Cozy fireplaces bring something a little extra, a little more romantic, to the vibe and ambiance of an urban hang out. At first glance, you'll find yourself sinking a bit deeper into your seat and engaging a smidge more than usual, all due to the red and yellow hues of the fire. And, if it's a crackling, wood-burning, good-smelling fireplace, you might just stay put for hours on end.
With this comfort and aesthetic in mind, we've compiled a stellar list of top places to visit in the city. They offer the type of atmospheres designed to impress while serving up the best in food and drinks. In other words, they bring the heat in more ways than one.
404 Wine Bar
Why It's Hot: One of the most significant date spots in the city, 404 Wine Bar is located in the heart of Lakeview. Its appeal is the global wine list that guests may enjoy by the bottle, glass or flight. The best part of this modern European lounge is in the rear, which showcases the most coveted seats in the house in front of the fireplace. These seats are meant for settling in over a bottle of vino after a show at the nearby Athenaeum Theatre. Food consists of many share-able options ranging from house-made charcuterie to flatbreads.
Additional Details: 2852 N. Southport Ave., 773-404-8402
Nearby Attractions: Athenaeum Theatre
Why It's Hot: Drumbar looks and feels like the type of place that would have gotten plenty of Don Draper action back in the 1960s. It’s located on the 18th floor of the Raffaello Hotel and features a vintage-styled fireplace surrounded by plush leather sofas. While the classic cocktail list is the obvious choice for drinking around these parts, a more progressive menu should pique the interest of those more adventurous. That list is seasonal and experimental with rare ingredients and hard-to-find spirits. Drumbar also boasts an extensive collection of rare finds when it comes to scotch. There's no food on the menu, so guests are encouraged to dine at the first-level Pelago before or after drinks at the rooftop lounge.
Additional Details: 201 E. Delaware St., 312-943-5000
Why It's Hot: New Orleans native Brian Jupiter gleefully puts a chef-driven spin on classic Creole cuisine at Frontier, a Wicker Park favorite and one of the most celebrated New Orleans-inspired restaurants in Chicago. His menu is very wild-game friendly, with such offbeat dishes like pulled boar sandwiches, BBQ rabbit leg and alligator scallopini. The outdoor patio is open year round, with a brick fireplace keeping customers warm. On some occasions, they'll bring out large-screen televisions to watch major football games.
Additional Details: 1072 N. Milwaukee Ave., 773-772-4322
Why It's Hot: Lakeview newcomer Lark is in the heart of Boystown and owned by the same people behind Elixir, Hydrate and Replay Beer & Bourbon. They're all on the same block, in fact, but Lark is the only venue boasting a fireplace. It's the sort of establishment meant for hunkering down with pals, and they encourage it with old-school board games like Connect Four, Jenga, and Scrabble. There's a lot of share-able fare on the menu too, with chili-stuffed potato skins, a variety of pizzas and grilled chicken nachos as highlights. There's also communal seating and multiple televisions tuned into sports.
Additional Details: 3441 N. Halsted St., 773-799-8968
Le Bar at Sofitel Chicago
Why It's Hot: Sofitel Hotel Water Tower remains a favorite among European visitors, and a trip to dazzling lobby lounge Le Bar is almost always on the agenda. An exotic playlist serves as background music as guests nosh on chef-driven small plates paired with French-accented cocktails and other beverages. A cozy, bistro-like fireplace area is at Le Bar's entrance, and it serves as a nice little nook for people watching.
Additional Details: 20 E. Chestnut St., 312-324-4000
RM Champagne Salon
Why It's Hot: Half the fun of RM Champagne Salon is finding it. There’s no signage over the long walkway that leads to the back patio of the city’s second champagne bar. The entrance is also in the rear and leads into a lounge that’s full of reclaimed furniture from several French regions. The crowd is young and trendy, and there is a more expanded cocktail program and plenty of raw oysters, caviar, and artisanal cheese to consume. A fireplace is the center of the intimate room.
Additional Details: 116 N. Green St., 312-243-1199
Nearby Attractions: City Winery
Why It's Hot: Cocktail culture rolls strong in Logan Square and this gin-soaked joint has earned a spot in our nightlife guide. What's especially cool about Scofflaw is that even though its menu is thick and comprehensive with original and classic drinks, there's no pretension to be found. It's also a popular brunch destination, and during winter, seats around the fireplace are some of the most coveted in the neighborhood.
Additional Details: 3201 W. Armitage Ave., 773-252-9700
Why It's Hot: Luxury hotel Thompson Chicago sits directly across the street from such notable hot spots as Gibsons Steakhouse, making it an ideal venue for the business traveler looking to explore the bustling Gold Coast neighborhood. Those looking to avoid the scene will find the lobby fireplace lounge a nice respite. It's adjacent to the award-winning Italian restaurant Nico Osteria, and guests may settle in with craft cocktails before or after dinner.
Additional Details: 21 E. Bellevue Pl., 312-266-2100
Nearby Attractions: 360 Chicago (formerly John Hancock Observatory), 900 North Michigan Shops, Broadway Playhouse, Lookingglass Theatre, Magnificent Mile, Water Tower Place
The Violet Hour
Why It's Hot: It’s been credited with pioneering Chicago’s current mixology scene, and Violet Hour continues to thrive--even on what’s considering “off nights” for most bars. Some of VH’s policies have been widely criticized (no cell phones, 15-minute waits for cocktails, every customer must have a seat), yet there’s a line around the corner to get in almost every night of the week. The staff dresses immaculately, perfects every cocktail and maintains a calm demeanor in the face of even the most agitated customer. The crackling fireplace is in the rear, and you'll need to get there on the early side to snag seats near it.
Additional Details: 1520 N. Damen Ave., 773-252-1500
Wilde Bar & Restaurant
Why It's Hot: Wilde Bar's grand library emits a luxurious, old-world vibe that's perfect for an Irish-themed pub. The space throughout is done up in rich leather and hardwood accents, and while the library is filled with a variety of books, it might be best to bring your own. Of course, the classic shepherd's pie is on the menu, but there are many American and global comfort food favorites on it as well. There are also curried mussels, country chicken pot pie, grilled cheese, and a host of gluten-free and vegetarian dishes.
Additional Details: 3130 N. Broadway, 773-244-0404
Nearby Attractions: Blue Man Group, The Center on Halsted, Chicago Theater Works, Mercury Theater, Oracle Theatre, Theater Wit