This is the best stop in the Loop. Not only is the actual station gorgeous, but it's connected to the best library in the city. Plus, it's close to Printers Row, a section of south Dearborn that, after the great fire, began crawling with prostitutes and criminals. By 1905, it had been cleaned up considerably, and became the epicenter of activity in the booming printing industry. Now it is home to unique bookstores, cafes and restaurants, making it perfect for a weekend excursion.
Best of the nightlife
Businesswear appears the norm at this Italian-American lounge/after-work bar situated in the historic Fisher Building, but you won't feel uncomfortable in something more casual - especially after a few of the "speakeasy's" signature martinis. Visit Thursdays through Saturdays and you'll find a resident DJ spinning house as a projector plays an artistic video-mix. Other nights, lounge music plays, focusing on an Enigma/Dido sound.
Good for groups
This Printer's Row classic has been around for a century, with high, tin ceilings and a solid wood bar that nearly runs the length of the tavern. Blue collars, collegians, loft dwellers and tie-wearing dossier-toters belly up to the battered bar for anything from Peroni to Samuel Smith, while the Golden Tee, Big Ten banners and six televisions appeal to sporties. If there's any doubt about this shot-and-beer bar, read the bold print on the cooler that's stacked with dozens of specialty beers: "Positively no dancing—that's our motto."
This is a pretty standard Italian restaurant. The red and white-checkered tablecloths give off a generic, old-school vibe, but they aren't too garish, as the lighting is kept low. The specialties menu is rather extensive, and nothing seems out of the ordinary, except perhaps the breaded pork cutlet with potatoes. None of these delicacies exceed $10.08. Topped with melted cheese and grilled onions and served on garlic bread, the Deluxe Boni Vino Famous Steak Sandwich Special sounds as heavy as its name, and is perhaps the most enticing menu option.
Where to chill
A Cuban-inspired cafe with tasty pressed sandwiches, coffee and assorted pastries, Cafecito is the place where a person can stop, contemplate the meaning of life or reminisce about things gone by while listening to Cuban jazz, then head back out without a care in the world. Most of the customers are young, possibly visitors from other countries, which is no surprise. Hostelling International Chicago is next door and its inhabitants are no doubt looking for a cheap portable meal, or a place to sit and talk before heading out to explore the city.
It seems fitting (or perhaps ironic) that the home state of Mickey D's may also be the birthplace of the next wave of restaurant trends: the "conscious" fast-food eatery. Epic Burger is the creation of restaurateur David Friedman, who, according to the Epic Burger website, was inspired during a road trip to develop a fast-food restaurant that doesn't skimp on all-natural and locally raised ingredients. The small menu boasts antibiotic-free beef and chicken, fresh-cut french fries prepared in trans fat-free oil and smoothies made with actual fruit. You'd think items with such premium ingredients would come with a high price tag, but Epic Burger is reasonably priced; sandwiches are $5.99, and a burger combo (with fries and a fountain drink) an even $10.
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