A few years ago, we ran a wonderful piece by Andrea Guthmann about high tea in Chicago and you liked it. You really, really liked it.
So, just in time for Mother’s Day, we wanted to share a secret with you: As wonderful as those suggestions were, Chicago, in its great abundance, has STILL MORE proper tea options. This means many more opportunities to spend a lovely afternoon sipping tea; delighting over delicate scones, tea sandwiches and sweet treats; and just generally pampering yourself. So whether you find your happy place in a posh hotel dining room or a boutique sweet shop, find it you will. The Mad Hatter would be proud.
2127 W. Division St., Chicago, 872-206-5581
Speaking of Wonderland, one glance into this fanciful bakery may convince you that you have fallen through the looking glass. A life-size tree sculpture spreads its branches in a canopy over much of the dining room while comfy barrel chairs in brightly colored velveteen are pulled up to wooden tables where you can enjoy your tea and treats. (Heading to the facilities? The hallway walls are covered in astroturf, and the doors are painted a bright apple green.) Multi-tiered treat stands hold candy-colored macarons and tiny cupcakes, tea sandwiches and scones, all accompanying your favorite Benjamin Tea varietals. Tea parties must be pre-ordered — if you drop in (à la the original Alice), they can’t guarantee the proper selection — and they can handle as many as 45 or as few as one. Email to reserve your space in Wonderland.
Open 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday-Friday; 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., Saturday & Sunday; priced by individual order
120 E. Delaware Place, Chicago, 312-799-4900
Billed as “Not Your Aunt Sally’s High Tea,” Allium combines standby high tea favorites (fruit tarts, smoked salmon and radish on pumpernickel) with more modern interpretations (vanilla cheesecake pops, spinach/artichoke/goat cheese tartlets) on their tower of treats, accompanied by the traditional tea service. There are special menus for kids, as well as gluten- and nut-free adults. Add “free flowing Prosecco” for just $7; the “Queen of Hearts,” a tea-infused cocktail, will run you $15.
Saturdays only, 2:30 – 4 p.m.; $58 for adults and $19 for children 12 and under
1651 N. Wells St., Chicago, 312-624-8540
The “High Tea with a Chocolate Twist” at this cocoa-centric Old Town spot requires reservations, but is definitely worth the effort. Browse the “Wall of Bars,” which features artisanal bean-to-bar chocolates from all over the world, before sitting down to sweet and savory scones, brownies, cookies, a selection of bonbons, a tasting flight of drinking chocolate, and organic Kilogram Teas (or La Colombe coffee, upon request). This tea party skews sweet, but you won’t mind a bit.
Tea service available Wednesday – Sunday from 2:30 – 5:30 p.m.; $27 per person
108 E. Superior St., Chicago, 312-573-6695
The Afternoon Tea experience doesn’t get much more posh than the magnificent Peninsula hotel. Treats range from traditional scones and tea cookies to perfect tea sandwiches of cucumber and cream cheese, or avocado and grapefruit shrimp salad on a tiny brioche bun. Gluten-free, vegetarian, vegan and children’s menus are readily available, and the tea selection is unparalleled. Add a glass of Brut Rosé Champagne for that real sense of celebration. So very, very civilized.
Monday – Saturday, 2:30 – 4:30 p.m.; Sunday, 3:30 – 5:30 p.m.; $60 per person (reservations recommended — it’s a hot ticket!)
221 N. Columbus Drive, Chicago, 312-477-0234
The chefs at Filini have put a “modern” spin on afternoon tea, served alongside the hotel’s 50-foot-long fireplace. You’ll find not one, not two, but FOUR different tiers of treats: traditional, savory, sweet and Middle Eastern. So whether you crave Brie and pear compote on baguette, Truffle Deviled Eggs, mini chocolate eclairs or baklava with your tea, they’ve got you covered. A curated selection of organic Rishi Teas is available, and a “Tea-J” provides a musical backdrop for the total tea experience. Prosecco, Mimosas and Bellinis are available for an additional charge. All this deliciousness, and the impeccable architectural design of Jeanne Gang? That’s a perfect afternoon.
Saturday and Sunday, 2 – 4 p.m., $35 per person
2108 Clark St., Chicago, 773-868-7544
Vanille continues to astonish with its Technicolor macaron collection, a delight to both the eye and the stomach. Of course, macarons play a part in their lovely tea service, available only in their new Lincoln Park location. Take your tea beneath a sparkling chandelier in the Tea Salon while sitting on a cushy tufted dining chair. You’ll feel like you’re in a charming Parisian café. Their tea menu includes updated tea sandwiches; tender scones and madeleines served with preserves, lemon curd and proper English double Devon cream; a selection of Vanille sweet specialties; and Benjamin’s Tea. Even the Dormouse would stay awake for this feast.
Thursday – Sunday, seatings at noon, 2 or 4 p.m; $32 per person, $19 for Petit Tea (ages 4–12)
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