Dining in Chicago

How to keep your cool in Chicago, when it's really, really cold.

It's cold in Chicago today. Like, stupid cold. It's actually 15 degrees warmer at the North Pole right now. But that doesn't mean you can't have some fun in the city—here are a few ways you can beat the chilly temps, and in some cases, embrace them. 

GET COZY IN FRONT OF THE FIREPLACE

Besides the fireplaces you can enjoy at the Guesthouse Hotel (go ahead, make yourself comfortable on one of those big leather couches in the Club Room and have a cup of coffee), there are some great local spots where you can grab a seat by the fire and enjoy a drink or a meal. 

THE GRAFTON PUB (Lincoln Square)
This lively pub in Lincoln Square features a dark and cozy back room warmed by a fireplace. Grab a table back there, enjoy a few pints of Guinness and some hearty, heartwarming Irish food like lamb stew or fish and chips. On Sunday nights from 5-8pm, you can be entertained by live traditional Irish folk music (and you can bring your own instrument and join in, too!).

THE BRIXTON (Andersonville)
One of the neighborhood's best-kept secrets, for both its menu and its ambiance is The Brixton. Head on to the upstairs lounge for a seat in front of its fireplace, while you sip on a carefully crafted cocktail (named after a few Clash songs, naturally). But you'd be remiss to leave without trying one of the Brixton's fantastic entrées—Pork belly, octopus, and risotto are just a few of the dishes the shine at this modern American bistro.

SIMON'S TAVERN (Andersonville) 
Known to locals as "The Anchor of Andersonville," Simon's harkens back to Andersonville's heyday as a Swedish enclave. Grab one of the couches in the back—in front of the fireplace—and order a glögg, a seasonal mulled-wine that will warm your bones.

FOUNTAINHEAD (Ravenswood)
So, the fireplace here is near the front, and near the windows, so it's not sure how much warming it will do—but it's a great bar to hunker down in, with its fantastic selection of craft beer and an inventive menu from Chef Cleetus Friedman.


TAKE TO THE ICE 

If you're brave enough to brave the cold, then check out these options for some outdoor fun!

MILLENNIUM PARK ICE SKATING RINK (Downtown)
$12 will get you a skate rental and time on the ice at the rink at Chicago's famous Millennium Park—go here for more information.

PARSON'S CHICKEN AND FISH (Logan Square) 
This hip fried chicken and fish joint decided to make the best of the winter by turning its large outdoor space (which is usually filled by picnic tables and a ping pong during the summer), into a skate shack. For some ice on ice, after taking off your skates, try one of Parson's' Negroni slushies. 

KAISER TIGER (West Loop)
Like Parson's, sausage and beer hot spot Kaiser Tiger has a gorgeous beer garden, but can't use it in the winter. So, they installed two curling rinks in their backyard. Yep, that's right, you can grab a broom and play this oversized version of outdoor, icy shuffleboard. Check out the fine print before hand, however. 

Celebrate Chicago Restaurant Week!

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It's no secret that Chicago's dining scene is one of the world's best, from local hole-in-the-walls that showcase local flavor, like Italian beef and hot dog stands, to Michelin-starred restaurants like Alinea and Grace. Every year, the city opens its kitchens for Chicago Restaurant Week (and this year it's 2 weeks!), where hundreds of restaurants offer a taste of Chicago with specially-priced and specially-made  prix fixe menus. 

We asked Guesthouse staff some of the participating restaurants they'd recommend for a Chicago Restaurant Week visit (as you'll see, nearby favorites Bistro Campagne and Big Jones got multiple votes!)—you've got until February 12 to do some culinary exploration!

"I would recommend Big Jones mainly for its fried chicken and overall New Orleans-inspired menu (especially as the calendar inches closer to Lent and Mardi Gras). Also was happy to learn they are a true farm-to-table restaurant and serve a certified organic menu." —Dave

"Located just minutes from The Guesthouse Hotel in the heart of Lincoln Square, Bistro Campagne is a my favorite true French bistro in Chicago.  They do a fantastic job at capturing the qualities of the many small neighborhood bistros in Paris and rural France.  In addition to their charming blend of prairie-inspired decor and lively gallic spirit, it is their classic bistro fare that makes Bistro Campagne a true 'change-your-life' experience and a 'must do' while in Chicago." —Patrick

"My choice would be Xoco. It's a good spot for a quick and casual, yet delicious and reasonably-priced meal downtown.  Plus they have churros and hot chocolate for dessert!" —Rosemary

"Bistro Campagne—The ambiance transports you to France, the small bar is fantastic to enjoy an apertivo. The french onion soup and Steak Frites are among some of the best I've had!" —Shelly

"Frontera Grill. They have the best drink specials. Fantastic food and the rotating menu mean you never eat anything twice! Great flavors and great service. Their staff is very knowledgable and are able to lead you to exactly what you didn't know you wanted." —Sarah

"Big Jones! Besides having an amazing brunch in the garden, Big Jones gives me a little taste of southern hospitality and goodness I need every once in a while. The cornbread is heavenly!" —Rick

"Salero and Wood—wonderful food, caring and knowledgeable staff." —Voni

"Yusho is a fantastically designed spot in Logan Square that specializes in Asian street food like steam buns and yakitori. The rotating flavors of soft serve ice cream, like hibiscus, sweet corn, or thai basil with coconut, are also not to be missed." —Jenny

Congrats to Uptown's 42 Grams on its Two Michelin Stars!

via 42 Grams in Uptown

via 42 Grams in Uptown

It's no secret that Chicago is one of the world's fine-dining meccas—Charlie Trotter paved the way for that distinction, and many of his former chefs continue to carry the acclaim. Restaurants like Alinea and Grace (which both received three Michelin stars this year—the highest honor a place can receive), EL Ideas, Schwa, and Blackbird are constantly, and perhaps more accessibly, pushing the envelop of fine dining in the country.

At the intersection of Uptown, Lincoln Square and Andersonville, the Guesthouse Hotel is proud to be in the neighborhood of three 2015 Michelin Star recipients: 

42 Grams (Uptown) - Two Michelin Stars
This 10-month-old BYO spot by with a former Trotter and Alinea alum at the head of the kitchen received acclaim early for its modern-thinking tasting menu. Seats are available via tickets on the restaurant's site—and if you're feeling intimidated by the BYO concept, the 42 Grams will email you suggested wine pairings a few days before your meal. Located at 4662 N Broadway, 42 Grams is just a 15 minute walk, or a short cab ride, away from the Hotel.

Elizabeth (Lincoln Square) - One Michelin Star
Like 42 Grams, Elizabeth started as an "underground dining" concept before it became a brick-and-mortar restaurant. Elizabeth's chef Iliana Regan builds her tasting menus around Nordic concept of foraging (or "New Gatherer," as she likes to call it), so your dining experience is always a reflection of the season, making it a more intimate meal. Like 42 Grams, seating is ticketed. Located in Lincoln Square at 4835 N Western Ave, Elizabeth is a straight shot West down Lawrence Ave, via a short cab ride or the bus.

Goosefoot (Lincoln Square) - One Michelin Star
This BYO spot (sensing a really awesome trend in Chicago's fine dining destinations?) focuses on modern, but approachable, tasting menus. Seats are available via reservation. Can't make it in for a meal? Stop by next door to their just-opened market, Goosefoot Food & Wine. Located at 2656 W Lawrence, a short cab ride or hopping on the Lawrence bus will get you right there.

Ready to venture outside of the neighborhood for more fine dining? Here's a list of all the Chicago 2015 Michelin award winners.