If you’re any sort of foodie, you’ve heard of Chicago chef Grant Achatz and his newest venture Next (his restaurant Alinea is one of three Five-Star eateries in Chicago). Rather than choosing a tony Windy City neighborhood for Next, he opted for the Fulton Market district. This gritty but mostly gentrified hood is home to dairy and meatpacking plants, warehouses, art galleries, artist studios and a couple of killer restaurants. In short, it’s a sophisticated tourist’s dream—you’ll feel like you’re discovering a hidden neighborhood, known only to those, well, in the know.
Although it’s supremely difficult to score a table at Next (there are no reservations, just tickets that sell out in a snap), you can head to its connecting bar The Aviary. You’ll still get a taste of culinary genius with artfully made cocktails — our seven-layer Hurricane came in a decanter poured tableside. And if luck is on your side, you’ll be asked to visit The Office, a speakeasy-like space downstairs (the staff will discreetly extend an invitation).
But hold off an The Aviary for now — we recommend it after you’ve spent the afternoon in Fulton Market.
For your first stop, hit up Mars Gallery, possibly the hippest joint in the area. The old timber loft space is brimming with pop art, and owner Barbara Gazdik is quite welcoming to walk-ins. Another must-see gallery (and there are a lot of them) is Douglas Dawson Gallery, which features items from Africa, Asia and the Americas. Tip: Ask to see the warehouse where even more goods are stored.
The nearby Fix Boutique hooks up men and women with fashion-forward clothing and excellent service to boot. For dinner, hit The Publican, a boisterous modern German beer hall specializing in oysters, pork and beer. (Ask for a communal table to chat with locals – they love this place). Finally, head to The Aviary for a knockout nightcap and enjoy your new status as an insider.
Photos courtesy of Rachel Smith, Phantom Papers; John Faier; Mars Gallery; The Publican