Formerly a bastion of artists, musicians and sticky-floored dives, Logan Square is now one of Chicago’s most exciting food-and-drink scenes. To wit: The minds behind Michelin-starred Longman & Eagle also run Parson’s Chicken & Fish, where Chef Hunter Moore dishes out wax paper-lined baskets of New Orleans-inspired fried chicken, a savory ballet of crunch and spice. Wash it down with a Negroni slushy, a blend of Letherbee gin, Luxardo (instead of Campari), lemon juice and sweet vermouth. Just down the street is the nondescript Scofflaw, a fuss-free gin joint that offers a well-curated selection of beers. The cocktail here? Try a Smithers Jones, made with Broker’s Gin, Lustau East India Sherry and The Bitter Truth EXR liqueur. At The Whistler, choose from an array of complex farm-to-table cocktails, or, during a Chicago winter, warm up with a mug of glögg. Made with Malbec, ruby Port and North Shore Aquavit, it’s mulled with a special blend of cardamom, clove, raisins, almonds and orange peel. Just on the outskirts of Logan Square, in Ukrainian Village, is Rootstock Wine & Beer Bar. It boasts an affordable wine list, featuring small international producers. Try Elisabetta Foradori’s Teroldego Rotaliano from Trentino or Cirelli’s Trebbiano d’Abruzzo, an organic, amphora-aged white with 20 days of skin contact.
Also known as Chicago’s meatpacking district, West Loop is home to many of Chi-town’s cutting-edge eateries. Apropos of the neighborhood is Paul Kahan’s meat mecca, The Publican. The menu is filled with winning pork, duck and steak choices. Seafood selections span the globe, with stops in California (fried ling cod), Iceland (smoked arctic char) and Italy (rosemary branzino), to name but a few. While harder to score than a Blackhawks’ playoff ticket, a seat at Grant Achatz’s concept restaurant, Next, is worth the money and trouble (all seats are sold well in advance). Achatz, the chef and owner of famed Alinea, creates a new themed tasting-and-pairing menu quarterly that remains rooted in seasonal ingredients.