the nylon guide to chicago

what to do in the windy city, as voted on by nylon readers!

by nylon

To celebrate our annual America issue (on newsstands now!) we're putting together the ultimate guides to our favorite US cities. And who better to contribute to them than you, our readers?! We had an open call for submissions--there's still time to make your pick in other cities--and here are the big winners for Chicago. Obviously you're going to want to plan a trip to Chicago now to visit Cafecito and eat some Do-Rite Donuts.(And if you want to stay in the loop about events going on while you're in Chicago, sign up for our NYLON Daily newsletter--it's totally free but filled with awesome parties, shows, sales, and more.)

Best Café: Cafecito (26 E. Congress Pkwy or 7 N. Wells St.)

You can find everything from fresh Cuban sandwiches to Ghiradelli Mocha lattes at this eclectic Latin American coffee house.

Best Bakery: Do-Rite Donuts (50 W. Randolph St.)

Unleash your inner Homer Simpson at this specialty donut shop in the Loop. They even have a Candied Maple Bacon donut. No, you did not read that incorrectly. It is totally possible to have tiny bacon bits sprinkled on your donut.

Best Food Truck: Bridgeport Pasty (locations vary)

Not only does Bridgeport Pasty have daily homemade potpies and soups, but its electric powered truck makes it environmentally friendly.

Best Restaurant: The Chicago Diner (3411 N. Halsted St. or 2333 N. Milwaukee Ave.)

Self-described as “meat-free since ’83,” The Chicago Diner is home to a wide variety of delicious vegetarian options.

Best Weeknight Bar: The Empty Bottle (1035 N. Western Ave.)

Expect to take silly pictures in an old school photo booth and rock out to live music any day of the week at this Ukranian Village dive bar.

Best Party Spot: The Underground (56 W. Illinois St.)

Equipped with strobe lights and loaded with everything from house music to Top 40 hits, The Underground brings some Las Vegas energy to the Midwest.

Best Place to See Bands: The Metro (3730 N. Clark St.)

Check out some of your favorite artists at this well-known music venue.

Best Destination for an Arty Afternoon: Wicker Park Arts District

Why check out just one art gallery when you can see several? Spend the afternoon roaming the neighborhood to see the best Wicker Park has to offer, like the Orange Walls Mural Project!

Best Movie Theater: Music Box Theater (3733 N. Southport Ave.)

If you’re looking for a cool place to check out the latest indie and foreign films, look no further than the Music Box Theater.

Best Scenic Spot: Oak Street Beach (1000 N. Lake Shore Drive)

With the Chicago skyline in the background and views of Lake Michigan to the front, you get the best of both worlds at Oak Street Beach.

Best Boutique: RSVP Gallery (1753 Damen Ave.)

RSVP Gallery stocks everything from Commes des Garcons tees to Murakami flower pillows. Did we mention Kanye West is a regular here?

Best Vintage Store: Pilsen Vintage and Thrift (1430 W. 18th St.)

Old school motorcycle jackets and 70s era dresses will make all you vintage lovers feel like a kid in a candy store.

Best Record Store: Reckless Records (Locations in the Loop, Lake View, Wicker Park)

In a near unanimous decision, Reckless Records was chosen as the only place to browse through the best old and new tunes in Chi-town.

Best Book Store: Myopic Books (1564 N. Milwaukee Ave.)

Take your pick from the 80,000 books available at this legendary Chicago bookstore. Be sure to check out some amazing poetry as a part of their semi-weekly poetry series.

Best Store to Fill Your Apartment: Jayson Home and Garden (1885 N. Clybourn Ave.)

Perk up your apartment with beautiful flower arrangements and other home décor at this Lincoln Park destination.

Best Spot No One Knows About (Yet): Gallery Aesthete (46 E. Oak St.)

Hidden in Chicago’s fashion district, Gallery Aesthete is a visually stunning store where fashion meets art. You can browse the art works while the guy in your life browses the racks.

If You Could Only Go to One Place in My City, Visit: Wicker Park

Home to a bustling art scene, Wicker Park is considered one of Chicago’s funkiest neighborhoods. From the galleries to the exclusive shopping, you’ll never run out of things to do.