Girl & the Goat, one of Anthony Bourdain's stops while taping his new show, The Layover

Contrary to what the New York Times has said, if you have to spend a night in Chicago, the rooftop at TheWit is not the only option for a good time. But where should overnight travelers head if O’Hare does what O’Hare does all the time? Celebrated chef Anthony Bourdain, the host of the edgy Travel Channel hit No Reservations, visited the Windy City to find out the answer for his most recent show, The Layover.

During his last televised appearance in Chicago, Bourdain recommended Restaurant Row hot spots Blackbird and Avec. This time around, the celebrity chef seemed to spend as much time in bars as eateries. During the quick bender, Bourdain tweeted about the fantastic bartenders at Old Town Ale House, Billy Goat Tavern and The Hideout, the latter of which he deemed the “perfect bar.”

The cranky chef also did manage to eat along the way, stopping at Chicago hot spots Girl & the Goat, The Doughnut Vault, and Johnnie’s Beef—presumably among other places for the episode that will air in the second season.

But did Bourdain make the best use of his layover? Our dining editors, Penny Pollack and Carly Boers, say these options are better:

For those who prefer the quick and easy: Take the West Loop-loop and start with heavenly hots at Ina’s for breakfast. Head toward Publican Quality Meats for lunch to get the best muffuletta in the city. And at dinnertime, go to Vera for Spanish wine and paella. Finish the evening with dessert and a nightcap at Au Cheval for milles-feuille and draft beer.

For the more adventurous: Start at City Provisions or M. Henry for an All-American full court press breakfast. Stop off along the Mag Mile at The Purple Pig to have Italian wine and cicchetti for lunch. Hit the Asian-inspired small-plate dinner at Yusho before heading off to Mindy’s Hot Chocolate bar for, well, chocolate and a bar.

Either way, we can all agree—if you have to spend a night at O'Hare, steer clear of the airport Chili's and go get some real Chicago grub.


Photograph: Anna Knott