Happy Pride Month! The Chicago Pride Parade may be delayed until October, but there is still much to celebrate. Many businesses will be offering Pride Month specials, and the two-day Pride in the Park festival will be held June 26 and 27 in Grant Park. Looking for ways to celebrate and stand in solidarity with Chicago’s vibrant LGBTQ+ community? Here is a sampling of LGBTQ-owned restaurants and bakeries in the Chicago area that you should absolutely check out. These are great places to patronize year-round — but getting you in the door this month is a step in the right direction.
Big Chicks has been a long-time staple in the Uptown community and is regularly voted “Best Gay Bar” in town. Tweet is the sister restaurant next door, the early riser to Big Chicks’ nighttime vibe. Head to Tweet for their breakfast/brunch/lunch options, like the huge Breakfast Burritos, omelets, various versions of Eggs Benedict, pancakes, and more. Big Chicks offers giant nacho platters, inventive meal-sized salads, Mexican specialties, burgers, and a generous helping of vegan options starting at 5 pm.
Chef/owner Paul Fehribach, who has been honored with many nominations for the James Beard Foundation’s Best Chef: Great Lakes, is one of Chicago’s top toques. And not only does he make some of the best Southern food you’ll ever taste (the Fried Chicken, Shrimp and Grits, Gumbo Ya-Ya, biscuits, and Crawfish Etoufée are all *chef’s kiss*), but he’s given so much to the community, both here in Chicago and beyond. Andersonville is lucky to have him! This is one of the five Chicago restaurants I recommend the most to visitors. It’s truly special.
This family-oriented neighborhood coffee shop in Lincoln Park is co-owned by chef Dominique Tougne and LGBTQ community member Chad Bertelsman. This is your go-to place for the French bistro craving, from custardy quiches to Croque Monsieurs, Tuna Niçoise to crêpes. And the croissants… ooh la la! Escape to Paris without all that pesky travel.
This Lakeview bakery is LGBTQ-owned and operated. Owner/baker Jenni Vee is known for her fanciful cupcake and layer cake creations influenced by the flavors of the Philippines, especially the Purple Velvet Cake that uses ube (purple yam) to infuse both the cake and mousse filling. Other popular flavors include Mango Cream (vanilla cake, mango filling, mango mousse) and the Buko Pandan Cupcake (pandan cake, mousse, and young coconut cake).
Owner Ramesh Ariyanayakam opened Uptown’s Kit Kat Lounge back in 2000, and its nightly drag shows have wowing audiences ever since. When it is really rocking, dinner is served nightly, with a Divalicious Brunch on Sundays. They are reopening this week.
These two celebrated sister restaurants in the West Loop are owned by LGBTQ community member Emmanuel Nony, along with Chef Andrew Zimmerman, who has won national acclaim for his inventive takes on seasonal American cuisine at Sepia (a four-time James Beard Award finalist) and global street food at Proxi.
Once a mainstay of the River North scene, the Baton Show Lounge is now entertaining people a little further north in Uptown. Drag showcases run nightly Thursday through Sunday, with a fabulous drag brunch on Sunday.
It’s good to see the Loop coming back to life, and one of my favorite before-theater stops is The Dearborn, a traditional American tavern owned by Irish-born sisters Amy and Clodagh Lawless (Amy is a member of the LGBTQ community). Great cocktails, fried chicken to die for, pristinely fresh seafood (those oysters!) and more.
Owner Franco Gianni pays homage to his beloved father —a woodworker for five decades— with his Boystown restaurant. A six-time Michelin Bib Gourmand winner, Wood’s executive chef Devin Kreller keeps it real with meats butchered in-house and seasonal, local produce; bread is made in the wood-fired oven. A neighborhood favorite.
Pride Specials at Proud Ally Restaurants
The Boka Restaurant Group is doing limited-time Pride Month specials across all of their restaurants, with at least $1 from each sale of the participating dish (or beverage) going to Howard Brown Health. Check out the Pride Dessert Trolley at Swift & Sons, Momotaro’s Niji Hako Rainbow Box ($3 donated for each sold), Tie-Dye Cupcakes from Sugargoat, and more.
This delightful Andersonville restaurant is serving up Pride Puffs — colorful iced cream puffs with a creamsicle filling — in honor of Pride Month this year. $5 of every purchase will be donated directly to Howard Brown Health’s Broadway Youth Center.
If you’ve got a sweet tooth, you’ll be happy to know that the mile-high Goddess Rainbow Cake is back, along with G&G’s commitment to donate a portion of sales to the Center on Halsted, the comprehensive LGBTQ community center in Lakeview. They will donate $1 per slice, $8 per 8”cake, and $10 per 10” cake sold throughout Pride Month. New this year: a savory option! They will donate a dollar for every Rainbow Salmon Skewer sold.
Every year, Stan’s honors Pride Month with a special Pride Donut decorated with a rainbow-colored vanilla glaze and they donate a part of the proceeds of Rainbow Donuts sales to an LGBTQ-focused charity. This year’s recipient has not yet been announced.
More from Better:
- Pride Month 2021: 10 Pride Products and Collections That Give Back
- At Last, We Can Go To Dinner: Three Chicago Restaurant Openings
- Great North Shore Restaurants: Where to Eat in Winnetka and Northfield
Julie Chernoff, Better’s dining editor since its inception in 2007, graduated from Yale University with a degree in English — which she speaks fluently — and added a professional chef’s degree from the California Culinary Academy. She has worked for Boz Scaggs, Rick Bayless, and Wolfgang Puck (not all at the same time); and counts Northlight Theatre and Les Dames d’Escoffier International as two of her favorite nonprofits. She currently serves on the national board of MAZON: A Jewish Response to Hunger, an advocacy group addressing hunger issues in the U.S. and Israel for the nearly 46 million people — veterans, children, seniors, tribal nations, and more — who go to bed hungry every night.