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Everything you need to know about Chicago!

This page updated regularly. Our personal notes on where to eat, what to see and do, and where to stay; plus some additional reference material and historical information. Everything you need to know about Chicago!


You wake up in Chicago, pull back the curtain, and you KNOW where you are. You are in a big, brash, muscular, broad-shouldered motherf***in’ city. A metropolis, completely non-neurotic, ever moving. A big-hearted but cold-blooded machine with millions of moving parts. A beast that will, if disrespected or not taken seriously, roll over you without remorse. It is also one of America’s last great NO BULLSHIT zones. Pomposity, pretentiousness, putting on airs of any kind, douchery, and lack of a sense of humor will not get you far in Chicago. From Anthony Bourdain’s Field Notes


RESTAURANTS/BRUNCH/DINING (If on this list, we vouch for it!)

THE LOOP

  1. Cindy’s Rooftop
  2. The Berghoff
  3. Remington’s
  4. Miller’s Pub
  5. Eastman Egg Company
  6. Latinicity
  7. Atwood (Reliance Building)
  8. The Gage
  9. Rosebud Prime
  10. The Dearborn
  11. Cochon Volant
  12. Revival Food Hall
  13. Roanoke
  14. Boleo (Kimpton Gray rooftop)
  15. Heaven on Seven (Cajun)
  16. Prime + Provisions
  17. Goddess and The Baker
  18. Wells Street Market

WEST LOOP

  1. Bar Takito
  2. Little Goat Diner
  3. The Girl & the Goat
  4. Federales
  5. Bar Siena
  6. The Allis
  7. Parlor Pizza Bar
  8. Palace Grill
  9. Cruz Blanca
  10. Chicken + Farm Shop

RIVER NORTH

  1. RPM Steak
  2. RPM Italian
  3. Il Porcellino
  4. Hub 51
  5. Bottlefork
  6. Siena Tavern
  7. Frontera Grill
  8. Smith + Wollensky
  9. Wollensky’s Grill

THE GOLD COAST

  1. Luxbar
  2. Tavern on Rush
  3. Gibsons Bar/Steakhouse
  4. Maple + Ash
  5. Eight Bar and Patio
  6. The Little Beet Table
  7. Torali Chicago
  8. Booth One (formerly The Pump Room)

RIVERWALK

  1. Tiny Tapp & Cafe
  2. City Winery Riverwalk
  3. O’Briens Riverwalk Cafe

LINCOLN PARK

  1. Summer House Santa Monica
  2. Stella Barra Pizzeria
  3. Yard House
  4. The Kennison

OLD TOWN

  1. Benchmark
  2. Ironside Bar + Galley

RIVER WEST

  1. Roost Carolina Kitchen
  2. Gibsons Italia

FULTON MARKET

  1. Duck Duck Goat
  2. Swift & Sons
  3. Fulton Market Kitchen
  4. Cemitas Puebla
  5. Ballast Point
  6. La Sirena Clandestina
  7. Roister

WICKER PARK/BUCKTOWN

  1. The Violet Hour
  2. Tocco
  3. The Bristol

WRIGLEYVILLE
Rockit Burger Bar

SOUTH LOOP
11 City Diner
Buddy Guy’s Legends
Bar Louie Printers Row

LOGAN SQUARE
Lula Cafe

CATERING
Goddess and Grocer
Portillo’s
Blackwood BBQ


ATTRACTIONS/THINGS TO DO

  1. Chicago History Museum
  2. Free Galleries
  3. Frank Lloyd Wright Home and Studio (Oak Park, IL)
  4. Museum of Contemporary Photography
  5. Chicago Cultural Center
  6. Field Museum (Natural History)
  7. Chicago’s First Lady Architecture River Tours
  8. Taste of Chicago
  9. Museum of Contemporary Art
  10. Garfield Park Conservatory
  11. Lincoln Park Zoo
  12. Bike/Walk the 606
  13. Chess Records
  14. Museum of Science and Industry
  15. Chicago Marathon
  16. Lincoln Park Conservatory
  17. Cowshed Spa Chicago (West Loop)
  18. Hamilton / Chicago
  19. Buckingham Fountain (remember, the big spout goes off at the top of the hour!)
  20. Chicago Architecture Center
  21. Odyssey Cruises

REFERENCE LINKS/GENERAL INFORMATION

Chicago Name Etymologies
Divvy Bike Sharing Program
Chicago Transit Authority
Mariano’s Grocery
Stephanie Schnick’s Chicago Pinterest page
The Chicago Flag, Explained
After-words Bookstore (River North)
Chicago Food Truck Tracker


FAVORITE HOTELS

Hotel Allegro (Loop)
The Palmer House (Loop)
Radisson Blu Aqua Hotel (Loop)
Hotel Monaco (Loop)
The Gray (Loop)
Soho House Chicago (West Loop)
Virgin Hotel Chicago (Loop)
The Langham Chicago (River North)


FAVORITE BUILDINGS (year opened)

Randolph Tower (1929)
The John Hancock Center (1969)
Marina City (1964)
Trump International Hotel + Tower (2009)
Union Station (1925)
Sears Tower (1973)
The Rookery (1886)
The Reliance Building (1895)
35 East Wacker – The Jewelers’ Building (1927)
Ogilvie Station (1912)
Chicago Board of Trade Building (1930)
Oriental Theatre (1926)
OneEleven (2014)


BOOKS

  1. City of the Century: The Epic of Chicago and the Making of America (2014)
  2. Chicago: A Biography (2009)

HISTORY

  1. The Wigwam (now 191 North Wacker)
  2. Chicago Is… (promotional video, 1977)
  3. This is Marina City (Part 1 of 2)
  4. This is Marina City (Part 2 of 2)
  5. History of Sears Tower
  6. The Bob Newhart Show (opening)
  7. Chicago Blues (Documentary, 1972)

(the podcast on iTunes)