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I recently was listening to a podcast with Oprah and Geneen Roth, an expert on body acceptance and reducing compulsive eating. One concept they discussed that struck me was that your relationship with food is a microcosm of your relationship with yourself and your broader life.

It’s never just about the food – which suggests we can look to other aspects of our lives to see what seems to be missing or incomplete, or out of alignment. Once those areas become more in balance, we can relax around food; it holds less power over us and becomes a little less interesting or important.

Related: do you have a “fear of missing out on food”? Here’s how to eat more mindfully.

Think of Food as Two Separate Categories

I learned something similar when I studied to become a health coach (before I became a dietitian) at the Institute for Integrative Nutrition: thinking of “food” as two separate categories, primary food and secondary food.

Secondary food is literal food, like fruit and vegetables, nuts and seeds, bread and pasta, animal protein, oils, sweets, even junk and processed foods. But primary food encompasses everything that “feeds” us in addition to actual food, like spiritual satisfaction, feeling fulfilled with your work and extracurricular activities, robust relationships, and ample exercise.

The reason these are labeled as primary food is because they can be considered in some ways to be even more important than the secondary food. Why? They nurture and nourish us in ways fat, protein and carbohydrates simply cannot. When our primary needs are well taken care of, our need for secondary food decreases, and we certainly depend on it less for happiness and fulfillment, and instead use it for its ideal purpose, which is strength and sustenance.

Your Relationship with Food

Think back to a time when you were depressed or anxious. You might have gained or lost weight, ate fast food or lots of sugary desserts, using food in a dysfunctional way to somehow feel better. But if you think back to your childhood or of a time when things seemed to have fallen into an easy rhythm, you might have eaten more lightly, focusing on other things and viewing food more as an afterthought.

Take some time to think or even jot some notes down about these four areas of your life currently: career, spirituality, relationships and exercise. Where could you put some more attention? Notice how bolstering these areas of your life affects your hunger for food.

Post written by FFC Boystown and East Lakeview Registered Dietitian Cindy Klinger. 

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Eat real food. This simple nutrition tip can drastically change the way your body looks and feels. So many of the things we find on our shelves at the grocery store sound like they’re healthy – the front label might use words like “natural”, “organic”, or “GMO-free”. There might even be commercials for certain products that show wholesome family meals, with mom packing the kids’ lunch boxes before everyone heads out for a busy day. This type of marketing can make it tricky to find nutritious “real food”, but all you really need to do is look at the label. Even if you have a sweet tooth! It all comes down to real ingredients.

Find Healthier Food

Speaking of ingredients, this is the first place you should head when looking for healthy, real food. See anything with “high fructose”? Put it back on the shelf. Anything you can’t pronounce? You probably shouldn’t eat it. Nutella was one of those foods I loved…until I read the label: palm oil… soy lecithin. What are you doing in there? Then, when I realized dairy wasn’t my friend, I knew I had to come up with a recipe that got back to real, whole ingredients: hazelnuts, almonds, dates, cocoa powder and vanilla – instead of the jarred kind that is made with palm oil, tons of sugar and dairy milk.

Enter this vegan Chocolate Hazelnut New-Tella recipe – naturally sweetened with dates! Got a sweet tooth? Enjoy it as a dip for fresh apple slices or strawberries.

Chocolate Hazelnut “New-Tella”

New-tella 30-minute recipe

Level: easy
Servings: 24 / 3 cups of “New-Tella”
Ready in: 20 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup whole raw almonds
  • 1 cup dried pitted dates
  • 1 cup hazelnuts
  • 1/2 cup cocoa powder
  • 1 cup almond milk, plain, unsweetened
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • Fresh apple slices, pears, or strawberries, for serving

Directions

Roast the nuts: spread almonds and hazelnuts on a baking pan and roast at 350 F for 12-15 minutes. When the nuts are golden brown, remove from oven and let cool.

Soak dates in warm water for at least 5 minutes to soften.

Start the New-Tella: when nuts are cool enough to handle, place hazelnuts in a clean dish towel or paper towel. Roll around to peel off the skins. Voila! Tip: the skins are bitter so remove as much as you can.

Place the almonds and peeled hazelnuts in a wide blender or food processor. Purée for about 5 or minutes or more, until the nuts start releasing their oils. Remove from the blender.

Drain the dates and squeeze out excess water. Also feel for any pits.

Place the dates, almond milk, vanilla, and salt in the wide blender or food processor. Purée until creamy. Add the nuts back to puréed date mixture, along with the cocoa. Purée until creamy, scraping down the sides as needed.

Garnish with chopped hazelnuts and serve with fresh fruit. Serve warm even more intense flavor.

Chef’s Tip: for a pourable “fondue” version, add 1 cup of almond milk to the recipe. Serve in small crockpot, with fresh fruit and toothpicks.

Post written by FFC Boystown group fitness instructor Katie Simmons.

More about Katie: Katie is a group fitness instructor at FFC Boystown and is also a personal chef based in Chicago. She specializes in creating delicious, healthy recipes for those with special dietary concerns like gluten-free, oil-free, plant-based, and low-residue. You can see more at www.plants-rule.com.

"New-tella" sandwiches

Apple + “New-Tella” sandwiches

 

When it comes to eating lunch in Chicago, there is NO shortage of options. Trust us. But like the saying goes, moderation is key – we can’t always be indulging.

On the flipside, though, we know it can sometimes be tough to eat nutritiously, but also feel full. Being physically and mentally satiated starts with the types of food we put into our bodies.

We’ve rounded up the 3 best healthy AND delicious lunch spots in Boystown that offer well-priced options with fantastic service that will appeal to a wide audience. Check them out and let us know how you like them!

11 Degree North – 824 W. Belmont Ave

Not only is 11 Degree North perfect for your morning pick-me-up, this café has several different grab and go or sit and eat options to excite your taste buds ranging from gluten-free flat bread “arepas” and biscuits and bagels stuffed with all types of protein-rich options to sandwiches and smoothies.

My personal favorite? The Caribbean Chicken Sandwich – it comes with grilled chicken, cheese, bacon, pineapple and avocado served on a pretzel bun. Okay, so it might not be the healthiest option, but it’ll be sure to brighten things up on a cold, windy Chicago afternoon!

Related: the best weekend brunch spots in Lakeview.

Azteca Grill – 847 W. Belmont Ave

This is your one-stop shop for all your taco and burrito needs. (And late-night snacks!) The menu offers a wide selection that is sure to please almost any palate. The Azteca De Oro is my go-to order; this burrito comes with a choice of ground beef, chicken, pork “pastor”, pork carnitas or fajita veggies, rice, black beans, cheddar-jack cheese, guacamole, sour cream and Pico de Gallo. The protein-heavy yet light fillings will keep you energized all day long!

Chicago Diner – 3411 N. Halsted St.

Think “old-school” diner but with a “new-school” menu. Opened in 1983, the Chicago Diner specializes in creative vegetarian and vegan options that are sure to take you outside your comfort zone. Like we said, though, balance is key – go for the healthy options but stay for the dessert! Their pies and cakes are sure to impress.

Post written by FFC membership representative Kyle Souther-Bruno.

About Kyle

Kyle Souther-Bruno at FFC ChicagoKyle recently moved up to Chicago from Austin, Texas. He joins the FFC Boystown team with a background in digital marketing, VIP event planning and was a VIP event planning consultant for four years before his current position with FFC! To set up a complimentary VIP member experience at FFC, email Kyle at ksoutherbruno@ffc.com!

Try Out FFC! 

Stop in to try FFC for free – click right here to redeem!

When it comes to getting healthy, eating out can sabotage our efforts. Whether it’s takeout, delivery, or even a fancy restaurant, much of the food prepared in these establishments tends to be heavy in salt and fat. After all, the goal of any place selling food is to satisfy customers with delicious flavor. As customers, it’s natural that we like rich, fatty foods. Chefs tend to rely on salt, sugar, fat and dairy to make dishes more delicious – and that can show up around your waistline. On top of that, excuses for relying on eating out often are plentiful: lack of time, lack of energy, lack of cooking ability. My nutritious 5-minute Asian noodle bowl recipe is here to change that.

This quick, healthy dish is ready in just minutes. It uses a few key ingredients that you can always keep stocked in your pantry and freezer for easy access. Healthy buckwheat soba noodles and plant-based protein from edamame will leave you feeling satisfied and fueled for your next workout. Jazz it up with shredded cabbage, baby spinach, or sliced bell pepper. This noodle-bowl will “take-out” your excuses for “takeout”!

Related: sign up for a free 30-minute nutrition consultation with an on-site registered dietitian at FFC – click here!

5 Minute Asian Noodle Bowl

  • Level: easy
  • Servings: 1
  • Ready in: 5 minutes

Ingredients

Quick Asian Peanut Sauce:

  • 2 tbs peanut butter
  • 1 tbs rice vinegar
  • 1/2 tsp lime juice
  • 1 tbs ginger, grated or minced
  • 1 tbs orange juice (or pineapple juice)
  • 1/8 tsp red chili flake
  • 1/2 tsp tamari or soy sauce

Noodle Bowl:

  • 1 (2 oz) bundle Soba noodles
  • 1/2 cup bean sprouts
  • 1/4 cup shelled edamame

Related: need a quick boost of energy? Check out these nostalgic, yet adult-worthy PB & J Oat Bites!

Directions

Make the noodles. You can bring a pot of water to a boil. (This may add a few extra minutes, but will still be pretty fast).

Add the Soba noodles to boiling water.

Make the Quick Asian Peanut Sauce. In a large bowl, combine the peanut butter, rice vinegar, lime, red chili, tamari, and orange juice.

After the noodles cook for about 2 minutes, add the bean sprouts and edamame. Cook 1 more minute, until hot.

Drain noodle mixture. Toss with the Quick Asian Peanut Sauce and serve.

Chef’s Tip: Use an empty peanut butter jar to make a big batch of the Quick Asian Peanut Sauce. You can then whip up this bowl in even less time, or use it as a dressing for salad, a dip for veggies, or even poured over roasted sweet potatoes.

Nutrition Facts

Amount Per Serving (1 recipe)

Calories 445.44

Calories from Fat (34%) 152.39

  • % Daily Value
  • Total Fat 18.22g 28%
  • Saturated Fat 3.51g 18%
  • Cholesterol 0mg 0%
  • Sodium 773.95mg 32%
  • Potassium 744.9mg 21%
  • Total Carbohydrates 63.84g 21%
  • Fiber 4.47g 18%
  • Sugar 7.35g
  • Protein 21.43g 43%
  • Calcium 24.96mg 2%
  • Iron 62.53mg 347%
  • Vitamin A 43.18IU <1%
  • Vitamin C 0mg 0%

Post written by FFC Boystown Group Fitness Instructor Katie Simmons.

About Katie

Katie is a group fitness instructor at FFC Boystown, and is also a personal chef based in Chicago. She specializes in creating delicious, healthy recipes for those with special dietary concerns like gluten-free, oil-free, plant-based, and low-residue. You can see more at www.plants-rule.com.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

You’ve read articles and seen the news – Pilates is one of the best workouts you can do. With benefits ranging from increased mental strength and improved attention and motivation to a better golf swing, a stronger core for running and more, it’s easy to see why Pilates is one of the fastest growing trends in the fitness industry. Pilates is beneficial for everyone – even Jake Arrieta, of the Chicago Cubs, and Jonathan Toews, of the Chicago Blackhawks, practice the ways of Joseph Pilates. But it doesn’t stop there! Here are benefits to practicing Pilates after (or before) pregnancy.

Pilates After Pregnancy

Pilates is perfect for helping new moms through the process after pregnancy and strengthen important muscles necessary for recovery. Benefits include:

1) Draws your abdominals (specifically your transverse abdominis) back together after being stretched for 9 months during pregnancy – also great for strengthening.

2) Strengthens your upper back and opens your chest, which can get tired from carrying and/or nursing your little one.

3) Strengthens your inner and outer hips to help support your pelvis after it was stretched and relaxed from all the hormones running through your body.

Related: sign up to try a free Pilates session on us at FFC!

4) Encourages proper, slow, yet precise, strengthening of your abdominals, hips and back, which helps relieve lower back and pelvic floor discomfort from pregnancy.

5) Stretches tight muscles that haven’t been used in a long time.

6) Can help repair diastasis recti, which is a split down the center of your abs (a common mistake is doing sit ups and planks right after you have a baby).

7) Gives you some well-deserved ME time.

Related: 4 ways Pilates makes you mentally stronger.

Post written by FFC Boystown Pilates Coordinator & Instructor Jamie Loger.

About Jamie

Jamie is the Pilates coordinator and senior instructor at FFC Boystown and specializes in pre and postnatal work,in addition to core training and post-rehabilitation. Want to schedule a complimentary consultation with Jamie? Email her at jloger@ffc.com

A friend of mine recently told me she thinks I have FOMO, a fear of missing out. I thought about it, and the concept resonates: I do often feel conflicted when I want to have some downtime but an interesting activity or event comes up. I also have tried hang gliding, bungee jumping, skydiving; you get the picture—not because I’m a daredevil or an adrenaline junkie, but because I want to experience as many things as possible. It had not occurred to me before that there is a connection between this feeling and eating. But when my friend nabbed me with the FOMO label, it made me think back to my childhood and other times in my life where this showed up, and how it could make eating healthy difficult. Here’s why eating with mindfulness is important.

FOMO with Food

My grad school classmates would laugh at me because I’d lug around pretty much my entire kitchen to feel prepared for a long day of classes. And it’s not just me. There is this pervasive fear of missing out when it comes to food. This is probably one reason that most people I work with are fast eaters; it seems built into our DNA and likely served us well for evolutionary purposes. “Better get to it before someone (be it human or animal) does!”

It also seems like that’s one of the reasons it’s so difficult to say no to those donuts your coworker brings in for an early office meeting, or a dessert you just have to try at that upscale restaurant downtown.

Related: want to master your meals? Sign up for a free 30-minute nutrition consultation with an on-site registered dietitian – click here!

Or that, despite your best intentions of bringing your own healthy snacks to work, come 3 o’clock, the vending machine wins out over your trail mix or seemingly lackluster hummus and veggies. You don’t want to miss out on those flavors, the satisfaction, the buttery goodness, the sugar—right now.

So, are we doomed to feel like FOMO failures, or can we do something about this unsettled feeling? Here are a few simple tips to eat with more mindfulness that will help us feel more grounded when a food FOMO moment gets the better of us:

Self talk is powerful.

I like to tell myself in those moments is that I’ve had X (brownie, ice cream, pizza) before, or something similar, and I know what it tastes like. I know I will have it at some point again—so I don’t have to eat it this minute. One research study highlighted in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology found that when people said “I can have it some other time” to themselves, it lessened the value of that food and allowed them to postpone eating it.

Keep in mind that the first three bites of any food are the most satisfying.

If you do want to indulge but you’re trying to reduce your portion size, try eating three bites and stopping after that—either by sharing, putting the food away, or possibly even throwing it away (although I also try to avoid wasting food—even indulgent ones!).

Related: take time to stop and smell the… food. 4 tricks to eating more intuitively! 

Think about the future.

When you feel tempted by certain foods, consider how much better your mind and body will actually feel when you choose healthier options, now and later in the day. You might think about having more energy in the afternoon if you choose a protein-filled snack rather than anticipating a late-day slump.

Feel the discomfort, move through it, and let it go.

This is kind of like grief or sadness, or any other uncomfortable feeling that you want to relieve. We naturally want to run away from yucky feelings. But when we sit with them with mindfulness instead of fight them (or in this case, eat the food), the moment often passes. And then, the need to eat this thing RIGHT NOW lifts, and we can wait another day—or longer.

Post written by FFC Registered Dietitian Cindy Klinger.

About Cindy

Cindy’s love of food led her to explore its health benefits, and the more she learned the more interested she became. After several years as a writer and editor for magazines, she decided to make a career change to help support people in reaching their health goals. As a dietitian (currently one of FFC’s on-staff registered dietitians), she has worked in a variety of settings, including with refugees, as a health coach, at a retirement home and with WIC (Women, Infants and Children).

Seeing people have “aha” moments and make small and significant changes that profoundly affect their wellbeing is extremely rewarding to Cindy. She enjoys the process of communicating and sharing questions and answers with clients around their health and wellness concerns. Cindy’s approach is a blend of lessons she’s learned along the way, and she strives to think outside the box and help make the process a fun one for her clients. Want to set up a complimentary consultation? Email her at cklinger@ffc.com!

“Don’t try to drive on an empty tank of gas.” This essential advice is something I remind my FFC members of all the time. When I teach Motiv8 at 6 AM, I’m pushing you to dig deep and give 100% in your workout. In order to get stronger, you have to train hard. You have to push your body through discomfort. How can you expect to do that on an empty stomach? Whether you’re training first thing in the morning, or right after work, it’s crucial to fuel up pre-workout. Running on an empty tank of gas will leave you tired and can increase your likelihood for injury. What you fuel up with is just as important to give you sustained energy. Check out this insanely easy recipe for peanut butter and jelly oat bites – one of my favorite go-to pre-workout snacks.

The classic combination of PB & J takes us all back to the memories of childhood (but dried currants and all-natural ingredients keep the recipe mature enough for adults). I throw just a few ingredients into my food processor and roll up a batch. Not only are these great pre-workout snacks that are gluten-free, vegan options, they’re also 100% plant-based and have tons of nutritional benefits!

Some of these benefits include:

  • Whole grain oats are naturally gluten-free, providing vegan protein and fiber for long-term energy.
  • Natural roasted peanut butter adds some fat to give you long-lasting satiety.
  • Dried currants provide natural sweetness for an energy boost that won’t leave you dragging in an hour.
  • A dash of cinnamon does double-duty, providing interesting flavor and acts as an anti-inflammatory food (read more about controlling inflammatory foods here!)

One of the best parts? I’ll make a batch of these and keep them in the freezer – and any time I might need a quick energy bite, (or some pre-workout snacks) I throw a few in my bag! They work in the morning before I teach class, in the afternoon when I am craving something sweet, and even on long trips when I’m stuck in an airport. I even make them as a personal chef for my clients who pack them in their kids’ lunch boxes!

Related: want to set up a free 30-minute nutrition consultation with one of our on-site registered dietitians? Click here!

Try This Recipe: PB & J Oat Bite Pre-Workout Snacks

  • Level: easy
  • Servings 10 – yields 20 “bites”
  • Ready in: 10 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cup rolled oats (use gluten-free oats for 100% gluten-free treats)
  • 1/2 cup creamy peanut butter (preferably with no added sugars or oils)
  • 1 1/4 cup dried Zante currants
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp salt (or adjust, depending on salt in peanut butter)
  • 2 – 4 tbsp warm water

Related: speaking of energy – check out this easy peasy 5 minute Asian noodle bowl for the next time you’re craving take-out!

Pre-workout snacks - try these easy PB & J Oat Bites!

Directions

Gather ingredients. Place the oats in your food processor. Puree oats until well-chopped, resembling shredded coconut. Remove from food processor and pour into a medium bowl.

Add the peanut butter, currants, vanilla, cinnamon, and salt to the food processor. Puree peanut butter mixture until currants are chopped and everything is well-combined.

Add shredded oats back to the food processor. Puree. Add 2-4 tablespoons warm water, until mixture binds together. Continue to puree until mixture naturally clumps into a large ball. Add a tablespoon of water at a time until this consistency is reached.

Remove mixture from the food processor into a medium bowl. Roll about 1 tablespoon of batter into a two-bite ball. Repeat with remaining mixture.

Keep refrigerated for up to 1 week or freeze for longer.

Chef’s Tip: for a peanut-free alternative, try it with almond butter or sunflower seed butter. These are perfect fuel for traveling through airports or training for marathons! Want to see a step-by-step? Check out the full preparation video here!

Nutrition Info

Serving size: 1/10 of a recipe (about 2 bites).

Amount Per Serving

  • Calories 219.71
  • Calories From Fat (31%) 68.31

% Daily Value

  • Total Fat 8.17g 13%
  • Saturated Fat 1.65g 8%
  • Cholesterol 0mg 0%
  • Sodium 177.46mg 7%
  • Potassium 346.45mg 10%
  • Total Carbohydrates 31.63g 11%
  • Fiber 4.62g 18%
  • Sugar 13.36g
  • Protein 7.93g 16%
  • Calcium 0.86mg <1%
  • Iron 36.39mg 202%
  • Vitamin A 13.91IU <1%
  • Vitamin C 0.04mg <1%

Post written by FFC Boystown group fitness instructor Katie Simmons.

More about Katie: Katie is a group fitness instructor at FFC Boystown and is also a personal chef based in Chicago. She specializes in creating delicious, healthy recipes for those with special dietary concerns like gluten-free, oil-free, plant-based, and low-residue. You can see more at www.plants-rule.com.

 

My journey started 10 years ago, in 2007. In the early 2000’s, I was your typical 40-year old guy. Happily married, great social life, working too hard, overweight, and eating and drinking all wrong. I thought working out equaled going to the local gym after work – stretching and jumping on a stationary bike for 45 minutes.

I thought eating right was starting the day with fruit, yogurt, and toast. If I worked out, I could have a reasonable dinner and have a drink or two. Nothing was changing.

However, being 240 pounds meant some serious lifestyle modifications were needed. My wife Ruth-Anne and I set a goal to get into road cycling, so that we could participate in a 2-day 200-mile charity ride in North Carolina in October of 2007. Crazy, right? I certainly thought so. We had 9 months to figure this out. So, I joined FFC Boystown, where Ruth-Anne was already a member.

Related: try FFC for free! Click here to get started.

Spin Bike to Road Bike

Step one? Start working out early in the morning vs. in the evenings after work. Two other friends joined our mission. We started with 6:15 AM spin class, Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, instructed by Arthur Riepenhoff. We went religiously, and he quickly became our Jedi Master.

He taught us how to use spin for strength and endurance, which would help in outside cycling. Week after week we did spin. Spring came, and we started riding outside every weekend together. Arthur even joined us for many of the rides. 30 miles at Bike the Drive, 50 miles at the Udder Century in June, we continued to up our miles every week. North Branch Trail, Fox River Trail, more organized rides, until finally we did our first 100-mile ride at the Northshore Century.

We then successfully completed the 200-mile charity ride in October, but there was one small problem: I didn’t lose any weight. We thought (at the time) that if we did spin and road all those miles outside, that we could eat and drink whatever, and the weight would still melt off. Obviously not.

Related: FOMO of food? Here’s how to eat more mindfully.

Fast forward to 2008: this year’s goal was to lose 40 pounds. After some research, talking to FFC trainers, and figuring out that sugar was more than candy bars, Ruth-Anne and I went on a low carb, minimal sugar diet regime, and we followed the South Beach Diet for 3 months.

The diet, along with continuing to work out at FFC (the bike and now some weight training), was working. From March through July I lost 48 lbs. We rode more organized rides that year, upgraded to better road bikes, completed 3 century rides. I was now a road cyclist.

Fitness to Fundraising

Over the next several years, Ruth-Anne and I road all the time, and now most all of our travel included cycling. We organized our first euro-bike trip with family and friends.

Then, in 2011, I read (at FFC one morning) about a cool century bike ride, The Wrigley Field Road Tour, which I signed up for, and where I learned about World Bicycle Relief – an organization that provides bicycles to students, healthcare workers, and entrepreneurs in rural Africa, where distance is a barrier. It all clicked. I was able to turn my passion for cycling into helping to do good things for those in need of simple transportation.

From 2011 through 2015, I used my cycling for fundraising, to help World Bicycle Relief provide bicycles to students in need in rural Africa. It’s been amazing. Hundreds of friends, family, and colleagues are now aware of the great work and impact of WBR. Together during those 5 years, we raised enough to provide over 500 bicycles to those in need. The best part of this entire journey has been that Ruth-Anne is now working for World Bicycle Relief as their director of global marketing. It’s come full circle since joining FFC and the journey has been amazing.

One Day 100 Bikes – How to Get Involved

Want to get involved? One Day 100 Bikes is an annual one-day festival of fun, fitness, and fundraising, supporting World Bicycle Relief, to provide bicycles to students in rural Africa and allow them to thrive. With the help of the community, FFC, and many other sponsors, we were able to raise over $24,500 in the first year of the event – enough for more than 166 bikes. Each year we plan to do even more. Visit www.oneday100bikes.com for more information on upcoming events.

Post written by FFC Boystown member Tom R.

The stretch of Halsted Street in Chicago’s Lakeview neighborhood (from Belmont to Grace), affectionately referred to as Boystown, has some of the best bars and nightclubs geared for the LGBT community (and great brunch spots nearby, like these!). Check out this list of best bars in Boystown we put together!

Roscoe’s – 3356 N. Halsted St.

Dancing and drag shows are the highlight of this bar. A staple of Boystown, this is the place to experience the best of RuPaul’s Drag Race in person. The DJ in the back dance floor always cranks out dance hits to get you and your friends moving on weekends. Don’t forget to check out the daily pitcher specials!

Sidetrack – 3349 N. Halsted St.

Known for Broadway showtune sing-a-longs on Sunday and Monday evenings, this spacious hang-out bar has lots of areas to chat with friends or meet new people, including a rooftop deck. They have a large selection of frozen cocktails and five large bar areas to ensure you never have to wait too long for a drink.

Replay Beer and Bourbon – 3439 N. Halsted St.

Beer, bourbon and video games! What more can you can say? This bar really plays up the 90s nostalgia to creates a great space for hanging out and socializing. The back patio bar area is a huge hit in the summer months! Choose from 20 beers on tap and a large selection of fine bourbons to imbibe while playing one of the many vintage arcade games, most of which are free to play.

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The North End – 3733 N. Halsted St.

At the far north end of Boystown, lies a hidden gem of a sports bar. Not only can you watch your Chicago teams compete on giant flat screens, but they have pool tables and darts too. From the Super Bowl to the playoffs for hockey, basketball and baseball, this bar is a great place to join the crowd and watch the big games.

Elixir Lounge – 3452 N. Halsted St.

Known for their craft cocktails, this small but finely appointed bar makes the perfect place to have a more elegant night out. The staff of down-to-earth bartenders will help you select from their large menu of classic and signature cocktails and specialty martinis. And the intimate setting makes for great conversation as you sip on one of their more top-shelf drinks.

Wood Restaurant – 3335 N. Halsted St.

This upscale restaurant is definitely not your traditional bar for Boystown, but the friendly bar staff and the wine and cocktail menu make it must for this list. They have some of the best mixologists in not only the neighborhood, but in all of Chicago. And it doesn’t hurt that you can also have an amazing meal from an award winning chef here too.