Jul 26, 2023 - Food and Drink

Chicago happy hour deals: Chinese food and cocktails at Chef's Special

Beer and egg rolls

Monica tried a trendy Fair State Hop Water, spring rolls and more at Chef's Special Cocktail Bar. Photo: Monica Eng/Axios

Eight years ago this month, Illinois made happy hours legal again, ushering in a smorgasbord of discounted drinks and salty foods at bars across the state.

What's happening: To celebrate we're launching a series of mini happy hour reviews. Monica kicks off the series with Chef's Special Cocktail Bar, where happy hour runs daily from 5-6pm.

The vibe: This Bucktown cocktail bar/Chinese restaurant mixes an old-school hipster interior with a sunny and family-friendly outdoor side patio.

Drink specials include $6 drafts, $45 liters of house wine, a "chef's old fashioned" for $9 and a "mini skirt" (with pisco and passion fruit) for $9.

The food: Giant chef Jason Vincent offers nostalgic takes on Chinese American classics at this side project, including egg rolls and crab Rangoon.

Monica's take: I loved the spicy, chewy dan dan noodles ($11) but my Fair State Hop Water ($7) delivered almost zero flavor. So much for trying to be a cool non-drinker.

  • My BFF sipped a tasty $6 draft IPA, but his crisp, mushroom-powder dusted vegetarian spring rolls ($6) lacked pizazz. The intense mustard sauce saved the day.

Next time: I'm getting the "Slow Roll" — an $11 special that includes a shot (whiskey or tequila), a PBR and an egg roll.

For hungry drinkers, the spicy dan dan noodles are a great option during the Chef's Special happy hour. Photo: Monica Eng/Axios

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