The Run Down

The weather warms up, so Chicagoans flock to the elevated 606 trail to get steps in and marvel at how lush the city has become. Today, you'll take in the nature by walking two-thirds of the beloved trail and fueling up on natural wine at two charming wine bars along the way. The bars are just two of numerous businesses that are dotted along The 606 trail, which serves four neighborhoods and thousands of locals and visitors each day.

Natural Wine @ Red & White Wines

Walk @ The 606

Snacks And Another Glass @ Outside Voices

1. Red & White Wines

Located on the corner of a quiet block in Bucktown — quiet unless you count the sounds of the nearby Blue Line train, that is — Red & White Wines is part wine shop, part bar and carries exclusively natural wines.The natural wine movement has become increasingly trendy, but Red & White, which opened its doors back in 2008, can boast being the first natural wine shop in Chicago and among the first natural wine retailers in the United States.

General Manager Lauren Hunter Lee says the shop has diligently documented bottles dating back to their inception in their wine cellar.

On a nice day, you’ll walk up to the storefront, situated on the first floor of a wide residential building, and pass by patrons sitting at long rustic wooden tables on the sidewalk enjoying a chilled glass of wine and a plate of oysters. You’ll notice there are separate entrances to the bar and the retail shop, but it’s all the same place.The space reflects the same respect for nature as the wines sold. Co-owners Sean Krainik and Nathan Adams sourced reclaimed barn wood from Wisconsin to construct the shelving in the retail space that’s industrial and beautifully minimalist, putting a spotlight on the exciting archive of wine bottles.

Upon entering, you’ll likely be greeted by an employee-turned-wine-expert who will ask if they can help you find anything specific. Accept their guidance — they’ll likely give you a quick tour of the shop and let you sample a couple of wines being served at the bar.The wines at Red & White are special. If you are looking for a cheap bottle of table wine to serve to people who only drink Cab Sauvs (no shade), then this might not be the best place for you. But if you want to indulge in something funky and fun that will blow away your taste buds (and you’re OK paying a little more for it), then this is your spot.

Part of Red & White’s mission is to teach people about natural wine. They offer a Wine School, which is a series of monthly educational tasting events held in partnership with winemakers across the country. Tickets are $60 per event and can be purchased through the website. Outside of Wine School, the bar also holds weekly tastings every Saturday from 2-5 p.m. for $10 or free for Wine Club members.For true wine enthusiasts, there is the Wine Club. For $85, members get three bottles each month from a variety of independent, eco-conscious producers from around the world. Red & White hosts “pick-up parties” for members on the third Thursday of every month and offers shipping anywhere in the state of Illinois. Visit the website to learn more and to sign up.

After you’ve had a glass or two at Red & White, get ready to continue your wine tour with a stroll along Chicago’s iconic 606 trail to head to another natural wine bar.

2. The 606

Exit Red & White and walk a block south on Milwaukee Avenue to the intersection of North Leavitt Street, where you’ll reach the Bucktown access point to The 606. The elevated park and trail system was built in 2015 on what was once an industrial train line. Since then, it has become a favorite spot for walkers, runners and bikers as it spans Wicker Park, Bucktown, Logan Square and Humboldt Park neighborhoods.The walk to your next destination can be completed in about 30 minutes (or 10 minutes, if you choose to bike). Whichever mode of transportation you take, enjoy the scenic views along the way. The overpass on Humboldt Boulevard is a good place to stop, catch your breath and snap some photos of the cityscape.

Dotted along The 606 trail, you can find public art installations and greenery, making it a fun alternative to walking the sidewalks below it. Officially called the Bloomingdale Trail, the shared-use path gets its colloquial name from the “606” ZIP code prefix that Chicago neighborhoods share, reflecting its role as a community connector.

Note that on weekends in the warmer months, it can get very crowded. Follow this code of conduct to keep the flow of traffic going smoothly: Don’t be that oblivious person who stops dead in the middle of the trail to check their phone.You will exit The 606 at the Julia de Burgos Park access point in Logan Square. From there, it’s about an eight-minute walk down West Bloomingdale Avenue and up Kedzie Boulevard to get to Outside Voices. Now that you’ve walked off your wine buzz, it’s time for round two at this laid-back wine bar and patio that also specializes in natural wines.

3. Outside Voices

If Red & White is where you go to hone your knowledge of natural wine, Outside Voices is where you take your friend who doesn’t know as much about wine but wants to get their feet wet and do so while enjoying a delicious soft pretzel on a turf-covered patio. It’s a little eccentric, approachable and very fun.A red neon sign reading “WINE” and a colorful mural by Chicago artist Nate Otto welcome pedestrians into the storefront. Upon entering, the warm glow of pink lights and ornate woodwork — including a trellis ceiling from which a variety of green, leafy plants hang — will greet you. Walk past some booths and meet the bartender who will be pouring a selection of seasonally changing natural wines.Adjacent to the bar is a small retail section if you want to shop, but you’ll probably want to check out the terrace first. Attached to the building is a large secluded patio with tables, lounge chairs and an outdoor bar. Vines crawl up the brick walls making you feel like you’re in a natural oasis in the middle of the bustling city.The lead bartender described Outside Voices as a friendly, neighborhood wine bar where friends can sit back and chill. The business, opened in 2019, is surrounded by Logan Square mainstays. It’s connected to the sprawling sports bar and patio Moonlighter and lives across the street from gin-centric restaurant Scofflaw, sister restaurants within The Scofflaw Group, which also operates Slippery Slope and The Heavy Feather.

Danny Shapiro, partner in The Scofflaw Group, acts as wine buyer and beverage director for Outside Voices. He is also responsible for curating the heralded gin list across the street at Scofflaw, and his expertise and passion for booze shines through the fun and unexpected list of rotating low-intervention wines at Outside Voices.After an afternoon of imbibing, you’re probably ready for some food. Lucky for you, Outside Voices has a menu of elevated pub fare including a fried chicken sandwich, buffalo chicken wrap and soft pretzel. Note: Don’t skip the charcuterie board. It includes three artisanal cheeses (the wine-soaked goat cheese is what dreams are made of), three different types of cured meats, apricot jam, mustard and a plentiful serving of Ritz crackers. If you happen to stop by on a Wednesday, the bar offers $13 wine flights, but no matter what day of the week you stop by you are guaranteed to enjoy yourself.