River North's Swirl Wine Bar offers a comfortably chic atmosphere in which to sip, chat and swirl (if you're so inclined) late into the night. Pouring 25 kinds of grapes that can be ordered by the glass, quartino or bottle, plus a crop of international Reserve wines, this neighborhood wine bar's got variety to spare.
Chef Luis Sanchez (a veteran of restaurants like Crofton on Wells, BIN 36 and the Chicago Firehouse) cooks up a range of wine accompaniments, from caramelized-pear-and-onion pizza to Caesar salad with roasted hearts of Romaine. A selection of small plates, divided into hot and cold categories, includes simple offerings such as a cheese plate with sliced apple and smoked Gouda quesadillas served with orange-cilantro pesto.
The 67-seat space is flooded with seascape hues. Plush, sandy golden-brown chairs fill the lounge area in back, which is awash in a grayish-blue color scheme. In front of the dark wood bar, hi-tops rest alongside exposed-brick walls and are individually lit with mini, multi-tiered chandeliers. A wraparound banquet in front rounds out the seating selection.
On Friday and Saturday, live Latin jazz and Brazilian samba lends festive ambiance. And worry not, non-wine enthusiasts; Swirl has you covered with a full-service liquor bar.
Average cost: $10-$20
Centerstage Reviewer: Jennifer Berg