I moved from a small college town in Mississippi to Chicago less than a year ago, in the middle of summer. And I've been in love since. There's so much more to see and so many more meals to eat. Here are some places that I am especially fond of, in no particular order.
Another coffee shop from the minds behind Sawada (Hogsalt), C.C. Ferns is a small little space full of leather armchairs and comfy couches. Post up here for a few hours when it's cold, get some work done, and enjoy a latte. They also sell cigars, which plays to their aesthetic perfectly.
I love this coffee shop not only because of it's chill vibes and great lattes, but also because it's less than a block from my apartment. Stop by in the summer to chill on the patio, or sit in the window and watch the snow fall. Be sure to try the bacon, cheddar, and chive scone.
Gaslight Coffee Roasters
Another one of my favorite spots for coffee, this Logan Square joint is in close proximity to a lot of great stuff. Their lattes are excellent, but be sure to check out the surprisingly great food menu. Spend a morning here and then head next door to Estereo for a mid-afternoon cocktail.
Another great coffee shop on Division. Purple Llama is a coffee shop and record store (of course) that makes probably one of the best cups in the city. These folks are really into coffee. Small space, patio when it's warm, a little out of the way. Come get a flight of coffee from a variety of rotating roasters, some delicious toast and jam, and chill for an afternoon.
Bangers & Lace
I may be biased because I live right next door, but Bangers & Lace is easily in my top 3 bars in Chicago. They have an excellent, ever-changing beer selection in addition house made sausage. Plus, the hunting lodge vibes are excellent.
I am a sucker for a great tiki bar, and my favorite is Lost Lake in Logan Square. Paul McGee's drink game is strong, and it shines in a Polynesian setting. Expect a crowd, but also expect to eat some great Asian-island bar snacks from the new food menu.
Maria's Packaged Goods and Community Bar
Also one of my favorite bars in the city, Maria's is an odd bird. You enter a liquor store, but if you walk through to the back you'll be greeted by an excellent bar serving a huge selection of beer (including exclusive brews by Marz) and some excellent cocktails. Be sure to order some food from Kimski, the Polish/Korean counter service restaurant connected to Maria's.
Marz Community Taproom and Kitchen
Marz is not only my favorite Chicago brewery, but is also one of the most well designed businesses in the city (they partner with the excellent Franklyn design firm for a lot of their stuff). Located in the eclectic Bridgeport neightborhood, the newly opened taproom is as beautiful as the beer is tasty. Spend an afternoon here drinking their beer and tasting the equally excellent grub.
Bang Bang Pie and Biscuits
The best biscuits in the city, and some pretty great pie as well. Sit out on the patio when it's warm have the biscuit and gravy with a cup of coffee. You will be stuffed afterwards, but you will be happy. Chocolate pecan pie is my favorite. Staff is ridiculously friendly.
That patio tho. Another place I am lucky to live near, Big Star is a whiskey/beer/taco joint serving amazing food in an even better atmosphere. Come here when the weather is warm, get a spot on the patio, and stay for a few hours.
A family-run, tiny joint in Logan Square serving up authentic tex-mex for cheap. Get the tacos and a cold beer, and expect big portions.
High Five Ramen
Yet another place on this list at 112 N Green. High Five Ramen seats 16, and is located in the basement of Green Street Smoked Meats (where Sawada Cofee lives as well). Go early, there will be a wait. The ramen is painfully spicy, so make sure to order a boozy slushie to cool off.
We don't deserve to have Kimski. It's too pure for this world. Especially since it is connected to one of Chicago's best bars, Maria's (see above). Kimski blends Korean and Polish influences together to create some of the best food in the city. And they are always mixing up their menu with new specials (hello pizza puff burger). Eat here as often as you can.