perks for your palate.
Steak tartare from Circa 1880
Will drive for food—6 places worth hitting the road for
Milwaukee might seem like a long way to drive for dinner, but after you’ve tasted the food at Circa 1880, your doubts will vanish. Their black cod with Romanesco sauce will put you back in the drivers seat again and again, while their take on steak tartare—made with onion marmalade and, of all things, peanuts—makes all others pale by comparison.
Where: 1100 S. 1st St., Milwaukee WI 53204
Paul Virant has been serving up local, seasonal high-end food at Vie for over a decade now, but if you’re looking for a more affordable option, head to his new family-friendly bistro in Hinsdale. The ethic is still all about local food, but the menu here is a bit more approachable—think cheese curds, fried dill pickles, and a dry-aged burger with pimento cheese.
Where: 112 S. Washington St., Hinsdale, IL 60521
Bob Chinn’s Crab House
Some food smarties may scoff at the idea of going to this suburban seafood joint, which is one of the highest-volume restaurants in the country. But the joke is on them, since despite the quantities of food coming out of the kitchen, some of the best crab, lobster, and shrimp dishes around can be found there. Wash it all down with a signature Mai Tai.
Where: 393 S. Milwaukee Ave., Wheeling, IL 60090
Found Kitchen and Social House
Evanston is in the midst of a restaurant renaissance, and Found is the leader of the pack. Helmed by chef Nicole Pederson, and owned by Amy Morton, Found’s funky, antique-filled décor and progressive farm-to-table cuisine has won accolades from every critic in town. Don’t skip the Indiana-raised shrimp with quinoa and fennel.
Where: 1631 Chicago Ave., Evanston, IL 60201
You’ll find plenty of good food in Harbor Country over in Michigan, but without a doubt the best cocktails in the area are at Journeyman. The distillery’s spirits are readily available in Chicago-area liquor stores, but if you want to see how the whiskey is made, while knocking back a few craft libations and downing some delicious snacks, this is a must-visit. The food, which comes out of a tiny closet of a kitchen, is surprisingly great—the pickle and charcuterie platter is almost worth the drive by itself.
Where: 109 Generation Dr., Three Oaks, MI 49128
The Tiki Terrace
The Tiki craze is sweeping Chicago, with new spots like Three Dots and a Dash and Lost Lake at the forefront. But tiki never actually died in Chicagoland, and if you want a touch of authentic Polynesian antiquity, head to the Tiki Terrace in Des Plaines. The cocktails here aren’t quite as fancy, but you can’t beat the thatched-roof atmosphere. If you make it on Friday or Saturday, be sure to stay for the floor show—even Three Dots doesn’t have hula dancers.
Where: 1591 Lee St., Des Plaines, IL 60018