Just a perch at a bar
I'll be in Chicago the next week for an externship (living/working in the loop) and was hoping someone could point me to a couple of places with tasty vegetarian small dishes (of whatever cuisine) and a bar or attitude comfortable enough for a college girl to sit back and watch life for a while. Places that have kick-ass olives and/or interesting, crafted cocktails get gold stars. Nothing ridiculously expensive, but I'm willing to go out on the town at least once while I'm there. Thanks!
Yup, Quartino ( www.quartinochicago.com ) and Bin 36 ( www.bin36.com ) are good recommendations. So are Cafe Iberico ( www.cafeiberico.com ), for Spanish tapas, and Avec ( www.avecrestaurant.com ), for Mediterranean small dishes. Note that Avec features communal seating; the restaurant has 5-10 bar stools and another half dozen eight-tops, so it's expected that you'll be seated with people you don't know, and everyone's friendly (usually). Beware long waits at all of these places on prime times on weekends.
Thanks so much! I may have to wine and dine myself more than once, given the choices. Any thoughts on Mercat a la Planxa? I'm coming from Philly, which is well decorated by Garces restaurants, but the menu seems enticing.