Once in a lifetime

The Essential Food and Drinks Tour of Chicago

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Although Chicago may not have all of the chic, city-slick attitude of New York or the quintessentially cool vibe of Los Angeles, there is one thing that Chicago does better than all the rest – food. Visitors to the city may be familiar with the pizza or hot dogs, but the best grub that Chicago has to offer is the imaginative, fresh cuisine that pours from the city's best fine-dining restaurants and tapas bars. In addition to great food, Chicago also offers unparalleled unique wines and beers at specialized bars that can cure even the most fervent foodie's addiction. So if you have had enough of architecture tours and baseball parks, then take some time off to enjoy the cuisine scene of Chicago.

Fine dining restaurants always conjure up a fearsome image of an immense stretch of forks and knives and crystal goblets, but many of the best restauranteurs know how to do it differently. For example, the geniuses behind Tru and Everest have created fantastic French-fusion menus that flow seamlessly from the modern to the classic. The service is impeccable, the plating gorgeous and the wine lists will change your world. NoMi, the world-class establishment located in the upper floors of the Hyatt on Michigan Avenue, makes homemade new American dishes with a little bit of European flair in addition to offering beautiful views of downtown Chi-town. Last but not least, make a reservation at Alinea for the final word in innovative foods. At any of these restaurants, you don't even have to make a choice for dinner, just sit back and allow the amazing staff to bring delectable dishes to your table.

The first time that I visited Chicago, I was completely blown away by the wine lists that even the blandest restaurants have. After all, who would have that the Midwest would have a great appreciation for fine wines? But boy do they ever. Chicagoans don't just limit their palates to wines however. Beers and cocktails are also held in high regard and many bars specialize in creative pairings. For wine bars, hit up avec, Rootstock and the Purple Pig. Every one of these has a selection of wine that is breathtaking in both the spectrum and versatility. They also don't mess around when it comes to their menus with new items that cater to every taste. Hopleaf Bar has a crazy selection of both tap and bottled beers while Goose Island Brewing allows tours of their brewery. For cocktails, try the Aviary, an amazing lounge that combines the best from the minds of Alinea and Next.

Finally, this list wouldn't be complete without attempting to answer that most difficult question: who has the best pizza in the city? Everyone disagrees and many have tried to give a definitive answer, but it's sadly impossible. There are just too many great pizzerias. The ones that have my vote are Pat's on Lincoln, Pequod's Pizzeria and Lou Malnati's, but visitors will have to make up their own minds. For all that Chicago has to offer, this list just barely scrapes the surface, but touring the food of the city is an essential part of any visit.

Written by the Marketing Department for car accident lawyer, Paul E. Lee

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