Stuff Your Face(book)
with more delicious content
Sign Up Now Invite Friends
Please turn on background colors and images in print options

Chicago's 11 best openings of the Winter

It’s been one of the most brutal Winters in recent history, but restaurant-and-bar-opening after glorious restaurant-and-bar-opening provided us with a donut-and-whiskey-filled silver lining. Here are our editors' picks for Chicago's 11 best Winter openings.

Leghorn (click here for address and deets)
Ukrainian Village
This itty-bitty BYOB fried chicken shack touting the tagline “make pickles, not war” offers food that hits every bit as heavy as its socially conscious sentiment. We can’t imagine a world without tolerance or chicken-fried fries, and thanks to Leghorn, we don’t have to. Pro tip for the ladies: pick up Leghorn-branded free birth control pills available at the counter, all day, every day during business hours.

Chicago Distilling Company
Chicago Distilling Company (click here for address and deets)
Logan Square
Its casual/cool interior and to-the-point cocktail menu make Chicago Distilling Company a "no duh" choice for this list. Select from a brief list of classic and modern cocktails that highlight their house vodka and 90-proof white whiskey (both available for retail, too), as well as a pared down list of wines and beers.
Sean Cooley
Green Street Smoked Meats (click here for address and deets)
West Loop
From fuss-free Frito pie to brisket, hot links, and chicken legs, Green Street has everything you could ever want from a BBQ joint -- and then some, like a 12,000lb oak wood-smoker and the smoky scent to match. They still don’t accept reservations (and they’ve been packing the house consistently since they opened in early February), so fight the crowds if you’re brave (or try off-hours if you’re not).
SideDoor
SideDoor (click here for address and deets)
River North
This inconspicuous gastropub from the people behind Lawry’s will awesomely satiate you for lunch (Lawry’s famous wedge salad, house-smoked pastrami sandwich...), dinner (lamb shank pie, glazed chicken wings...), and liquid dinner (Smoked Negroni cocktails), which is a thing.
Stan's Donuts
Stan's Donuts (click here for address and deets)
Wicker Park
This donut and coffee shop sports a kitschy, retro vibe, and serves simple donuts with a creative edge. Think: Biscoff-stuffed, choco chip-covered "pockets", and twisted cinnamon pretzels -- all made with co-founder Rich Labriola’s carefully crafted fermentation starter. The seating area, cozy atmosphere, and free Wi-Fi make it a great place to kick back with a cup of Joe and a donut and get some work done (read: stalk people you hate on Facebook and take BuzzFeed quizzes).
East Room
East Room (click here for address and deets)
Logan Square
The same folks who brought you Parts and Labor (see below) and The Boiler Room recently opened this industrially charged bar along the Milwaukee Ave main drag. Go for eclectic music and projector screen shows, craft cocktails, and cheap beer any and every night of the week.
Compass Bar
Compass Bar (click here for address and deets)
Lincoln Park
Their wood-fired pizzas are getting some solid buzz, but it's Compass Bar’s selection of 180 beers that gives it an '11 Best Winter Openings' nod. Pair a crispy pizza topped with braised pork shoulder, BBQ sauce, caramelized onions, and three types of cheese with Cajun fried potatoes, and literally any beer on the planet. And by "literally" we mean "figuratively".
Logan Hardware Arcade Bar
Logan Hardware Arcade Bar (click here for address and deets)
Logan Square
And on the seventh day, God created an 85-seat arcade bar. In Logan Square. That's stacked with more than 25 fully restored vintage pinball machines (including a signed edition of Star Trek: The Next Generation), 45 video games, and nearly 20 beers on tap. And, because God is awesome, you can play all of the games at their original prices.
Links Taproom
Links Taproom (click here for address and deets)
Wicker Park
Sadly not a bar filled with magic swords and heart containers, Links Taproom is instead the spot to go for some way-under-the-radar Tyranena Chief BlackHawk Porter, “buried alive” fries (topped with Italian sausage, bacon, cheddar, giardiniera & green onions), and the Duck Your Face sausage: a duck truffle link loaded with duck confit, pistachio, orange zest, and truffle aioli.
Sean Cooley
Parts and Labor (click here for address and deets)
Logan Square
Parts and Labor is all about deep-fried-everything (giardiniera and Twinkies and pickles, oh my!) and simple, well-constructed burgers that have a bit of pickle in every bite. And since we know you're aggressively cheap, tell ‘em to “make it a $10 combo, Brokim Noah”, with a burger, a side, and a boozy bev of your choosing.
Bottlefork
Bottlefork (click here for address and deets)
River North
This American kitchen and bar colors outside the lines with menu items like “popcorn” sweetbreads, a “bag of chips” with vinegar and a fried egg, and an ice cream sundae topped with beer foam. Oh, and don’t miss the “Bill Brasky", which comes with Journeyman rye, moonshine, Buffalo Trace bourbon, Bank Note Scotch, Hammer & Tongs vermouth, orange bitters, and a vintage playing card frozen in a large ice cube. Boosh.

Kailley Lindman is a contributing writer for Thrillist Chicago, as well as a food blogger, bacon enthusiast, and devout user of the Oxford comma. Follow her at @KailleysKitchen.
Previous Venue Next Venue Venue Description
1. Chicago Distilling Company 2359 N Millwaukee Ave, Chicago, IL 60647

Chicago Distilling Company is a family run operation led by brothers Jay and Victor DiPrizio and Jay's wife Noelle. It's part distillery, part tasting room, and is sure to be serving up some great local home-grown liquor.

Previous Venue Next Venue Venue Description
2. Leghorn Chicken 959 N Western Ave, Chicago, IL 60622

Leghorn Chicken is one of the best fried-bird establishments in Chitown. Get their chicken-fried fries, or even some free condoms (seriously).

Previous Venue Next Venue Venue Description
3. Green Street Smoked Meats 112 N Green St, Chicago, IL 60607

This clandestine Texas BBQ smokehouse is down an alley off Restaurant Row. From world class beers to brisket chili Frito pie, this is Chicago's hottest restaurant, open Tuesday-Saturday, 5pm-close. Allied: Since it’s so hot, cool down with some Smith & Forge, the hard cider that's built strong -- built from Apples and built to Refresh.

Previous Venue Next Venue Venue Description
4. SideDoor 100 E Ontario St, Chicago, IL 60611

This River North gastropub does a damn fine job when it comes to meat, whether it's their prime rib, roasted meat boards, or hearty sandwiches. They also have a number of craft beers and specialty 'tails.

Previous Venue Next Venue Venue Description
5. Stan's Donuts & Coffee 1560 N Damen Ave, Chicago, IL 60622

It goes without saying, but Stan most definitely is the man because of his myriad of fresh-baked 'nuts and fresh-made coffee.

Previous Venue Next Venue Venue Description
6. Logan Arcade 2410 W Fullerton Ave, Chicago, IL 60647

Located in the original Logan Hardware building, this arcade/bar houses a collection of vintage pinball, video games, and serves up 20 quality draft beers and a large selection of other alcoholic beverages.

Previous Venue Next Venue Venue Description
7. Links Taproom 1559 N Milwaukee Ave, Chicago, IL 60622

Links is a taproom that's got tons of lip-licking brews, fries that're topped with Italian sausage, bacon, cheddar, giardiniera, and green onions, and an awesome selection of non-brew beverages as well.

Previous Venue Next Venue Venue Description
8. Bottlefork 441 N Clark St, Chicago, IL 60654

This stylish American bar and kitchen cooks up locally sourced, globally-inspired fare and pours a host of delicious 'tails.

Previous Venue Next Venue Venue Description
9. East Room 2828 W Medill Ave, Chicago, IL 60647

This Logan Square drinkery serves up moderately priced drinks (especially their whiskey/bourbon tails) in a relaxed lounge atmosphere.

Previous Venue Next Venue Venue Description
10. Compass Bar 433 W Diversey Pkwy, Chicago, IL 60614

What do you get when you pair cold craft beers with tasty wood-fired pizzas? Compass Bar, of course.

Previous Venue Next Venue Venue Description
11. Parts and Labor 2700 N Milwaukee Ave, Chicago, IL 60647

Don't worry, this isn't some mechanics station. This is a friendly Logan Square burger joint slinging classic meat discs, sides, and desserts like root beer floats!

Other Stories You Will Like

More From Around the Web

Like what you see?

Grab seconds on our Facebook page.