Chicago Cut Steakhouse
With a 120-seat bi-level terrace that boasts views of the Chicago River and the Loop, this is the legendary steak town’s ultimate outdoor spot for superjuicy dry-aged beef.
Big Star (pictured)
Highlights of this supercool “honky tonk” taqueria from Paul Kahan (an F&W Best New Chef 1999) include excellent pork-belly tacos and greasy-good queso fundido (a glorious melted-cheese appetizer studded with chorizo). Dim lighting, fashionably disheveled bartenders and country music encourage down-and-dirty drinking of highbrow and lowbrow beers, but there are also exceptional cocktails by Violet Hour mixologist Michael Rubel. Both are best sipped on a large patio that has sleek metal tables and cheery bright yellow chairs.