We’ve reached the point in the year where everyone is basically sick of this sh*t. After one nice Saturday a couple weeks ago where temps topped out at a whopping 40 degrees, we went right back to -4. And while we know nobody is enjoying the freezing cold, there are still ways to make the most of it – namely by going out to eat and drink.
Here are some places we think you need to have on the radar right now. Go forth, brave Chicagoans, and don’t forget to cover your ears.
Perfect For: Medieval Meat Feasts || No matter the size of your party at the Publican, you should still look to sit at one of the large communal tables. Imagine a meal in your favorite medieval-esque time period, whether it takes place during the Crusades, Braveheart, or Game of Thrones. Now imagine the slightly more sophisticated 2015 version of that, and you’ve arrived at The Publican. Feast on all things meat-related as you talk loudly and demand (politely request) more ale.
Charlatan has a wide range of offerings from earthy pastas to a whole pig head. It's the kind of menu that says it wants to be formal, but it's really there to party. Indulge in a variety of half-order pastas so you can try more than one, and opt for the whole pig head or oxtail to cap things off. Winter ain't got sh*t on you when you've got a whole pig head on the table and a couple of beers to wash it down.
Longman & Eagle is all about seasonal ingredients and inventive dishes. They also happen to have an excellent whiskey selection, and it just so happens whiskey is in season. It’s a scientific fact that drinking whiskey in the cold warms you up, plus the $3 shots won’t put a huge dent in your wallet. Longman & Eagle doesn't take reservations, but considering it’s too cold to be outside anyway, you should have no problem posting up at the bar until a table is available. Winter is a great time of year to eat at L&E.
Hit up Oiistar to get your slurp on, and don’t sleep on the pork buns either. The sleek modern design will hopefully make you forget it’s so cold outside, and the warmth of the ramen will definitely make you happy inside.
Summer House Santa Monica wants you to feel like you’re in, well, Santa Monica. The good news is that the hanging plants, bright colors, and open space do a pretty d*mn good job of giving you the feeling that you are in fact in a place where the temperature is a consistent 70 degrees. The bad news is it’s still 0 degrees outside, but that's why we are here to help you play pretend. Order the Beach Bum Ceviche to really set the summer mood.
Go old school Chicago and post up in a room where the dark wood and burgundy colors will help you feel at ease. The giant pieces of meat and red sauce pastas are exactly the kind of Midwest comfort food you need. And while there are plenty of places to do that around town, few have the tradition and sophistication of Gene and Georgetti. Steaks are their specialty, and along with a cocktail or some red wine you can eat like you’re the King or Queen of the night.
If ramen is the current craze, then pho is a lifestyle. While everyone else is zigging arguing about the best place to grab ramen, you need to zag and head to Uptown for Tank Noodle's pho. When it's extra cold, we prefer the extra large pho combination that comes with a whole mess of meats. On top of the large bowl of broth, noodles, and meat, mix things up with a bit of congee, a hearty rice porridge you can get with your choice of meats and seafood.
If Lincoln Square isn't on your radar, we suggest you broaden your horizon. Chicago Brauhaus isn't quite the Augustiner or Hofbrauhaus of Munich, but it's a good time. Along with traditional German fare, you can find some traditional German beers to go along with the music and dance floor in back. The meal won't be the best you've ever had, but it makes for an adventurous and fun night. Our advice is to stick to the basics like sausages and bratwurst with the food, and don't be afraid to get a little loose. Prost!
DMK is the kind of burger joint that gives you the option of keeping it simple or getting a little crazy. The Big DMK is a triple decker take on a McDonald's Big Mac, and they've also got a grass-fed bison burger with goat cheese, pickled red onions, and blueberry BBQ sauce. The burger range can keep you occupied for a long time. Don't forget a side of fries or mac and cheese, plus a house-made special shake to top things off.
Alright, so even though all of our ideas have been stellar so far, we also understand that sometimes you don’t want to go outside. We get it, who wants to put on pants? But rather than automatically revert to pizza, consider ordering some Chinese food from a restaurant that happens to be one of our favorites around. The Chinatown location of Lao Sze Chuan is where it’s at, and while it’s often only thought of as a dine-in spot because it’s BYOB, it’s great for carry out too. The menu is massive, and picking dishes can be a daunting task, but our advice is to stick to the things you know and like. That and the Tony’s Chicken with Three Chili, which is a plateful of crispy chicken in a perfect sweet and spicy sauce.