Best New Spots to Sip Wine

Château Carbide Best for: Views and vibes  The scene: Situated atop the 24-story Pendry Chicago, this lounge offers gorgeous downtown panoramas, a rosé-obsessed menu (yes, you can get a three-liter of Whispering Angel to share with your crew), and an elegant selection of Japanese-inspired bites.  Pick: Four Graces Pinot Noir. “It has a juicy flavor … Read more

Best High-End Game Day Feast

T9 Sampler at Cuckoo When Lillian Yu, chef of the now-shuttered Little Lamb in Chinatown, and her sister, Yuli, opened Cuckoo, they knew they’d perfected a seriously crispy take on Korean-style chicken wings. Their only concern? Customers might be torn as to which glaze (soy garlic, honey butter, secret spicy, honey mustard, and coconut curry) … Read more

Best ’90s Rap Revivalist

Defcee The life and work of Defcee provide a study in contrasts. He’s a serial altruist, rallying his pupils to conquer the written word. (His background includes stints as a CPS teacher, part-time prison instructor, and mentor to aspiring poets.) But on record, this lanky, lantern-jawed Jewish boy eschews warmth; instead, he tells hard truths … Read more

Best New Spot for Glamping

Camp Aramoni Chicagoans have long flocked to Starved Rock State Park for its gorgeous waterfalls and vistas, but the surrounding area has traditionally lacked standout lodging. That’s changed thanks to this new 96-acre glamping resort just 10 minutes from the park. The camp (from $450 a night, including breakfast and dinner), which opened in April, … Read more

Best Export to Studio 8H

Sarah Sherman Chicago comedy fans knew Sarah Sherman better as Sarah Squirm, the freaky face of the Hideout’s bizarre showcase Helltrap Nightmare. While she joined the cast of Saturday Night Live last fall under her real name, she carried her flair for the outlandish and grotesque with her and made a quick (and sometimes queasy) … Read more

Best New Cookies

Sugar Moon Bakery  Dina Cimarusti infuses her cookies with unexpected flourishes to hit the perfect balance between nuanced and homey. The salted chocolate chip gets a richness boost from tahini. An oversize s’mores variety may sound like kiddie bait, but atop that graham cookie is a smoky housemade maple marshmallow. Not a single offering, including … Read more

Best Chance to Discover the Next Big DJ

Sound Selector Series at The Silver Room  Dance and shop? Why not? The Silver Room, owned by Eric Williams (pictured), is known as a purveyor of Chicago style, and its chill soundtrack comes courtesy of the Sound Selector Series. Live turntable work electrifies the atmosphere, making this spot a hangout as well as a retail … Read more

Best New Theatrical Arena

Steppenwolf’s Ensemble Theater  Steppenwolf Theatre Company finally opened its expanded campus in April, and even if pandemic delays meant the inaugural production of Chekhov’s Seagull didn’t have the all-ensemble cast originally envisioned for the christening, no matter: The venue itself was the draw. Though it’s saddled with a clunky donor-exalting name — the Ensemble Theater in Honor … Read more

Best Restaurant Glow-Up

Oriole Noah and Cara Sandoval decided to give their two-Michelin-starred restaurant a revamp while it was closed for the pandemic. Down came an adjoining wall, in went a bar, and the larger and airier space was ready to host diners for a new progressive experience. You still enter through the freight elevator doors, but now … Read more