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Cozy Up to Chicago’s Top Fireplace Restaurants

Chicago’s Top Fireplace Restaurants Warm up to these fireside destinations.

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Chicago's Top Fireplace Restaurants @ Broken Shaker

Chicago’s Top Fireplace Restaurants @ Broken Shaker

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Chicago winters can be a brutal time, and such frigid days necessitate the nourishing solace of fireside dining and drinking. Embrace the hearty vibes and fireside delights at one of these cozy Chicago spots.

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III Forks Prime Steakhouse: Chicago’s Top Fireplace Restaurants  If ever there’s a kind of restaurant that feels right at home with a roaring fireplace, it’s a steakhouse. At III Forks Prime Steakhouse, such fireplaces get central placement, prominently displayed in the sprawling restaurant. Thanks to the design and the general coziness of the space, the fireplaces lend a nice ski lodge-type ambience, which is the best you can hope for on winter nights in Chicago.

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Broken Shaker: At the risk of spoiling my cozy little secret, my favorite place to work remotely on my laptop is the fireplace nook in the lobby of the Freehand Hotel. It’s a secretive little area tucked alongside a small set of stairs in the back of Cafe Integral, and most people don’t seem to know it’s there. Along with a fireplace, the little corner also boasts comfy chairs, a small table, and knick knacks indicative of a Latin American cafe. In general, the whole lobby space between Cafe Integral and Broken Shaker is a dark, comfortable cottage-like motif perfect for relaxing with coffee or cocktails.

Hopleaf: When it comes to toasty bar comforts, it doesn’t get any better than Hopleaf. Chicago’s preeminent Belgian beer bar is an absolute winter essential. Because beer-steamed mussels, crispy aioli-dipped frites, and a fireplace situated in a dining room that looks like a ski lodge is the ideal definition of winter respite.

Scofflaw: A gin-centric bar may not be the first place that comes to mind when craving cozy bars, but Scofflaw merits a visit this season thanks largely to its second room located around the corner from the main bar. Here you’ll find a parlor reminiscent of an Alice in Wonderland tea party, complete with lavish, snug couches, chairs, and a roaring fireplace. It’s the perfect setting in which to enjoy hot buttered rum, exceptional bar food, and enough gin to make you forget about the temperature outside.

Cindy’s: Probably not a viable idea of the temperature is hovering around zero, but one chic spot for outdoor fire pits is Cindy’s. Beloved during the warmer months for its impressive vista of Millennium Park from the roof of the Chicago Athletic Association hotel, Cindy’s proves its worth as a year-round al fresco destination with outdoor fireplaces and blankets for keeping toasty. It’s especially nice when enjoyed with a cocktail or two.

Drumbar: Another stellar rooftop cocktail bar is this Streeterville stunner. The best part about this space is its ambience reminiscent of a Clue-like mansion, complete with an indoor fireplace and outdoor fire pits. Along with some of the most intricate and special craft cocktails in town, it makes for a wholly immersive drinking impressive to help you endure the winter months.

Old Town Social: Housemade charcuterie is especially tasty when eaten in close proximity to a bustling fire. Old Town Social is as close as you can get to fireside cured meats without actually immersing yourself in flames, so be sure to take advantage this season The Old Town stalwart is a go-to year-round for their impressive and unique in-house charcuterie program, complete with housemade hot dogs, but the space is especially alluring now that it’s fireplace area is full steam.

Sable Kitchen & Bar: The fireplace at Sable Kitchen & Bar is electric, sure, but it’s just as comforting as the real deal. Plus it’s nice to have zero chance of accidentally burning alive. The makeshift fireplace provides a comforting backdrop for Sable’s bites and sips. Get cozy with one of Sable’s impeccable hot cocktails, and pair it with some steak tartare, some lobster rangoon, and some falafel sliders.

Matt Kirouac

Chicago’s Top Culinary Couples

Married culinary couples cook together and work together

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Chicago's Top Culinary Couples @ Urban Cantina

Chicago’s Top Culinary Couples @ Urban Cantina

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Dos Urban Cantina
Logan Square’s Mexican stunner is courtesy of chefs Brian Enyart and Jennifer Jones Enyart, the culinary couples who met while working together at Topolobampo under Rick Bayless. Similar to their dynamic there, Enyart mans the savory fare at Dos Urban Cantina, while Jones Enyart is in charge of pastries and desserts, culling ideas and inspirations from all over Mexico.

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Spinning J
After running a pie delivery business called Cheap Tart out of a shared kitchen space for years, Dinah Grossman and Parker Whiteway took the next big step in achieving their dreams by opening Spinning J in Humboldt Park. The beautiful, vintage-inspired bakery and soda fountain pays homage to dessert parlors of Americana yore, even repurposing equipment like a marble bar from a bygone Milwaukee pharmacy. Grossman puts her cooking and baking skills to good use here, crafting a menu of pies, cookies, quiche, English muffins, milkshakes and more. Meanwhile, her husband utilizes his background as a chemist helps in making botanicals, phosphates and sodas. In a way, Spinning J’s famed phosphates and gelato floats epitomize their relationship.

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Baker Miller
Dave and Megan Miller are among Chicago’s pastry elite. After quickly rising to local acclaim at Bang Bang Pie Shop, they decamped to open a place all their own. Baker Miller is perfectly representative of their joint talents and passions, all with the common ground of wholesome and locally sourced cooking. Dave’s strengths lend themselves to the savory side, which includes impossibly creamy grits, saucy biscuit sandwiches and grain bowls, while Megan continues to turn out some of the best pies, cookies, muffins and cinnamon rolls in the city.

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Vera
One of the most beloved neighborhood-y spots in the restaurant-saturated West Loop, Vera is the handiwork of husband-wife duo Mark and Elizabeth Mendez. The pair worked together previously at Carnivale before leaving to work on their passion project. The result is a Spanish-accented wine bar that smartly combines their two strengths. Mark is in the kitchen, cooking up tapas and other inventive Mediterranean dishes, like crab-stuffed peppers and Moroccan spiced lamb chops. Up front, Elizabeth is the force behind Vera’s renowned wine program, which boasts ample Spanish wines by the glass and bottle. She’s also developed a penchant for sherry as well, with Vera becoming one of the go-to wine bars in the city for the fortified wine.

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Spiaggia
Chicago’s O.G. culinary couples is Tony and Cathy Mantuano, of Spiaggia fame. Notably, they’ve taken their camaraderie outside the restaurant by collaborating on cookbooks together. Cathy, after all, has extensive experience writing wine lists for restaurants. The Spiaggia Cookbook – Eleganza Italiana in Cucina and Wine Bar Food are both prime examples of their dynamic efforts, whereas Tony provides recipes and food inspiration and Cathy adds expertise in wine.

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mk The Restaurant
Prominent power culinary couples Michael and Lisa Kornick opened mk The Restaurant in 1998, and they’ve been at the forefront of Chicago’s multifaceted dining scene ever since. After having spent years clocking time in restaurants all over the country, the time was right for the couple to open something together, with the goal of having 100% control over the customer and employee experience. That dream lives on today, with Kornick overseeing mk’s proclaimed menus with along with chef Erick Williams, and Lisa being the familiar face managing operations outside the kitchen.

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Smyth and The Loyalist
For John Shields and Karen Urie Shields, their companionship took them from Chicago to the East Coast and back again. The married culinary couples worked together at legendary Charlie Trotter’s before opening Town Ship in rural Virginia, to much national fanfare. When they closed that restaurant, they wound up returning to Chicago with not one, but two restaurants. Smyth is their tasting menu spot in the West Loop, housed in a warm loft space with a massive open kitchen and dishes rich with offbeat flavor combinations, like crab and foie gras with scrambled miso, or lamb saddle with seaweed and black truffle. Coming full-circle, the restaurant also gets its name from Smyth County, Virginia, where they honed their culinary philosophies. Right below Smyth is The Loyalist, a more casual bar and restaurant with inventive a la carte plates like green curry-spiced chicken thighs and lemongrass sundaes with blueberries and molasses. At both restaurants, John tackles savory dishes and Karen does desserts.

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Oriole
Nestled down a West Loop side street so quiet and unassuming it almost looks like a wide alley, Oriole is a clandestine surprise that beckons guests into a casual, comfortable dining room for one of the best tasting menus in Chicago. Cara Sandoval is the first face you’ll see, greeting guests and walking them through the back of a freight elevator to access the industrial-style dining room. Her front-of-house expertise and service is echoed nicely by Noah Sandoval in the kitchen. As executive chef, he develops dynamic menus that change constantly, each dish intricate and immaculate both in terms of flavor and presentation. Thanks to the Sandovals shared philosophy, Oriole is the rare fine dining restaurant that genuinely feels as casually inviting as dining in someone’s home.

Valentine’s Day Dining Guide 2017

Where to eat, drink and toast to your loved one on Valentine’s Day.

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Valentine's Day Dining Guide 2017 @ Cochon Volant

Valentine’s Day Dining Guide 2017 @ Cochon Volant

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The most romantic day of the year is coming up, which means one of the biggest days for dining out and trying to impress your loved one. Fortunately, Chicago is filled with fresh dining options and ideas that won’t make the holiday tradition feel like an expensive chore. Here are several places to put on your romantic radar this year:

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III Forks Prime Steakhouse: The 2017 “Sweetheart Menu” at this downtown stunner is a three-course tasting for two available February 10 through February 14, so you’ve got plenty of opportunity to partake. First, guests choose between the signature III Forks salad or lobster bisque, followed by a surf and turf combo of two filet mignons and two lobster tails. A chocolate-lovers treat is for dessert. The menu is $170 per couple, with optional sparkling wine selections as supplements.
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Floriole Cafe & Bakery: It doesn’t always take a lavish dinner out to impress your partner. Sometimes a sweet little gift is best. In which case, you should head over to Floriole Cafe & Bakery, which is baking up special sweet treats for the holiday, ideal for surprising your loved one on Valentine’s Day. Available throughout February, items include chocolate caneles, conversation heart cookies, heart-shaped tarts, chocolate ganache cakes and chocolate mousse domes with satsuma marmalade.

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The Violet Hour: One of Chicago’s most iconic cocktail bars is also one of the city’s most romantic. There’s just something about the clandestine entryway, the tall curtains, the dim glow of The Violet Hour that makes the cocktails that much more alluring. For the holiday, the bar will host two seatings for special holiday happenings. The first is a cocktail hour from 6:00 p.m. until 8:30 p.m., during which guests will get a welcome cocktail, followed by a menu of special cocktails and a dessert at the end. The second seating takes place from 9:00 p.m. until 11:30 p.m. During both events, there will be a Champagne bar cart roving around for guests to learn about making their ideal Champagne cocktail. Another adorable addition is stationary supplied on the tables so diners can write love letters together. Tickets for both seatings are $75, which includes drinks and dessert. Additional bites are a la carte.

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312 Chicago: Red-colored pasta is the order of the day at 312 Chicago, which is thinking outside the heart-shaped box this year with a special Valentine’s Day menu focused on unique, rosy pastas and other romantic accents. In case you were curious, the pasta gets its red tint from beets. Dubbed the “Menu di San Valentino,” the three-course tastings feature dishes like beet ravioli stuffed with roasted pheasant, risotto with strawberries and lump crab meat, grilled hanger steak with Taleggio fondue and roasted beet dumplings and red velvet cake with strawberry sauce and cream cheese. The cost for the prix fixe is $55 per person, and for those who’d prefer to dine on Saturday, February 11, the restaurant will also be featuring select dishes as specials.

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Cochon Volant Brasserie: There’s just something so innately romantic about a downtown brasserie. Case in point: Cochon Volant, which never fails to impress with its alluring setting and cozy, heartwarming French-accented cuisine. On Valentine’s Day, the Loop restaurant will be featuring specials like escargots with blue cheese and croutons, 72-hour rotisserie chicken with roasted tomato sauce an half-priced Moet Champagne by the glass or bottle.

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Vermilion: For those who’d like to add a little more exoticism and spice to their Valentine’s Day itinerary, Vermilion is an apt choice. The enduring River North restaurant, which features a smart fusion of Latin and Indian cuisines, is serving up a special menu for the holiday called the “Sultry Red Eat Your Heart Out” prix fixe. As the name suggests, each dish is lush with red components, featuring five courses of eclectic preparations. These include a salad of beets, hearts of palm mousse, lobster, arugula, cumin, passion fruit vinaigrette and balsamic caviar; oysters with crimson pomegranate, lime and mint; red chimichurri New York strip steak or lamb shank with sweet potatoes and tomato rice; and “hedonism” chocolate cake with hibiscus sorbet and red candied rose petals. Reservations can be made by calling Vermilion or via OpenTable.

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Brindille: Get in the Valentine’s Day spirit a little early with a trip to Brindille for Valentine’s Day Tea. The French afternoon tea service takes place February 10, with seatings from 2:00 p.m. until 5:00 p.m. Expect elegant sweet and savory bites by chef Carrie Nahabedian and pastry chef Craig Harzewski. The cost is $60 per person and makes for a wonderful couple’s date. RSVP by emailing info@brindille-chicago.com

Chicago Dining Guide for Super Bowl 2017

Whether you’re dining out or ordering in, here’s what to eat during the big game.

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Chicago Dining Guide for Super Bowl 2017

One of the biggest eating days of the year is coming up soon—February 5, to be exact. The Super Bowl is basically Football Thanksgiving, and instead of turkey and stuffing there’s chicken wings and pizza. Whether you’re going out to watch the game at a bar or restaurant, or ordering in, here are several restaurants that’ll make the Super Bowl more delicious for you.
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Chicago Dining Guide for Super Bowl 2017 @ Frontier

Chicago Dining Guide for Super Bowl 2017
@ Frontier

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Barbecue seems a fitting meal for the Super Bowl, considering the inherently burly and meaty quality of the cuisine. Green Street Smoked Meats will have an 18-foot screen on display for the game, with full sound and plenty of BBQ, pitchers of beer and margaritas. The restaurant also offers catering for at-home feasting, with 24 hours notice required on orders and a $100 minimum.

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Another barbecue option is Bub City, which has 16 flat-screen TVs airing the game on February 5 and specials running all day long. These include football-friendly fare like smoked brisket chili, sloppy Joes and brisket nachos. Table reservations can be made by calling the restaurant. Bub City also offers catering as well, capable of delivering chicken wings, ribs, fried chicken and more right to your door. Orders must be placed by February 4.

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From Small Cheval burgers and fried chicken to turkey meatballs and cookies, 3 Greens Market has all the bases covered come game day. The one-stop shop is a solid option for Super Bowl catering, available via the restaurant’s website with 24 hours notice. There’s a $100 minimum on orders, available for pickup or delivery.

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Frontier is one restaurant that knows its meat, and for the Super Bowl Dining they’re going big with 1/2 off whole smoked pig dinners. For $275, guests can gather around a whole smoked free-range American pig, surrounded by sides like five-cheese mac & cheese, Caesar salad with polenta croutons, seasonal vegetables and buttered rolls. The feast is enough to serve 12-15, so bring all your friends. Reservations must be made by February 1. Email jen@pioneertaverngroup.com to do so.

A bevy of specials are on deck at downtown’s Staytion Market & Bar, which is slinging $5 draft beers and $4 domestic bottles on February 5 to celebrate. From 5:00 p.m. until 10:00 p.m., the restaurant runs its special Super Bowl package, which includes access to a wing station, taco bar, pizza bar and beef sliders, all for just $27 per person.

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Here’s something unique. Wicker Park’s ramen-focused Kizuki is cooking up a little competition of its own this year with its first annual Super Bowl Ramen Challenge. From February 1 through February 5, guests are invited to participate by attempting to finish a bowl of ramen that’s five times larger than the regular serving. All in less than 30 minutes. Winners get the ramen for free, which is pretty good considering it costs $45 to enter the contest, plus a shot of sake or shochu for 1-cent for the whole table

Year Round Rooftop Bars for Winter Warmth

Year Round Rooftop Bars: These soaring spots keep things hot all year round

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Year Round Rooftop Bars (Boleo)

Year Round Rooftop Bars (Boleo)

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Does winter have you feeling blue? In dire need of a dose of Vitamin D and the illusion of warmer weather? Fortunately for you, Chicago has filled up nicely in recent years with a handful of rooftop terraces, bars and restaurants that are open year round. Of course, they are now enclosed so that you don’t freeze to death while sipping your cocktail, but with the views and the natural light still accounted for, it’s a breath of fresh winter air. Here’s where to dine and drink on rooftops this winter in Chicago.

Year Round Rooftop Bars

Raised: This massive low-flying rooftop bar and restaurant opened late last spring and has been red hot ever since. Including right now, when you could use that heat the most. It’s got a massive indoor space overlooking the Chicago River and the River North skyline, and it’s also not too high up, which is a nice option for those afraid of heights. Raised also raises the bar on food, which elevates American bar fare thanks to chef Daniel Perez. Items include deviled eggs with n’duja, kabocha squash fritters and crispy Brussels sprouts with apple-bourbon reduction.

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Up & Up: The newest addition to Chicago’s rooftop bar scene is Up & Up, perched atop Wicker Park’s brand new (and stunningly cool) Robey Hotel. Far enough from the downtown core, the 13th story cocktail nook sports glorious views regardless of whether or not the outdoor terrace is open. The indoor area for now is cozy and warm, outfitted with snug lounge chairs and sofas; great perches for sipping inventive and boozy libations like newfangled riffs on Old Fashioneds.

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The J. Parker: A perpetual crowd-pleaser in the warmer months, Lincoln Park’s J. Parker is now equally hip all year round thanks to the recent addition of a retractable glass roof. Wrapping around the expansive patio like an igloo dome, guests can still drink in the views of the park, the lake and the downtown skyline, all while drinking in their Kentucky’s Orchard, a warm winter tipple made with Old Forester, ginger, clove, cinnamon, apple cider and lemon. Round it out with snacks like pinto bean hummus, fried kale chips and grilled cheese sandwiches with smoked pear butter and Gouda,

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Cindy’s: No matter the time of day or year, the stunning atrium-like terrace atop the Chicago Athletic Association radiates warm vibes and chic ambience. That might explain why it’s always crazy packed. If the temperature isn’t too frigid, guests can take their cocktails out onto the open air terrace and sit by a roaring fireplace (the bar provides blankets, too!). Or just cozy up inside with a boozy hot chocolate and a shellfish platter and call it a night.

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Boleo: As if the glass roof-enclosed rooftop restaurant at the new Kimpton Gray Hotel wasn’t beautiful enough, the Latin American cuisine and inventive cocktails are sure to bolster that sense of exoticism and warmth. No matter the forecast, Boleo feels sunny and tropical, thanks to an abundance of green plants and lounge-like chairs, tables and banquettes. The menu is refreshing, too. Be sure and share some bracing ceviches, some tuna tataki anticuchos and some lobster tempura rolls. Don’t worry about sharing the cocktails, though. Those you’ll want to keep all for yourself.

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Drumbar: Hidden away atop Streeterville’s quaint Rafaello Hotel, Drumbar is the rare bar that feels equally as cozy in the winter as it does refreshing in the summer. That’s thanks to its combo of sprawling outdoor terrace and expansive indoor area decorated with fireplaces, library shelves and dark woods that altogether make the bar feel like a chic lodge or mansion. The cocktail program is seriously legit too, featuring an ever-rotating lineup of themed originals, like the Orange is the New Black with Rhine Hall Mango Brandy, lemon, salted sweet potato, Grand Marnier and Thai bitters; or the Stranger Things with Absolut Vodka, Amontillado sherry, Concord grape, lemon, fennel and ylang ylang flower.

7 Restaurants For Breaking New Year’s Resolutions in Chicago

From steak to fried chicken, here’s where to indulge in comfort food this month.

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Breaking New Year's Resolutions @ Prime & Provisions

Breaking New Year’s Resolutions @ Prime & Provisions

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Breaking New Year’s Resolutions: Rules are made to be broken. Especially rules that double as New Year’s resolutions. Since we all know those pesky resolutions only last a few days anyway, it makes sense to treat yourself to some comfort food during the frigid time of year when you need it most. From butter-slathered fried chicken to gigantic sandwiches, here are some of the best places in town to break your New Year’s resolutions.

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Considering how warming and summery s’mores are, there’s no better time than January to feast on one of the signature desserts at Prime & Provisions. Their version of s’mores is a novel one, taking each component of the classic all-American confection and turning it on its head. Finished table side, the dessert arrives as a chocolate dome on a bed of graham cracker. The dome is then doused with melted warm fudge, which dissolves the dome and releases a plume of aromatic campfire smoke.

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When you can’t pick between a sweet or savory craving, Cookies & Carnitas is the answer for breaking your new year’s resolution. The Green City Market vendor-turned-Edgewater cafe features pork throughout its varied menu, from tacos and pizza to some of the most succulent carnitas sandwiches in town. For something sweet, cookies are the obvious choice. These tire-sized treats feature an addictively chewy, soft interior with a crispy, caramelized exterior. The bacon-flecked chocolate chip cookies are the ultimate indulgence.

A mountain of meat stacked between two thick rolls is as good as it gets when it comes to shattering that New Year’s resolution. Treat yourself at Cemitas Puebla, which serves their signature cemitas sandwiches and more in the West Loop, Logan Square and Hyde Park. The namesake cemitas are torta-like, but substantially bigger and layered with Oaxacan cheese, avocado, chipotle sauce and meats like ham and breaded pork loin. They’ve also got great tacos, chalupas and quesadillas.

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Few things can top a burger when it comes to belt-busting indulgence. It’s an apt time to seek out one of the best, beefiest versions in town at Owen & Engine. The Logan Square restaurant features a deceptively simple version that’s pure succulent beef, served on house-baked potato bap with nothing but a few caramelized onions for a pinch of sweetness. The spotlight is clearly on the thick patty, which is so tender and juicy that it’s practically tartare.

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One definitive way to raise the stakes on fried chicken is by slathering it with butter. The aptly dubbed Honey Butter Fried Chicken does just that, breaking resolutions with a menu full of fried chicken, corn muffins, pimento mac & cheese, sandwiches and chocolate-toffee-cocoa nib cookies. It’s a veritable wonderland of excess, and there’s no better way to begin 2017.

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Another surefire way to boost fried chicken’s innate decadence? Pair it with doughnuts. You can do so by visiting the Streeterville outpost of Do-Rite Donuts. Here, they take those crowd-pleasing doughnuts to the next level by outfitting their menu with fried chicken sandwiches. If you’re really feeling saucy, you can even get a fried chicken sandwich served on a sliced glazed doughnut.

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Breaking New Year’s Resolutions One could be more hearty and comforting than a good steakhouse? How about a steakhouse that serves beignets? And how about one where those beignets are studded with beef? Savory short rib beignets are a standout starter at Boeufhaus, one of the more innovative and interesting steakhouses in Chicago. The savory little fried pillows are served with natural jus for dipping.

Keep Warm With Chicago’s Best Soups

January is an apt time to cozy up to some of Chicago’s finest soups.

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Chicago's Best Soups (XOCO)

Chicago’s Best Soups (XOCO)

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With the holidays in the past, it’s time to focus on healthful choices while simultaneously seeking out warming comfort foods to combat the January temperatures. Fortunately, that’s what soup is for. With January also being National Soup Month, it’s prime time to get your slurp on in Chicago.

Chicago’s Best Soups

When it comes to that perfect bowl of soup, it’s hard to top the almighty matzoh ball. At once enriching and comforting, this Jewish deli classic is perfected at Eleven City Diner. This modern, slick ode to Jewish diners of Americana yore does matzoh ball soup, swimming in aromatic chicken broth, better than pretty much anyone, especially considering the recipe has been handed down through the owner’s family, and his mother has even been known to get in the kitchen and roll matzoh herself.

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OK, so creamy clam chowder may not be exactly healthy like other brothy soups, but it still qualifies for National Soup Month, regardless of how indulgent it is. Be sure and try the version at New England Seafood Company. The Roscoe Village fish market and eatery does classic New England seafood right, especially apparent in their masterful clam chowder. Other stellar soup options here include lobster bisque and cioppino.

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For those who resolved to keep things healthy, at least for the time being, Heartland Cafe has something that is equal parts hearty, comforting, and healthy: buffalo chili. The restaurant prides itself on responsibly sourced, healthier alternatives to gluttonous comfort foods, offering more nutritious renditions of things like chili, burgers, and chips. By eschewing beef for buffalo, the restaurant automatically reduces fat without sacrificing flavor. Each bowl of buffalo chili is positively brimming with beefy flavor, minus any of the innate, binge-y side effects that come with beef. There’s also a bean-filled vegetarian chili for those who’d like to take it a step further.

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The caldos at XOCO, Rick Bayless’ casual homage to Mexican street food, are more like elaborate deconstructed meals than your standard bill of bowl fare. You can’t go wrong with any of the bracing options here, especially the short rib-red chile version or the succulent carnitas with potato-masa dumplings.

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See Full Storry

7 Restaurants For Keeping Your New Year’s Resolutions

7 Restaurants For Keeping Your New Year’s Resolutions in Chicago

Keeping Your New Year's Resolutions in Chicago @ Bad Hunter

Keeping Your New Year’s Resolutions in Chicago @ Bad Hunter

New Year’s Resolutions in Chicago

It’s that time of year again, when resolutions mean people start flocking to gyms and replace their eggnog with salad. But resolving to eat healthier doesn’t automatically mean bland flavor and depressing food. Chicago’s dynamic dining scene is filled with delicious restaurants and cafes that just so happen to offer healthy alternatives aplenty. Here’s where to eat and drink with resolutions in mind:

SEE FULL STORY

http://www.diningchicago.com/articles/2016/12/31/7-restaurants-for-keeping-your-new-years-resolutions-in-chicago

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One of the hottest openings of 2016 is also one of the best places to keep vegetables at the center of your plate as you cling to your New Year’s resolutions. I’m talking about Bad Hunter, the West Loop newcomer with a mission to put produce front-and-center. It’s not meat-free, by any means, but rather uses meat as an accent on occasion, preferring to keep fruits and vegetables as the focal point in innovative new ways. Considering how unique and exciting the menus are here, it’ll be all too easy to maintain your resolution with dishes like roasted turnips with shoyu butter, maitake mushrooms a la plancha and sturgeon skewers with grilled little gem lettuce. Even the desserts put vegetables first, like a red curry squash tart with coconut cream and a sunchoke cake with poached pears and hazelnut anglaise.

Owen + Alchemy is the ultimate place for maintaining resolutions deliciously. The juice bar and vegetarian haven in Logan Square features an alluring variety of fresh juices, smoothies, salads and vibrant bowls bursting with fruit, cashew milk, seeds and more. The handiwork of Anne Owen, O+A will have you forgetting all about pie with their cayenne-spiced apple juice and their luscious blueberry juice with basil.

With a name like Little Beet Table, one can safely expect that vegetables take the spotlight at this Gold Coast newcomer. And indeed they do, in delicious ways. Like sweet pea guacamole, cauliflower hummus and charred broccoli with spicy carrot remoulade and carrot chips. There are beef and chicken dishes among the entrees, but they’re sourced responsibly and prepared in as wholesome a manner as possible, like a grass-fed beef burger or an herb-roasted chicken with honey-glazed carrots and yogurt ranch.

A restaurant modeled after southern California clearly has healthier tendencies. At Lincoln Park’s Summer House Santa Monica, the beachy restaurant feels like an authentic West Coast vacation, complete with pristine, fresh food that the Golden State is known for, from ahi tuna tostadas and hamachi tartare to fresh Burrata, slow-poached scallops, grilled Atlantic salmon, vegetable tacos and much more.

Another place offering a neoteric take on wholesome dining is Beatrix. All day long, the River North restaurant offers a cornucopia of internationally inspired dishes and drinks, ranging from over-the-top indulgent to mercifully nutritious, so there’s something for everyone (and every resolution). Fresh juices are a great option for kickstarting your menu, along with ten-grain oatmeal and shakshouka, a Middle Eastern dish consisting of spicy tomato sauce, poached eggs, kale, feta and warm naan. Lunch offers some of the best salads in town, turkey-sweet potato-greens “neatloaf” and a mushroom and quinoa burger. For dinner, cleaner options include the chili- and chocolate-glazed salmon or the wild mushroom braise, a plate of four different kinds of hearty mushrooms with cauliflower mash.

Chicago’s first batch of Lyfe Kitchens are alive and kicking, all rife with nutritious fare. Vegetarian and gluten-free dishes are huge here throughout the day, and each item comes with calorie and sodium information, so customers know exactly what they’re getting into. Start your day with the morning tofu wrap or the farmers’ market egg white frittata, and later in the day move on to edamame hummus, kale Caesar salad, veggie burgers and quinoa crunch wraps. To drink, Lyfe Kitchen has a bevy of refreshing waters in flavors such as hibiscus-beet, ginger-mint-chia and cucumber-mint.

Rogers Park’s legendary Heartland Cafe has long been a Mecca of wholesome food on the far north side, renowned for its vegetarian dishes and cleaner substitutes for comfort foods such as burgers, sandwiches, meatloaf and mashed potatoes. All the comfort is there, just better for you. Heartland Cafe’s dishes include fritters smothered in vegan gravy, vegan buckwheat pancakes, pumpkin seed- and sunflower seed-flecked porridge, buffalo chili, vegan seitan French dip, turkey meatloaf, maple-glazed tofu and lots more. And even the mashed potatoes are healthier, made with mashed root vegetables instead of straight-up spuds.

New Year’s Eve Dining and Drinking Guide 2016

Where to get your bubbly on in Chicago for New Year’s Eve.

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New Year’s Eve is not only one of the craziest holidays of the year, right up there with St. Patrick’s Day and Cinco de Mayo, but it’s one of the most popular nights for dining and drinking, usually with reckless abandon. Celebrators are out in full-force this year, looking to end 2016 on a high note and beckon the new year in the best way possible. Here’s where to make that happen in Chicago this year:

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New Year's Eve Dining @ The Kitchen

New Year’s Eve Dining @ The Kitchen

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The Kitchen Bistro: Dishes are impressively fresh and elegant at The Kitchen Bistro, which is cooking up a four-course prix fixe for the occasion. Guests can to choose items for each course, including smoked sturgeon, roasted hazelnut salad, scallops, housemade chittara, roasted squash risotto, snapper or beef tenderloin. Chocolate mousse and honey chiffon cake are the dessert selections. Reservations are available between 5:00 p.m. and 7:00 p.m. for $65 or between 7:15 p.m. and 11:00 p.m. for $75. Wine pairings are an additional $45.

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tesori: It’s nice to have a New Year’s Eve celebration downtown that won’t completely break the bank. Hence, tesori. The venerable Italian restaurant is featuring an affordable prix fixe by chef Carlos Ysaguirre for $65 per person. It all starts with a glass of Prosecco for guests upon arrival, followed by dishes like salumi and frittata, roast suckling pig with herb gnocchi, choice between chestnut Parmigiano polenta and pancetta-braised winter greens and for dessert, chocolate-chestnut cake. A wine package is available for another $35 per person.

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Bernie’s Lunch & Supper: This River North spot is keeping things refreshingly concise and low-cost for New Year’s Eve, with a 12-item a la carte menu by chef Ryan Sand. Options include lobster lasagna, foraged mushroom risotto with Parmesan-truffle mousse, double-cut wood-roasted pork chop and 36-hour short ribs with crispy sweet potatoes and five-spice bordelaise.

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New Year's Eve Dining @ Honey's

New Year’s Eve Dining @ Honey’s

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New Year’s Eve Dining

Ema: New Year’s Eve in Chicago adopts a Mediterranean accent at Ema, where acclaimed chef CJ Jacobson is featuring a four-course tasting for the holiday. Items include winter squash risotto with spicy hummus, veal short ribs with chickpea and pumpkin tagine, diver scallops and stracciatella with charred Spanish chorizo. The cost is $85 per person, which includes a Champagne toast at midnight and party favors for the celebration. Reservations are recommended

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Acadia: One of the funnest themes for the holiday this year can be found at Acadia, where the five-year old South Loop restaurant is featuring an event inspired by Cirque de Soleil’s “Earth and Ocean.” Beginning at 5:30 p.m., the dinner portion of the party consists of a six-courser for $175 or an eight-courser at 9:00 p.m. for $275. The real revelry begins at 11:30 p.m., when the doors to the after-party open and feature lavish additions like a 20-piece marching bands, a three-tiered stage and contortionists. Attendees to the party will have access to cocktails, Champagne, beer and a food buffet, all for just $50 per person ($25 for members of the restaurant industry).

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Honey’s: This West Loop newcomer is celebrating its first New Year’s in style, with a six-course tasting menu by executive chef/partner Charles Welch. Considering Honey’s was one of the most acclaimed restaurants to open this year, it’s certain to be a fitting and delicious finale for 2016. Dishes in the main dining room include lobster terrine, foie gras torchon, cotechino tortellini, turbot a la blanquette, seared and braised lamb and smoked black tea cake with ganache, black sesame tuile and coconut. The menu costs $125 per person, plus $85 for optional wine pairings. From 10:00 p.m. until 1:00 a.m., the bar area will feature a $100/person beverage package of two cocktails, Champagne, beers and a well open bar New Year’s Eve Dining

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312 Chicago: With vegetable, fish and meat options for each of the four courses on New Year’s Eve, 312 Chicago is the ultimate crowd-pleaser for just about everyone. Chef Luca Corazzina is featuring his “Menu di Capo D’Anno,” a prix fixe that includes options like spinach souffle, jumbo lump crab meat ravioli,  and roasted herb-crusted rack of lamb. The cost is $75 per person, plus $35 for optional wine pairings.

Where to Eat on New Year’s Day in Chicago

Nothing like a pajama brunch to cure a Champagne hangover.

New Year’s Day in Chicago

New Year's Day in Chicago @ Bar Pastoral

New Year’s Day in Chicago @ Bar Pastoral

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Bar Pastoral: Few things are better than a good hash when it comes to, umm, hashing out your hangover. At Bar Pastoral, they’ve got just the ticket with their “Disco Brunch” on New Year’s Day. The star of the show is their customizable hash, wherein guests get to build-their-own hash, which comes with scones and coffee. And since this is disco brunch, expect funky tunes all morning long too.

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New Year’s Day in Chicago at Cafe Ba-Ba-Reeba!: For the 11th time, Cafe Ba-Ba-Reeba! is featuring its famed pajama brunch, encouraging patrons to attend in their comfiest attire. From 9:00 a.m. until 3:00 p.m., the Spanish classic features a build-your-own Bloody Mary bar along with a myriad of sweet and savory brunch tapas. For those who dine in pajamas, they’ll receive a gift certificate equal to the price of their meal for a future visit.

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Frontier: Nothing satisfies a New Year’s hangover quite like a boozy brunch. Frontier understands this perfectly, and the West Town restaurant and bar is celebrating appropriately with drink specials like Champagne Jell-O shots, bellinis and flavored mimosas. Brunch will be served from 10:00 a.m. until 3:00 p.m. and reservations can be made by calling the restaurant. At noon, the Four Star Brass Band will kick in with entertainment.

Appellation: Fried chicken and Champagne go together like peanut butter and jelly, especially on the morning of New Year’s Day. Appellation knows this, and they’re hosting an aptly themed brunch to mark the occasion. For $22 per person, guests get to indulge in a family-style feast of fried chicken, black-eyed peas, collard greens and cornbread, of course with an abundance of Champagne to wash it all down.

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Stella Barra Pizzeria: Here’s another pajama brunch to add to your radar. The casual, comfort food affair runs from 9:00 a.m. until 3:00 p.m. and includes endless warm brioche cinnamon rolls, egg enchiladas, and more. Again, for those who dine in pajamas, they’ll receive a gift certificate equal to the value of their meal.

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Cantina Laredo: Huevos rancheros and Mexican brandy butter sound like great ways to kick off 2017. You can do so at Cantina Laredo, which is celebrating New Year’s Day with a Mexican brunch from 11:30 a.m. until 3:00 p.m., featuring dishes like chicken fajita omelettes, French toast with that brandy butter, chilaquiles, asada y huevos (steak and eggs) and more. All entrees come with a complimentary mimosa, Bloody Maria or non-alcoholic drink.