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Where to Drink Wine in Chicago

The motto of Chicago ought to be, “Too much to do, not enough time.”

That’s how I feel whenever I visit. Whether restaurants, architecture, museums or music, Chicago overflows with wonderful options, and that certainly extends to great places to drink wine.

On a recent trip that unfortunately coincided with a biting Arctic blast, I sought out warm refuges with superb food and intriguing wine lists.

I was looking for casual, comfortable places that served full meals and offered lists with a clear personality. I omitted the sorts of classic, expensive Michelin-starred restaurants where you would expect to find extensive wine lists. These eight places stood out as distinctive emblems of Chicago’s singular Midwestern character.

I could have included many more, like Beautiful Rind, a lovely cheese and wine shop where you can pay a small corkage fee to open bottles with cheese and salumi; Easy Does It, an excellent natural wine bar with a modest menu; Bronzeville Winery, a thoughtful wine bar that celebrates its South Side neighborhood; Daisies, a fascinating restaurant with a small selection of Midwestern wines embedded in its list; and other places I loved, like Lula Cafe and Avec. Not enough time.

Here they are, in no particular order.

Dear Margaret, a French Canadian bistro, has a concise but excellent wine list.Credit…Lucy Hewett for The New York Times

Dear Margaret

This French Canadian restaurant in Lakeview looks exactly as I picture a French Canadian place: cozy and warm, knotty wood floors, a bit spare. There’s no place I would rather be on a freezing winter day, though I think I might feel that way any time of year.

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