The Run Down

You want an unforgettable meal, so you head to Fulton Market. The main cobblestone street of the former warehouse district is littered with dazzling dining rooms and exorbitant watering holes — how to choose? Use this itinerary as a “welcome guide” to the extravagance. This guide starts with a farm-to-table meal, followed by a dessert as extravagant as the neighborhood itself and a nightcap at a bar with a unique ambiance.

Dinner @ The Publican

Dessert @ BomboBar

Drinks @ Lazy Bird

1. The Publican

Adjacent to the West Loop, you’ll know you’ve hit Fulton Market when you find yourself standing in front of the gate spelling “Fulton Market District.” That off-kilter neon sign serves as the portal to Chicago’s vast, contemporary dining experiences. With restaurants and bars as far as the eye can see, put on your imaginary blinkers and make your way one block west of the introductory sign. At the corner of Green Street, you’ll spot a hanging sign with two pigs peeking out from a barrel.

Welcome to The Publican, where you’ll get a taste of some of the best farm-to-table food Fulton Market has to offer.

Make your way through the glass doors marked with a neon red “The Publican” sign. The hostess will take you into the spacious dining area packed with large communal dining tables made of walnut. The left-most wall is lined with what can only be described as “wooden box booths,” making you feel like you’re dining in the coziest farmhouse in the Midwest. Designed by Thomas Schlesser — his firm, Design Bureaux, also created the spaces at Avec and The Violet Hour — the interior layout at The Publican emulates the feeling of a European beer hall.

A gregarious server will likely interrupt you from your architectural gazing to inform you it’s best to experience The Publican family-style (read: order as many dishes as humanly possible to share). Chef and partner Paul Kahan carefully curates a selection of sustainably raised fish, meats and vegetables to develop a menu that supports Midwest farms.

Beyond its food, The Publican prides itself in its beer selection that highlights a cacophony of not only local brews and ciders but also the finest Belgium imports. Don’t forget about the seasonal cocktails and an eclectic European wine list.

When it comes to ordering food, be diverse in your selection (the menu is categorized by food group rather than by course). You can’t go wrong with starting with a batch of fresh oysters to prepare your palette. From the various charcuterie plates to their famous Chicken, Sausage and Frites dish (a must-order), any meat-lover will be more than satisfied.

However, their vegetable concoctions, such as the Little Gem Salad or Barbecued Carrots, are not to be missed as they’re all packed with immense flavor and freshness.

As inviting as the menu is, make sure to leave some room for dessert at your next stop.

Things to note:
– The Publican also operates a butcher shop, Publican Quality Meats, directly across the street. Another day, stop in there for some freshly cut deli sandwiches or browse their large supply of meat cuts at the butcher counter.
– Happy hour at The Publican happens from 4-6 p.m. Monday through Friday. This menu offers sharable options such as oysters, house-marinated olives, a smash burger as well as discounted drink options.


2. BomboBar

Not only does your next spot offer a plethora of Italian-inspired desserts, but it also gives you the perfect opportunity to soak in the sights and ambiance of Fulton Market. Directly south of The Publican on Green Street is BomboBar, a quaint dessert spot with a walk-up window that introduces patrons to their famous holeless doughnuts and gelato.

Tucked between an empty lot and the notable Bar Siena, BomboBar stands out with its classical black and white awning. An aesthetic choice that evokes nostalgia but also differentiates itself from other exteriors of neighboring spots, the walk-up window conjures up that old ice cream shop in the downtown area of your childhood suburb; this one just so happens to be in the heart of one of Chicago’s vibrant dining scenes.

David Rekhson and Lucas Stoioff started BomboBar in 2015 and gained recognition by serving up a Bomboloni (that’s their holeless doughnut). You catch wafts of the sumptuous dough being baked as you order at the window. The treat is served warm with a variety of dipping sauces.

If you’d rather not take on the Bomboloni, try some homemade gelato. For those with an intense sweet tooth, BomboBar serves “Bombolato,” doughnuts stuffed with gelato. And yes, it’s as indulgent as it sounds.

Once your sweet treats arrive, you have the option to take a seat at one of the many picnic tables adjacent to the order window and just people-watch as your sugar rush takes off. If you want to walk off those calories as you consume them, explore more of the area and gaze upon the numerous eateries and bars that make up the West Loop. Chances are you’ll end up adding more options to your ever-growing list of must-try Chicago eats. But don’t wander too far…


3. Lazy Bird

To conclude your Fulton Market escapades, you’ll head to the basement watering hole within the luxurious Hoxton hotel. So much of what Fulton Market offers to its patrons is “new and innovative,” and while there’s certainly nothing wrong with the style, Lazy Bird evokes a classical Chicago evening full of laughs and flowing cocktails.

You’ll enter the bar through The Hoxten’s bustling lobby off Green Street, a block north of BomboBar. Once in the lobby, keep right toward the bookcase of hotel-branded items, across from which you’ll see a door labeled “Lazy Bird.” It might feel like you’re descending concrete-surrounded stairs on a cramped cruise ship, but as the music grows louder, it becomes more apparent that you’re in a place of blissful hospitality.

After walking down another hallway, a bouncer will stamp your wrist as if you’re entering a massive, booming club. However, Lazy Bird is far from your typical Chicago nightclub. You’ll immediately notice the luxurious green booths nestled up against walls decorated with various books — an intimacy that can be hard to come by these days. To the far right, a bright and colorful wallpaper adorns the wall behind additional seating.

Lazy Bird has different personalities depending on when you decide to pop by. On a quiet weekday, it’s where you could go to read a book and enjoy a good old fashioned. Near or on the weekend, the bar can get so packed that even the standing tables are called for. And sometimes, the bar is so lively that one half blares a playlist that seeps into the live jazz music being performed in the other half, separated only by different lighting. Either way, Lazy Bird is designed for conversations and cocktails.

The often-crowded bar offers a simple cocktail menu. Stand-out options include the Blackthorn, a straight-forward whiskey and vermouth concoction, and the Salty Dog, which features dry gin and grapefruit notes.

Once you’ve secured your drink, grab a comfy booth (if you’re lucky) to continue your conversations. Make sure to also spend some time listening to live sets in the left-hand corner of the space before you head out.

Things to note:
– Check out an online calendar to navigate Lazy Bird’s live music offerings.
– To avoid finding yourself standing with nowhere to sit or set your drink down, make a reservation online before visiting.