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There are many reasons that people think Chicago is called 'The Windy City.' I'm here to tell you that the real reason is because the culture of Chicago will 'blow you away.' Start with the guidebooks for the main attractions, but dig deeper through AFAR to truly discover what makes this city tick. Having lived here for almost a decade, here is my work in progress of places to go that mostly only locals will know. I love my city, and I hope you will too.
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2601 N Milwaukee Ave, Chicago, IL 60647, USA
Located in Logan Square, and featuring one of the more eclectic wine lists I've seen in a while, Telegraph Wine Bar is the perfect place to swing by for a leisurely bite to eat and drink. The antique fixtures and lights provide a bit of a...
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Streeterville, Chicago, IL 60611, USA
The architectural boat tour of downtown Chicago is the single best way to see this city in a whole new way. From first-timers to lifers, it doesn't matter how long you've been in town, this perspective is going to be new to all. There are many...
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1023 W Belmont Ave, Chicago, IL 60657, USA
Yes, this is technically a chain restaurant throughout the United States, but it's a really good one. Being a die hard carnivore my entire life, this place was incredibly eye-opening to me. Never did I expect to be wowed by an entire menu that is...
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2100 W Roscoe St, Chicago, IL 60618, USA
Victory's Banner is a lovely establishment tucked away in the Roscoe Village area of Chicago. It's zen-like vibe and cozy atmosphere will entice anyone to come for a coffee and end up staying for a full blown meal. VB also is totally vegetarian,...
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1466 N Ashland Ave, Chicago, IL 60622, USA
Schwa is kind of a difficult place to describe; it's such an eclectic bundle of everything, you just have to experience it for yourself. The exterior of the building makes it look like it should be condemned, but it's actually structurally sound....
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100 Linden Ave, Wilmette, IL 60091, USA
I have been driving past this structure for almost 10 years, and had no idea of its significance. One day, I finally stopped, with two cameras in tow, and took almost 100 photos. This is but one, and it hardly does the place justice, but if...
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6300 W Touhy Ave, Niles, IL 60714, USA
I know, you're asking yourself, 'When did they put a reflecting pool in front of the Leaning Tower of Pisa?' Weird question, with an even weirder answer. This tilted structure is located in Niles, IL and is a recreational park for employees of the...
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65 E Adams St, Chicago, IL 60603, USA
Tesori is a new Italian restaurant located in the heart of the Loop. It features a wonderful bar area to pop in for a quick drink, or a large dining room for a more in-depth food experience. But the real treat is that it's located in the same...
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1700 S Michigan Ave, Chicago, IL 60616, USA
If you are in Chicago and have a hankering for some great sushi, you have a ton of choices at your fingertips. I'm just gonna tell you about one, or maybe two. Located in Bucktown is Coast Sushi, which is BYOB, difficult to get into, but always...
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330 W Webster Ave, Chicago, IL 60614, USA
By the Clark and Webster intersection in Chicago, you'll come across this intriguing art installation: a tribute to all the sister cities of Chicago around the world. Part of a school project that will undoubtedly inspire your kids, a group of...
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1314 W Wrightwood Ave #1, Chicago, IL 60614, USA
A Chicago institution since 1992, Rose Angeli's is a quaint establishment tucked away within a cute neighborhood in Lincoln Park. It's actually a house, which makes it that much more endearing, since as you stroll the tree-lined streets, you don't...
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1612 W Division St, Chicago, IL 60622, USA
Housed in an old bank vault, The Bedford affords you a glimpse into the world of finance. Inspired by the era of Al Capone crime and tommy gun holdups, this throwback lounge in Wicker Park puts a contemporary twist on old time cool. Slide past the...
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4621 N Lincoln Ave, Chicago, IL 60625, USA
Nestled in Lincoln Square, Fine Wine Brokers will truly cater to your needs. They have one of the more eclectic selections of choice wines anywhere in the city of Chicago. There are tastings on the weekends, and grand gala events every few months...
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2959 N Lincoln Ave, Chicago, IL 60657, USA
Heritage Bicycles General Store is so many things: a coffee shop, a general store, and a place to buy a few key items for your hip closet. Most importantly though, it's a place to grab a cup of joe and watch art being created that you can ride...
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2656 W Lawrence Ave, Chicago, IL 60625, USA
It's called Goosefoot. It's up in Lincoln Square. It's far away from the 'food scene' of downtown Chicago. It's run by a lovely couple. He cooks, and she runs the place and makes you feel like you are at home. It's spectacular. Chef Chris Nugent...
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3856 N Lincoln Ave, Chicago, IL 60613, USA
I'll be honest, unless you are up on your geography of Great Britain, the name of this store, Isle of Man, may appear a bit puzzling at first. However, upon entering and talking to the shopkeepers, it all immediately makes sense. The owners love...
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4839 N Western Ave, Chicago, IL 60625, USA
Tucked away behind an unassuming storefront you will find a shop with a misnomer of a name: Ravenswood Used Bookstore (it's located in Lincoln Square, not Ravenswood). Our hero and proprietor, Jim, has gathered such an incredible collection of...
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5700 S Lake Shore Dr, Chicago, IL 60637, USA
Anyone who's into model trains should visit the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago. Originally opened in 1941, The Great Train Story was the largest model train of its day. After being briefly shuttered in 2002 for extensive additions, this...
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3455 N Southport Ave, Chicago, IL 60657, USA
New to the scene on the Southport Avenue corridor in Lakeview is Crosby's Kitchen. For years, this neck of the Chicago woods has been in dire need of some good ol' fashioned cooking. This place is just that, but with a few more bells and whistles....
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Edgewater Beach, Chicago, IL, USA
For those of you that want something truly unique, off-the-beaten-path, and not-to-be-found-in-a-guidebook-to-Chicago, I give you the Full Moon Jam. I've lived here for almost a decade and didn't even know about it until recently. From May through...
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1735 Benson Ave, Evanston, IL 60201, USA
Located in Evanston, Ill., the Stained Glass is a wine bar and bistro worthy of a special trip. It's one of those hidden gems that most Chicagoans don't even know about. The menu features such inventive dishes as the Tuna, Tuna, Tuna (pictured):...
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108 E Superior St, Chicago, IL 60611, USA
If you fancy an epic place to stay while visiting the Windy City, The Peninsula, located in the heart of downtown, can cater to your every desire. If it's fancy digs you require, any room that you request will be top notch. For unwinding and...
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McCormick Blvd, Skokie, IL 60076, USA
Located a bit north of downtown Chicago is the Skokie Northshore Sculpture Park. This two-mile stretch of McCormick Boulevard runs north/south between Touhy Avenue and Dempster Street and features over 60 incredible sculptures. The one featured...
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2391 N Stockton Dr, Chicago, IL 60614, USA
Lincoln Park is a wonderful green area nearing Lake Michigan in Chicago. It has a Zoo free to the public as well as green lawns and flower beds. Near the North end is the multiple room conservator. Like the rest if the park it is open free to the...
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600 E Grand Ave, Chicago, IL 60611, USA
Most visitors to Chicago see it from only one perspective: from the city looking out over the water. But what would it look like if your vantage point was from out over the water looking down at the city? Just a little bit north of Chicago there...
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201 E Randolph St, Chicago, IL 60602, USA
The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes. ~ Marcel Proust. For my inaugural highlight on AFAR, I am starting with my wife's favorite quote, and a local sight in Chicago. Sometimes people feel they...
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3411 N Halsted St, Chicago, IL 60657, USA
Boasting the slogan 'Meat free since '83,' The Chicago Diner isn't going to win everyone over. However, if you are vegetarian, or even want to get your vegan on, this is the place for you. With an extensive menu of food and drink, the friendly...
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1301 N State Pkwy, Chicago, IL 60610, USA
Ian Schrager unveiled the first location of his affordable, frills-free luxury hotel chain, Public, in Chicago’s Gold Coast neighborhood. Previously the historic Ambassador East hotel—which housed the storied restaurant and celeb haunt, the Pump...
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5232, 1434 W Chicago Ave, Chicago, IL 60642, USA
Flo is a fantastic eatery located at 1434 W. Chicago just a touch west of downtown. The cuisine is a perfect storm of nuevo Mexican dishes, ensconced in an inviting and neighborhoody atmosphere that will not disappoint. We meandered in for brunch...
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5547 N Clark St, Chicago, IL 60640, USA
I wrestled with even posting this highlight, since this is hands down the best sushi joint in Chicago. It's up north, it's BYOB, it plays only music from the 80's, you can get reservations at the drop of a hat, the sushi chefs are personable, they...
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2747 N Lincoln Ave, Chicago, IL 60614, USA
Located in Lincoln Park, Atlas Brewing Company is far from your average bar and grill type of place. They brew outstanding beer on site (which you can view as you eat), they make epic cocktails (show above), and their food can hold its own against...
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953 W Fulton Market, Chicago, IL 60607, USA
Next is famous for its ever-changing theme menus. The most recent is "The World's 50 Best Restaurants," featuring dishes created by the world's best chefs and curated by the Next team. When I was there we ate the centerpiece, and the floating...
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1941 W North Ave, Chicago, IL 60622, USA
Storefront Company is a new addition to the Chicago dining scene. Outfitted in austere black and white decor, with an industrial looking mural on the main wall, this place delivers with some outstanding food and drink selections. The service is...
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130 S Green St, Chicago, IL 60607, USA
Karyn's on Green is the flagship restaurant of Karyn Calabrese, the leader of the vegan movement in Chicago for the past 20 years. With an extensive menu ranging from brunch to lunch to dinner, you can enjoy yourself for any meal of the day. Karyn...
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915 S Waukegan Rd, Lake Forest, IL 60045, USA
Anyone familiar with Apollo 13, be it the actual ship or the movie with Tom Hanks, will recognize the name of this place. Owned and operated by Captain James Lovell from Apollo 13,and located about 40 minutes north of downtown Chicago, Lovell's is...
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1208 W Webster Ave, Chicago, IL 60614, USA
If you like sweets, baked goods, copious amounts of sugar, and the smell of heaven wafting through the air, then this is the place for you. Sweet Mandy B's is THE destination for truly outstanding baked goods, and it's right in the middle of...
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111 S Michigan Ave, Chicago, IL 60603, USA
See our full list of Where to Go in 2015. The Art Institute of Chicago hosts the first exhibition devoted to Britain’s rising-star architect David Adjaye in September. Also in the fall, the world’s leading design talents will gather for the...
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816 W Randolph St, Chicago, IL 60607, USA
Randolph Street in Chicago boasts a plethora of choices when it comes to excellent cuisine. De Cero is but one of places where you can go with a group of friends and feel like you are right at home. With an impressive selection of tequilas, and...
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5947 N Broadway, Chicago, IL 60660, USA
If you happen to be in the Edgewater neighborhood in Chicago, up on North Broadway, you simply must make it a point to visit Independent Spirits. Residing among other boutique shops and eclectic storefronts, this gem of a wine shop is waiting to...
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201 E Randolph St, Chicago, IL 60601, USA
We all can walk around downtown Chicago craning our necks to gawk at the impressive buildings that soar above us... but come wintertime, wouldn't it be cooler to skate? If your answer is a resounding yes, then there's a pair of skates waiting for...
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60 E Grand Ave, Chicago, IL 60611, USA
Chicago is known as a steak house town, and lord knows you have plenty from which to choose. But when you want to get both your turf and your surf on, then you simply must head to Joe's. Located in the heart of downtown and bustling with...
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116 W Hubbard St, Chicago, IL 60654, USA
No, they do not serve turtle soup at this establishment; in fact, no turtles will be harmed in the making of your meal. Slurping Turtle is a fun, casual, won't-break-the-bank-but-still-is-gourmet place to mosey into for a fun dinner out with...
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2812 N Lincoln Ave, Chicago, IL 60657, USA
Beer lovers rejoice, your new favorite place in Chicago is here to serve you. Located right at the corner of Diversey and Lincoln Avenue, Beermiscuous features hundreds, yes hundreds, of craft brews that will surely appease any and all...
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730 W Grand Ave, Chicago, IL 60654, USA
If you happen to come upon an enormous space on Grand in Chicago, notice that the the inside is rustic yet cool, has ample bar space for sipping craft drinks, but also antique lighted booths all around to make it equally cozy, all while serving...
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2070 N Clybourn Ave unit b, Chicago, IL 60614, USA
This is gonna be short. Dirk's has the freshest seafood available in Chicago, period. And if they don't have what you want (which I doubt will happen), just ask Dirk since he's there all the time, and he'll get it for you. Also, if you're in a...