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30 Things to Eat and Drink This Summer in Chicago

By Sarah Freeman
May 19, 2014

Welcome to your Best Summer Ever. From now until Labor Day, be sure to consult our Chicago summer page, a one-stop resource that will be regularly updated with the season's best restaurants, dishes and more.

Let the countdown begin: there are 10 warm weeks of summer ahead, and we need to take advantage of every sun-filled minute. What dishes and drinks define summer in Chicago? We combed the city with these questions in mind to come up with this list of 30 essential summer treats. Use it as your back-pocket guide for the coming hot, sweaty weeks and set yourself up for the Best Summer Ever.

1. Arogoshi yuzu sake at Ramen-San
2. Soft serve at BellyQ
3. Lobster roll at Acadia
4. Margaritas at Big Star
5. Piri piri chicken tacos at Elle on the River
6. Donut ice cream sandwich at Firecakes
7. Prawns at La Sirena Clandestina
8. Avocado toast at The Winchester
9. Negroni slushie at Parson’s
10. Royal Pie at Lone Wolf
11. Bonbons at The Dec
12. C&T at Scofflaw
13. Old Style at Wrigley Field
14. Rainbow Cone at Original Rainbow Cone
15. Elote at Mercadito
16. Gin at Homestead
17. Squash blossom at Untitled
18. Pizza at Floriole
19. Macarons at Moto
20. Melone & Berrata at Fig & Olive
21. Ma La Colada at The Violet Hour
22. Boricua at Belly Shack
23. Hot dog at Hot Doug’s
24. Rosa at Revolution Brewing
25. Hot to Trot at Hotel Palomar
26. Cebiche Clásico at Tanta
27. Jameson ice cream at Boiler Room
28. Root beer float at The Brixton
29. Summer Pie at Bang Bang Pie Shop
30. Blood Orange Radler at The Radler

  • Aragoshi yuzu sake at Ramen-San

    This simple interpretation of sake turns the Japanese spirit into an even more refreshing cocktail by infusing Aragoshi sake with yuzu.

    59 W. Hubbard St.; 312-377-9950

  • Soft serve at BellyQ

    Our favorite soft serve in the city is made with coconut milk for an extracreamy texture, contrasted with peanut butter-crunch topping and huckleberry jam.

    1400 W. Randolph St.; 312-563-1010

  • Lobster roll at Acadia

    This authentic lobster roll is served on a buttered bun filled with Stonington lobster, paprika and chives with a side of salt-and-vinegar chips.

    1639 S. Wabash Ave.; 312-360-9500

  • Margaritas at Big Star

    The ultimate alfresco cocktail is served by the glass or pitcher filled with Lunazul blanco, lime and Marie Brizard orange curaçao.

    1531 N. Damen Ave.; 773-235-4039

  • Piri piri chicken tacos at Elle on the River

    Tackle a taco trip on the seasonal hotel-adjacent patio. Housemade chickpea flatbreads are filled with piri piri chicken, pepper aïoli, mahon cheese and pickles.

    330 N. Wabash Ave.; 312-923-7705

  • Donut ice cream sandwich at Firecakes

    These cold treats made a splash last summer. Housemade vanilla-bean ice cream is sandwiched between a honey-glazed donut and topped with housemade chocolate ganache.

    68 W. Hubbard St.; 312-329-6500

  • Prawns at La Sirena Clandestina

    Evoking backyard barbecues, chef John Manion grills head-on prawns and tops them with charred Serrano salsa made with green garlic, lime, cilantro and olive oil.

    954 W. Fulton Market; 312-226-5300

  • Avocado toast at The Winchester

    Start the day with this simple yet satisfying staple, a combination of hearty bread and light avocado spread topped with grapefruit and chiles.

    1001 N. Winchester Ave.; 773-698-8703

  • Negroni slushie at Parson’s Chicken & Fish

    The quintessential summertime cocktail made a triumphant return this year, made with Letherbee gin, Luxardo Bitter, sweet vermouth and citrus.

    2952 W. Armitage Ave.; 773-384-3333

  • Royal Pie at Lone Wolf

    Chef Mark Steuer from Carriage House kicks off the summer guest pie series in June with a pork belly and crawfish pie with Creole mustard aïoli.

    806 W. Randolph St.; 312-600-9391

  • Bonbons at The Dec

    Get comfortable on the rooftop patio with a bucket of mini chocolate-covered ice cream bonbons.

    160 E. Pearson St.; 312-573-5160

  • C&T at Scofflaw

    Substitute your standard gin and tonic with this bitter interpretation made with Cynar, Bluecoat gin, house tonic, lime and cucumber.

    3201 W. Armitage Ave.; 773-252-9700

  • Old Style at Wrigley Field

    No summer is complete without a trip to Wrigley, and no trip to Wrigley is complete without a crisp, cheap Old Style.

    1060 W. Addison St.

  • Rainbow Cone at Original Rainbow Cone

    Layers of chocolate, strawberry, Palmer House (vanilla with cherries and walnuts), pistachio and orange are a staple of Chicago summer.

    9233 S. Western Ave.; 773-238-9833

  • Elote at Mercadito

    This traditional Mexican-style corn on the cob is made by slathering charred ears of corn with crema and chili powder.

    108 W. Kinzie St.; 312-329-9555

  • Gin at Homestead

    Beauty and booze come together in one cocktail made with house tonic served over cucumber-makrut and lime ice.

    1924 W. Chicago Ave.; 773-645-4949

  • Squash blossom at Untitled

    A seasonal favorite, these squash blossoms are served lightly fried with housemade ricotta and truffle honey.

    111 W. Kinzie St.; 312-880-1511

  • Pizza at Floriole

    Every Friday, pizza night takes over with seasonal pies such as white pizza with pistachio béchamel, roasted asparagus, spring peas, chile jam and shaved Parmesan.

    1220 W. Webster Ave.; 773-883-1313

  • Macarons at Moto

    Coconut macarons are painted to resemble beach balls in a seaside façade with pineapple starfish and a faux sand dollar.

    945 W. Fulton Market; 312-491-0058

  • Melone & Berrata at Fig & Olive

    This restaurant opens in June with dishes such as burrata, cantaloupe, kumato tomato, radicchio and microarugula with basil-olive oil emulsion and Arbosana olive oil.

    70-104 E. Oak St.

  • Ma La Colada at The Violet Hour

    Cheaper than a ticket to the tropics, drink this combination of Szechuan peppercorn-infused Banks 7, lime, Coco Lopez and pineapple.

    1520 N. Damen Ave.; 773-252-1500

  • Boricua at Belly Shack

    Upgrade your regular sandwich with this one, made with fried plantains, marinated tofu, miso sauce, mushrooms and brown rice.

    1912 N. Western Ave.; 773-252-1414

  • Hot dog at Hot Doug’s

    Don’t miss the opportunity to wait in line for gourmet-encased meats such as the mozzarella, tomato and pepper pork sausage with Sriracha dijonnaise.

    3324 N. California Ave.; 773-279-9550

  • Rosa at Revolution Brewing

    So much more than a pink beer, this brew is infused with 12-lbs. of hibiscus flowers and a touch of orange peel.

    2323 N. Milwaukee Ave.; 773-227-2739

  • Hot to Trot at Hotel Palomar

    Located on the hotel’s patio, the new tiki-themed pop-up bar called Cocktails in Motion serves island-fresh cocktails like this one made with aged cachaça, mango, lemon and curaçao.

    505 N. State St.; 312-755-9703

  • Cebiche Clásico at Tanta

    Fresh, vibrant Peruvian ceviche is made-to-order with fluke, red onions and cilantro served with lime and aji.

    118 W. Grand Ave.; 312-222-9700

  • Jameson ice cream at Boiler Room

    Warmer months mean putting away the brown spirits, but not entirely. The house soft serve is spiked with Jameson Irish whiskey.

    2210 N. California Ave.; 773-276-5625

  • Root beer float at The Brixton

    The root beer float gets a grown-up twist with Rare Tea Cellar’s bourbon-vanilla chai tea spun into ice cream and served in a glass of Not Your Father’s Root Beer.

    5420 N. Clark St.; 773-961-7358

  • Summer Pie at Bang Bang Pie Shop

    'Tis the season for fruit pie. The slice of summer graham-cracker crust is filled with sage ice cream and lemon curd topped with seasonal fruit compote like blackberries.

    2051 N. California Ave.; 773-276-8888

  • Blood Orange Radler at The Radler

    Radler, in this case Ayinger Brau Weisse and blood-orange soda, is a refreshing alternative to the typical draft.

    2375 Milwaukee Ave.; 773-276-0270

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Places Mentioned

Belly Q

Asian • West Loop

Food24 Decor23 Service23 Cost$38
 
 
 
Belly Shack

Asian • Logan Square

Food25 Decor16 Service19 Cost$20
 
 
 
Acadia

American • South Loop

Food26 Decor24 Service24 Cost$95
 
 
 
Big Star

Mexican • Wicker Park

Food26 Decor22 Service19 Cost$22
 
 
 
Homestead

American • East Village

Food26 Decor26 Service24 Cost$51
 
 
 
Mercadito Chicago

Mexican • River North

Food24 Decor23 Service20 Cost$43
 
 
 
Untitled

Cocktail Bar • River North

Atmo.- Decor- Service- CostM
 
 
 
The Violet Hour

Cocktail Bar • Wicker Park

Atmo.28 Decor27 Service24 CostE
 
 
 
Moto Restaurant

Eclectic • West Loop

Food25 Decor23 Service25 Cost$175
 
 
 
Travelle

Mediterranean • River North

Food27 Decor25 Service24 Cost$75
 
 
 
Revolution Brewing

American • Logan Square

Food24 Decor23 Service22 Cost$28
 
 
 
Scofflaw

American • Logan Square

Food24 Decor24 Service23 Cost$29
 
 
 
Lone Wolf

Cocktail Bar • West Loop

Atmo.- Decor- Service- CostI
 
 
 
Parson's Chicken & Fish

Chicken • Logan Square

Food24 Decor22 Service23 Cost$22
 
 
 
The Radler

Logan Square

Food23 Decor23 Service22 Cost$36
 
 
 
The Brixton

New American • Andersonville

Food24 Decor23 Service20 Cost$37
 
 
 
La Sirena Clandestina

Latin American • West Loop

Food25 Decor22 Service24 Cost$39
 
 
 
Ramen-san

Noodle Shop • River North

Food- Decor- Service- CostM
 
 
 
Deca Restaurant + Bar

French • Streeterville

Food23 Decor23 Service23 Cost$70
 
 
 
 
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