City Winery in Chicago offers 14 wines on tap, directly from its winery — Photo courtesy of Megy Karydes
It would be easy to dismiss City Winery, located in the West Loop neighborhood of Chicago, as a wine bar or a concert venue. Granted, it does produce 100,000 bottles of wine a year and even hosts live shows and events on a nearly nightly basis. But what most people don’t realize is that it also offers a stellar menu steeped with Mediterranean influences.
The restaurant is open and inviting, with high ceilings, exposed wooden beams and contemporary seating. A long, curved bar that reminds one of a wine barrel sets the stage, but the real highlight of the space is the view of the winery. The indoor restaurant seats 100, while an outdoor patio seats another 100. What makes City Winery so unique is that it also offers 14 wines on tap, directly from its winery, with no preservatives or added sulfites.
City Winery hosts live concerts and events almost every night — Photo courtesy of City Winery
Wine not only takes center stage physically and on the menu (with wine pairing suggestions), but it also makes it into the food. Taking its cue from the city’s love of pizza, the restaurant created a flatbread using real wine lees.
Each item on the menu, which changes seasonally, is inspired by cuisines around the world that have been pairing simple and wholesome food with wine for centuries. Executive Chef Andres Barrera brings in Italian, French, Spanish and Middle Eastern influences to his dishes.
This summer, Barrera introduced the grilled rib eye, a Sterling Silver prime beef aged for 21 days and marinated in fresh marjoram, parsley, black peppercorn, garlic and allspice, and then served with a traditional Argentinean chimichurri sauce. The recommended wine pairing, to bring out the blend of spices and flavorful meat, is the 2008 Cabernet Sauvignon Obsidian Ridge Vineyard.
A brunch menu at City Winery includes a dipping flight that consists of hummus, baba ghanouj and muhammara. Another option includes French toast served with seasonal fruit compote or a yogurt parfait with mixed berries. Add "Stu’s Bloody Mary" or a mimosa to your meal. Wine growlers are available, and a growler refill is free on your next visit when your brunch is more than $50.
For those who appreciate a behind-the-scenes look, City Winery offers a wine tour of Chicago's first and only fully operational winery. The tour is only held on the weekends and includes a tour of the facility and a tasting flight of three City Winery wines, paired with three crostini appetizers. The tour group allows up to 12 people per tour, and reservations must be made in advance.
City Winery may focus on its wines, but it doesn’t leave the dining to chance.