Local Flavor: The Hidden World of Chicago

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Local Flavor: Under The Radar
East Bank Club | 312.527.5800 | 500 North Kingsbury Street
We know that fitness is important, even when you are out of town. This is why we recommend East
Bank Club for all your fitness and spa needs. They have an impeccable facility with accommodating
daily rates. Stop by for a massage or an intense work out, either way you will leave feeling completely
relaxed.
Bikram Yoga River North | 312.397.9642 | 1 East Erie Street, Suite 520
Designed to feel like a penthouse party at your coolest friend’s posh pad, this indoor-outdoor bar
hopes to evoke a cocktail-party vibe. Outside, expect a glass perimeter giving way to city views and a
fire pit to extend the alfresco season, plus curvy wood benches and movable ottomans on which to
perch. Besides the sleek open area filled with leather couches and shiny silver side tables, two
tucked-away nooks caught our attention: The dim-lit screening room, which will play retro flicks, and
the communal bathroom area, where you can ask for a date over the Dyson hand dryers. And if you
hate yelling your drink order to a bartender in front of a bar that's three people deep, you'll love the
procedure here. Vertigo has forgone the traditional bar in lieu of table service and waitresses pushing
club carts of seasonal specialty drinks.
Museum of Contemporary Art | 312.280.2660 | 875 North Michigan Avenue
One of the nation's largest modern art museums, the MCA offers thought-provoking art created since
1945. Its permanent collection includes work by Franz Kline, Andy Warhol and Jeff Koons. It
highlights surrealism of the 1940s and '50s, minimalism of the 1960s, conceptual art and photography
from the 1960s to the present, recent installation art, and art by Chicago-based artists. Besides art in
all media and genres, the MCA has a gift store, bookstore, restaurant, 300-seat theater, and a garden
with views of Lake Michigan.
Vertigo | 312.202.6060 | 2 West Erie Street
Designed to feel like a penthouse party at your coolest friend’s posh pad, this indoor-outdoor bar
hopes to evoke a cocktail-party vibe. Outside, expect a glass perimeter giving way to city views and a
fire pit to extend the alfresco season, plus curvy wood benches and movable ottomans on which to
perch. Besides the sleek open area filled with leather couches and shiny silver side tables, two
tucked-away nooks caught our attention: The dim-lit screening room, which will play retro flicks, and
the communal bathroom area, where you can ask for a date over the Dyson hand dryers. And if you
hate yelling your drink order to a bartender in front of a bar that's three people deep, you'll love the
procedure here. Vertigo has forgone the traditional bar in lieu of table service and waitresses pushing
club carts of seasonal specialty drinks.
Roof | 312.239.9501 | 201 North State Street
This indoor-outdoor space on the top of theWit hotel boasts multiple bars, fun fire features and an
impressive glass-enclosed extension from the roof housing a table for eight. Gather at communal
tables to share small plates such as roasted artichokes with almonds, tuna crudo and roasted lamb
chops with mint-spiked yogurt. Or stake out a space on the sofa to sip a glass of wine from the Eurocentric wine list or specialty cocktails such as a hibiscus margarita or a Jalisco old-fashioned, made
with reposado tequila, agave nectar and orange and cinnamon bitters. A DJ spins everything from
Bossa Nova to house, amping up the beats to transition from happy hour to late-night revelery. A
watchLAB Studios | 312.428.2560 main | 312.268.7362 fax | 1 East Erie Street, Suite 600, Chicago, IL 60611
weekend brunch menu mirrors the small plates menu served during the evening hours, with dishes
such as citrus-topped crostini, homemade doughnuts and a frittata studded with short ribs.
Gilt Bar | 312.464.9544 | 230 West Kinzie Street
The local “speakeasy” vibe will bring you back to the 1920’s. The Gilt Bar is a restaurant on the main
floor, where you can order off a full menu and enjoy a conversation in comfortable ambiance.
Afterwards, head downstairs to the “speakeasy” and enjoy the feel of the 1920’s. With so much to
offer from, beers, cocktails, wines, whiskeys and sodas, libations, elixirs, potions, and various kinds of
water. You will find nothing more than a good time waiting for you here.
The Map Room | 773.252.7636 | 1949 North Hoyne Avenue
The Map Room shows owners Mark and Laura Blasingame's love of traveling. Delicate wooden
bookcases hold travel books and atlases. Windows facing onto the street brighten the bar area. In the
morning, this is a coffee bar; by early afternoon, the harder stuff takes over (complete with an
extensive beer selection). Expect a youngish and artsy crowd that probably lives around the corner
from this Bucktown bar. Great place to enjoy a beer while waiting for a table at Café Laguardia.
Clark Street Ale House | 312.642.9253 | 742 North Clark Street
Clark Street Ale House is known for their impeccable brews. You will find a large selection of different
brands of beer, including some in-house beer brewed right on location. This is a great place to stop off
after dinner to grab a nightcap. Awesome atmosphere, phenomenal beer, you couldn't asked for
more!
Swirl Wine Bar | 312.828.9000 | 111 West Hubbard Street
This small, low-lit, and cozy place will have you comfortable for hours. Get lost looking through their
extensive wine list, with over 20 wines to choose from. On occasion you will find a local live band
jamming into the late night. This is one of the best places to come for after dinner drinks. They are
open late, even on weekends until 4am.
Hot Chocolate | 773.489.1747 | 1747 North Damen Avenue
Much-lauded pastry chef Mindy Segal is behind this casual, chocolate-hued cafe in Bucktown where
it's as common for folks to come just for dessert as to stop in for dinner. Look for signature creations
such as her celebrated Chocolate No. 1, a chocolate-caramel composition completed with a housemade pretzel, as well as seasonal selections. Milkshakes and several varieties of hot chocolate (of
course) are available too. Chef Mark Steuer handles the savory side of the operation, and his menu
includes everything from sophisticated small plates to heartier seasonal entrees to a killer burger.
Weekend brunch, which features Segal's pastries and sweets (don't miss the house-made doughnuts)
alongside savories such as scrambles, quiche and several excellent breakfast sandwiches, is among
the most popular in town. Hot Chocolate's bar, which is not a bad seating option if the wait for a table
is intimidating, as it often is, serves hand-crafted cocktails, wine and a small but thoughtful beer list.
Bleeding Heart Bakery | 773.327.6934 | 1955 West Belmont Avenue
This Roscoe Village organic, sustainable, punk rock bakery, which got its start in West Town, is the
work of local pastry celeb Michelle Garcia. Look for a lineup of organic grab-and-go baked goods,
including cupcakes, tarts, teacakes, brownies and scones. Full-sized cakes are also available; buildyour-own flavor and frosting combo or choose one of the bakery’s specialty cakes (such as carrot
cake with cream cheese frosting). There's also a seasonal breakfast and lunch menu.
watchLAB Studios | 312.428.2560 main | 312.268.7362 fax | 1 East Erie Street, Suite 600, Chicago, IL 60611
Café Laguardia | 773.862.5996 | 2111 West Armitage Avenue
Café Laguardia is known as one of the best Cuban Chicago restaurants, located in the Bucktown
Wicker Park neighborhood on the northwest side, about three miles from downtown Chicago. Wellknown in the local neighborhood for its friendly and welcoming atmosphere, it's the perfect place for
eating some home-style Cuban food, trying some well-prepared Cuban drinks from the fully-stocked
bar, or just relaxing in the leather couches next to the fireplace. If you are lucky enough to meet host
Carlos Laguardia, owner of the restaurant, and Mama Laguardia when you come for dinner or a
cocktail, you can be sure of a warm welcome. Carlos will always remember you and Mama will always
have a smile ready! Back in Bainoa, Cuba in 1950, Café Laguardia was a combination restaurant,
grocery store and bar, strategically located in the center of town across the street from the main bus
stop – actually, the only bus stop in town. Now it's here in Chicago! Although a long way from Cuba, it
retains the same atmosphere and charm, and the same superb Cuban food and drinks. They use the
same Cuban recipes, the food is always hot and made to order, and the customers are always made
to feel at home. Reservations are not accepted. If there is a wait for a table, head across the street to
the Map Room and enjoy a beverage.
Bin 36 | 312.755.9463 | 339 North Dearborn Street
BIN 36 Chicago has created several environments in which to select, sip and celebrate. The Tavern is
the ideal place to find a casual meal to compliment your new favorite wines. The Cellar offers a more
traditional dining atmosphere, featuring a full menu in unprecedented ambiance. In the Market, you
can shop for wine and wine accessories. Private parties of up to 100 are welcome in the Loft, which
overlooks the Main Bar and Tavern to provide a top-notch dining locale. They are open for breakfast,
lunch, and dinner every day with menus featuring contemporary American cuisine with an emphasis
on seasonal ingredients and wine pairing. In the evenings, you have a choice to dine in either the
more casual Tavern dining room or the intimate Cellar.
Osteria Via Stato | 312.642.8450 | 620 North State Street
The service here is polite, mindful and observant. They have received rave reviews for their hand
rolled cavatelli with wild mushroom as well as their generous portion size. Osteria Via Stato has the
accommodations for large parties as well as intimate get-togethers. Fresh oysters and daily seafood
specials is what you expect here. Nothing less than a wonderful dinning experience for your whole
party.
Gene & Georgetti | 312.527.3718 | 500 North Franklin Street
Late founders Gene Michelotti and Alfredo Federichi opened what owner Tony Durpetti says was
Chicago's first steak house in June 1941, a full 40 years prior to this neighborhood's being named
"River North." It endures as something of a throwback to a meatier, more macho era. The menu is
comprised of classic steakhouse specialties like the 32 ounce T-bone steak served with a house salad
and cottage fries. Autographed pictures of Frank Sinatra and Bob Hope hang on the wall of the firstfloor bar/dining room. Dress is mainly business, or "nice casual."
Athena | 312.655.0000 | 212 South Halsted Street
This Greektown restaurant draws inspiration both from the Greek goddess and from the regional
marketplace that was ancient Athens. The menu features regional Greek specialties including kebabs,
seafood and lamb dishes. Entree portions are big and so are the hot and cold seafood and vegetarian
appetizers, so you might want to share. Though the requisite "Opaa!" is still issued with the flaming of
the saganaki, this is more a restaurant than it is a Greektown party spot. Murals of a Greek village
watchLAB Studios | 312.428.2560 main | 312.268.7362 fax | 1 East Erie Street, Suite 600, Chicago, IL 60611
give the impression that diners seated in front of them are actually part of the painting. There is a
patio cafe for about 120 diners with an incredible view of the city skyline.
Ai | 312.335.9888 | 58 West Ontario Street
This not your typical Sushi joint. Ai’s elegant atmosphere will put in the mood for their delicious
selection of sushi and Japanese cuisine. Something out of the ordinary is what you will find at Ai. After
you’re done with your meal you can head into the lounge located off of the restaurant to enjoy a
fabulous drink a cozy up in one of the dark, romantic booths. Nightly you will find live music to enjoy in
the lounge, also broadcasted throughout the restaurant. If you either want to dine or just stop by for a
drink, you will get an earful of entertainment.
M Burger | 312.254.8500 | 5 West Ontario Street
This Streeterville burger and shake joint's mission is simple: Give Michigan Avenue workers and
weary shoppers the quick, easy lunches they desire. M Burger shares a kitchen with highend restaurant. M Burger is a mostly counter service spot (it seats only eight) where you can grab a
hamburger, cheeseburger or chicken sandwich for surprisingly little money. The concise lineup
includes a few extras, such as fries, shakes (chocolate, vanilla, strawberry and a flavor-of-the-month)
and a single vegetable sandwich, the Nurse Betty, named for a well-known nurse at nearby
Northwestern Hospital. But for the most part, this place focuses on one thing: simple burgers that
aren’t so greasy and filling that you’ll need a nap 20 minutes after the last bite.
watchLAB Studios | 312.428.2560 main | 312.268.7362 fax | 1 East Erie Street, Suite 600, Chicago, IL 60611
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