The Chicago Fireplace Power Rankings
photo credit: Clayton Hauck
It’s next to impossible to get people to leave the house and go out to eat during Chicago’s brutal winter. That’s why this city has a four-month-long restaurant “week,” and why a lot of restaurants have fireplaces to make sure you’re thoroughly defrosted before eating. But for every roaring fire that makes you grateful it’s cold and snowy outside, there are 15 useless ones that came from a Property Brothers HGTV starter package. Don’t waste your time—only warm yourself by the ones that are worth it. We’ve scientifically ranked each one based on flame height, heat output, and overall coziness.
Here are the 18 best fireplaces in Chicago.
The fireplace on the rooftop patio of the Hoxton isn’t f*cking around, and that’s why it’s number one. For one thing, it’s located outside, meaning it’s strong enough to withstand the elements. It’s also surprisingly shallow in-depth, and the leaping flames are almost frighteningly close. But that just means this thing works—it will actually keep you warm, and make the exposed rooftop feel cozy. It’s our favorite fireplace to sit near while waiting for a table, which is something you can definitely expect to do here.
This old-timey English-style pub makes you feel like you just walked into an episode of Peaky Blinders. With dim lighting, 1920s jazz, and overstuffed leather chairs, Armitage Alehouse already scores high on the coziness scale. But tying everything together is an ornately carved fireplace in the center of the dining room. It makes the table for two directly in front of it the most ideal spot in the restaurant to eat a pot pie with a pint of ale.
We’ve mused that the best time to drink an Old Fashioned is when you’re “feeling dignified and want to stare contemplatively at a fireplace,” and the fireplace at The Violet Hour perfectly embodies that idea. It doesn’t have any ornate designs or old-timey rustic charm, but its minimalist elegance highlights the most important thing: the fire. And when you’re relaxing in a high-backed leather chair, surrounded by velvet curtains and flickering candles, it’s easy to feel sophisticated. Just sit back as you pensively sip an Old Fashioned or any of their other fantastic cocktails.
Unlike some of the other places on this list, After’s fireplace area feels less like a charming cabin in the U.P., and more like a private nook in Lex Luthor’s evil (and expensive) lair. It’s dark, moody, and luxurious, courtesy of leather couches and modernist walnut paneling. And none of this is surprising since this upscale cocktail lounge is the sister spot of Ever, the fancy tasting menu restaurant next door. Every detail is accounted for, down to the After logo carved into ice cubes and the wide array of glassware. Plus, since you can reserve the fireplace section, it’s perfect if you and up to seven friends want to sip on well-crafted (and expensive) cocktails with a little more privacy than the main dining space.
Hanging out in a hotel lobby is not something we’d normally recommend as a fun experience—unless it’s the Drawing Room. This spot in the Chicago Athletic Hotel in the Loop is overflowing with plenty of Ivy League clubhouse charm. It has dark wooden paneling, comfy leather seats, tons of tables, and not one, but two fireplaces, each framed by ornate stone columns and intricate designs right above them. So whether you’re here doing work and drinking coffee, eating a BLT on a lunch break, or waiting 20 extra minutes because your Uber canceled three times, you can at least stay toasty in style.
Elske’s outdoor fireplace is what every edition of Netflix’s Fireplace For Your Home strives to be. Even when you’re inside this fantastic Scandinavian restaurant in the West Loop, simply staring at the blazing logs through the massive windows fills you with an immense feeling of warmth. Unsurprisingly, actually sitting on the benches in front of the flames (assuming it’s not during a snowstorm) is even better. Oh, did we mention the benches also come with fur pelts and blankets? This fireplace isn’t messing around.
The wood-burning fireplace at The Moonlighter is in its own little caged-off section, surrounded by a bunch of wooden benches. It basically looks like where people would huddle in a post-apocalyptic hideout. But, in actuality, it just makes sure there are plenty of seats available. Plus, it provides a totally different feel than the rest of the space, which is a glorified sports bar. As a bonus, there is an auxiliary fireplace outside.
Scofflaw is the perfect winter bar: it’s dark without being depressing, has fantastic gin cocktails, and is home to two large and very cozy fireplaces you can sit next to. There are even free, freshly baked cookies. Basically, this place will turn you into the Celestial Seasons sleepytime tea bear, but with booze. Just try not to fall asleep too close to the flames.
Moody’s up in Edgewater has two stone fireplaces from the Misanthropic Old Man collection. They’re old (which makes sense since this place has been around since 1959) with stovepipes and clearly belong in a cabin in the middle of the woods. It’s exactly where you go to drink alone, hide from the government, and burn any deeds to the land because “you’ll be damned if they take your property.”
This pioneer-themed restaurant in Wicker Park is determined to take us back to the time when fire was primarily used for cauterizing wounds and keeping warm. And it succeeds. The large wood-burning fire out on the all-season patio provides a perfect backdrop for eating things like a wild boar, and rather on-the-nose options like antelope (yes, seriously). Just know that both of these and anything that’s part of their Whole Animal Experience has to be ordered in advance. This is a perspective-giving fireplace that will make you grateful that we live in the age of hand sanitizer and heated car seats.
Spending wintertime at Hopleaf in Andersonville feels a little like being in a Swiss ski lodge, complete with a fireplace. And the one here is very enjoyable—it’s wood-burning with actual logs and centrally located so every table can enjoy it. The one drawback is that because it’s real, it gets very hot if you’re sitting close by. Another drawback: it’s not really a ski lodge, and you’re not actually in the Alps.
This rustic boarding house-turned-Irish pub already has tons of things elevating its cozy factor—multiple intimate dining spaces, musicians at a table playing Irish tunes, and just a general feeling of camaraderie that makes this a great place to hang. But it’s their brick fireplace that ties everything together. It may not be the largest, or the brightest, but when everything else is factored in, nothing beats eating some shepherd’s pie with an expertly poured Guinness by a crackling fire.
While most of the fireplaces on this list are primarily great for sitting around and/or looking at, the ones at Park and Field make it a serious utility player. This place has a giant outdoor patio with multiple fire pits that are functional, surrounded by Adirondack chairs, and designed for making s’mores. Do you want to sit out here in a blizzard? Probably not. But we’re not going to try and stop you.
At this cocktail bar in Humboldt Park, a booze blanket isn’t the only thing that’ll keep you nice and toasty. The star of its large covered patio is a brick fireplace, and its centralized location means that its warmth extends to everyone, whether you’re right in front of it or cozying up in a corner with a hot toddy. Plus, since the Hi-Lo’s sand-colored walls and hanging plants make it feel like a SoCal bar that took a permanent Chicago detour, the space’s perpetually sunny disposition makes it an ideal respite from the cold.
At this Lincoln Square pub it’s common to find people just hanging out in the morning eating pastries, or friends sitting in a booth sharing rarebit and a steak and ale pie over pints of beer. But the best seats at The Green Post are in the back corner right by the fireplace. Situated by a framed map of the UK, the comfy seats are a great place to relax and start your 24th attempt at finishing Ulysses.
The cute fireplace at Beermiscuous reminds us of the kind you find in a nice apartment. The type you’d play Settlers Of Catan in front of (if people would ever commit to your “game night”). This bar has plenty of board games available, and the cafe-like feel makes it great for reading a book by yourself next to the fire. Which is useful, since you can’t get that book club off the ground, either.
The first thing you see when you walk into Cira at the Hoxton is a gas fireplace dominating the lobby. And while it doesn’t have the same rustic charm as some of the others on this list, it’s still large enough to be impressive. It also has a very civilized-feeling glass barrier, so there’s no risk of getting drunk and setting the hotel on fire. Plus, there are plenty of comfortable chairs and couches nearby. On second thought, we’re not even sure it’s technically a real fireplace. But it’s the thought that counts.
Liva’s double-sided fireplace ensures that two groups at a time can defrost after walking around River North. It’s modern-looking and gas-powered, with sleek flames that flicker in a clean straight line surrounded by a pool of rocks—like an MCA piece that triggers unexpected pensiveness. Liva also has a variety of tasty pastas and dishes like grilled shrimp or duck breast to help you fuel up before braving the snowy streets of downtown again. And since it’s located inside of Chicago Winery, there’s plenty of great wine to choose from.