In town for the NRA show and looking for places to wine and dine? We've got you covered with a compilation of first choices in the Second City.
By Sam Ujvary
1400 W. Randolph St.
Located in Chicago’s West Loop, bellyQ redefines Asian barbecue. Foraged from a unique partnership between the imaginative Chef Bill Kim, Cornerstone Restaurant Group and Michael Jordan, it’s an ambitious culinary adventure amplified by an interactive dining experience that’s both creative and modern. The inspired menu is brought to the public by award-winning Chef Kim who got his start in the industry at the renowned Charlie Trotter’s and Le Lan establishments. A passion for Asian cuisine previously inspired the menus of two additional restaurants under this umbrella: Urbanbelly and Belly Shack. The restaurant’s interior was designed to reflect Chef Kim’s home. It’s calm and understated and accentuates the food to give it its proper place in the spotlight. A Cornerstone Restaurant Group and architect Dwayne MacEwen collaboration, the space is filled with hibachi table grills, private party spaces and a karaoke room. BellyQ is making ramen and kimchi synonymous with brunch, paving way for a new concept when it comes to the popular pastime. The flavorful highlights include the Vietnamese Omelet and Tea Smoked Duck Benedict. Brunch is served every Sunday from 10 a.m.-2 p.m.
1846 W. Division St.
After a brief hiatus from his kitchen, longstanding Chicago Chef Michael Taus reemerged on the dining scene to open Taus Authentic in early 2015. The concept of bringing gourmet food into a progressive space has allowed Chef Taus to return to the root of his passion—one that was fueled long ago in the old kitchens of his family. That’s the thought that solidified the name: Taus Authentic, a tribute to the fare remains anchored in classic French techniques. The 6,000-square-foot indoor/outdoor space offers a range of dishes from classic cuts of meat such as the Delmonico Ribeye or Flat Iron Beef in addition to more contemporary comfort showcased in Aunt Reba’s Fried Chicken.
127 W. Huron St.
I|O Godfrey opened within The Godfrey Hotel Chicago in early 2014 in River North, the city’s art gallery district. The restaurant sits on the hotel’s fourth floor and features 10,000 square feet of indoor and outdoor dining and event space with sweeping views of the Chicago skyline to the south and east. With cocktails prepared by Chef Riley Huddleston, who utilizes kitchen ingredients, I|O takes pride in its Chef ’s Cocktails portion of the menu. Selections include a Chef ’s Mojito, Chef’s Margarita, Spicy Strawberry Daiquiri and I|O White Sangria among others. Perfectly rounding out the list of craft beverages and a quintessential city escape are menu items such as the Shaved Carrot Salad, succulent Lobster Salad and a delectable Ahi Tuna Tartare.
MAX’s Wine Dive
1482 N. Milwaukee Ave.
For owners Jerry and Laura Lasco, the inspiration to open MAX’s Wine Dive came after realizing that while they enjoy trying new restaurants, they prefer a more comfortable atmosphere that’s offered at local wine bars. Operating under its mantra “Fried Chicken and Champagne,” MAX’s Wine Dive is all about bringing gourmet comfort food to guests alongside a constantly curated selection of wines from around the world. The concept, which is composed of a restaurant and a wine bar that offers rarely found labels, juxtaposes an eclectic, down-to-earth style with a casual, industrial atmosphere and a top-notch food and wine program.
315 N. LaSalle St.
With a prime location overlooking the Chicago River, River Roast offers dramatic city and water views from every seat. Cuisine by Chef and Operating Partner Tony Mantuano and Executive Chef John Hogan offers contemporary American fare featuring meat, fish and veggies roasted to perfection and carved tableside. Inventive drinks, cold-brewed cocktails and a well-crafted wine selection round out the River Roast experience. It also welcomes live blues by famed local musicians with the Blues & Brews Brunch program.
18 S. Michigan Ave.
Acanto, whose name derives from the flowery leaf used extensively in Roman architecture and is found on the façade of the historically landmarked building, is just steps from Chicago’s famed Millennium Park. The Italian cuisine is approachable and the atmosphere inviting. The establishment is a must-see when in the Windy City. From business dinners to pre-theater gatherings, it’s an ideal setting for a multitude of get-togethers. In addition to classic libations, the menu features items like a hearty Duck Egg Spaghetti and a filling Suckling Pig.
The Allis at Soho House
113 N. Green St.
Inside the West Loop hotel and members-only club, The Allis is an expansive lounge area perfectly suited for those seeking an idyllic space to engage in work, meetings, social get-togethers or pre- or post-dinner cocktails. Guests can enjoy offerings that evolve throughout the day gourmet coffee and an array of house-made pastries in the morning; salads, sandwiches, and afternoon tea by day; and delectable snacks and cocktails by night. Characteristic of the Soho House ambiance, the space itself is cozy with velvet and tufted leather couches and chairs, vintage chandeliers, custom bookcases and a stunning array of artwork by internationally renowned talent. The space is aptly named after the Allis family who owned the Chicago Belting Factory.