I love my job. However, there was a (long) period in my life when I wasn’t doing what I loved. I didn’t feel particularly satisfied with or appreciated at work. Mondays were always a raging alarm interrupting a peaceful dream. Not one of those choose-your-own-tune alarms, either. It was like an obnoxious old school screaming buzzer. The only real reason I had to drag myself out of bed? Happy hour. Friends. Food. Laughs. The perfect shot of motivation.
Since happy hour is now officially legal in Chicago, we have even more reason to be picky about where we decompress at the end of the day as restaurants cook up better food and offer a plethora of cocktails between 4 p.m. to 7 p.m.
One of the goals on my summer bucket list? Step outside of my routine and try a new spot for after work drinks and bites.
First on my list is Freestyle Food and Drink.
“Utilizing fresh, sustainable ingredients, we add a pinch to this and a dash of that to create American tastes with a global twist.” – Freestyle Food and Drink
Freestyle Food and Drink is located in the near north side, below the Dana Hotel. Away from the main hustle of the loop, their focus is on making great food everyone will want to eat, inspired by dishes found all over the globe. The menu isn’t too experimental because who needs strange food you can’t pronounce on a Monday? Think instead of old favorites revamped. Sushi presented with the freshest seafood. Fried Chicken that’s better than your grandmother’s, topped with bread and butter pickles. Vibrant cocktails mixed with fresh fruit juice and spirits.
There’s something here for everyone: vegan people, gluten people, meat people, all people.
What I really appreciate is how friendly and knowledgable the staff is. They’re forthcoming with recommendations and aren’t afraid to tweak an item here or there based on personal preferences.
Where to Go for Happy Hour in Chicago: Freestyle Food and Drink
I checked my shame at the door and totally went all in this evening. Out of everything (and I do mean everything), here’s what I loved the most.
The sushi was delicious and I usually won’t order sushi at a place that isn’t exclusively Japanese. What I look for is freshness, of course, and I wasn’t at all disappointed with the citrus salmon and dragon roll. In fact, I would come here just for the maki. It was that good!
The last time I ordered scallops in a restaurant I was brought the largest plate I’ve ever seen, holding at its center one itty-bitty lonely scallop. It was so sad. You’d think I learned my lesson – but nope! I had to try the Seared Scallops at Freestyle. The portion was actually adult size. Kudos to them! Also, the beet reduction sauce surrounding the seafood is a nice addition visually with a pleasant, slightly sweet flavor.
Next up, the Braised Short Rib. Oh my! Tender beef served atop whipped potatoes made light as clouds, bathed in gravy (natural reduction sauce, actually). I felt a little guilty about this indulgence until I realized there were some Brussels sprouts in there too…somewhere.
Not on the menu, but you may want to ask for it anyway, the Fried Chicken topped with bread and butter pickles was juicy, crunchy, flavorful, and everything fried chicken should be. After the short rib, this is where my stomach begged for mercy as it reached recommended capacity. I do love a challenge…on to dessert!
Donuts AND the Citrus and Berry Parfait. Both perfectly sweet without being to sugar-y. This is also the point when my taste buds pulled their power cord for the sake of my protesting tummy. Well played, inhibition. A little late but well played.
Not to be overlooked are the cocktails. I mean, this is kind of why happy hour was invented, right? I recommend the “Orange You Feeling Peachy“. Like the fried chicken, it’s not on the menu. Ask for it anyway. It’s all in the name. An orange libation mixed with Absolute Mandarin, peach schnapps, triple sec, and a touch of orange juice. Remember Dreamsicles? You will after one sip. It couldn’t be more perfect for the summer!
- Appetizer: Seared Scallops
- Entrée: Braised Short Rib
- Entrée: Fried Chicken
- Cocktail: Orange You Feeling Peachy
- The sidewalk patio is perfect for dining and the street isn’t too crowded in this neighborhood.
- They offer a Bloody Mary bar for weekend brunch
Freestyle Food and Drink
660 N State St, Chicago, IL 60654
Disclosure: As is common with restaurant reviews, meals were provided by Freestyle Food and Drink. The opinions expressed herein are those of the author, Kari Herrera, and are not indicative of the opinions or positions of Freestyle Food and Drink.