A constellation of stellar chefs shines from the shores of Lake Michigan, with thrilling new kitchen luminaries constantly adding to the Windy City?s culinary glow. One of the U.S.?s hottest restaurant cities, you certainly have to tuck into Chicago?s distinctive deep-dish pizzas, but save some space for its smorgasbord of other sumptuous options.
Go deep at the original Pizzeria Uno (Various locations) where the delicious buttery crust, chunky tomato sauce, and lashings of mozzarella were first unfurled back in 1943 or try Chicago?s other pizza mutations, the stuffed pizza at Nancy?s Pizza (Various locations) or the flaky, thin crust at Lou Malnati?s (Various locations).
Feast on Rick Bayless? authentic, gourmet regional Mexican cuisine at Topolobampo and its more casual sibling Frontera Grill (both at 445 N. Clark St; 312-661-1434; Frontera Grill $16-36) both offer authentic, gourmet regional Mexican cuisine. Although the crowd is mostly straight, both places are a must-try for any visiting foodie Make sure to leave plenty of room for the thrilling fixed price menus at the city?s hottest haute seafood dining destination, L20 (pronounced ?El Two Oh,? 2300 N. Lincoln Park W.; 773-868-0002; fixed price menus $110-165). You wouldn?t want to miss out on lobster with Tahitian vanilla or any of the other sumptuous Japanese, Spanish, and New American fusion fare.
Graze the Gayborhoods
Discover another of Chicago?s best brunch addresses, M. Henry (5707 N. Clark; 773-561-1600; brunch $6-12), an Andersonville classic that features a modern take on breakfast classics. Breakfast is served all day, and includes the dulce banana rumba French toast, thick slices of brioche French toast layered with warm bananas, rum, and golden raisins, and topped with cr?me caramel and toasted pecans. Several vegetarian and vegan items also are available. If the line?s too long, another favorite close to Andersonville is Tweet Let's Eat (5020 N. Sheridan Rd; 773-728-5576; brunch $7-11), a brunch spot serving casual breakfast to hung-over gay boys and lesbian soccer leagues.
Still hungry? Lunch, dine, brunch, or late-night snack at gay institution, the Melrose (3233 N. Broadway St; 773-327-2060; $5-18), which serves inexpensive diner food 24 hours a day. Just steps from all the hot bars, FireFly (3335 Halsted St; 773-525-2505; $9-27) is a hot little romantic spot with great martinis, perfect filets, and legendary desserts.
If you?ve a late dinner reservation, pop into Eno Wine Room (Fairmont, 200 N. Columbus Drive; 312-946-7000) and check out the cheeseboards and wine flights at this chic chocolate, cheese, and wine bar. Keep in mind they have a ?snappy chic? dress code. Hit the city?s freshest, hippest gayborhood hotspots: Scarlet (3320 N. Halsted St; 773-348-1053), a sleek red and exposed brick drinking den in the space that formerly housed tired piano bar Gentry?s; and Minibar (3341 N. Halsted St; 773-871-6227), home to the city?s stand and model set.
Andersonville?s laid back gay scene offers a change of pace to Boystown. The pub Atmosphere (5355 N. Clark St.; 773-784-1100) draws a mix, but the crowd is mostly gay and significantly lesbian. Wood floors, exposed brick, and galvanized surfaces create an upscale feel, and windows open on the street when it's warm. A long bar overlooks the dance floor. Sofo (4923 N. Clark St; 773-784-7636) is another predominantly gay and lesbian lounge, with a beer garden and fun garage bar. While away the evening outside or playing darts, pool, or pinball in the cozy bar.