Making top ten lists is never easy, especially when food is involved. The bars I frequented in Chicago ranged from hip brewpubs to German comfort food. It's all a delicate balance, plugged into a very unofficial, highly subjective formula. But when I return to Chicago, if I were to go back to ten bars, it would be these.
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Don't let anyone fool you: choosing the perfect place to take an out of town guest requires planning. It may sound easy, but you're looking for something more than just an excellent meal. While the restaurant has to serve knockout food (that's a given), it simultaneously has to showcase something unique about the city.
The wonderful, Belgian-inspired menu, features mussels, frites, and an aioli that offers free self-improvement seminars to other aiolis.
The Duck Reuben at Hopleaf is an upscale, playful take on the classic, kind of like a vintage two-flat getting the granite countertop makeover.