Hi, everyone! Breanna here! Our City Guides series is one of my favorites and today I’ll be the one sharing my favs! (If you haven’t seen Erin’s or Bridget’s guides to Lincoln Park and the West Loop, you have to check those out!)
I’ve lived in River North for a little over a year now and finally feel like I’ve passed the point of “scratching the surface” and have really taken in (almost) all my neighborhood has to offer. ;) The truth is, though, that there is always a new restaurant, store, or coffee shop in the works so I never feel like I am fully on top of it. Whether you live near or far, you have to check out these spots next time you’re in the neighborhood!
For Really Good Food
Photo Credit: Il Porcelino
Il Porcelino (Hubbard & Dearborn) has the best Italian food. If you’re looking for just a simple wine + pasta night in a cool/casual spot, this is the place to be.
Tanta (Grand & LaSalle) OMG, Tanta. My favorite place in the world!!! It’s really small/intimate inside and they have the BEST Peruvian tapas. And in the summer, their rooftop is the most amazing place for Happy Hour/light bites.
Quartino (State & Ontario) is an Italian small plates spot and it’s a really good spot for a casual girls night or a cool place to take your fam. If my parents are in the city, I know I can’t bring my Dad to a super trendy spot with trendy food & crazy cocktails. (Have you ever seen the episode of the Goldbergs, Dinner with the Goldbergs? Well nothing is a better representation of my family at a restaurant. But my Mom reads our blog so I also have to say that I can proudly take her anywhere ;)) But Quartino is a great place for a bigger group in a very casual atmosphere (with REALLY good food – This might be my favorite Italian in the city).
For Really Good Drinks
Photo Credit: Franklin Room Instagram
Franklin Room (Franklin & Huron) is a speakeasy & tavern and is, in my opinion, a hidden gem. It’s a bit off the beaten path but in a good way. If you’re in the mood to grab a drink on Saturday night but don’t feel like waiting in line for a club (me, always), then this is the best spot.
Joe & the Juice (Hubbard & Wells) is popping up everywhere in Chicago – There are now several locations and it is officially my favorite spot to grab a smoothie. Not to mention the decor and ambiance – It’s a juice bar disguised as a chic downtown cocktail spot.
Hampton Social (Hubbard & Kingsbury) – Three words: Frosé.All.Day. Hampton Social is my favorite place to stop by in the summer for a frosé and some live music.
For Really Good Atmosphere
Photo Credit: Doughnut Vault
Hub 51 (Hubbard & Dearborn) is really my favorite place. The fact that I’m there scooping up the half off sushi at Happy Hour at least 3 times a month says something. But seriously, half off sushi until 6 pm every day. Hub 51 is the best place if you’re looking for a fun night/dinner, but are still looking for a more casual setting. The lighting & music just make it.
Gilt Bar (Kinzie & Franklin) is another speakeasy style place which just has the coolest vibe and really good food (their Orecchiette is everything). It’s one of those places that almost “transports” you because of their dark, cool, moody vibe.
Doughnut Vault (Franklin & Kinzie) is the place to be on Sunday mornings at 9:30 am. I’ve spent countless Sunday mornings standing in line for their Old Fashioned donuts (I can’t believe I’m telling people that I wait in line for donuts, but I am, and I do) They’re that good. Pro tip: Go grab a coffee from Starbucks (or juice from Joe & the Juice ;)) before you go to occupy you while you wait in line – It’s part of the “experience.”
Photo Credit: Chicago Architecture Foundation
Kinzie Street Bridge (Kinzie & Kingsbury) – My favorite route to the west loop. I love walking across on summer nights (and even in the snow – It’s just so pretty). There’s an amazing view of the Loop but there’s still a little bit of a quiet/secluded vibe which I love. And bundling in my other favorite nook of the neighboorhood, The East Bank Club. I’m not a member but I LOVE walking past, smelling the chlorine (is that weird?) and just the hustle & bustle in that corner.
Eataly (Ohio & Wabash) is my go-to for when I need a cheat meal but don’t feel like going out. The reason I don’t frequent there as often is that it’s a tourist mecca. Everyone and their mother is at Eataly at all times of the day and week, but the food is so.worth.it – ridiculously better than grocery store pasta!
Riverwalk – Obvious, but if you’re in River North in the summer, you really do have to take a walk down the river walk because it is the place to be. My favorite thing to do is enter on Franklin Street (the view of the city there is the best) and then walk all the way down until it isn’t pretty anymore (right around Dusable ;)). There are restaurants (City Winery is my fav), ice cream shops, and sometimes there’s even live music or a popup museum exhibit – It’s super cool. I pretty much live on the river in the summer.
Still on my bucket list
Photo Credit: Eater Chicago
Purple Pig (Michigan & Illinois) – You’d think I would have made it here based on all the time I spend at Nordstrom ;) But this is one spot that has been on my radar for forever and I just haven’t gone. It’s my mission to go this summer!
Bar Lupo (Huron & Franklin) – Have heard so many great things and I love that it’s off the beaten path/tucked a little bit.
Bavette’s (Kinzie & Franklin) – I walk past all the time and feel like I need to go!
Now go enjoy a night on the town! XO, Breanna