Departures' Guide to the Best of Chicago 2011

<a href="" class="external" rel="nofollow">Sarah Lemoncelli</a>

From Prohibition-era steakhouses to cutting-edge boutiques, the scoop on where to go now in Chicago.

Politicians, mobsters, sports greats, literary scions and the glamour of Prohibition-era intrigue are the stuff of Chicago legend. But these days, from the tony Gold Coast to the gritty South Side, the Windy City has a newfound luster, born of the collision between tradition and innovation. Redefining American classics with imagination and humor, culinary daredevils have turned this meat-and-potato-loving town into a gastronomic destination. Haute retailers have set up in dramatic spaces that reference classicism within a 21st-century context. But history buffs, fear not. In this City of Big Shoulders, visionaries have always coexisted with a storied past. Capone-era jazz clubs and other historic nooks are always just an L stop away.