Every American city worth its salt now features a cluster of craft cocktail bars, farm-to-table restaurants, and artisanal coffee shops. But missing from a lot of this urban renewal is real history—places that connect generations in a city. Chicago, thankfully, has brought in the new while still embracing the old. So instead of sending you to Aviary, Publican and Intelligentsia for the new Chicago, we’re keeping it old school. These classic spots will take you back decades, to when Windy City and the rest of the country had much different ideas about going out for dinner and what we considered to be good food. Most of these places have changed very little over the years, though the hot dog shack without running water is no longer a shack—and now has running water.
Gene and Georgetti
This throwback steakhouse in River North is still popular with politicians and the business crowd. The steaks are straightforward—little seasoning or butter—big, and tender. The restaurant is still owned by family of one of the founders, Gene Michelotti, who started the restaurant in 1941 with Alfredo Federighi (nicknamed Georgetti, after an Italian cyclist). The place has kept its 1941 decor, sticking with the wood paneling and red-leather booths. The building itself has a longer pedigree; the wood structure was built in 1873, a year after the Chicago Fire, and right before the no-wood-buildings ordinance went into effect.