Bridges, indoor lounge LH on 21, and perhaps the busiest rooftop bar in town, LH Rooftop. Bridges also offers afternoon tea service with sweet and savory small plates.

BEST LOCAL SANDWICH
Rick Bayless, celebrity chef and an ambassador of Mexican cuisine, is a household name. His cochinita pibil torta — only available on Wednesdays — is served on crusty bread spread with black beans and achiote paste, layered with pickled onions and habanero salsa, and finished off with juicy strands of a slow-roasted suckling pig.

Nonnina

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BEST LOCAL SANDWICH
The lunch and dinner offerings are inspired by chef Chris Macchia’s researching of decades-old menus. Daytime features six house-made pastas, wood-fired pizzas, and larger plates including pork chop peperonata. The menu expands in the evening with braciole, swordfish, sole, and wood-fired langostines. The sandwich shop and lounge is a welcome addition to the office and nightlife-driven neighborhood.

This advertising content was produced in collaboration between Vox Creative and our sponsor, without involvement from Vox Media editorial staff.

Pacific Standard Time

Barry Brecheisen/Eater Chicago

BEST NEW RESTAURANT
Chicago’s food scene got a jolt of fresh air when former Avec and Nico Osteria chef de cuisine Erling Wu-Bower opened this breezy California-inspired restaurant in River North in conjunction with his One Off Hospitality mentors Paul Kahan and Donnie Madia. Bower and team churn out a casual menu of light fare utilizing precise execution and exquisite ingredients, spanning a myriad of light cuisines from warm weather locales such as Middle Eastern-inspired large-format duck, pitas that utilize ahi tuna and beef tartare, dumplings and pizzas. Reservations are recommended, although tables are easier to find during lunch and brunch services at the reigning Eater Chicago Restaurant of the Year.

Barry Brecheisen/Eater Chicago

Aba

BEST NEW RESTAURANT
Lettuce Entertain You’s West Loop restaurant has quickly become a go-to destination for al fresco dining and summertime vibes. The popularity is in part due to its rooftop patio, which is decked with cozy couches, lush greenery, and even heated igloos during winter. CJ Jacobson supplies ramped-up Mediterranean and Middle Eastern food, such as hummus, kebabs, and housemade Stracciatella.

Intelligentsia Coffee Millennium Park Coffeebar

Kilogram Tea 
Intelligentsia [Official Photo]

BEST LOCAL COFFEE SPOT
Local specialty coffee chainlet Intelligentsia offers tea drinks made from Kilogram Tea. Pick from English Breakfast, Chamomile and Jasmine Green teas, in addition to matcha drinks and turmeric tonics available at select locations. 

Kilogram Tea 
Intelligentsia [Official Photo]

Dark Matter Coffee - The Mothership

Dark Matter Coffee, with its Star Lounge Coffee Bar, offers a small artisan company with amazing fair-trade coffees from Central and South America.

Big Star

BEST OUTDOOR DINING
The most-visited patio in town needs little introduction. Come early (dogs are welcome) or expect to wait a while as the line is sometimes hours long. Those who tough it out are rewarded with tacos, margaritas, whisky, and a prime spot for people watching. A second location is at Hotel Zachary across from Wrigley Field.

Parson's Chicken & Fish

Parson’s Chicken & Fish 
[Official Photo]

BEST OUTDOOR DINING
A massive patio? Check. Negroni slushies? Ready to go. Fried chicken? Of course. The party never stops at Land and Sea Dept’s sizzling chicken shack, where patrons can easily spend an entire day hanging out. The food is worth sticking around for; the lineup of greasy goodness includes hush puppies, fried fish, and crunchy chicken that’s been brined and dipped in buttermilk hot sauce. A second Chicago location is now open in Lincoln Park.

Parson’s Chicken & Fish 
[Official Photo]

RPM Steak

BEST RESTAURANT TO TAKE A NEW CLIENT
RPM Steak is the dramatic brother to RPM Italian. Chef/partner Doug Psaltis is sourcing meat from all over the county (and Japan), but vegetables, seafood, lamb and poultry will also have a place here. Another thing to be excited about are the throwback cocktails from Paul McGee.

Girl & The Goat

BEST RESTAURANT TO TAKE A NEW CLIENT
Since winning season four of “Top Chef” in 2008, Stephanie Izard has been one of the city’s most popular chefs. Her original restaurant, Girl & the Goat, is still tough to reserve as fans continue to flock in to try bold, signature dishes like oven-roasted pig face and goat empanadas. Izard capped off her quick rise to fame with a Best Chef: Great Lakes award in 2013. She’s since expanded her Chicago footprint with acclaimed restaurants Duck Duck Goat, Little Goat Diner, and Cabra.

Three Dots and a Dash

Marc Much/Eater Chicago

BEST FANCY HAPPY HOUR
Walk through what feels like the Pirates of the Caribbean ride into one of the best tiki bars in America. Enter the subterranean skull and hut-adorned standout through a back alley in River North.

Marc Much/Eater Chicago

The Aviary

Barry Brecheisen/Eater Chicago

BEST FANCY HAPPY HOUR
The Aviary is what happens when the people behind one of the world’s best restaurants (Alinea) open a cocktail bar: revolutionary drinks that excite every sense and a mixology show behind the fenced in “cocktail kitchen.” It’s a must for any cocktail fan passing through the Windy City, and who can even try to get into the tiny cocktail bar the Office underneath.

Barry Brecheisen/Eater Chicago

Portillo's Hot Dogs

BEST HOT DOG
A Chicago-style hot dog is a can’t-miss while visiting the Windy City, and eaters don’t have to leave downtown to check out the most beloved local chain in the area for dogs, Italian beef, addictive milkshakes, chocolate cake, and much more for cheap.

Gene & Jude's

Gene & Jude’s
[Official Photo]

BEST HOT DOG
The hot dog is an iconic Chicago staple, but arguably its most famous purveyor is actually located in near suburban River Grove. This venerable stand, in operation since 1946, has been hailed as one of the country’s best for its Chicago-style variant, the “Depression Dog.” Each bun features a Vienna Beef frank topped with onions, relish, mustard, sport peppers, and a heap of French fries. Don’t ask for ketchup, don’t be scared away by the long line because it moves quickly, and order a grape drink to enjoy while eating in the car or on the curb — there’s no seating inside.

Gene & Jude’s
[Official Photo]

Revival Food Hall

BEST RESTAURANT FOR A TEAM LUNCH
This busy Loop destination was the first of several dedicated food halls to have opened in the past few years. Some of Chicago’s most popular restaurants have outposts here, including Smoque and the Budlong. So if folks are suffering through a long workday, tender brisket and Nashville hot chicken can help make things better.