Dig into the city’s most elevated, most over-the-top and most decadent dining and nightlife experiences.
Crab beignets and a Bloody Mary at Z Bar.
BEST WAY TO MEET THE GREEN FAIRY
Get your fix of absinthe at fine-dining stalwart Everest, where executive chef and proprietor J. Joho has launched an absinthe program featuring a variety of rare European varieties like Enigma Verte, Nostalgie Paris and Emile Pernot—ideal for an aperitif or digestif after an exquisite meal. $18-$44 per serving, 425 S. Financial Place
MOST OVER-THE-TOP BRUNCH
At Z Bar at the Peninsula Chicago, Brunch Royale kicks off with an expansive kir and mimosa bar (from $16) followed by sumptuous fare like lobster Benedict with jamon Iberico and Prestige caviar ($45). 108 E. Superior St.
MOST CREATIVE USE OF FIRE
At El Che Steakhouse & Bar, chef-owner John Manion mans a massive custom-built 12-foot hearth. Best seats in the house? Table 54 for Manion’s Grande Tasting ($120 per person), a 10-course tour of Argentina featuring various cuts of meat, vegetables and seafood cooked over the fire. 845 W. Washington Blvd.
MOST OPULENT PAIRING
Japanese destination Roka Akor is one of Chicago’s only sources for Kobe beef (and one of just 32 restaurants in the U.S. licensed to sell it). Get a taste you won’t forget with one of the restaurant’s custom wagyu and whiskey tasting menus. From $350, must be requested two weeks in advance, 456 N. Clark St.
BEST TABLESIDE TIPPLE
At Pilsen’s Punch House, we’re all about the tableside Champagne punch service ($225), a concoction of Hennessy cognac, Jamaican rum, curacao, rare black tea, orange and aromatic bitters, lemon and Taittinger Champagne served tableside for up to seven revelers. 1227 W. 18th St.
MOST ARTFUL EVENING
At MCA restaurant Marisol, chef Jason Hammel and the museum team up to provide a 45-minute guided tour followed by a seasonal chef’s dinner, all for just $95 per person—a true steal in the art world. 220 E. Chicago Ave.
BEST SUBTERRANEAN EXPERIENCE
Love smash hit cocktail bar Kumiko? Wait till you get a load of Kikko, its underground sibling, which doubles down on intimacy (just eight seats) and packs a serious culinary punch with a seven-course omakase-style menu. $130, beverage pairings $65, 630 W. Lake St.
CHEESIEST GROUP ACTIVITY
At All Together Now, the Vacherin Mont d’Or Cheese Extravaganza ($95) spotlights this rich, soft, seasonal cow’s milk cheese paired with abundant accoutrements: crispy fingerling potatoes and Brussels sprouts, cornichons and pickled pearl onions, oat crackers, roasted persimmon jam, caramelized onion crisps and more. 2119 W. Chicago Ave.
BEST EXPERIENCE FOR OENOPHILES
City Winery’s Barrel Membership program involves all stages of the winemaking process, from choosing the grapes to barrel-aging and bottling—and gets you 252 bottles of the finished product. $7,500- $9,000 per barrel, 1200 W. Randolph St.
BEST WAY TO GET YOUR OMEGA-3’ S
Cindy’s gets all the love at the Chicago Athletic Association, but foodies know not to sleep on the Cherry Circle Room. The second-floor restaurant’s latest must-try? A decadent new seafood tower ($165), a skyscraper-esque assortment of shrimp, oysters, crab, escabeche-marinated mussels, salmon tartare with cornichons, lobster rolls and (yum) Old Bay gaufrettes. 12 S. Michigan Ave.
MOST AUTHENTIC FARM-TO-TABLE EXPERIENCE
Acclaimed restaurant Smyth touts its relationship with the 20-acre Bourbonnais farm that offers up its entire bounty to the restaurant— and now you can get a true taste with the three-meal The Farm Series. Season tickets $795 per person, $1,310-$1,740 per person with wine pairings, 177 N. Ada St.
BEST WAY TO WOW YOUR DATE
What’s more impressive than ordering a fancy bottle of bubbly at dinner? Sabering it yourself, of course. At Maple & Ash, buy any bottle—it must be Champagne—and Wine Director Amy Mundwiler or staff will saber it or walk you through the process and let you do the honors yourself. 8 W. Maple St.
BEST USE OF FUNGUS
Through January, there’s extra reason to indulge at Michelin-starred Temporis: A tasting menu supplement of white truffles shaved tableside over white grits with mushroom stock, port gel, egg yolk puree and poached quail egg. Tasting menu $155, supplement $75, 933 N. Ashland Ave.
MOST EXPRESSIVE DESSERT
If you’re going to say those three little words, do it in delicious style with an Aya Pastry gift box of six large hand-decorated, heartshaped sugar cookies—one of which can be emblazoned with a custom message in royal icing. $40 per box, 1332 W. Grand Ave.
Photography by: Photo by Jess Paro/courtesy of Z Bar