Cool things to do in hot chicago

by Brian Lipton

The August weather in the Windy City is more likely to be balmy than breezy, but who cares? This toddlin’ town continues to have a wide variety of ultra-cool places offering luscious libations, delectable dishes and cultural cachet, each guaranteed to make your visit particularly memorable.

CITY TAP KITCHEN & CRAFT

This popular nationwide group of gastropubs, specializing in craft beers, has recently opened its first location in the bustling Fulton Market. While plenty of folks come just for the brews, the grub is just as good, including such specialties as rabbit sausage served with farro, spinach, cherries, gigante beans and mustard; whiskey-smoked salmon and latkes served with dill yogurt, pickled onions and chives; and the City Tap Torta, a pork shoulder sandwich with aioli, cilantro, lime, jalapeno, caramelized onion and romaine lettuce. (850 W. Fulton Market 312.888.3055)

BANDIT

Glamour meets grit in this new, industrial-inspired 2,600 square-foot eatery which offers such nifty drinks as the Hanky Panky and the Shady Lady, all of which pair equally well with bar bites, such as a trio of tasty toasts (topped with avocado and honey, beet hummus or sweet potatoes and nuts) and caviar and crispy tater tots (really!)  as well as more filling fare, including a bourbon-and-maple-glazed pork chop and Nashville hot chicken tenders. Steal away and try it out. (841 W. Randolph St. 312.666.6061)

FLORA FAUNA

Love is not the only thing in bloom at husband-and-wife Jonathan Meyer and Liz Pearce’s new global-rustic restaurant, located in the former Bohemian House. Both the drinks and food are inspired by the couple’s extensive travels and cooking stints across Latin America, South America, the Caribbean, and Southeast Asia, which means you can combine a Pineapple Old-Fashioned with seared baby octopus served on green plantain shoestrings with charred avocado puree, gooseberry, cherry tomato, and guajillo, or a Banango G&T with braised jackfruit Dan Dan served with chilled papaya noodles and crushed cashews. (11 West Illinois St. 312.624.9276)

LH ROOFTOP

Offering one of the best views in the city, the tri-level LH Rooftop atop London House Chicago has upped its game this summer. Mixologist Adam Peabody’s new large-format cocktails include the Sitting Pretty, served in a diamond-shaped vessel and contains gin, creme de mure and lemon, topped with a bottle of Dom Perignon, and the Champagne Turnover, served in a wine glass fit for six people and made with a bottle of Veuve Clicquot, Grey Goose L’Orange, Aperol, wild strawberry, apricot, and lemon. You’ll be flying high! (85 East Wacker Drive. 312-357-1000)

BOMBOBAR

“Top Chef” alum Fabio Viviani’s second (and much bigger) outlet of this popular Chicago eatery offers a serve-it-yourself liquor station that includes red, white and rosé wines, along with such decadent delicacies as his signature bombolini (a hole-less Italian doughnut), chocolate coolers and assorted flavors of house-made gelato including Cookie Monster Dough and Birthday Cake. It’s the bomb-o, all right! (1529 N. Wells St. 312.549.8433)

CEBU

Sure, the Windy City may be best-known for its deep-dish pizza, but it also offers a wide variety of global cuisines for more adventurous gourmands. The recently opened Cebu spotlights Filipino fare, including favorites like lumpia (a variation on the egg roll), kinilaw (a tuna-based ceviche) and chicken adobo, all in an attractive and comfortable setting, complete with a lovely outdoor patio. It’s a perfect choice if you want to add a little spice to your evening. (2211 West North Ave. 773.799.8650.)

THE LOYALIST

If you can make it to this beloved bar for weekday happy hour (actually two hours from 4pm-6pm), you can sample such off-the-menu drink specials as the L’Aperitivo, which combines Amaro dell’Etna and Chinotto, as well as a Cucumber Vodka Press, a Paloma and a Loyalist Old-Fashioned. Come later, and you can feast on an extensive dinner menu that includes a foie gras éclair, mussels in escargot butter and a whole squab with rhubarb. It’s no wonder this place inspires such loyalty! (177 N. Ada St. 773.913.3774)

VIRTUE

Who says you can’t find traditional Southern cooking up North? At Virtue, chef Erick Williams’ new Hyde Park restaurant, diners can savor everything from biscuits with homemade butter and pimento cheese to gumbo, blackened catfish with Carolina gold rice and barbecue carrots and, of course, good-ole mac and cheese. Kiss my grits, indeed! (1462 E. 53rd St. 773.947.8831)

THE FLORENTINE

This longtime Chicago favorite in the JW Marriott hotel is celebrating the 100th anniversary of the Negroni, one of Italy’s most popular cocktails, with a frozen Negroni slushy, a perfect combination of gin, sweet vermouth, Campari, grapefruit juice, orange juice, and crushed ice. Trust us, they don’t serve these delicious drinks at the 7-Eleven.  (151 W. Adams St. 312.660.8866)

Z BAR

If you have a few extra bucks on hand, head up to the Peninsula Hotel’s rooftop oasis, the swanky Z Bar, which offers some of the town’s most intriguing (and expensive) handcrafted cocktails. A mere $100 buys you the incredible Manhattan Royale, which features rare Elijah Craig 18-year-old bourbon with truffle or saffron bitters served in handmade crystal over ice laced with 24-karat gold. Fit for a king, wouldn’t you say? (108 E. Superior St. 312.573.6888)

EVERYTHING CONNECTS

It would be easy to spend all day at the Art Institute of Chicago, but even if you have just a short break, fashionistas need to check out this exhibition of two of Dutch artist’s Christien Meindertsma’s recent work. For Flax Project (2012–present), the artist showcases each step involved in transforming raw flax into an entirely biodegradable chair; while in Fibre Market (2016–present), she used fiber-sorting machines to scan and sort 1,000 wool sweaters based on their material content, and the results revealed frequent inaccuracies in the information provided on the sweaters’ labels, making evident the fact that clothing is often made from a wider range of materials than indicated. (111 South Michigan Avenue. 312-443-6600)

HAMILTON: THE MUSEUM EXHIBITION

While you might need an extra day to visit “Hamilton: The Museum Exhibition” inspired by the revolutionary Broadway musical, it is truly extraordinary. Featuring interactive games and displays, lifelike projections, full-scale statues and Instagram-worthy art installations, this specially-designed attraction takes visitors deeper into Alexander Hamilton’s life and chronicles the American Revolution and the creation of the United States of America. The exhibition is underscored by a new, 27-piece orchestral recording of the music from the musical, and visitors can opt for an audio tour narrated by the musical’s author, Lin-Manuel Miranda, along with original Broadway cast members Phillipa Soo and Christopher Jackson. (1535 S. Linn White Dr. 800.944.0650)