Yes, Hofbrauhaus is faux Munich, but people flock here because it may be the nearest they'll ever get to Germany. The massive beer hall - which can easily hold 1,000 people - is designed like its sister beer hall in Munich where people drink beer out of large steins, and order Teutonic edibles like Bavarian sausages or Apfelstrudel, homemade apple strudel with ice cream. Live performers, often wearing lederhosen, get the crowd singing and dancing with a wide range of music. The live music and gaiety attract hordes of people and if you linger you'll likely hear the same tuneage and toasts more than a few times. Every few minutes the performers toast their steins with the whole restaurant and say "Prost!". Seating is on long communal tables which adds to the festive atmosphere in the the 20,000-square-foot German microbrewery, restaurant and beer hall.
Recommended for Best Restaurants for Fall because: Hofbrauhaus may be Disneyesque but with so few German restaurants left, fans are happy to find German beer, food and fun near Chicago and the airport.
Jacky's expert tip: Hofbräuhaus Chicago celebrates Oktoberfest with nightly Bavarian entertainment, "Oktoberfestbier" and daily food specials through Oct. 31, 2019.
Paulette's Public Market is a new neighborhood deli and grocery in Chicago's Pilsen neighborhood nestled alongside historic Thalia Hall, so it's perfect for pre-show noshing or choose items for tailgating. The shop stocks gourmet deli meats and chef-y grab-and-go meals created by Head Chef Amanda Torres as well as grocery items, fruits and vegetables. Go for house-made sandwiches like the Muffuletta and Spinach & Artichoke Grilled Cheese, soups and chowders like Carrot Ginger Curry, cold salads and house-jarred pickles and house made giardinera. Torres wows with veggie-focused dishes: grilled corn elote salad; vegetable jerk sandwich; and a mushroom melt among others. Paulette's features a seasonal sandwich special every day, not listed on the website menu, so head to the deli counter to ask what it is. Chef Amanda's favorite fall side is roasted rainbow carrots - herb roasted carrots, thyme, rosemary, garlic, salt and pepper, and garlic oil. Yum!
Recommended for Best Restaurants for Fall because: Paulette's is a genuinely "Chicago" shop for creative fall sandwiches, salads and soups for carnivores and vegetarians plus products from local Pilsen wholesalers.
Jacky's expert tip: There's easy metered parking on 18th Street and free street parking just around the corner on Racine.
Each week continuing through the entire football season (January 2020), Saint Lou's popular patio space transforms into a football fan's dream. The patio is enclosed when the weather turns frigid - but that's Bears' weather, right? Count on concessions like loaded waffle fries, wings, buckets of Miller High Life and beer towers at every watch party. The back yard patio has bleacher seating for 100 and a Bocce ball court, too. Visit the full-service restaurant in Chicago's Fulton Market neighborhood anytime for a Midwestern spin on the South's "Meat N Three" (a meat course plus three side dishes). Your meat may be braised pork shank; Diver scallops; or Calabrian chicken with sides like comforting mac 'n' cheese or collard greens, among the lot. Otherwise, choose snacks, sandwiches, salads, small plates and good cocktails. Brunch offers fun twists: tamale hash, for one. Check-in on Yelp, get a free treat.
Recommended for Best Restaurants for Fall because: Throughout the entire football season (until January 2020), Saint Lou's popular patio space transforms into a football fan's dream with football fare and team spirit.
Jacky's expert tip: The eatery's moniker is an homage to a guy named Lou who owned a meatpacking plant in the neighborhood in 1947 called Monarch Provisions.
The other-worldly looking heated River Domes at City Winery at the Riverwalk return this autumn from Oct. 16 to Nov. 30. You get private outdoor seating and shelter on the scenic Riverwalk for up to eight guests and a Bluetooth speaker, heater, and comfortable furniture. River Domes can remain partially open or closed completely to allow fresh air or shield against unpredictable weather. Guests cocooned in the embryonic domes can order from the Harvest Menu created by new Head Chef Samuel Garcia. The Harvest Menu features a special fall dish weekly such as Forest Mushroom Flatbread, Lobster Mac & Cheese, and Cromlet. Share some paté, artisanal cheese, bite into a substantial panini or twirl luscious pasta. Expect some seasonal wine options like City Winery's new bottle of Obsidian Ridge Cabernet Sauvignon and the signature "Riverwalk Red." Once temperatures get serious about season, there will be mulled wine made in-house.
Recommended for Best Restaurants for Fall because: Dining on the river, sipping a juicy red with friends in the middle of autumn? What's the question?
Jacky's expert tip: River Dome reservations start Sept. 18 and can be made at online at Open Table.
There are bites and boards, greens and oysters but what really makes River Roast a fabulous fall foray are the roasts like slow-roasted Prime Rib; Crystal Farms Applewood smoked whole chicken; a boatload of market-fresh veggies; cider brined rack of pork; and crispy or fire-roasted whole fish. Consider stopping in for a Prime Rib Supper every Saturday and Sunday from 5pm-9pm when the prime rib is carved tableside and served with traditional accompaniments. Order drinks on draft and cold-brewed cocktails from two slow drip infusion towers plus a large selection of local and Midwestern beers, craft cocktails, and wine. The location on the river can't be better with architectural and water views from every seat - inside and out on the patio. There's an after-work set of live blues on Thursdays and more tunes during weekend brunch. Check out the monthly cooking classes, too.
Recommended for Best Restaurants for Fall because: River Roast is like one big happy family celebration with a giant roast carved tableside and live music right on the river.
Jacky's expert tip: River Roast now offers half portions of their roasts so that smaller single diners or couples can enjoy.
Fall's leaves are as vividly painted as the faces of football fans sipping suds and grilling sausage before a Bears game. Utopian Tailgate expands the experience of tailgating at football games and concerts year-round. There's a monster of a rooftop deck and a covered rooftop interior with bold color schemes. All-weather SunBrite flatscreen TVs allows viewing games outside. The views are outstanding, the drinks are flowing and the food consists of things to dip, munch and sink your prodigious teeth into. Try Chinatown Shuffle Spare Ribs; Fried Chicken Thighs; various kabobs; and Watermelon Salad. Two-fisted sandwiches like Bratwurst with cheese curds and brown gravy or the Utopian Special Special (fried mac n' cheese, chili, Buffalo sauce and pepper jack) define the sloppy but sweet tailgaiting experience. Expect a bevy of beer choices, tableside keg service and fun cocktails. Play mini-golf, foosball, bocce, bags and giant board games, too.
Recommended for Best Restaurants for Fall because: Tailgaiting ensures fun every fall even if the kicker misses and this place is a fever dream version of it.
Jacky's expert tip: Ask for the "games menu" featuring 15 different classic board games that can be delivered to your table.
Supposedly, legendary lover Casanova ate 50 raw oysters every morning as an aphrodisiac. Shaw's Crab House has been the authority on the briny bivalves with the sexy rep for years with its annual Oyster Festival - the best shucking time of the year. Shaw's celebrates it's 31st Annual Oyster Fest from Oct. 1-31, 2019 at both the Chicago and Schaumburg locations. It's a month filled with new oyster-centric dishes, fried chicken and oyster roast dinners, oyster happy hours, and roaming shuckers. During October on Wednesdays In the Oyster Bar, enjoy rare boutique oysters presented and shucked tableside. Shaw's offers plenty of other choices when you open the menu: lobster, sushi, King crab, and a boatload of seasonal swimmers from Atlantic Yellowfin tuna to Ecuadorian Mahi Mahi. Enjoy bubbles by the glass, a sturdy Manhattan and desserts big enough to share. The ambiance is warm, woody and retro.
Recommended for Best Restaurants for Fall because: Shaw's is great year-round but autumn brings its annual oyster fest and won't a steamy bowl of chowder do a body good?
Jacky's expert tip: Come for live blues music Sunday, Tuesday, and Thursday night from 7-10 pm in the Shaw's Chicago Oyster Bar.
An independent restaurant worthy of your time and tastebuds, El Che Steakhouse & Bar is inspired by Chef John Manion's love affair with South America and specifically Argentina's renowned Asado-style eateries. Executive Chef and Owner, John Manion, cooks 90 percent of the menu on the open fire, (a 12-foot custom-built wood-burning hearth) furnishing that undeniable smoky flavor to Hangar steaks, pork chops, NY Strips, bone-in Ribeyes, quail, and swordfish, among others. El Che's Parrillada, meant to be shared, features a variety of traditional meats, including morcilla, chorizo, tira de asado and sweetbreads. "It's a representation of a Sunday afternoon in Argentina," says Manion. Ordering empanadas as a starter is mandatory and do try the red and green chimichurri sauce on your steak. For dessert, the caramel flan and cheesecake with yerba mate and a ginger snap crust are outstanding.
Recommended for Best Restaurants for Fall because: It has all the spot-on elements for fall and winter: it's cozy, dark, warm and sensually smoky from the 12-foot custom-built wood-burning hearth.
Jacky's expert tip: Go on Wednesday and come hungry when you can get a full platter of chimichurri chicken with fries for $38.
If ember roasted parsnips (brown butter, hazelnuts, orange, aioli) and roasted autumn squash pizza (mozzarella, pomegranate, chili, honey, dandelion greens) don't get you in the fall mood, check your pulse. You'll savor that and more at etta in Chicago's Bucktown neighborhood. Award-winning chef Danny Grant fashions a seasonally inspired menu that utilizes its wood-fired hearth in unique ways. The ricotta pillows and rack roasted oysters are stunning ways to launch then choose from around eight salad and veggie items to counteract the decadence. How about those ember roasted parsnips? Fall brings seasonal ingredients to wood-fired pizzas and luxe pastas. Larger format "for the table" items include fire-roasted whole Branzino sprinkled with capers and parsley and wood-fired chicken redolent of lemon, garlic and thyme. Desserts, cocktails and the wine roster are equally inspired. If the weather is fine, ask to sit on the lovely rooftop terrace.
Recommended for Best Restaurants for Fall because: Wood-fired seasonal food in a relaxed setting and impeccable service make etta a grand choice for autumn dining.
Jacky's expert tip: Rooftop brunch is every Saturday and Sunday from 10 am-2pm and the party continues from 2pm-5pm. with pizza and drinks.
The 2018 Jean Banchet Award for Best Neighborhood Restaurant in Chicago, Daisies is a vegetable-driven and pasta focused restaurant featuring fresh ingredients from Tim Frillman's Frillman Farms. Tim is the brother of Daisies executive chef/owner Joe Frillman, so you know the veg is the best. Between the rustic, seasonal menu and heated al fresco dining on the plant-filled patio, the Logan Square eatery embodies the comfort of a crisp fall night. Your Polish granny never made galumpkis or pierogis like this. The fried mushrooms & cheese curds starter and manti - pasta filled with fermented pumpkin and brown butter and topped with smoked red onion, Calabrian neonata, chive, and grated amaretti cookie, is autumn on a plate. The pasta goes deliciously vegetarian or rich and meaty. Another plus: Daisies boasts an extensive no-waste fermentation program. Come for Saturday lunch or Sunday brunch, too.
Recommended for Best Restaurants for Fall because: Inspired by the Midwest and a root-to-fruit philosophy, Daisies offers a rustic menu and a heated patio for comfy autumn alfresco dining.
Jacky's expert tip: Consider reserving for a great fall event on Oct. 15, 2019: the James Beard Foundation Greens Dinner which focuses on fermentation.