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Mar 30, 2007 11:57 AM

Trendy (but good) restaurant with a bar?

A friend and I are going to be staying at the W city center and we'd like a restaurant (hopefully nearby) that's hip but also has very good food. Ideally it would also have a lively bar that we can drink at before/after dinner. I'd like any type of food, except Mexican or Asian since I get plenty of those here in LA. Any suggestions? Thanks.

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  1. I don't know of any place in the immediate vicinity; maybe others do.

    One thing to realize is that the W City Center is in the middle of the Loop (the business/commercial center of the downtown area), which means it's not really the area where nightlife thrives. Not that the Loop itself is dead at night - it's not - but aside from theater, symphony, and opera, most of the night life (i.e. hip restaurants, lively bars) is in the downtown areas surrounding the Loop, including the South Loop, Greek Town (just west of the Loop) and the Randolph Street corridor (just west of that), River North (just north of the Loop), and the area east of there (including the Magnificent Mile stretch of Michigan Avenue, Streeterville, and River East). All of these surrounding areas are roughly three quarters of a mile to a mile in any direction from the W City Center, which means that they're a longish walk or a short cab/bus/el ride away.

    5 Replies
    1. re: nsxtasy

      that's very helpful, thanks. we're happy to cab it anywhere -- can you think of anything that fits the bill?

      1. re: cijl

        Trendy and hip with a bar - I like Sushi Samba Rio (altho I know didn't want Asian. It's more fusian than anything). They have a hot bar and good food.

        1. re: cijl

          There are a lot of areas of town that could fit the bill. One of my favorites is the strip of Wells St beginning at North Avenue and running south to Division. Along that road, you have a good variety of restaurants, most with bars, as well as stores, what may be the biggest starbucks in the country, and Second City - the comedy club. Food options include Obriens (Irish), Fireplace Inn (Ribs), Dinotto, Trattoria Roma, and Topo Gigio (Italian - I prefer Topo Gigio), Kamehachi (Sushi), Adobo Grill (High End Mexican, although you said you weren't interested in that), and Bistro Margot (French) among others. A fun street to walk along if the weather is nice. More of a neighborhood feel than what you get closer to the loop. Maybe a 10 minute cab from the loop to the intersection of North and Wells.

          There are also a ton of places up in the area just North of the loop, although the whole area is more packed with tourists than other neighborhoods. Bin 36 is a huge, trendy wine bar with a pretty good restaurant. You could start there and eat there or go on to all sorts of options in the Streeterville/Goldcoast area. Keefers is a very good steakhouse. I like Brasserie Jo - a french Bistro. There are dozens of options in the area. If you have something in particular in mind for dinner, let us know and we can give some recommendations.

          1. re: wak

            I live in Old Town (the neighborhood described above) and I enjoy most of the restaurants wak listed, but I don't think any of them are trendy.

            Among the restaurants wak suggested, I think that Bin 36 or Keefer's fit what the OP asked for better.

          2. re: cijl

            Since it doesn't have to necessarily be in the immediate vicinity of your hotel, check out the recommendations in this recent topic:

            Even though the question being asked there isn't phrased exactly the same as yours, a lot of the places recommended in response seem to fall along the lines of what you're looking for. And the description of Carnivale by the OP sounds like a leading candidate too.

        2. Almost everywhere I think of that is trendy and has a big bar area is Asian or Mexican. Here are my non-Asian, non-Mexican ideas:

          - Blue Water Grill - very good seafood, with a large bar/lounge area. Not unique to Chicago, the original is in NYC.
          - Quartino - it's trendy, with good food, mostly small plates. There is a bar area, but the whole place has a loud, bar-like feel, and there's plenty of good wine whether you are at the table or at the bar.

          If you are willing to reconsider Asian or Mexican, think about:
          - Japonais
          - Mirai Sushi
          - Red Light
          - Frontera Grill

          4 Replies
          1. re: SuzMiCo

            among these places and bin 36, which would you say has the most fun atmosphere without being overwhelming?

            1. re: cijl

              Carnivale -
              Delacosta -
              Cuatro -

              Note - Latin fusion is NOT the same thing as Mexican.

              1. re: cijl

                Well, making no claims of being hip here, or even knowing what trendy is (doesn't a trend have something to do with regression analysis?) but to my 40 something cornball mentality, the only place listed that I found overwhelming was Japonais. Their bar is in the basement and always packed to the gills, and the food is not as good as you would hope. Amazing decor though (you know, from a cornball perspective...)

                Suz is right though, a lot of the trendier places are Latin/Asian. One exception is Avec, although they have no bar. Small with communal sitting at long tables and great food. Or just go to Bin36 and then off to Keefers/DB Primehouse/Frontera that are all nearby. Naha is another idea in the same area.

                1. re: wak

                  Hey, Japonais is fine by me. It's the one place in town I go when I want to feel like I've left and gone to L.A.

                  But, that's exactly why I didn't recommend it to the L.A.-dwelling O.P.


            2. You are coming from L.A. and you want something "hip"?

              Here are my two cents:

              If you want to minimize Chicago's inherent cornball factor when it comes to dining and nightlife, go to dinner at Avec, and follow that with drinks in your hotel suite.


              But, if you *insist* on going out after dinner, and you'd prefer something close(r), you might try The Underground in River North, the patio bar at the Park Hyatt, The Matchbox in West Town, or the J Bar at the James Hotel.






              Heck, if David Burke's Primehouse at the James Hotel appeals to you at all (and I'd highly recommend it), you could make it all really simple by dining there and carrying your festivities into the adjacent J Bar.



              1 Reply
              1. re: Erik M

                If I'm coming in from L.A. and I want a real "polished" area of Chicago with restaurants, bars, sidewalk cafes, etc. etc. then it's hard to beat the Viagra Triangle. It's sort of touristy for the average Chicagoan although hundreds of thousands of us live in the surrounding condos...

                You could just go there and take your pick... pre-dinner drinks at one place, dinner at another, post-dinner drinks at yet another... you could go all week and never be in the same place twice. Hugos, Mortons, Gibsons, McCormick & Schmicks, Mike Ditkas, Rosebud, Tavern on Rush, Dublins, umpteen Hotel bar/restaurants, etc. etc.... not to mention a bunch of stand-alone "watering holes"... The area is around an $8 cab ride from the dead neighborhood the W is in and once you get there everything is within walking distance.

                I know alot of Chicagoans will groan but it is a fun area for out-of-towners otherwise it wouldn't be constantly jammed with them.

              2. Recently took some friends visiting from out of town to Blue Water Grill... they loved it.

                Japonais - granted its Asian Fusion and you're trying to stay away from it but an amazing place for food and drinks. The lounge is located river level.... and you can also order food down there as well. The Chicago location is the original with locations in nyc and vegas.

                Pops for Champagne is downtown and a quick cab ride away... I think they have small plates there. I haven't been to this yet but walked by and it was packed.

                1. Perhaps Graze may be something you want to try - definitly trendy....


                  1 Reply
                  1. re: RachyP01

                    Have you been yet? I haven't heard any first-hand reports yet.