There’s more to Chicago late-night dining than tacos, burgers and pizza slices (although we’ve got nothing against those). Here are our favorites.
It may call itself a diner, but Au Cheval (Tue–Sun 5pm-2am, 800 W Randolph St, 312-929-4580) with its creative riffs on classic dishes—think fried bologna sandwiches, foie gras with scrambled eggs—and handcrafted cocktail program, is much more. Looking for a side of punk rock to go along with your late-night snack? Head to Three Aces (Sun–Fri 11am–2am, Sat 11am–3am, 1321 W Taylor St, 312-243-1577). A kick-ass menu of Italian-inspired dishes (don’t miss the Bolognese fries) and a super-friendly staff add to the charm of this Little Italy bar. A local award-winning beer nut is behind Fulton Market pub Haymarket (Sun–Fri 11am–2am, Sat 11am–3am 737 W Randolph St, 312-638-0700) and the half dozen or so brewed-in-house beers. But the bar also offers a late-night menu that features the usual suspects.
The Southern (Mon–Thu 5pm–2am, Fri 2pm–2am, Sat 11am–3am, Sun 11am–2am, 1840 W North Ave, 773-342-1840) takes its name seriously, offering comfort food by way of Dixie, including fried green tomatoes, hush puppies and corn bread. Encased meats and beer (selected by an in-house cicerone, no less) reign supreme at Bangers & Lace (Mon–Fri 2pm–2am, Sat 11am–3am, Sun 11am–2am, 1670 W Division St, 773-252-6499), a shabby-chic joint in the heart of Wicker Park. A little bit off the beaten path, the Bluebird (Mon–Fri, Sun 5pm–2am, Sat 5pm–3am, 1749 N Damen Ave, 773-486-2473) is worth the trek for its curated selection of beer and wine, and small menu of European-inspired dishes, such as Belgian-style pomme frites, rabbit rillette and goat-cheese-topped flatbread.
It’s hard to resist the adorable artwork of winged pigs and other cartoon-esque animals decorating the wood-paneled walls at the Peasantry (Tue–Thu 6pm–11pm, Fri–Sat 11:30am–12am, Sun 11am–10pm, 2723 N Clark St, 773-868-4888). But this new spot is more than just a pretty face and features a tasty mix of elevated street food, like a baby octopus gyro and duck wings. Fans of fromage have a friend in Cheesie’s Pub & Grub (Mon–Wed, Sun 11am–11pm. Thu 11am–3am, Fri–Sat 11am–5am, 958 W Belmont Ave, 773-388-1574), which offers ten-plus versions of grilled cheese sandwiches. Lactose-intolerant folks, you’ve been warned. Even if you arrive after the stellar beer garden at Sheffield’s (Kitchen hours Mon–Wed 11am–11pm, Thu–Fri 11am–12am, Sat 10am–12am, Sun 10am–11pm, 3258 N Sheffield Ave, 773-281-4989) has closed, the ribs, beef brisket and Carolina pulled pork from its in-house smokers make the trip worth it.
At meat-lover’s paradise Frontier (Mon 4pm–2am, Tue-Fri 11am–3pm, 4pm–2am, Sat 10am–3am, Sun 10am–2am, 1072 N Milwaukee Ave, 773-772-4322), you’ll find venison, rabbit, duck, boar, goat, llama, bear…okay, that last one’s not on the menu, but there is a huge stuffed one behind the bar. With a menu featuring pig-face poutine, escargot fries and porchetta sandwiches, the Barrelhouse Flat (Mon–Wed 6pm–2am, Thu–Fri 6pm–4am, Sat 6pm–5am, 2624 N Lincoln Ave, 773-857-0421) isn’t your typical frat bar, and we couldn’t be happier. And speaking of frat bars…Barn & Company (Tue–Fri 3pm–2am, Sat 10am–3am, Sun 10am–2am, 950 W Wrightwood Ave, 773-832-4000) attracts its fair share of DePaul revelers, but with some of the city’s tastiest barbecue courtesy of bona fide pit master, we don’t mind.