Growing up in Chicago has always been an adventure! The city itself offers a wide range of activities, restaurants, bars, nightclubs, cafes, shops, boutiques, and last but least, the lake! If you ask a Chicago native what the best time of the year would be to visit, almost 99% would say in the summer and early fall. So for anybody that’s planning to visit the windy City that’s a tourist, traveler, artist, student, tour manager, or agent, these are some of my go-to picks for you to check out!
Chicago’s best hotels
First and foremost I’d start out with the hotel stay. My two favorite hotels are situated in the restaurant/bar-friendly neighborhood of the west loop.
The first, Ace Hotel, is uniquely situated and offers a rooftop bar, restaurant, coffee shop, swanky rooms, and most importantly, it is dog friendly!
The second, Hoxton Hotel, which isn’t too far from the Ace Hotel, offers similar amenities like a rooftop bar/restaurant, coffee shop, a hotel lobby bar, a second restaurant, a rooftop pool, and a speakeasy cocktail bar if you’re looking to escape a big crowd.
Chicago’s best restaurants, according to Daniel Dejman
Now if you’re like me, the first thing you look out for when you’re visiting a new city is, where you’re going to eat! My favorite food is tacos & pizza, so I thought I’d share more than one spot that I venture often in this Chicago Electronic Music Travel Guide.
Favourite taco spots in Chicago
Allende’s in Lincoln Park which I’ve been going since college! My usual order is a Torta, along with the house chips & salsa. Although recently my girlfriend, who’s a taco lover herself, introduced me to their Al Pastor tacos, and they’re mouth-watering!
Los Comales in Pilsen also a favorite has been discovered a couple of years ago. Along with their house-made chips & salsa, I usually go with their Cecina Steak tacos! Simple and gratifying!
Cafe El Tapitio a family-owned restaurant just west of Lakeview/Wrigleyville. I’ve been going for years, and everything on their menu is worth a try! On top of their great food, they have great cocktails as well! So be prepared to spend a bit more time than you would at a fast-food taco joint!
Favourite pizza spots in Chicago
One of Chicago’s greatest gifts to its people, and one of the reasons why I appreciate this city!
Pequods are known for their deep-dish pizza, but also, you can’t go wrong with their thin crust!
Galluci’s – You go there if you’re in the mood for a traditional Neapolitan pizza! Along with their pizzas, the rest of the menu is just straight fire! The apps and pasta are also a good choice in case you’re sharing a pizza!
Pizza Bella – In the northwest suburbs, offers a variety of different pizzas to choose from! All of which I’ve had the pleasure of trying and definitely recommend it if you have the time to get out of the city for a couple of hours and explore! My recommendation would be there Thin Crust or the Detroit style!
Where to get the best sandwiches in Chicago
If you’re looking for a quick and easy lunch, you can never go wrong with a sandwich from a traditional Italian deli! So I present you my favourites in this Chicago Electronic Music Travel Guide by Daniel Dejman.
Tempesta – On top of their selection of delicious sandwiches, they produce their own meats, what more can you ask for from an Italian deli! Their gelato is a must, definitely go with the pistachio! Last, if you’re in town on the weekends, you can always catch a special!
JP Graziano – Been around for ages and their subs have yet to disappoint! Always fresh, consistent, and appetizing!
Where to find the best sushi restaurants in Chicago
I only have one sushi place that I always venture off to when I’m craving some Japanese cuisine, and that is Arami!
Arami is located in west town, offers a cozy, yet hip ambiance. Sushi is always on point, and they have a great Saki selection! Nice date spot or a solo dinner at the bar!
The best burger in Chicago
When I think of burgers, one place comes to mind, and it’s Small Cheval!
Small Cheval: Great burgers, great fries, and quick service! What more can you ask for! A friendly fyi, their burgers come with two patties, so if you’re like me, and can only do a single pattie, you can order a ‘kids burger’ and get the same size burger with one pattie!
Best fries in Chicago! Shhhhh!
By far the best fries I’ve had, and I’ve had my fair share of fries all across the globe!
Susie’s – Located on the Northwest side of Chicago, about 10-15 min from the loop, with no traffic! It is a walk-up/drive-up fast food joint! Cash only! Start out with the fries and add on from that! I usually go with their pizza puff!
Chicago with a view: the best patios in town
Summertime in the Chi means patios & rooftops! Make sure you make a reservation in advance and don’t forget your Aviators!
Paradise Park – Located in the heart of Wicker Park, it offers the best of both worlds! A patio that’s made for an influencers wet dream, and a dope rooftop that overlooks North ave! Along with their cool decor, their pizza is great always well! And if you’re into spicy food, try their Jalapeño Homies from their apps!
Daniel’s favourite chicken wings in Chicago
If you’re in the mood for wings, then you will have to head north from Navy Pier to a town called Evanston!
Buffalo Joes – Voted best wings, and they have proof on their walls when you walk in! They make their own sauce, and you must get their waffle fries to go along! Prepare to use an abundance of napkins, and possibly tums if you get your wings extra hot! Lol
Chicago’s best donuts
My fav donut shop in the city! Located in River north.
Firecakes – I love peanut butter, so I always go with their Peanut Butter Cup donut! Honestly, all their donuts are a good size, and tasty! If you have room for dessert after a meal, definitely worth the trip for a quick donut!
Daniel Dejmans recommendations for sightseeing & leisure in Chicago
Regardless of where you are in the city, you can always head up to the lake if you’re in the mood for the beach, a walk, a bike ride, or any water activities the city has to offer!
Chicago’s Lake Michigan – You have multiple different ways of getting to the lake! With that being said, you have a long stretch of paths that allow you to walk, ride a bike, skate, or even go for a run. The views are amazing and parts of the lake even offer bars, restaurants, and cafes!
The Chicago River Walk – If you want to jump on a short boat cruise around Chicago or take a leisure walk along the river, you can get the best of both worlds! The river walk also offers cool bars, restaurants, coffee shops, and water activities!
Chicago’s best record store
If you’re a DJ and or vinyl addict, like myself, there’s only one place I would say recommend!
Gramaphone Records – They’ve been around since the ’60s before I was even born! The place has a lot of history in its crates and it speaks for itself! It’s a stop that most DJs make when they’re in town to dig through the crates and snag whatever white label is around! When you walk in, you always hear some dope tunes being played on the house speakers, and anyone in the store keeps to themselves! You feel a sense of history when you’re inside and digging through the crates because there have been some world-renowned DJs that have walk through there!
Chicago’s nightlife: the best electronic music clubs
Two of Chicago’s longest-running nightclubs have always delivered when it comes to music and the underground. The amazing thing about these two clubs is that anything goes! No judgment, just music! So here I present you two favourites in this Chicago Electronic Music Travel Guide by Daniel Dejman.
Smart Bar – Longest running nightclub in Chicago, and the current home of House music! My fav part about Smart Bar is that there is no table service offered in the club. You go there to listen to some good tunes, dance, and enjoy yourself with whoever you’re with! And if you get the craving for a late-night snack, there’s a great burger joint across the street that’s open late!
Spy Bar – Similar to the Smart bar, it’s also located in the basement. The entrance through the alley separates itself from the other clubs in the city as you anticipate the walk-up. Having the pleasure to grace the decks on multiple occasions as well as attend a multitude of events on a weekly basis, Spy Bar has always been a stop for many touring DJs when they hit the states!
Are you looking for more electronic music travel guides for the States? Check out our New York City travel guides, check out the San Francisco guide by Ardalan, or tune in to our podcast interview with Bob Moses about Los Angeles.