X/O Chicago 3441 N. Halsted St.; 773/348-9696. This newcomer is lighting up Lakeview with flights of Cognac and Scotch, accompanied by well-conceived small plates such as five-spice duck breast with spaghetti squash.
Chestnut Grill & Wine Bar 200 E. Chestnut St.; 312/266-4500. It's all about good old-fashioned drinking here, in a subdued clublike room with a chanteuse in the corner. The adjacent dining room serves steaks and seafood.
BEST NEW SHOPS
In downtown Chicago you can, of course, find the same big retail names as in New York and San Francisco. Recent entrants include Bulgari (909 N. Michigan Ave.; 312/255-1313), which completed a gorgeous redo of its shop; Camper (61 E. Oak St.; 312/787-0158); and H&M (840 N. Michigan Ave.; 312/640-0060). But the city's passion for shopping is revealed in its smaller, more individualized boutiques: check out the new favorites listed below and many more in our neighborhood tours.
Clever Alice 750 N. Franklin St.; 312/587-8693. There's lots to love at this bright, cheerful shop: artist-painted T-shirts, chunky necklaces, and tailored but funky blazers from designers both familiar and on the rise.
Yu-Me 1 E. Delaware Place; 312/932-9300. This tiny spot sells one-of-a-kind women's accessories, most by local designers. Look for offbeat jewelry and great handbags (a design with seat-belt buckles was a recent hit).
Henry Beguelin 716 N. Wabash Ave.; 312/335-1222. Mingle with the city's most stylish and get a heady whiff of leather while browsing Beguelin's line of luxurious, beautifully crafted shoes, bags, and accessories from Milan.
Graff 103 E. Oak St.; 312/604-1000. Oak Street and North Michigan Avenue are still the places to go for big-name luxury goods and jewels. Among the newer faces is this dazzling store, which sells over-the-top—and expensive—diamond and gemstone jewelry.
Josephine 1405 N. Wells St.; 312/274-0359. A dizzying range of enviable women's shoes and bags (Christian Louboutin, Sigerson Morrison, Pucci) is given an opulent, glamorous backdrop in a space designed by Nate Berkus, Oprah's interior-design guru.
One O Six 106 E. Oak St.; 312/202-9600. One of the city's top outposts for women's shoes is this temple to the needle-nose stiletto, with a well-edited selection that features designers like Stephane Kélian and Cesare Paciotti.
Chicago wouldn't be Chicago without Marshall Field's (111 N. State St.; 312/781-1000), which is looking better than ever in its 112th year. The grande dame has been elegantly redone and now features stores-within-the-store from Levenger, Thomas Pink, Designer's Guild, and more. Also worth a peek is hometown retailer Crate & Barrel's newer spin-off, CB2 (800 W. North Ave.; 312/787-8329), where the snappy, colorful housewares entice a younger, hipper crowd.
River North is shaping up to be one of the best places in town for housewares and furniture. Find replated silver coffeepots and flatware from old hotels at P.O.S.H. (613 N. State St.; 312/280-1602), an early tenant in the refurbished 19th-century Tree Studios building, which once housed artists' studios. Orange Skin (223 W. Erie St.; 312/335-1033) is the place to go for European minimalism, from aerodynamic kettles and salad sets to streamlined seating. Svenska Möbler (516 N. Wells St.; 312/595-9320) sells handsome Swedish furniture that dates from 1840 to 1940. And don't miss a stroll through LuxeHome, a new paradise of high-end kitchen and bath showrooms (Merchandise Mart; 312/527-4141).
BEST NEW HOTEL
Amalfi Hotel 20 W. Kinzie St.; 877/262-5341 or 312/395-9000; www.amalfihotelchicago.com; doubles from $309. This small hotel brings a boutique sensibility to a slightly off-the-beaten-path (but still convenient) location: a short hop west of Michigan Avenue, within walking distance of the Loop, and close to River North's restaurants, bars, and shops. Amalfi's colorful, sleek décor goes beyond the predictable (linens, for instance, are in soft pastels rather than the ubiquitous white), and rooms are long on thoughtful touches, from good lighting and ottomans beside easy chairs to intriguing reading material (vintage detective novels, say). There's a great breakfast buffet set up on every floor each morning, so you can just throw on a robe and grab something to take back to your room; nearby dinner options include the excellent Keefer's for steaks and seafood.
For more on where to stay in Chicago, including the inside scoop on T+L readers' favorites, go to www.travelandleisure.com/hotels.