A's List: Audarshia’s Heavy Hitters For Dining & Drinking in Chicago (May)
By Audarshia Townsend
Prom night is simply the most glamorous occasion of a high-schooler’s life, so why not let them live it up like a rock star? In this case, of course, we’re not talking about spending a month’s salary on dresses, limos or accessories. It’s time for them to step up their game when it comes to dining out.
Much of the food at the prom destination is underwhelming, so give the kids a little cash so they may indulge in some of the best eats and drinks around town. From a flashy taco joint boasting Latin-inspired mocktails to a dining institution with killer views, these six spots are a great send off for the biggest night of their lives—thus far.
Why It's A Hit: The third location for this incredibly successful taco pub is prime for prom time. Broken English is lively and fun with roomy booths to settle in for those wearing ample gowns. The dining rooms are especially Instagrammable as the owners have commissioned local artists to spice up the walls and ceilings with original flair. There is also outdoor seating for up to 60 guests.
What To Order: Those with larger parties should order the family-style taco trays, which come in a choice of six ($20) or 12 ($38). Tacos range from pork belly al pastor to fried chicken with smoked cabbage slaw and ghost pepper mayo. There’s only one dessert on the menu, and it’s perfect for a group of young revelers: warm house-made churros dipped in salted caramel gelato, chocolate sauce and seasonal jam. Since this is a family-friendly destination, bartenders are happy to create pitchers of mocktails using fresh ingredients and seasonal juices.
Why It's A Hit: A long-time favorite of young people with finicky palates, this urban food hall boasts 14 distinct kitchens serving different fare. It’s located in Water Tower Place and ideal to check out before or after young ladies put the final touches on their makeup at Macy’s or Sephora.
What To Order: Offerings include Chinese, barbecue, gourmet burgers, pastas, sushi and a salad bar.
Where To Find It: 835 N. Michigan Ave., 312-335-3663
Why It's A Hit: Known for hand-pulled noodles where diners may watch chefs create in their full glory from behind a glass, Imperial Lamian is exotic and glamorous. Luckily with a new happy hour deal, prom-goers won’t have to break the bank for a bite.
What To Order: Happy hour dim sum occurs 3-6pm Monday through Friday with $5 on rotating items like pork soup dumplings, shrimp dumplings and mushroom bao. Diners may also build-their-own lamian for $12 per person. That includes the noodles, a choice of broth (beef, pork, miso) and protein (pork belly, beef brisket, mushroom, minced pork).
Where To Find It: 6 W. Hubbard St., 312-595-9440
Why It's A Hit: The sleek little trattoria in East Lakeview is also a popular choice during happy hour for prom-goers. It’s bustling with a well-dressed crowd, but your crew is certain to stand out. A romantic sidewalk café is meant to make guests feel like they’re in Venice.
What To Order: Small plates during happy hour are $5-$7. There’s plenty on offer, including roasted rosemary potato “chips,” mini caprese, artichoke spinach jalapeño dip served warm with crostini, and bruschetta topped with olive oil or grilled chicken.
Where To Find It: 3908 N. Sheridan Ave., 773-404-8955
Why It's A Hit: Located directly across the street from the venerable Art Institute of Chicago, Seven Lions is a great choice for those with downtown proms. Revelers can take photos in front of the iconic lions in front of the museum, then head over to the chic eatery with picturesque views of the bustling Michigan Avenue.
What To Order: Diners may choose from the pizzettes (mushroom and spinach, sausage and roasted grapes), Moroccan meatballs with spiced tomato sauce and feta, and loaded fries with braised short rib, white cheddar cheese sauce and jalapeños. There’s also a burger and New England-style lobster roll.
Where To Find It: 130 S. Michigan Ave., 312-880-0130
Why It's A Hit: Perched atop the John Hancock Building on the 96th floor is an elegant and grand lounge overlooking the city’s skyline. The Signature Lounge is perfect for the young man who wants to make a phenomenal first impression with his date. This place is prime for backdrop photos.
What To Order: There’s a raw bar for two, offering lobster, oysters, jumbo shrimp and King crab legs; beef skewers with tzatziki sauce and warm pita; and Margherita pizza.
Where To Find It: 875 N. Michigan Ave., 312-787-9595