After you’ve (ideally) spent two days gleefully ignoring responsibilities, the reality of a Monday can be hard. So it’s understandable if the last thing you want to do after work is cook dinner, let alone spend time in a crowded grocery store full of all the other people who neglected their weekend errands. But unfortunately, a lot of restaurants in this city are closed on Mondays. Here are 18 great ones that aren’t.
Big Chicago Restaurants are generally popular and hard to get into, and Etta, a BCR in Wicker Park, is no exception. But on Mondays, it’s usually possible to get a same-day table. Which is good to know, since this place works for a lot of different situations - from dinner with coworkers to a casual date night or meal with kids. This place serves delicious housemade pastas and pizzas, plus other dishes (like vegetables and pork shoulder) made in a wood-fired hearth.
Good Measure is primarily a kind-of-divey bar, and its River North location makes it a convenient spot for after-work drinks. But there’s also an interesting menu of great bar food, which will make you feel better after a Monday full of meetings in which nothing was accomplished. The menu ranges from Nashville hot fried duck livers to sunflower hummus to a fantastic cheeseburger with foie gras sauteed onions, and the atmosphere involves loud punk music and rockabilly-inspired artwork - all of which can help you pretend you spent the day working in a tattoo shop instead of arranging PowerPoints in the office.
This place is a scene, which, depending on your mood, can feel a little aggressive for a Monday night. But the good news is that the scene comes with fantastic food. So if you want to keep the weekend going - or the new heels you ordered didn’t get delivered until Monday afternoon - come here. It’s always crowded, but the space is beautiful, and there’s a huge rooftop patio that’s perfect for hanging out over drinks (even during the winter). Also, unlike those $350 shoes, a lot of things on the Mediterranean menu are meant to be shared.
This German-inspired spot has an upbeat atmosphere, but it won’t make you feel like you need to dress for the club. Food-wise, you’ll want to try things like the French onion spaetzle, rabbit with ricotta dumplings, or the delicious weisswurst. Funkenhausen works for date night, a group dinner, or even just having some German beers by yourself before going home to watch The Voice.
You normally need to make a reservation two months out for a table at Bavette’s. But on Mondays, same-day reservations are usually achievable (and if you can’t make one, you still have a good chance of walking in). The space is dimly-lit, the upstairs dining room has jazz that makes you feel like you’re in a speakeasy, and everything on the French-style steakhouse menu is fantastic. This is the perfect place to eat a kind-of-fancy dinner when you’re having trouble accepting that the weekend is truly over.
Business needs to happen every day of the week (that’s the whole reason your alarm went off at 6am this morning), so maybe you’re entertaining clients. Head to RPM Steak for an impressive meal that will fit very comfortably on your corporate card. There’s a whole menu section devoted to wagyu and kobe, in addition to shareable small plates and seafood. Plus, the bar is perfect if your “client” dinner turns out to be just you and a steak. But you should probably plan on using your own card for that.
The fantastic food and enjoyable atmosphere at The Delta in Wicker Park make it a good place to hang out any day of the week. From the street, it looks really small, but it actually has much more seating than you’d expect - including some on its great back patio. And the Southern menu is ideal for casual drinking and eating. Get some cocktails and try their specialty: tamales that are simmered in a chile broth instead of steamed. If you want something bigger, get the pork ribs or the cheeseburger.
This River North spot is busy, with music loud enough to help you pretend it’s Friday night. It also serves high-quality fish and is reasonably affordable for the neighborhood. The menu has a mix of traditional and contemporary Japanese dishes, from fusion options (like an octopus “taco” with a seaweed shell) to fantastic nigiri and sashimi.
You took Monday off because friends are visiting from out of town. But now you’re realizing that half the restaurants you planned on taking them to are closed. Not The Publican. It’s easy to think this place is all about pork and beer (and those things are definitely happening here), but the menu also has plenty of vegetables and seafood, all of which are delicious. Sit at the giant U-shaped communal tables, or, if you don’t like strangers eavesdropping on your conversations, get one of the enclosed wooden booths. There aren’t too many of them, but on a Monday you have a good chance of securing one.
Both the beer and the food are great at this brew pub in Logan Square. You can get bacon-fat popcorn, burgers, and pizzas from a rotating list of creative options (like ones with pulled pork or Italian beef). It’s generally crowded and they don’t take reservations, so there will most likely be a wait - but tables turn over quickly.
The best way to deal with the fact that Avec is small and always busy is to come here during the week when it’s less crowded. And because the food is consistently excellent, you’re guaranteed to have a great meal no matter what you order. That being said, you really should make sure to get some bacon-wrapped dates or the taleggio flatbread (maybe both). Either one will be way more enjoyable than the hot dog you were thinking of eating in your car.
This is a fun spot for Chinese food from the same team that owns Girl & The Goat. Consider Pied-Pipering your co-workers here after a long day. The atmosphere is fun and lively, and there are big round tables perfect for groups of people who want to order a lot of food. Get their excellent cocktails and share a bunch of dishes - like soup dumplings and goat sausage slap noodles. Everyone will probably be tired Tuesday morning, but it will be worth it.
Girl & the Goat
Speaking of Girl & The Goat, you’ve got a way better chance of getting a table here on Monday nights than you do over the weekend. Sure, it will probably be at 4:30pm, but just leave work early. No one will notice, except the 67 other people who had the same idea.
For delicious burgers in a casual space, go to Maillard Tavern in River West. You’ll have a number of different (all very good) burgers to choose from, from an old-school classic (with lettuce, tomato, onion, ketchup, and pickles) to one with foie gras and truffle. The space definitely feels like a tavern, thanks to a large bar and TVs for you watch Monday night games. Consider getting a milkshake to dip your fries into.
After your boss puts an entire of file cabinet’s worth of work on your desk at 4:55pm, you need some comfort food. Just about everything on the menu at Big Jones in Andersonville qualifies. So once you finally get to leave the office, come here for some excellent fried chicken, or any of their other rich Southern dishes, like shrimp and grits. Then head straight to bed.
If you can’t decide what you want for dinner (the only thing you’re sure of is that you’re not cooking), go to The Warbler in Lincoln Square. Everything on the extensive menu here is good. You’ll find vegetable dishes (like ponzu glazed crispy cauliflower), housemade pastas (their whole wheat cacio e pepe in particular is worth ordering), and traditional entrees like roast chicken and a cheeseburger. They have a large bar area that’s good for grabbing some appetizers and a glass of wine with friends, too.