Sean Cooley/Thrillist
Buzz Bait Taqueria
Kari Skaflen/Courtesy of Small Cheval
Hideout Inn
Johnny's Grill
Steve Scap/Courtesy of Tack Room
Jorge Gera Photography/Courtesy of Bar Siena
The Hampton Social
Courtesy of Bernie’s
Courtesy of Rec Room
The Halal Guys
Pomp & Circumstance
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1. Coalfire Southport 3707 N Southport, Chicago, IL 60613

Larger and featuring an expanded menu than the West Town original, Coalfire Southport serves the same thin-crust, coal-fired pies with a myriad of toppings. Every pie comes out of the oven with a charred crust, and the toppings vary from vegan-friendly combos to tried-and-true favorites like pepperoni and whipped ricotta.

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2. Buzz Bait Taqueria 1529 N. Wells St. , Chicago, IL 60610

Fish tacos are having an extended moment at this Old Town spot, courtesy of the people from Lou Malnati's pizza and Kamehachi. With half a dozen different varieties and beachy décor, you might forget you're in the Midwest.

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3. Small Cheval 1732 N Milwaukee, Chicago, IL 60647

Au Cheval's pared-down little sister in Bucktown slings similar superlative burgers as its West Loop counterpart. Small Cheval's focus is simple: hamburgers and cheeseburgers -- plus or minus bacon -- and golden fries. There's beer, a few cocktails, and the space, which feels like a retro roadside burger joint, is open until midnight on weekends and includes an expansive back patio.

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4. The Hideout Riverwalk 35 E Riverwalk South, Chicago, IL 60601

The much loved Hideout quietly opened this Riverwalk location, which hosted the same live music, cheap beer, and bar food as the original.

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5. Johnny's Grill 2545 N Kedzie Blvd, Chicago, IL 60647

The original Johnny's Grill was a greasy spoon fixture for years before its lease ended in 2014. A year later, chef/owner Sarah Jordan (Boka, Blackbird, Cicchetti) opened a same-but-different Johnny's in the exact location that's both an homage to the original and a total upgrade. The space and menu is still very much a diner with all formica everything, but there's now a bar, patio, and creative comfort dishes like house-made pop tarts, extra crispy fish & chips, and a sharp double cheeseburger that joins the ranks of the best in Chicago.

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6. Tack Room 1227 W 18th St, Chicago, IL 60608

Brought to us by the Dusek's team, this equestrian-themed piano lounge offers live performances Thursday through Saturday nights, creative bar fare like beef-fat fries, and fantastic cocktails like the mint julep mixed with George Dickel 9 year rye, house sugar, and mint.

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7. Bar Siena 832 W Randolph St, Chicago, IL 60607

This casual but incredibly hip bar and restaurant takes Italian cues from sister restaurant Siena Tavern for its menu, complete with mortadella pizza topped with fresh buffalo mozzarella, meats, and veggies along with American twists like duck mac & cheese and the BomboBurger. While there's a decent selection of draft, bottled, and canned beer, Siena's Italian roots means this bar is always fully stocked with, you guessed it, wine -- there are a handful of sparkling, tens of whites, and dozens (upon dozens) of reds.

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8. The Hampton Social 353 W Hubbard St, Chicago, IL 60654

This seafood spot is a laid back scene with a great brunch and killer happy hour with $89 dollar magnums and half-price glasses of rosé and pizza from 4-7pm on weekdays.

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9. Bernie's Lunch & Supper 660 N Orleans St, Chicago, IL 60654

Bernie's brings Mediterranean style flavors together with seasonal vegetables & sustainable meats for their menus. The name may only say lunch & supper, but keep an eye out for their brunch and wine menus.

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10. The Rec Room 18 W Hubbard St, Chicago, IL 60654

The basement under Henry's is the spot for dancing + bottle service + midnight snacking. It's a private, event-ready space for up to 75 party animals and comes equipped with a dance floor (jukebox and disco ball included), hand bottled classic cocktails like G & T, canned beer and a mini fridge full of junk food that's free after midnight.

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11. The Halal Guys 49 W Division St, Chicago, IL 60610

Don't be surprised if your visit to this tiny Gold Coast storefront includes meeting a bunch of New York expats. This Middle Eastern food-haven was born in the Big Apple, and plans to expand into Chicago even further after this first Midwest location. Their chicken, gyros, and falafel are notorious, whether serves over rice or wrapped in pita.

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12. Pomp & Circumstance 1400 N Wells St, Chicago, IL 60610

The food at this two level American restaurant is worth all the Pomp and all the Circumstance. The retro, farm-to-table vibe extends to a menu of bison tartare, roast pork belly, oysters with bacon jam, and roasted bone marrow. The bar serves classic cocktails like Manhattans, Sidecars, and Martinis, but also their own creations like the Shakedown and North Park Ave.