While great food is of the utmost importance, a beautiful design is also integral to a restaurant’s experience. 2018 saw a slew of big openings but the following spots stood out from the pack with their bold and stunning interiors. Whether it was an Asian-themed clubsteraunt or a lush and airy space that channeled the spirit of the Mediterranean, diners enjoyed a side of eye candy with every meal. So before the calendar turns to the new year, take a look back at some of the prettiest openings of the past 12 months.Read More
The Most Beautiful Chicago Restaurants of 2018
Where stunning design steals the spotlight
1. Chicago Magic Lounge
Magic took center stage in 2018 at this new entertainment venue. The building’s main attraction is a 120-seat theater with cabaret-style seating, where folks can watch live acts nightly. Other highlights include a faux laundromat, a private performance gallery, an Art Deco-inspired bar, and a library filled with magic memorabilia.
2. Tied House
The owners of Schubas Tavern added a gorgeous new restaurant next to the beloved music venue this past year. Designed by Gensler Chicago, the contemporary interior features expansive windows, shelves lined with trinkets, copper accents, and a white marble bar. There’s also a courtyard patio equipped with a large fireplace so that guests can enjoy chef Debbie Gold’s new American fare outside when the weather permits.
3. BiXi Beer
Bo Fowler’s (Owen and Engine) long-awaited brewpub brought creative Asian flavors and a welcome rooftop patio to Logan Square. The sleek dining area boasts hanging glass lights and a mural from comic book artist Eduardo Risso, while a skylight provides natural lighting for the second-floor bar and a living plant wall. The rooftop, one of the neighborhood’s firsts, lets guests feel the breeze as they sip house brews made with Asian ingredients and chow on Chicago beef baos, belt noodles, and more.
4. Z Bar
Luxury and decadence are on full display at the Peninsula Chicago’s new terrace lounge. Visitors will feel like high rollers as they’re surrounded by floor-to-ceiling windows, huge skylights, hand-painted murals, and other lavish furnishings. Outside, comfy couches and unobstructed views of the Mag Mile beckon folks to stay a while as they try globally-inspired drinks, such as a Manhattan made with 18-year-old Elijah Craig bourbon and black truffle bitters.
5. TAO Chicago
The city’s nightlife scene received a big boost when the Chicago outpost of TAO arrived this past fall. The glitzy Asian-themed celebrity hangout took up residence inside a historic River North building and turned it into a visual spectacle. The sprawling 34,000-square-foot space spans multiple floors and is decked with Asian décor from top to bottom. It includes a 16-foot Quan Yin statue, lanterns, 100-year-old Chinese doors, a 10-foot bell, lofty brick walls, and more. On the food side, the menu is a mixture of cuisines with items like sushi, dim sum, and Peking duck.
With so many quality steakhouses in Chicago, it was easy to overlook this swanky opening inside Found Chicago Hotel. Mason — a project from Los Angeles’ H.Wood Group — exemplifies classic upscale dining. Touches like leather seats, antique lighting, framed portraits, and a stylish marble bar make it an ideal candidate for places to celebrate a special occasion or have an intimate date night. The menu is similarly old school, offering oysters Rockefeller, Dover sole, and USDA Prime beef.
Lettuce Entertain You Enterprises’ airy Mediterranean restaurant expands the Melman empire to Fulton Market. Located three floors above street level, Aba’s rooftop deck offers prime views of the city in a relaxing atmosphere. The space stays bright and alluring during the winter season thanks to skylights, lush greenery, lots of comfortable seating, and heated igloos on the patio. CJ Jacobson complements the experience with a variety of hummus, spreads, raw fish, kebabs, and more.
There’s no dearth of beautiful places in Boka Restaurant Group’s portfolio but this stunning newcomer may be the crown jewel. The company, along with Studio K, transformed the former Embeya space into a French-style manor, complete with brass chandeliers, wooden columns, vintage mirrors, and even wrought iron bird cages. It’s the perfect setting to savor Jimmy Papadopoulos’s elegant bites, such as an oyster pie topped with Osetra caviar.