Sunday, February 1, 2009

Late-Night Prowling for Good Food

Hypothetical: You just left a four-hour Windy City Rollers derby bout in the West Loop. It's 10 p.m. The concessions were dreadful, and the pretzel and Twizzlers that you washed down with a diet Coke have only left you craving actual warm sustenance before calling it a night. Where to go? Keep in mind you have in tow one slightly inebriated husband (beer) and your wheels, and it's bloody cold outside. The last thing you want to do is drive around looking for options or, god forbid, parking.

I'm so out of practice with late dining, I realized last night that most of my handy picks for this situation are gone. Iggy's used to be our go-to spot, but both have closed. A good strategy is to head for an upscale, bar-dense area: plenty of drunks with money to feed at 2:00 a.m., and there's always valet parking. We ended up at the Bar Louie on Randolph. Which was fine. But it's definitely time to tune-up my list of possibilities for late Friday and Saturday nights:

Avec: Christ, I feel like whenever a restaurant question in Chicago comes up, the answer is Avec. Great food on Randolph in the near West Loop, killer wine options, open til 1:00 a.m. My only complaint is that it's a head-rattling little noise box when it's super busy, which is most of the time. However, we happen to have a monthly spot in the parking lot directly behind it, parking trumps noise.

The Bluebird: This yummy gastropub on Damen in Bucktown serves its full menu until 1:00 a.m. I need to return to explore it more, but the theme is rustic, fresh Mediterranean, heavy on the Spanish and Italian, with great wine and beer pairings.

Paramount Room: This place is a hidden gem on Milwaukee in that weird zone of the West Loop where Iggy's used to be. I never hear much about it, but my wine friends like to go. The upstairs is just a tiny little dark bar - so tiny that everyone sitting inside turns to look when you open the front door. Head downstairs for a slightly larger dining area with wonderful French pub food and a great wine list. Open until 2:00 a.m.

Jerry's Sandwiches: Their deli on Division in Wicker Park serves 100+ sandwiches and craft beers until 2:00 a.m. I haven't been yet, but my downstairs neighbor Dan gets glassy-eyed just talking about the place. It's worth a go.


  1. how about the Frontier? Oh, wait, wrong city... damn.

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