By RedEye staff
July 24, 2012
Some of River North’s hottest restaurants have their own alter-ego bars hidden away just upstairs or downstairs.
Mercadito & Double A
108 W. Kinzie St. 312-329-9555
This Mexican-inspired hot spot draws dinner crowds to graze on orders of guac and tacos (think pork belly, battered mahi mahi or spicy shrimp) served on housemade tortillas. For a more intimate vibe, head downstairs to Double A, a tiny lair of a cocktail lounge where friends cozy up in club-like booths for rounds of drinks.
Pops for Champagne & Watershed
601 N. State St. 312-266-7677
Bubbly bar Pops for Champagne has been a Chicago classic for 30 years now, known for a wide selection of sparkling wines and well-paired bites. Not up for a night of popped corks? Take the stairs in the southeast corner of the room to the more beer- and spirits-focused Watershed, which features a menu of house cocktails showcasing Midwest-made booze.
Hub 51 & Sub 51
51 W. Hubbard St. 312-828-0051
A frequent stop for local and visiting celebs, Hub 51 is a mainstay of the River North restaurant-lounge hybrid scene, and the dinner menu features a little bit of everything: sushi, burgers, sandwiches, salads, seafood and more. Open Thursday through Saturday, basement club Sub 51 appeals to the bottle-service crowd (it’s required for entry) and you can expect plenty of energy from nightly DJ sets.
Paris Club & Studio Paris
59 W. Hubbard St. 312-595-0800
From the same team behind Hub 51 and Sub 51, this French restaurant caters to dinner crowds soaking up wine and updated classics like escargot and croque monsieur fingers. Take a walk upstairs to find Paris Club, an indoor/outdoor lounge with a retractable roof and a tendency to draw big-name guest DJs; a reservation with bottle service is required to guarantee entry.
Gilt Bar & Curio
230 W. Kinzie St. 312-464-9544
The dishes at this restaurant are simple but indulgent, from foie gras mousse on toast for an appetizer to orange pound cake with French buttercream for dessert. Down a flight of stairs, you’ll find Curio, a cash-only basement cocktail lounge that serves 20-plus hand-crafted drinks in a candelit room with a speakeasy-like vibe.
Union Sushi & Barbeque Bar & Up Bar
230 W. Erie St. 312-662-4888
This funky grill-and-sushi bar combo serves grilled meats and veggies called kushiyaki, with choices for both the conservative (scallops, shrimp and shiitakes) and the adventurous (alligator, beef tongue and kangaroo). Overlooking the dining room from above, orange-walled Up Bar serves the same menu as downstairs, including cocktails starring Asian flavors such as yuzu, green tea and lemongrass.
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