Toasty toes and hot toddies
February 4, 2008 8:54 AM   Subscribe

Where's the best place in Chicago to sit in front of a nice fire and sip drinks?

Boy and I are planning a weekend in Chicago next month where we'll play at being tourists and do all the stuff we never get to do when visiting friends and family. We'll try to get a nice hotel through Priceline and stay somewhere near either Water Tower Place or Grant Park. I'll be combing the other Chicago threads for fun things to do, but one thing that I didn't find that would be especially nice is where to go if we want to sit in front of a warm fire. This could include hotels/B&Bs with fireplaces in the rooms, restaurants, bars, hotel lobbies, whatever. Where would you go in Chicago if you wanted to toast your toes and relax with a drink? The only event we have planned so far is the Magnetic Fields show at the Old Town School of Folk Music on the 15th, and we're willing to go anywhere in town, although accessible by El is better.
posted by MsMolly to Travel & Transportation around Chicago, IL (12 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
There are some good but ridiculously overpriced hotel lobby bars/restaurants right in that area that have fireplaces and are generally cozy, including Aria on 200 N Columbus -- you can just have drinks there and not do the whole sushi bar thing -- and the Swissotel, which has fireplaces and a bar in the lobby.
Another place you might check is the Drake, which I've heard has a nice afternoon tea. Not sure if there are fireplaces, but it's possible.
All of those websites play music when you visit, so be warned.

If expensive and possibly stuffy isn't your thing, check this Chicago Metromix site: Fireplace Bars. Plenty of those are accessible by the El and at least one is in that Water Tower/Grant Park/Streeterville area, D4 Irish Pub and Cafe.
posted by k8lin at 9:15 AM on February 4, 2008

Missing from k8lin's "Fireplace Bars" link is Moody's Pub.
posted by hydrophonic at 9:43 AM on February 4, 2008

From the "Fireplace Bars" link, I can recommend both the Grafton and the 404 Wine Bar. The Grafton has couches around the fireplace in the back, and they're of course the first seats to get taken, but there are tables and the like around the area where you can still see the fire. Kind of dark bar, but cosy-cavelike. I love their burger and their fish & chips.

404 Wine Bar is literally around the corner from me - it's connected to Jack's, a sports-type bar, so you have your choice of atmosphere (though the fireplace is only in the Wine Bar portion). The 404 is pretty chill, and you can order food from either the wine bar menu or from Jack's, so there's a decent selection. The chicken pot pie is huge and tasty.
posted by bibbit at 10:45 AM on February 4, 2008

Seconding Moody's Pub.

They make a great burger, too.
posted by Windigo at 10:45 AM on February 4, 2008

Uncommon Ground has a fireplace and some yummy food and drinks. But The Grafton is literally like two doors down from Old Town School ...
posted by pfafflin at 11:55 AM on February 4, 2008

Am I misremembering, or is there a fireplace at The Violet Hour? The Violet Hour sounds like it would be horrible and pretentious, but I actually found it pretty awesome. It's quiet and comfy, and the cocktails are delicious. Be forewarned, though, that there's no sign, so you should make sure you know exactly where it is before you go there.
posted by craichead at 12:33 PM on February 4, 2008

I didn't think The Violet Hour had a fireplace, but just ran across a review mentioning one, so I guess it does; was warm weather when I was last in. It's a pleasant place, and if you want to actually sit and talk to the people you're out with, it'd be a good choice. Plus the classic cocktails are interesting, and actually good, as well as the nibbles. A little pricey, but as an occasional "something a little nicer" totally worth it. It isn't hard to find, but do have the address at hand so you'll be able to tell where it should be. It's not obscured or hidden or anything, just unmarked.

The Hopleaf has an enormous beer selection(you didn't define drinks), and what looks like an impressive booze rail also, which I don't generally bother with. There's a fireplace in the back room.

Wilde(from the Fireplace bars link) was a big letdown. The decor was interesting, going for a sort of fusty sitting room/library look, but then had giant plasma screens at each corner and loud house music playing, made even worse by the crowd yelling to get above it in a large open room. The drink selection(beer and booze) seemed standard and the food was unimpressive.
posted by Su at 12:58 PM on February 4, 2008

Seconding Hopleaf -- I couldn't remember if it had a fireplace or not. The fries are great there if you're looking for food, and I hear the mussels are excellent as well. It can get pretty crowded, though. It's in a cute area of town, too.
posted by k8lin at 4:38 PM on February 4, 2008

John Barleycorn fits the bill and is really nice on a cold day; recommend the original one on Lincoln Ave. (Caution: link has music.) I've never been in any of the other ones. Caribou Coffee shops are somewhat lacking in unique ambience, but always have a nice fire going.
posted by nax at 5:32 PM on February 4, 2008

I haven't been there in years, but Sheffield's used to have a fireplace toward the back, and they're a couple of blocks off the Belmont Red Line stop. Nthing Hopleaf as well - I don't remember a fireplace either, but I was last there in summer. I do remember that it had a pretty fun vibe, and the mussels and Belgian beers were very good.
posted by herichon at 12:52 AM on February 5, 2008

One note of caution against Priceline-- my experience is that they guarantee you a room, not necessarily a non-smoking room. If that's a problem, you might try hotwire instead. I had a wonderful stay at the Allerton on Michigan Avenue, and good AAA rates can be found sometimes by calling them ($99 a night last summer!).

One nice place to eat by "sort-of a fire" is Bandera. It's on Michigan Avenue just north of the Tribune building. It's on the second floor by a fur store and you can get a table by the window overlooking Mich Ave and hear live music nightly. Food is comfort-food style and surprisingly reasonable. The role of "sort-of fire" is played by the numerous rotisserie chickens twirling by the entrance.
posted by orangemiles at 7:33 AM on February 5, 2008

Response by poster: These are fantastic everybody! Thanks so much. For future reference I'll add a couple I found during my own research into places with good whisky, which is another thing I'm looking for.

Duke of Perth

Looks like the Duke of Perth might have a fireplace, while Delilah's does not, so I think we'll give that a try, as the combo of whisky and a warm fire would be hard to beat.
posted by MsMolly at 1:28 PM on February 15, 2008

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