Chef’s Special Cocktail Bar is a charmingly americanized Chinese restaurant and bar. Growing up in the suburbs, my first real introduction to Asian cuisine was Chinese takeout, and this place takes those nostalgic foods I remember ordering as a family, and upgrades them with present-day presentations in a fun corner bar atmosphere in Bucktown.
The real center of attention in Chef’s Special’s space is the bar, so starting with a fun cocktail is definitely a good idea. Their cocktail menu is organized by three different types: spritz’d, mixed and stirred channeling tropical vibes all around. Many of these can also be made booze-free, too. After a few fruity cocktails you may want to switch it up, so they have a great list of wines and rotating beers, along with easy drinkin’ domestics.
Their unpretentious approach to food gives you plenty to share from a variety of rice and noodle dishes to flavorful appetizers. This place is great for groups to be able to order up and share a bunch of dishes. For some heat, go for the dry chicken chili, and for some comforting noodles, their dan dan noodles hit the spot. Drink cocktails for dessert or go for the sweet, but not overwhelming coconut milk custard.