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The Aviary, Chicago

955 West Fulton
Chicago , Illinois
view web site ›'s insider take:

If you can't snag a table at Grant Achatz's Next restaurant (and you can't if you don't buy a ticket online, far ahead of time), the second best thing sits right next door at The Aviary, the dinner theater's sister cocktail bar cum lounge. Taking the fashion for designer molecular cocktails to Achatz-worthy heights, this plush sanctuary features a vigilant doorman, concierge-like waiters, high-backed semicircular banquette pods, and lots of moony couples. The Bites menu is true to its word. These thumb-size dishes are very tasty (try the crab with avocado, mango, and almond), but the tab can run up quickly. However, it's the zany cocktail concoctions that are the big attraction, from a palette-rousing Huckleberry (that's lemon, Thai long peppercorn, and gin) to the Sweet Potato (orange, tequila, and smoked paprika). There is also a basement speakeasy, available for private parties, but The Aviary's biggest perk may be a simple one: A limited number of reservations are actually possible, if you follow orders and email in your request at precisely 6, 8, or 10 pm.—Raphael Kadushin

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