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The Chicago Summer 25

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The Chicago Summer 25

Summer in Chicago. The air is thick with Nascar exhaust and heavy with pressure to make the most out of every sunny day. That's where The Summer 25 comes in. It has taco crawls, rooftops that don’t suck, and a place to take your uncle who hates the city (despite never having been here before).

Summer in Chicago. The air is thick with Nascar exhaust and heavy with pressure to make the most out of every sunny day. That's where The Summer 25 comes in. It has taco crawls, rooftops that don’t suck, and a place to take your uncle who hates the city (despite never having been here before).

photo credit: District Brew Yards

Drink experimental beer and play games on the giant patio at this West Town pour-your-own taproom. Debate the official rules of Jenga (one hand only and once you touch a block, you’re committed) with the nice group of strangers next to you. The gentle breeze and Midwestern friendliness may be enough to convince your friends of the merits of living in Chicago, the one time a year they decide to visit. - Veda Kilaru

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photo credit: Bar Avec

Everyone knows what spots have the best views. Look out your window, we bet you can see a view-hoarder right now, sitting on top of some hideous high rise that's probably blocking your view. But Bar Avec is a calm oasis on the eighth floor of a reasonably sized building in River North. It’s magically situated with a view of downtown Chicago minus the gale-force winds and hordes of tourists. - Adrian Kane

The Hidden View image

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photo credit: Kim Kovacik

Slashie: (noun) a spot that’s half liquor store, half neighborhood tavern. But Maria’s— a slashie that’s been around since 1986—is now attached to Kimski 2.0, a Korean restaurant, which is attached to Herbivore, a junk food vegan takeout spot. Got that? So the reimagined slashie: quarter liquor store, quarter neighborhood tavern, quarter restaurant, quarter takeout window. - Adrian Kane

The Reimagined Slashie image

photo credit: Tetto

Tetto should suck. It’s a new West Loop spot with bottle service from the Tabu team, which is the formula for chaos garnished with bad food. But the crowd is chill and Professor Pizza is here, so Tetto serves some of the best pizza in the city. Plus, it has a postcard view of the skyline (because it’s not actually in the skyline). - Adrian Kane

The Rooftop That Doesn’t Suck image

photo credit: Derrick Koch

The perfectly crafted Mr. G is designed to withstand a journey from the West Loop through whatever Voyage Of The Mimi-esque adventure you have planned on the treacherous waters of Lake Michigan. The crusty (but airy) bread on this truffle-y Italian sandwich also works as a life preserver if you fall overboard in the Playpen. - Veda Kilaru

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The Boat Sandwich image

photo credit: Derrick Koch

This Greek spot in the West Loop is filled with bottle sparklers and cast members from Love (Northerly) Island. Lyra is teeming with people who have access to a boat (or at least say they do), so if that’s a part of your summer fantasy, come here for brunch with a discreet tote bag filled with sunblock and J.P. Graziano. - Adrian Kane

photo credit: Kim Kovacik

The best place for a BBQ this summer is at the Soul and Smoke at Rockwell on the River. You can get incredible ribs and brisket, a view of the river, and no one at the table had to get up at 4am to put the pork on the smoker. - Adrian Kane

photo credit: Derrick Koch

If it’s going to rain all day, head to the basement food court at Richland Center. Spend that time bouncing from stall to stall while eating some of the best dumplings, soup, and noodles in Chinatown. You can also get a haircut and buy some jeans here instead of railing against the cruel god who stole one of Chicago’s few nice days from you. - Adrian Kane

The Rainy Day Plan image

photo credit: Kim Kovacik

Nostalgia is the strongest flavor at The Freeze. This Logan Square ice cream stand has been around since the ‘50s, and is currently up for sale. Grab some soft serve and loiter in the parking lot while blasting “Don't You (Forget About Me)” from your phone before yet another classic establishment gets converted into a Sterling Bay high rise. - Veda Kilaru

The Get-It-While-You-Still-Can Spot image

photo credit: Kim Kovacik

Chicagoans don’t line up the way folks do in other cities. We’re naturally repelled by people waiting on a sidewalk. That's not the case at Kasama in Ukrainian Village on weekend mornings. The Filipino pastries are a siren song, beckoning us to pull up a lawn chair and sell ube cake merch until it’s our turn to place an order. - Adrian Kane

photo credit: Kim Kovacik

Thanks to Carmy and his white t-shirts, Mr. Beef is the most famous Italian beef stand in the country. But this iconic, cash-only River North shop couldn’t care less. Fame hasn’t gone to its head, so you can still come here to experience a well-made sandwich, no-nonsense service, and diners who don’t know what a ring light is. - Veda Kilaru

photo credit: Kim Kovacik

Warlord opened in May with zero information beyond its intriguing name and very limited hours. There’s still not much info out there on the Avondale restaurant, but we can tell you that it’s making ramp pasta you’ll be obsessed with, has a great burger, and doesn’t take reservations. This late-night spot might be playing hard to get, but it’s worth the chase. - John Ringor

photo credit: Derrick Koch

Between congressional hearings about aircrafts “not of human origin,” the 600% rent increase heading your way in August, and that Friday meeting HR just scheduled, you are all out of f*cks to give. Azul doesn’t want your f*cks. It wants you to go hard on a patio full of tequila towers and endless possibilities. - Adrian Kane

The Place To Go When You Have Nothing Left To Lose image

photo credit: Oakville Grill & Cellar

Your mom—a ‘90s Snackwell devotee and present-day Goop subscriber —is making her annual visit. Book reservations at Oakville in the West Loop so she can order the Nice Green Salad (that’s what it’s literally called), and you can get whatever the hell you want from their all-over-the-place menu. She’ll still narrate what everyone at the table is eating, but you’ve learned to tune her out. - Adrian Kane

photo credit: Cebu

Not every meal needs to be witnessed by tourists and a fleet of Amazon Prime trucks on their way to deliver the “good butt jeans” trending on TikTok. Cebu’s back patio in Wicker Park is the kind of secluded urban backyard that’s a nice reminder of why fences exist in the first place. Come here to eat your chicken adobo in peace. - Adrian Kane

photo credit: Derrick Koch

Adalina is the time-mullet of restaurants: The swanky Italian spot is business when it’s early and a party when it’s late. Order martinis and caviar service during that 6pm client dinner, but know that at 9:01 the energy shifts. At this time, you can expect to see someone topple over a velvet chair, make 15 new friends in the bathroom, and receive an invite to the Amalfi coast. - Adrian Kane

photo credit: Christina Slaton

Take that Nascar fan to Joe’s Seafood, Prime Steak & Stone Crab in River North. This crowded place is full of meat and potatoes (and crab), is within walking distance to NPR, and is so loud you won’t be able to tell if he’s asking you to order another slice of key lime pie, or giving another anecdote he heard about Chicago’s crime rate. - Adrian Kane

photo credit: Kim Kovacik

A lot of places reopened this spring, but Best Intentions did it, well, best. The Logan Square bar soft launched with a tiny note saying “we back” on a billboard outside, and then proceeded to make their back patio the perfect place to drink $10 cocktails, eat $6 smashburgers, and forget that Lake Shore Drive is being shut down through the Fourth. - Adrian Kane

The Comeback Story image

photo credit: Boka Restaurant Group

It’s the season of restaurant groups opening “new” spots almost identical to the old ones, each iteration more unnecessary than the last. Except for Itoko, the fraternal twin of the West Loop’s Momotaro. This fun Japanese spot in Southport realized that Momotaro’s fanbase now has a mortgage on Stroller Row, and needs a place to get a great dinner within walking distance of the babysitter. - Adrian Kane

photo credit: Kim Kovacik

This isn’t a knock on Alla Vita, your cousin, or even the suburbs. It’s just an acknowledgement that Alla Vita is everything someone from Naperville spending time in Chicago could want: a trendy West Loop spot full of enough hanging plants to oxygenate the entire neighborhood. And the Italian food is as good as it is photogenic (which is very). - Adrian Kane

Right now the only opportunity for restaurants like Obelix and Taqueria Chingon to be in the same place at the same time is on our list of the 25 Best Restaurants In Chicago. That changes in August when we bring EEEEEATSCON to Chicago. It’s the rare food festival that only has spots you want trapped in an elevator with you. Stay tuned here for tickets. - Adrian Kane

The Festival image

photo credit: Sandy Noto

Ah, boozed-up crowds and loud “Spotify viral hits” playlists. What’s not to hate about brunch? S.K.Y is the antidote. The menu has dishes like mantou donuts and bacon and egg bibimbap, and the Pilsen space feels like a sexy basement. Which is exactly where you want to eat garlic beef noodles before spending the rest of your Sunday playing Tears of the Kingdom or Boggle. - Adrian Kane

photo credit: Kim Kovacik

It’s become socially acceptable to like uncool things—including this bootleg amusement park. Fight the urge to roll your eyes at the horde outside Margaritaville and march down to the end of the food court and order an Italian beef unlike any other. Then grab ice cream from Original Rainbow Cone while you look out at the water and wonder why all these tourists live anywhere besides Chicago. - Veda Kilaru

The Tourist Trap We Don’t Hate (Anymore) image

photo credit: Kirsten Kaiser

The perfect summer weekend involves a stroll down 18th Street in Pilsen and being elbow-to-elbow with tacos like commuters on the blue line at 5pm. Hydrate with margarita pit stops and throw in an ice cream break to prevent heat exhaustion—walking 0.9 miles over the span of several hours is hard work. - Veda Kilaru

The Food Crawl image

photo credit: Vinod Kalathil

The approximately 1,236-day wait for this South Indian restaurant to open its permanent location in Avondale rivaled the impatience you felt to reunite with that exchange student you had a torrid affair with abroad. But unlike your summer fling (and their request to borrow $5,000) you’ll want Thattu to stick around. - Veda Kilaru

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