We officially have about a foot of snow on the ground. And while during normal years we’d just leap over the snowpile before sauntering into our favorite bar and restaurant, this is 2021. Luckily, lots of restaurants are offering ways for us to stay outside and be charmed by the snow and cold that define winter in Chicago. Here are a few restaurants, bars, and pop-ups that will help you learn to love (or hate a little less) this...special... time of year.
PB & J
PB&J opened last year, which, if you’re keeping track, means right in the middle of the pandemic. But they’re embracing it. In fact, they recently built a gigantic ice bar (last we heard they used 10,000 pounds of ice) out on their sidewalk patio. That’s it, it’s a giant bar made of ice. Drink vodka cocktails, order some food, then head over to their adjoining dome - also made of ice.
Most of the heated tents being used to cover patios look like something you’d find at an outdoor wedding. That’s fine, but that makes the private tents at Lottie’s Pub (they’re calling it, “Camp Lottie’s”) feel extra charming. They look a little like cartoon tents from _ Peanuts_, each one has a TV, and they can seat up to eight people. Hang out and order beer and bar food. Plus, on Tuesdays and Wednesdays they have movie night.
Recess frequently uses its giant patio to host pop-ups and their new one, Sugar Rush, is Candyland-themed. The pop-up happens Thursday-Sunday and you need to buy a ticket to attend, which also gets you a cocktail, fancy rice krispy treat, and a goodie bag. Afterward, stick around and order some Bob’s, since Recess is an outpost for the Pilsen-style pizza spot.
Having a cocktail on a rooftop during a Chicago summer feels like a reason to move here. And up until recently, hanging out on one during the winter seemed more like a location for the next season of Alone rather than a sensible spot to get together with friends. But The Kennedy in Wicker Park has heated, private, twinkly-lit domes that you can rent out. Depending on the package, you get booze, mixers, appetizers, and fruit, plus they also have curling. Have drinks, stay warm, enjoy a great view of the skyline, and perhaps be the first person in the city to spot an impending Snowpiercer-esque arctic blast.
Swift & Sons has a dining experience they call “The Swift Alps.” This means having a five-course meal in elaborately decorated tents (they’re calling them yurts and each one has a different theme). It costs $85 per person and each seating is two hours long.