Colder weather calls for cozy get togethers. If there’s one thing Chicago knows how to do well (other than take advantage of summer), it’s survive winter and the colder months. We’re a social city! We like going out for brunch and meeting friends for a cocktail after work. Five months of bitter cold won’t keep us hibernating...well, not the entire time at least. We can appreciate a good occasional hibernation. For those colder months when the tips of your fingers start to turn blue and your nose goes numb, the cozier spot to meet up, the better. Cozy, by definition, means “enjoying or affording warmth and ease.” In my words, that translates to a fireplace, casual and/or comfortable seating arrangements like couches or comfy chairs, and a warm drink with alcohol optional. There is no shortage of places around the city that offer a comfortable coziness in the darker months. To kick off the season, we’ve put together a few of our recommendations.
Brew Brew Coffee & Tea - Avondale (3832 West Diversey)
Not really in any particular neighborhood, Brew Brew is outside of the Belmont Gardens, Logan Square, Avondale and Hermosa neighborhoods on the northwest side of Chicago. This neighborhood coffee shop is without question a local favorite serving up great brews both for coffee addicts and more mild-tempered tea drinkers. They have a second location in Pilsen that I have yet to visit but this particular location is quaint and cozy in its own right. A sofa and comfy chairs in the back surround a coffee tables and they put up a Christmas tree during the holiday season which instantly won me over. Brew Brew attracts real tea and coffee people. They serve top notch drinks and the coffee even comes from local business, Passion House Coffee Roasters. Honestly, I wish Brew Brew wasn’t so far out because it would be one of my favorite places to visit for regular work sessions.
Cafe Integral + The Broken Shaker in The Freehand - River North (19 East Ohio)
This is kind of a two-in-one recommendation. The Freehand Hotel on Ohio is the home of this bohemian-style lounge area that includes both Cafe Integral and The Broken Shaker. Towards the front of the space is Cafe Integral which serves up Nicaraguan coffee, local tea, cocktails, and easy bites like salads, sandwiches and a few breakfast items. A little farther back is The Broken Shaker which opens later in the day. They’re known for international flavors and interesting, creative cocktails using a combination of elixirs, syrups, and infusions, as well as upgraded bar food. No tenders and fries here! Their food menu features things like Goat Cheese Fondue and Popcorn Panna Cotta. The best part about these two spaces is the vibe. It’s not a classic bar or coffee shop. The space is filled with a bunch of furniture that does not belong together but somehow works. There are a few tables with chairs but the overall space has this bohemian-hipster vibe that is not in any way pretentious but oddly comforting. The space is fluid so you could say that Cafe Integral runs into The Broken Shaker. It’s a really neat space.
Colectivo Coffee - Lincoln Park (2530 North Clark)
Sitting outside in cold weather might not sound cozy but when there’s large bonfire to gather around and an infinite number of hot beverages available, it counts. Colectivo Coffee is one of the more unique coffee shops around Chicago. During the warmer months, the majority of seating is 100% outside and half of that is protected by a roof so that rain is not an enemy. During the colder months, the part of the patio that has coverage is enclosed. 365 days a year, the part of the patio completed outside boasts fire pits for people to gather around (except for the rainy days because...duh). It’s a great spot to bundle up, grab a cup of hot chocolate or your favorite espresso drink, and gather with friends to catch up on each other’s lives.
Heavy Feather - Logan Square (2357 North Milwaukee)
For those who love craft cocktails and are serious about spirits, Heavy Feather is the spot for you. This 70s inspired bar is a trip back in time to a previous decade. The rich brown hues of the countertops and masculine style of the leather booths are straight out of a Mad Men episode. I would half expect Don Draper to walk in at any moment. This second floor bar provides an undeniably unique experience and while there’s no food, it’s the perfect spot for a pre-dinner cocktail or nitecap afterwards. Maybe both?
Hubbard Inn - River North (110 West Hubbard)
In the heart of River North, Hubbard Inn is an escape from the cold in an area where parking is a nightmare and traffic is even worse. Chances are you walked to Hubbard Inn from wherever you came from and are in desperate need of a stiff drink and comforting appetizer. Hubbard inn has always been one of my favorite spots in the area and even served as my birthday restaurant one year. They serve European style shared plates and are known for craft cocktails with a vintage twist. They’re also a great spot for brunch which is still a very popular thing regardless of how cold it is outside. Take the girls to Hubbard Inn on Wednesdays for ladies’ night where they do a weekly Louis Vuitton giveaway (yes, a legit LV bag!). Enjoy happy hour Mondays through Fridays starting at 4pm and embrace the weekend with a bottomless brunch on Saturdays and Sundays.
LH on 21 - The Loop (85 East Wacker Drive)
Londonhouse has arguably one of the best views of Chicago from their rooftop especially, but the Bridges lounge in the lobby has particularly amazing views as well. We’re not here to talk about those though...today is all about LH on 21, the restaurant on the 21st floor of Londonhouse. Sophisticated and sleek, this restaurant is still somehow a cozy, comfy spot to spend a lunch hour or dinner. The design is mid-century meets contemporary but there’s a subtle touch of luxury to make it stand out. This is a place where you plan to have one glass of wine and end up staying for hours. If a restaurant draws me in that much, it can be considered as a cozy spot around Chicago. It’s a great spot for a first date for any of you ladies looking for your real life Mr. Big.