Cabin fever make you want to die? Before succumbing to the throes of seasonal affective disorder, bundle up and head upwards, to bars and restaurants where you can dine and drink with spectacular views that will make you actually sorta like winter. You know, for the views not the frostbite. Here are some places where you can eat to beat the winter blues.
Nothing takes the stir-crazy sting out of cabin fever quite like magnificent views of the Magnificent Mile. Snag a seat at the cozy environs of C-View, located 29 stories up in the MileNorth hotel. The rooftop space not only provides stellar views of the downtown shopping Mecca, but it satiates with small plates, craft cocktails, wines, flatbreads, sliders, oysters, truffle fries, and more. The indoor space is lined with windows all around, giving diners front-row panoramic views while savoring sophisticated comfort food.
Arguably the best views in the city can be had at The Signature Room at the 95th. Located near the top of the Hancock Tower, the American fine dining spot has long been a draw for locals and tourists alike, looking for a spot where they can enjoy an exquisite meal with equally exquisite views. This is really high up, so not great for those with a phobia of heights, but it's perfect for people not afraid of falling to their death, or the thought of it anyway. And really, with food as delicious The Signature Room's revised American classics (slow-roasted short ribs, twin lobster tails, seafood linguine, pork chops, eggplant bolognese), plummeting 95 stories would pretty much be worth it.
One of the most bustling rooftops with Chicago views is ROOF on theWit. Seasonally inspired small plates, Champagne, punch bowls, and cocktails lay the foundation for what is likely the best seat in the Loop, with killer views of State Street and its surrounding buildings. Food-wise, expect a bevy of seafood items such as cured salmon rolls, lobster rolls, oysters, and seared tuna, along with pretzels, bruschetta, surf & turf tacos, seasonal pizzas, and whimsical desserts in the vein of blood orange creamsicle push-pops and chocolate banana splits. For drinks, bottle service is a big deal up on ROOF, as are the salacious punch bowls. Go for the Sex on the Roof, made with Absolut Citron, St. Germain, aperol, orange, and lemon; the Mexican Stimulus with Patron Reposado, blueberry-agave jelly, Sweetgrass blueberry bitters, and cinnamon; or the White City Manhattan, featuring Maker's Mark 46, Amaro Montenegro, Cherry Heering, and Señor Verdes-steeped cinnamon bitters.
Nestled atop the Hotel Lincoln, the J. Parker is a rooftop restaurant with ravishing Chicago views of Lincoln Park and the lake. With a chef like Paul Virant curating the small plates, you know this isn't your average bar. Snacks include deviled eggs with curry and chile oil, smoked cheddar and ale dip, roasted Brussels sprouts, dry-aged braised beef with whole-wheat spaetzle, and the J. Parker burger made with dry-aged beef, butterkase cheese, Belly Fire mayo, lettuce, charred onion, and pickles. The drinks are just as divine, with cocktails divvied into J. Parker Classics and Seasonal Specialties. Classics include the Tax Exempt, made with lavender-infused Death's Door gin, Amaro Nonino, Earl Grey syrup, and lemon; and the State of Limitations featuring ancho-infused Herradura tequila, Cointreau, and lime. For seasonal drinks, there's the Apres Ski with Old Overholt rye, allspice dram, Kalani rum, Carpano Antica, and an Abuelita chocolate ice cube, among lots of others.
Some of the finest food with a view can be had at NoMI Kitchen, located inside the Park Hyatt with impeccable views of the Chicago Water Tower and the apex of the Magnificent Mile. This destination-worthy, seasonally driven restaurant offers an incredible experience from beginning to end. Things get nautical with oysters and sashimi off the "ocean bar," continuing with maki before progressing to wild boar goulash, roasted onion soup, pan-seared foie gras, and langoustine carpaccio. Entrees include lobster a la plancha, farm chicken, braised Wagyu beef cheeks, and Wisconsin ivory char. Desserts are not to be missed, especially when they include pear Bavarians, wild Bolivian chocolate with milk jam, butterscotch ice cream, and lavish seasonal tarts.
- Matt Kirouac