When the owners of one of Chicago’s most beloved neighborhood restaurants open a cocktail bar, throw in some botanicals, and pair it all with Chinese-American food, magic happens. Such is the allure of Chef’s Special Cocktail Bar, a dimly lit and hip haunt from Jason Vincent and Josh Perlman, aka the duo behind Giant. At their sophomore effort, they’ve turned their attention to vibrant cocktails, like Lemongrass Gimlets and mezcal-coconut Coladas, emphasizing drinks that are “fun, fresh, and easy to enjoy,” per their website. They’re best enjoyed within the bar’s dark, cool confines, along with heaping platters of Kung Pao Tofu, Dry Chili Chicken, and Eggplant with Spicy Lamb Sausage.
How to book: Reserve via Resy.
This Bucktown charmer pairs expertly crafted tipples with all the comforts of American-style Chinese food prepared with cheffy know-how and ultra-fresh ingredients. Expect pillowy Crab Rangoon, Wontons stuffed with pork, ginger, garlic, Thai chili, and black vinegar, Crispy Tofu doused in housemade sweet and sour sauce, Dan Dan Noodles with ground pork and zesty Szechuan peppercorn, and all the warm Almond Cookies you can handle. Throw in a few stellar sips and a dessert to split, and you’ve got one hell of a date night.
How to book: Reserve via the Chef’s Special Cocktail Bar website.