There's no denying: winter is coming. With hibernation rapidly approaching, we rounded up the 10 best places to settle in for an evening in front of the fire with soul-satisfying eats and strong drinks.
Start with a steak gently illuminated by the amber lighting that reflects in distressed mirrors. Then move to the even cozier cocktail den downstairs. Libations are served while you relax in a leather booth that's surrounded by Oriental rugs and vintage books.
218 W. Kinzie St.; 312-624-8154
An unassuming facade gives way to sleek, gray-brick space with a chic, intimate vibe. There's exposed brick, marble and even repurposed subway tiles. Equally impressive are the cuts of beef, from dry-aged rib-eye to lardo-wrapped veal loin. Don't miss the extensive wine list.
1012 N. Western Ave.; 773-661-2116
This rustic retreat in the heart of Noble Square features a winter-friendly covered patio complete with a stone fireplace. The menu includes game meats available nowhere else in the city — think turtle Bolognese and fried gator legs — along with a decadent version of s’mores that are covered in bourbon chocolate.
1072 N. Milwaukee Ave.; 773-772-4322
Go ahead, stay a while. There's an extensive collection of beers on draft and unexpectedly delicious bar fare — think duck Reubens, steak frites and some of the best mussels in the city. Plus, the wood-burning fireplace in the back dining room adds both ambiance and warmth to this neighborhood gem.
5148 N. Clark St.; 773-334-9851
The latest Heisler Hospitality (Sportsman's Club, Pub Royale) cocktail escape channels a maritime motif with the feel of a ship’s cabin (highbacked booths, brass chandeliers illuminating shelves lined with glass bottles). The cocktail menu also takes a page out of history books with the Navy Strength Old Fashioned, daily grog and tea-based punches that are served in enamel sharing pots for the table.
Veterans of another wine bar on this list (Webster's) left to open this cozy Humboldt Park restaurant dedicated to small-batch wines from underrepresented locations: Austria, Greece, Eastern Europe. Each bottle or glass can be complemented by seasonal small plates, from cheese and charcuterie to housemade boudin noir to pan-roasted quail.
954 N. California Ave.; 773-292-1616
The Heavy Feather
Rather than beating the dead horse that is speakeasy cocktail bars, the team behind Scofflaw channeled a later era for its clandestine cocktail lounge above Slippery Slope. This modern-day fern bar — popularized during the '70s and '80s — keeps the plants to a minimum in a sunken walnut bar that serves forgotten cocktails like an Amaretto sour and a grasshopper.
2357 N. Milwaukee Ave.; 773-799-8504
The high ceilings and equine-inspired aesthetic at this historic carriage house have been repurposed into a piano bar that's adorned with distressed-wood-slatted tables, galloping-horse wallpaper and horseshoe-covered walls. Pulling from its beer-focused neighbor, Dusek's, the bar will serve assorted bottles and cans ($3 Schlitz and Firestone Walker’s Union Jack IPA), as well as single light and dark beers on draft.
1227 W. 18th St.; 312-526-3851
Webster Wine Bar
This Logan Square wine bar is the perfect spot to escape the chill. An intimate back room is covered in bookcases filled with memorabilia collected by the staff over the years: oversized wine bottles, vintage books and old globes. Dig into the likes of Provençal mussels with saffron and aïoli while sipping a glass of wine off its European-focused list.
2601 N. Milwaukee Ave.; 773-292-9463
Table, Donkey and Stick
Nestle into a seat by the backyard fire pit at this alpine eatery, and enjoy a plate of house-cured meats served with crusty rye baguette or sunflower oat toast. Then take a seat at the bar with a glass of European cider or a brandy cocktail. Monday nights bring the ever-popular industry night, with $5 specials and $0.99 High Lifes.
2728 W. Armitage Ave.; 773-486-8525