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Now that happy hour is legal in the city of Chicago again (yes, there used to be restrictions on the happiest hours of the day in the past), we thought it would be a good idea to compile a list of the best happy hours in West Loop for you to check out the next time you’re in this neck of the woods.

Since this Chicago neighborhood is such a foodie hotspot, it was tough to narrow the list down to just a few. Don’t worry, we’ve got something to appeal to everyone’s tastes—and for almost every day of the week. Cheers!

Tuesdays: WestEnd – 1326 W. Madison St.

Specials: $10 salad or wrap and wine glass combo from 5:00–8:00 p.m.

Don’t derail your healthy efforts mid-week—just head over to WestEnd for a salad or wrap and wine combo. For just $10 you can get a full meal AND enjoy the health benefits of a glass of wine (of which we hear there are many!)

Thursdays: Carnivale – 702 W. Fulton Market

Specials: $4 Sofie, Matilda, Pepe Nero, Summertime, and Honkers bottles from 5:00–7:30 p.m.

If you want to get active while you imbibe, head over to Carnivale on Thursday nights. Not only do they have great eats and drinks, they also offer a complimentary dance class from 7:00–8:00 p.m. covering styles such as Samba, Salsa, Bachata, Cha-Cha, and the Merengue!

 

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Fridays: Nellcote – 833 W. Randolph St.

Specials: Get a beer and a 10-inch pizza for $10 from 5:00–7:00 p.m.

Pizza and beer always go well together. However, we’ll bet you haven’t seen anything like this pizza—French- inspired, fancy and also delicious! Go for the classic Margherita or try the Organic Sunnyside Up option for some added variety.

Saturdays: New Line Tavern – 201 N. Clinton St.

Specials: $4 Jameson, $4 Green Line, Bottom Up Wit and Alpha King drafts, $4.50 Wine glasses, and more

It’s not always easy to find drink deals on the weekends, but New Line Tavern has you covered with a number of different craft beer and wine options. They also offer a great menu of popular bar bites like sliders—not to mention the Bratwurst slider option—and wings. (If you’re looking for something lighter, they’ve got plenty of great salads, too!)

Sundays: Bar Takito – 201 N. Morgan St.

Specials: Brunch from 10:00 a.m.–3:00 p.m., $3 tacos & $2 Tecate

Sunday is still part of the weekend, isn’t it? Save as you savor Latin American small plates like street-style tacos, ceviche and papas fritas. On top of Tecate, this spot also serves delicious margaritas and palomas.

Did we forget your favorite restaurant or bar? Comment and let us know your other favorite happy hours in West Loop!

This post was written by an FFC contributor.

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.

After a long, cold Chicago winter, it’s time to heat things up with someone special by your side. While heading to the beach or for drinks on a rooftop are always great go-to options for an outdoor date, Barbie Adler, president and founder of Selective Search, recommends the following active summer date spots in Chicago to kick your experience up a notch.

Yoga at Lincoln Park Zoo

Take in views of the city skyline and connect with nature at Lincoln Park Zoo. Learn the basics of yoga in a quiet yet intimate group setting. Not only will this bring positive vibes to your date, but also is the perfect segue to brunch or a trip to your favorite coffee shop!

SUP Paddleboarding on Lake Michigan

Stand up paddleboarding (SUP) offers a unique experience on Lake Michigan at night. Engage in some friendly (or flirty) competition to see who can paddle and balance the longest while taking in new views of the city. Don’t miss the Navy Pier fireworks from your floating “blanket”! Get comfortable on the water as the sun is going down, then take in the scene as darkness falls and the fireworks go off.

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Urban Kayaks Down the Chicago River

Urban Kayaks provides a new level of adventure in downtown Chicago with the most scenic route available. Kayak down the Chicago River while learning about the history of some of Chicago’s most famous buildings. Or take a night tour and watch the weekend fireworks from your own private kayak on Lake Michigan!

Bike Tours Through Chicago’s Neighborhoods

Think you’ve mastered the bike trails of Chicago? Bobby’s Bike Hike gives you an opportunity to ride through different neighborhoods of Chicago while also learning about its history and culture. Choose from a variety of different unique tours including Bikes, Bites and Brews or Southside Gangster. To spark some extra romance, try an evening bike tour with views of the sunset over the city along with skyline fireworks (Memorial Day through Labor Day.)

While the summer months may be short, these active outdoor date spots in Chicago will let you take advantage of all of the outdoor fun this city has to offer (and lead to even better date nights in by the fire in the winter!)

 Post written by FFC Affiliate, Selective Search.

About Selective Search

Need help finding your summer love in Chicago? The matchmakers of Selective Search will lead you to new adventures with your better half – check out their complimentary affiliate program!

Selective Search Founder and President Barbie Adler is an expert on dating and relationships who has consulted on national dating-related television programs and appeared in Forbes, Fortune, The Economist, The Wall Street Journal, USA Today, and on CNN. In 2000, she left a successful career as a high-level executive recruiter and founded Selective Search to provide North America with its first fully offline, confidential, and customized executive matchmaking firm. Her goal is to combine her experience recruiting top talent with her passion for helping busy, successful, single men and women find a committed loving relationship.

You shouldn’t have to sacrifice a well-deserved night out just because it can wreak havoc on your diet! However, it can be tough to find those delicious AND healthy restaurants when you want to dine out. Have no fear, we’ve compiled a list of some of the hottest hangouts in the area; check out these 5 healthy restaurants in Lincoln Park!

Summer House – 1954 N. Halsted St.

Escape the winter blues and find yourself on the beach! Well, not quite, but this California-style American restaurant is like a beach house transplanted from its sister restaurant in Santa Monica.

The wood-fired grill cooks up menu items spotlighting seasonal, locally-sourced products. Check out the bakery counter on your way out for pastries, muffins and Lettuce Entertain You chef and partner Jeff Mahin’s famous cookies.

Healthy menu items that catch this RD’s eye:

  • Roasted Beets with Grapefruit Aioli
  • Wood Grilled Mahi-Mahi Tacos with Guacamole
  • Quinoa and Forbidden Black Rice Bowl with Green Curry and Local Veggies

BOKA – 1729 N. Halsted St.

If you have a special occasion coming up, consider this Michelin Star winning gem. Cozy up in a booth and enjoy the eclectic decor while enjoying beautifully executed dishes and craft cocktails.

Healthy menu items that catch this RD’s eye:

  • Heirloom Carrots with Pistachio, Amaranth and Smoked Goat Cheese
  • Jerusalem Artichoke Soup with Pears and Sunflower Seeds
  • Coffee and Hazelnut Whole Milk Ice Cream

 

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Blue Door Farm Stand – 2010 N. Halsted St.

This farm-to-table café and artisan’s market, named for Oprah’s former Indiana property, prides itself on featuring fresh, seasonal food and drinks from local farms and farmers’ markets, including Chicago favorites Harvest Juicery and Bow Truss Coffee Roasters.

In addition to offering a catering service, the Blue Door Farm Stand can accommodate private events, offers takeout and local delivery. Lactose intolerant? You can order almond milk in your latte.

Healthy menu items that catch this RD’s eye:

  • Sweet Potato Hummus
  • Baked Parmesan Kale Chips
  • Shaved Brussels Sprouts and Kale Salad with Maple Tahini Dressing

Related: how a plant-based diet helped this group exercise instructor and personal chef overcome food addiction.

Café Ba-Ba-Reeba – 2024 N. Halsted St.

You don’t have to leave your kids at home when you go to “Chicago’s Original Tapas Bar.” They have a children’s menu, as well as a complete gluten-free menu, including dessert. On Tuesdays take advantage of half-off Spanish wines, or half-priced craft cocktails on Mondays.

Menu items that catch this RD’s eye:

  • House Marinated Spanish Olives
  • Wood Oven Roasted Veggies with Toasted Pine Nuts
  • Seared Sea Scallops with Leeks and Torched Oranges

Dawali Mediterranean Kitchen – 1625 N. Halsted St.

This inexpensive BYOB place has something for everyone, including vegan, vegetarian, dairy-free, and gluten-free options.

Some health-conscious plates to consider:

  • Lentil Soup
  • Grilled Veggies with Curry Sauce
  • Falafel Plate with Hummus and Tahini Sauce

So look for these items which won’t undo all of your hard, healthy work because social health plays a role in your overall wellness too!

*Note: All menu items subject to change

Post written by FFC contributor.

 

Narrowing down the best bars in Chicago’s South Loop is like trying to choose your favorite group fitness class — it can be done, but it sure isn’t easy!

For instance, some days you need that extra blast of cardio, while other days call for sustained yoga poses. The bars in the South Loop offer this same appealing mix of high-energy and laid-back options.

Those of us who live, work and play in this neighborhood know that it’s an eclectic and dynamic community, and the South Loop bars reflect that vibe.

So the next time you’re looking for a fun night out in the area, check out these local hot spots:

The Scout Waterhouse and Kitchen – 1301 S. Wabash Ave.

The Scout is the MVP of sports bars, and in Chicago, that’s really saying something. With TVs everywhere you look and a beer menu that covers the spectrum from PBR Tall Boys to double chocolate stouts, you’ll be happy even if the Blackhawks, Bears, Bulls, or Sox (this is the South Loop, after all) are losing.

Square One – 1400 S. Michigan Ave.

Feeling especially cool and classy? Make your way over to Square One, an intimate bar with unusual touches, such as a self-serve wine station, a projector broadcasting old movies and wine barrel chandeliers. Order one of the swanky cocktails, such as the O&M—freshly muddled jalapeños, vodka, sake, and lemonade—to fully appreciate Square One’s flair.

Vice District Brewing – 1454 S. Michigan Ave.

Get your craft beer on at Vice District Brewing, a welcome addition to Chicago’s South Loop. Started by home brewing neighbors-turned-friends (whom you may find behind the bar), this dog-friendly spot serves a small rotating selection of beers. Communal tables and board games add to Vice’s appeal. Pair a beer flight with free popcorn, or stick around to see if a food truck rolls up. You can also bring in your own meal or order from local restaurants.

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The Spoke & Bird – 205 E. 18th St.

It seemed appropriate to include this bar and restaurant because The Spoke & Bird’s owners are avid bikers, and they are moving full speed ahead on their dream of a bike beer garden. Imagine a sunny day, a lovely patio, a cool brew and a tune-up. Sounds good to us!

Related: speaking of brew, if you’re looking for cold brew there’s a chance you’ll find it at one of these 6 coffee shops in the loop!

Acadia – 1639 S. Wabash Ave.

If the prices on the food menu frighten you, take a deep breath and visit Acadia for cocktail hour before dinner elsewhere. Acadia is an oenophile’s dream, but for those uninterested in wine, the bartenders are also expert mixologists. Fun options include Shenanigans, which combines bourbon with housemade cherry cola, and Sweater Weather, featuring espresso, imperial stout and sea salt.

First Draft – 649 S. Clark St.

A true neighborhood bar, First Draft is a fun place for happy hour on Friday afternoons (or Mondays… We won’t tell anyone). The drink menu features tried-and-true sports bar staples, rotating draft selections, and an extensive bourbon, whiskey and tequila list. Keep an appropriate drinking-to-eating ratio with a bison burger, beer-battered onion rings or the charcuterie plate. (Oh, and maybe throw in a kale salad to keep the registered dietitians at FFC happy…

What are your favorite bars in Chicago’s South Loop? Let us know!

Written by FFC affiliate, Kelsey Schagemann, a is a Chicago-based writer and editor whose work has appeared on the popular websites Fiterazzi, A Practical Wedding, PR Week, Red Tricycle, Jealous Magazine, and Refinery29.

There’s a reason they call it happy hour – that time of day when you can unwind with friends or coworkers after a full day of productive work and forget the stress – or just relax a little bit.

And even in the fitness world, we know the importance of balance – it’s okay to indulge once in a while!

What makes a good happy hour? Sure, the specials are great – but the ambience is important too! And since we’re heading into cooler weather and shorter days, it’s important to make every hour of happy hour (get it?) count, so proximity is of the utmost importance. Check out the 4 best happy hour spots in Chicago’s Loop!

Boston Blackie’s – 120 S Riverside

Your classic, laid back tavern, Boston Blackie’s combines great American cuisine with a variety of drinks on tap. The combination of their draft beer selection with an expansive outdoor patio area creates a convenient spot to kick back and people watch after a long day at work.

For food, I highly recommend the “Boston Blackie’s Famous Ribs”, which is made with a homemade barbecue sauce that is so good I would sell my left shoe to get the recipe.

Little Toasted – 300 S Riverside Plaza

An upscale bakery, restaurant, and tavern, Little Toasted is a revolutionary concept in Chicago’s Loop area. The spot serves up great food from morning to night, and pairs the selections with an extensive selection of beer, whiskey, and artisanal coffee beverages.

A sister-concept to the popular West Loop spot Slightly Toasted, this is a great place to grab a bite to eat before work or a refreshing beverage after a long day.

Related: healthy dining spots in Chicago’s West Loop.

Jackson Tavern – 216 W Jackson Blvd

The most defining feature of Jackson Tavern is it’s expansive 114-foot bar that seems to fade away into the horizon as you walk in the door. Wood paneling and dim, comfortable lighting make this a great place to pull up a stool and enjoy a craft beer with some affordable classic American pub food.

Whether you are looking to grab a bite to eat after work or catch the game on one of their many wall mounted TVs, Jackson Tavern is the place to be.

Franklin Tap – 325 S Franklin St 

Franklin Tap is an urban tavern and craft beer bar located just seconds away from the Willis Tower, Union Station, and the Loop’s financial district. This is a great spot to catch the game, hang out with friends, or grab lunch or an after-work brew.

In addition to their fantastic, made-from-scratch menu items, they offer a fun environment with great staff and one of the best rotating craft beer selections in Chicago’s financial district. They also frequently host tastings and other exciting events and specials.

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Post written by FFC Union Station Membership Team Representative Alex Berton.

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About Alex

Alex is a recent graduate of Butler University where he majored in exercise science. He joins the FFC Union Station team with a background in personal and group fitness training and was a member at FFC for the last ten years prior to his current position. Have questions, want more information on the club’s programs and offerings, or to set up a complimentary tour or trial? Email him at aberton@ffc.com!

When it comes to bars in Chicago, the Gold Coast neighborhood is full of go-to spots favored by locals and tourists alike.

Bars, boutiques, restaurants, and nightlife make this neighborhood ideal if you’re looking for something fun and different. From swanky lounges to dart-friendly dive bars, Chicago Gold Coast bars have something for everyone. And if you can’t find something on this list, you can always check out our best rooftop bar guide!

So if you don’t already live in the area, you’ll want to make plans to visit these local “watering holes”:

Booth One (formerly Pump Room) – 1301 N. State Parkway (Ambassador East Hotel, formerly the Public Chicago Hotel)

This Gold Coast gem continues to dazzle guests with its 1930s glamour. Locals and visitors come together here to sip craft cocktails and enjoy a library transformed by live music nightly.

Insider tip: Make this your first stop since the bar closes at midnight every Friday and Saturday!

3rd Coast & Wine Bar – 260 N. Dearborn Parkway

Around since the 1920s, this café/bar has it all – amazing food, wine, beer, and handcrafted cocktails.

While enjoying the menu items, guests can mingle and marvel at the ever-changing artwork featured on the walls.

Insider tip: Go for dinner and stay for drinks while you immerse yourself in the atmosphere and discuss the art.

Three Dots and a Dash – 435 N. Clark St.

This Chicago staple needs no introduction. After all, what’s not to love about a tiki bar in the heart of Chicago?

Serving signature cocktails in take-home survivor mugs, merrymakers can sip cleverly named drinks like “Don’t Touch My Bikini,” “Pinky Gonzales,” and my personal favorite, “Dr. Funkhouser.” They also have a rum list that contains more than 250 selections, including rare bottles.

Insider tip: Reserve this for special occasions such as birthdays or bachelor(ette) parties. Get in character, and imagine you’re being whisked away to a tropical location!

Benchmark – 1510 N. Wells St.

Journey slightly outside the Gold Coast to our neighbors in Old Town for this Four Corners Tavern Group sports bar.

This is a perfect spot for meeting up with friends, listening to good music, watching some TV, and maybe even participate in a Harry Potter trivia night. Great drinks and a relaxed atmosphere pair perfectly with contemporary decor and a modern menu.

Insider tip: Friday and Saturday nights are usually pretty lively, so arrive early to snatch a table and avoid the line!

Zebra Lounge – 1220 N. State Parkway

For a completely different experience try a piano bar with a twist… or stripe. (Fun fact: Of all the bars in Chicago, Zebra holds the third oldest liquor license in the city!)

With live piano seven nights a week, this lounge boasts local and national talent. Staff describe the atmosphere as simple elegance – a trait they’ve held since 1929. Yes they’ve got drinks, but a truly unique reality is what turns visitors into regulars.

Insider tip: Arrive early and snag a leather booth, while you indulge yourself in a few cocktails and let the music sooth your soul.

Related: since you’re in the neighborhood, swing by and check us out. Click here to try us free!

The J. Parker – 1816 N. Clark St. (Lincoln Hotel)

As far as bars in Chicago go, this amazing rooftop overlooking Chicago’s skyline and water landscape make this one of the top (pun intended!). Not only are the cocktails tasty, but the small plates make for perfect pre-dinner eats.

They also have a seasonal cocktail menu, making it a fun place to go even in the winter. We suggest warming up with a drink from their “hot” menu. The “Rockin’ Chair” rum drink is a favorite, with hints of cinnamon and Apple Jack.

Insider tip: This is the perfect spot to start your evening. To take advantage of the incredible view, try to grab a spot in the lounge along the back window.

DrumBAR  – 201 E. Delaware Place (Raffaello Hotel)

DrumBAR is another rooftop lounge that continues to be a Chicago Gold Coast favorite.

DrumBAR caters to those looking for an intimate indoor setting, as well as those looking to soak up the outdoor scenic Chicago views. Mixing everything from house cocktails to traditional libations, patrons can order anything from a single drink to bottle service.

Insider tip: This is a great spot to go with a large group. Make a reservation and stay all night!

What other bars in Chicago (or Gold Coast bars) do you recommend? Let us know in the comments!

Post written by FFC contributor.

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Warmer(ish) weather means it’s time to take happy hour to the next level with the best rooftop bars and patios in Chicago’s Gold Coast neighborhood.

We’ve put together a list of hot spots to check out this season because there’s nothing quite like sipping a chilled drink while taking in the sunset or the humming bustle of the city. Check out our 7 favorites (3 of which also happened to make our Best Bars in Gold Coast Part 2 list.) See one we missed? Let us know your favorite spots in the comments!

Blue Agave

You can never go wrong with a margarita (frozen or on the rocks, we don’t judge) and chips and salsa when it comes to happy hour staples. Blue Agave is the spot to cover these creature comforts and take in the pulse of the Rush Street scene patio-side.

Del Frisco’s

No matter if you’re in the mood for snacks or steaks, Del Frisco’s is quite the hidden gem. In addition to the 3 floors it occupies of the historic Esquire Theater, Del Frisco’s boasts a fabulous patio/rooftop bar overlooking the luxe boutiques of Oak Street. Add the 1,200+ wine options and you’re set!

Pippin’s

A tried and true Gold Coast watering hole, Pippin’s is somewhere you can go where everybody knows your name… in Chicago. Head to this Rush Street bar of over 40 years for a pint and a great place to people watch.

Freds at Barneys

When it comes to rooftop bars, this hot spot works as both a destination and a stopover – Freds is perched on the top floor of Barneys New York at the crossroads of Oak and Rush. Head upstairs for some respite during your shopping escapades, or meet up with friends for rosé brunch – all with a killer view of Lake Michigan.

Related: in the area and want to swing by? Try us out for free!

Argo Tea Café

While this spot might not fulfill your need to imbibe, it definitely should not be overlooked as far as outdoor hangouts go. A quaint greenhouse-like building nestled in the middle of a small park lets you enjoy the simple things (like nature and freshly brewed tea) in the middle of the concrete jungle.

LuxBar

If you’re in search for the perfect balance of Gold Coast essence and late-night revelry, LuxBar should be your go-to. The street-side patio gives you a front-row view of all the glittering traffic rolling down Rush and Bellevue, while the 2nd floor seats next to the open windows offer a little more of an observation vantage point. LuxBar doesn’t take itself too seriously either – it’s also a great place to catch a game near the bar with a burger.

Drumbar

While most of our list resides on or around the Rush Street area, Drumbar takes you across Michigan Avenue for a different Gold Coast experience. Situated on the rooftop of the Rafaello Hotel, the speakeasy-inspired bar is a great place to stop after a shopping trip or before a night out on the town.

Can’t get enough of the Gold Coast neighborhood (or rooftop bars, in general?!) You can also check out our past Best Bars in Chicago’s Gold Coast installment!

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