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Beacon Tavern Is One of the Better Mag Mile Brunches

Including some excellent smoked salmon.

Smoked salmon at Beacon Tavern   Photo: Carrie Schedler

The shtick: Seafood and river views, right off the Mag Mile.

The vibe: Keep repeating this to yourself when you walk in the door: “This used to be a McDonald’s.” Where once this place housed hamburgers, there are now oysters on the half-shell. Before there were soda fountains, now there’s a hefty wine list. The chill couples mix with two-drinks-in tourist boozers. There are TVs in the bar area, probably showing football if it’s on, so if you’d rather avoid the occasional (low-key!) cheer, skip the primo tables next to the large river-facing windows in favor of the more intimate dining room, plush and well-appointed but not too fancy. 7 out of 10

The drinks: Beverage options are solid across the board, from an easy-to-navigate wine list with all bottles for $49 to well-done, not-too-foofy cocktails like the gin and tonic ($13) with housemade tonic water and the smoky Where the Buffalo Roam ($13), which blends bourbon and mezcal. Nothing’s gonna blow your mind, but you should be safe with most picks. 7 out of 10

The food: The same rule applies here as it does with drinks: You’re not going to find anything revelatory, but you’ll find some above-average options to satisfy most diners. Best among our selections was the smoked salmon ($14), which featured several abnormally plump, flavorful slices of fish—one of the better specimens we’ve seen in recent months. The housemade pastries, too, were tasty, particularly a crunch-crusted mini-brioche ($4). Less impressive but still good: a shrimp-chorizo omelet ($15) that could’ve done with more chorizo and the oysters ($18 for six), good quality but marred by a couple of poorly shucked bivalves. 7 out of 10

The service: Friendly and swift. 8 out of 10

Overall: It’s one of your better options if you’ve got a day of Michigan Avenue strolling ahead, especially if you’re looking to dine and drink without drowning in anything overly heavy. 7 out of 10

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