Cool Bars & Great Food in Chicago

If you haven’t noticed by now, we really enjoy exploring a city through their food. We feel food is a way to peer into a city’s soul. While we didn’t take the traditional “Chicago Classics” route for food, but we were pleasantly surprised at what it had to offer. Chicago is known for three things; Chicago Deep Dish, Italian Beef Sandwich, and Chicago Dog. We heard over and over again we had to try these. While I’m sure they are delicious…I don’t eat meat, so two of the three were out. If you are a meat eater, and are interested in getting the best of the best for the Chicago Classics, we were told Al’s Beef is the best for the famous Italian beef sandwich, and Superdawg drive in is the top spot for a traditional Chicago Dog.

We can speak to the Deep Dish pizza, we opted for Pequod’s Pizza known for a more “personal pan” pizza (although still deep dish at heart), with a caramelized cheese crust. Listening to the description and reviews it sounded right up our alley. Cheesy, doughy, and pure goodness, but now that we’ve had it, we ‘re just not deep dish fans. Don’t get us wrong, it was good, we’re just thin style pizza fans.
Our first night in town we headed to Chinatown to grab a bite for dinner. We went to Sze Chaun Cuisine, which was bangin’! Dennis may or may not have had a few tears as he ate his meal. And to answer your question, yes that is Liz wearing a bib. Red Sauce + White Shirt doesn’t mix. You have to walk all the way to the end of the main drag of Chinatown to find this place. It’s worth the walk and is deceivingly good.

We went to a few other restaurants during our stay, all of which were equally booshie, hip, and altogether way to cool for us. We opted for an asian fashion restaurant, Mott St. for my birthday dinner. Variety of dishes for both vegetarians and meat lovers alike that range from smaller portions to larger family style dishes. Seating again is “family style” and we were placed at a long table made to seat 15 – 20 different guests close together. We thoroughly enjoyed the food we ordered, but didn’t love the noise level. It was really hard to engage with each other without lots of distractions or simply hearing what your dinner guest said.

After we went to the COOLEST bars in Logan Square. This are had super cool bars to visit, each one was unique offering it’s own music, ambiance, and delectable drinks for it’s unique crowd. We started at the Slippery Slope, a dive bar that had a DJ spinning underground Chicago Dance music, with cheap shots, beer, and mixed drinks. This bar reminded us of the bar Dennis and I first met at, BarBQ Bar, in Orlando. Lights hanging from the ceiling, large area to dance and forget your inhibitions, and a Photo Booth to make you regret that last shot. We were way to early for all of that (which we preferred), had a drink then headed upstairs to Heavy Feather. This bar is just the best. Their catering to the hand crafted cocktail crowd, but delivering it in a whole new way. Their decor is straight out of a 60’s hotel lobby. They nailed the ambiance, and drinks. We could have stayed all night!

Our last stop while in Logan Square was a really cool Spanish bar tucked into a corner unit which gives it a cool layout and space. Their music was vibrant, drinks were flavorful, and the crowd was interesting to say the least. Again, this is a bar I would frequent if I lived in Chicago myself.

If you’re looking for good beer, you don’t have to go far, well you might be in your car for a long time with that traffic, but Chicago serves up a ton of great breweries all within city limits. During our stay, we were only able to visit Half Acre and would have loved to try Metropolitan Brewery. Solid beer, solid place, and definitely a suggestion if you’re headed to or in Chicago.
While we enjoyed the food we ate, we were consistently smitten with the eclectic bars and drinks Chicago was serving up. Every place we went we loved! Of the visits, our favorite was probably Maria’s Package Goods. The front is a package store with craft beer and wine. The back is a restaurant and bar. There are two varying sides to the bar separated, one giving a very dim lit, lodge-like, dive bar with few people and soft music. Definitely the best spot if you’re looking to sit and reflect (aka be by yourself) or enjoy a nice conversation. The neighboring bar also serves food (which their menu sounded killer although we didn’t get to eat), and was much more lively. Louder music, very crowded, and more hip furnishings, this place has something for everyone. We enjoyed their beer selection and would have equally enjoyed one of their craft cocktails. If there’s only one place you visit on this list, we do hope its this! We loved Maria’s.