When you’re planning a trip to a new city, our best advice is to ask a local. So for our City Guides, we went to the source — our roasters. We’re turning to the people who know (and love) their cities best for a tour of the unexpected, hidden-gem, must-see stops from the locals who live there.

Next stop, Chicago. Home of the Field Museum, Lincoln Park Zoo, The Magnificent Mile, the Museum of Science and Industry, and Metric Coffee. The Windy City plays an important role for this local roaster. “Coffee is handled for over six years at origin with producers before it is handed to us and ultimately to you, the drinker,” Metric tells us.

“That’s special. Here in Chicago, we want to act as the mouthpiece for these farmers and share what goes into producing radiant coffees. We love educating and telling the stories, because we are proud.”

Metric certainly holds up their end of that promise, “We make connections throughout Chicagoland and learn from our various partners in an array of different environments. The experience is enriching and inspires us to be curious and caring. We couldn’t do it without you, Chicago!”

While Metric has you covered on coffee, Educator Casey Chartier is happy to let you in on all the other food, drink, and fun this city has to offer. Check out this local’s guide on what to do in Chicago; filled with all the farm-to-table restaurants, retro cocktails, best views of Lake Michigan, and honky-tonk (you read that right!) you can hope to enjoy on your next visit.

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Lonesome Rose
2101 North California Avenue
Chicago, Illinois 60647
Open daily 9:00 am

This Tex-Mex gem brimming with lush plants is right in the heart of Logan Square. Come here for a delicious Paloma and the queso blanco (you’re gonna want to add the black beans, trust me). This restaurant hosts weekly specials like their $2 Taco Tuesday and Thursday Night $1 Hamms.

Needing something more intimate? Visit Golden Teardrops, their dimly-lit downstairs cocktail bar that features karaoke and spirits a-plenty. 

All Together Now
2119 West Chicago Avenue
Chicago, Illinois 60622
Open daily 10:00 am

If you need to grab a bottle of wine after your workday, you might as well get fed, too. All Together Now is your provider of vino and tasty provisions, perfect for date night or charcuterie with friends. The market has a healthy selection of wine in case you fall in love with your glass! 

The Victor Bar
4011 North Damen Avenue
Chicago, Illinois 60618
Open daily 5:00 pm

I’m lucky to live next to my favorite cocktail spot. Parisian-inspired Victor Bar opens at 5:00 pm to serve its patrons their signature cocktails like the On The Grass (my go-to); a celery, lime, gin, and aquavit treat. The setting is intimate and cozy, like a candle-lit library. 

Lula Cafe
2537 North Kedzie Boulevard
Chicago, Illinois 60647
Open Wednesday to Monday 9:00 am

Lula is an honored purveyor of farm-to-table eating and has been filling stomachs since 1999. The menu is apt for a table-sharing kind of night and even offers a farm dinner on Monday nights if you’re looking for a hand-picked meal. 

Timber Lanes Bowling Alley
1851 West Irving Park Road
Chicago, Illinois 60613
Open Monday to Friday 11:00 am; Open Saturday 9:00 am; Open Sunday 10:00 am

Break out your pencil and bowling shoes! Timber Lanes is a quintessential Chicago ally where you score with a paper and pen (shocking!) and pick your ball from a wood-veneered locker room. Charm oozes from the lacquered lanes and embroidered bowling shirts donned by the bartenders. This is also your spot to play Crazy Taxi. 

Estereo
2450 North Milwaukee Avenue
Chicago, Illinois 60647
Open daily 12:00 pm

Estereo radiates warm and intoxicating energy, even in the pits of Chicago winter. The space is charismatic and features an angular bar and small cocktail menu with beers to boot.

My favorite thing about Estereo is the music: their record player spins groovy Latin music that ranges from bossanova to disco fusion. Perfect for the summer. Get the Mezcal cocktail. 

Carol’s Pub
4659 North Clark Street
Chicago, Illinois 60640
Open Tuesday to Thursday 4:00 pm; Open Friday 4:00 pm; Open Saturday to Sunday 12:00 pm

If you need your honky-tonk watering hole, look no further than Carol’s Pub. Every time I’ve been to Carol’s I’ve been blown away by the bluegrass bands. There’s stained-glass lamps modeled after beer, fried pickles, line-dancing, and portraits of Willie Nelson, Dolly Parton, among other country greats. This is where you have a fun night. 

Garfield Park Conservatory
300 North Central Park Avenue
Chicago, Illinois 60624
Open daily 9:00 am

If we Chicagoans didn’t have the Garfield Park Conservatory, I guarantee half of us would leave during the winter. This luscious greenhouse is a tonic for the bitter cold and sunless seasons.

It’s easy to forget you are in one of the biggest cities in America when you find yourself wandering this botanical paradise. If you miss the feeling of warmth and humid air on your skin, hop off the Conservatory stop on the green line and take your jacket off inside. 

Foster Beach
West Foster Avenue
Chicago, Illinois 60640
Open daily 11:00 am

Being a New Jersey native, I require easy access to a large body of water in the summer (we call it the shore). Lake Michigan has provided me with so much comfort since moving here.

Foster Beach is one of the most beautiful places, especially at sunset when the sky becomes mosaic. There’s music booming, children playing, and everyone is happy. I always feel magical by Lake Michigan and even more so when I share it with other Chicagoans. 

— Casey Chartier, Educator at Metric Coffee

About the Author: Casey has been with Metric since 2019 and takes care of teaching Chicago all about coffee. In tandem with training Metric wholesale customers, Casey also runs classes at the Fulton Roastery and Cafe. She enjoys ’80s music, crocheting, and veggie benedicts for breakfast. She is a coffee professional based in Chicago.

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