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On the Road: Chicago

Soak up Chicago's craft cocktails, elegant beer halls, and distinctive spin on fast food.

Chicago's downtown vibe mixes with abundant trees and a neighborhood-y feel for a city that's well worth a visit, given it’s unique mix of big city and low-key neighborhood vibes.

It’s got all of the sight-seeing, nightlife, and transportation options you’d want in a big city, though with an easy to navigate layout and an approachable Midwestern twang. A young-ish crowd fills a solid range of destinations throughout the city, none of which have a pretentious feel that you might find elsewhere.


Alchemy

Violet Hour

As one of the original craft cocktail bars, Violet Hour has got Chicago's mixology needs well under control. With a large but not overwhelming drink menu organized by the base spirit, each drink sounds better than the next. Know what to look for if you're headed there, though, since there are no windows or signs to the place – and no, they don't take reservations. All you'll see is a line forming outside, since they cap their capacity to keep a cozy but not overcrowded feel. And once you're inside, there's a strict no cell phone policy so that you can enjoy your drink without distraction.


Grub

The Publican

It has the trappings of a beer hall, but Publican tries to defy strict categorization. The interior's rich wood and industrial touches make for a stylish, pared-down dining room with mostly communal seating, and the food and drink menus are meat- and beer-heavy, but in an unconventional and well thought out way.

You can't lose with any of the options on the extensive beer menu, which is heavy with Belgian imports but also packs some excellent domestic picks, ranging from sessionable to splurge-worthy. A big range of oysters and off cuts dominate the food menu, but the other seafood options hold their own, as do the more familiar cuts of meat on the menu and a few terrific vegetable options if your order is looking too protein-heavy.


The Experience

Weiner Circle

By day, it's a run-of-the-mill fast food joint serving good Chicago-style dogs. On weekend nights, though, things get a little more... heated. When the bar crowds come for drunk food, the servers are less than friendly, which has turned the place into a destination for shit-talking on both sides of the counter that’s all in good fun… for the most part. Come hungry and ready to be verbally berated, and order the chocolate shake (hint: it’s not really a milkshake) at your own discretion.

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