One enjoyable aspect of dining out is finding drinks that perfectly pair with food. Wine and cheese bars remain hugely popular in Chicago, and there are so many to choose from throughout the Windy City. Below are five places where patrons will find friendly service, abundant choices and new cheeses and wines to try.
694 Wine and Spirits
694 N Milwaukee Ave
Chicago, IL 60642
The waiters at 694 Wine and Spirits gladly share their recommendations with anyone who asks. All insider knowledge at this chic wine bar is helpful, because the small menu offers wonderful selections of reds, dessert and white wines, along with a handful of champagnes and beers. With your waiter’s advice, perfectly pair your bubbles with either soft, semi-firm, firm or even stinky cheeses. This restaurant denotes which options are simply the best with a superman emblem alongside their listing on the menu. Make sure you try at least one cheese offering. But don’t overlook the charcuterie options as well. These meats hail from the famous Salumi Artisan in Seattle. All of the cheese platters also come with a few complements like bread, honey and marcona almonds.
Eno (Intercontinental Hotel)
505 N Michigan Ave
Chicago, IL 60611
With an atmosphere reminiscent of a wine cellar — despite being in the Intercontinental Hotel — Eno is a unique place to enjoy some drinks and cheese. Eno takes wine and cheese pairings to a whole new level by offering wine and cheese flights. To make it even more delicious, Eno also offers chocolate flights so patrons can get more samples. If these pairings have your tastebuds in a whirl, attend an Eno-Versity seminar to learn more about the delight of this combination. As the hotel’s name implies, the wines and foods are from all over the world, from Wisconsin to Brazil.
Related: Best Chicago Wine Bars
Pops for Champagne
601 N State St
Chicago, IL 60654
If you have a taste for some bubbly, Pops for Champagne is the perfect place to go, as it offers almost 200 sparkling wines and champagnes. Those are wonderfully complemented by a seasonal menu of assorted cheeses. Michigan’s Reny Picot Gouda is among one of the creamiest of those offered, and who can say no to Shepard’s Way, a mouth-watering brie from Hidden Falls, Minnesota? Hop the pond and sample a unique honey-infused goat cheese from Belgium if you so choose. The menu also includes charcuterie, as well as a variety of snacks and plates. With Pops’ intimate atmosphere, it’s a great place to meet up with friends or for date night.
1023 W Lake St
Chicago, IL 60607
A great alternative to the always-popular Avec, Vera is a Spanish wine bar offering a variety of traditional tapas and wine (even some on tap). The menu includes a wonderful assortment of cheeses, of course. Overwhelmed by choices? Just ask the servers and they’ll help you choose between the sheep, cow, goat and buffalo cheese options. Get three cheeses for just $9 and five for $15. If sticking with all things Spanish, go with the Manchego, Monte Enebro or Pata Cabra from the motherland.
338 W Armitage Ave
Chicago, IL 60614
While a newcomer to the wine and cheese scene (opening in April 2010), Vintage 338 has already established itself as a premier place for wine and tapas, including loads of different cheeses. The place is small and dark, but the Spanish, Italian and French-inspired wine menu is quite large. The cheese options offer a nice range too, with individual samples of cheese for $3.50 each, or $10 per plate for the Chef’s cheese plate. The Chef’s plate sampler includes three cheeses. The Brie Trio is a fantastic option, as it provides three variations of this beloved creamy spread. Don’t forget to try the crostinis too, as they’re a perfect complement to the wine and cheese.
Related: Best Whiskey Bars in Chicago
Elizabeth SanFilippo is a freelance writer, who enjoys trying new foods from all over the world. But her favorite city for culinary treats will always be Chicago. When not writing about food, she’s scribbling novels, and TV show reviews and recaps. Her work can be found at Examiner.com.