I've mentioned my love for Chicago multiple times and have come to love the city because of its close proximity to Ann Arbor and popular location for business trips. While I was living in arbor-land, the city was only a four hour drive and a few toll roads away so it was an easy getaway to take. I enjoy wandering around the streets and always make a point to go to the Art Institute, but let's be honest, a vacation needs to involve good food. It's overwhelming how many restaurants are in the city and finding new ones to go to is no problem, but surprisingly hard to do because of the amount to choose from. After planning a few work dinners and casual vacations I've built a list of the places I always recommend and reserve. The areas outside of the main downtown offer so much, but this time I'm focusing on the North Side and a few little gems on Randolph street.
The Boarding House is my go-to spot when I need a reservation for a group looking to try something new, while the Gilt Bar is my favorite dark and intimate setting for great cocktails and rich dinners (get a group together and try their basement bar, The Library). Quartino is a bustling restaurant that makes you feel like you're at a loud Italian family dinner complete with small cups of wine and a big assortment of fresh meats and cheeses. Siena Tavern is a new to me place I recently tested for lunch. Their pizza is delicious, but I fell for the Faro salad with shrimp and octopus. Ask for the Cellar Room for a home dinner party feel.
Sepia has one of the cities best bartenders and their glossy marble bar is the perfect place to grab a quiet late night drink with a friend. Maude's Liquor Bar is everything you want an excursion to Paris to be complete with dim lights and towers of oysters and champagne, which pretty much makes up my ideal date location. I recently tried Embeya for a business dinner and have already planned on bringing people back to this Asian cuisine restaurant. The main entrees are so good, but their hot and cold small plates are fun to pass around the table and let you taste a bit of everything on the menu. The interior is striking too, with the long tables in the back are gorgeous slabs of polished wood set below two falling petal-like white chandeliers.