What Draws You IN When You Go OUT?

Where was the place you ate or drank at? What drew you into going there? What matters when you’re at a bar and/or restaurant? Each one of us have our own reasons why we go to a specific restaurant or a bar. Whether it’s a special celebration or just the weekend night waiting for us to enjoy, where we go matters. This article about branding and promoting to Millenials talks about how we’re all about experiences and paying more for quality things if we see fit. The article also goes to say that creating value and being personal is important for businesses and I agree. I value certain things at restaurants and if I pay more that’s okay. I got an experience out of it. Why do you think people pay $400 for Lolla tickets? Your selections  on where you go eat and where you spend your money represent you as a person whether you want to believe it or not.

I’ll start and I want you guys to answer, it’ll be fun to see what you all say.

Atmosphere- I personally like go to places that have a classy modern style of specific theme. I like places with low lights, relaxed music and have a romantic feel. Places that have candles on the wall or the table are really beautiful to me and set the tone for the night.

Hanging plants, chandeliers and other vegetation is a new trend I see in many Chicago bars and I think it’s really beautiful.

The Allis Chicago
The Allis lobby view
Photo by Belinda Sanmiguel
Bar at The Allis
Bar view of The Allis
Photo by Belinda Sanmiguel











Beatnik, El Che Bar and The Allis are all places I’ve been to recently that have this theme going on with plants and candles as their main focus points to their decor. Fort Willow has a tree house theme to it which I think is really cool and inventive. I like their consistency throughout their website to their menu design, to the experience at their bar. Near the bar they have a swing (yes you can actually swing on it), it’s just a fun place to go to.

Fort Willow
Inside Fort Willow
Photo by Belinda Sanmiguel
Cocktails at Fort Willow
Cocktails at Fort Willow
Photo by Belinda Sanmiguel











The music also plays a role in the atmosphere for the place. The music has to match each establishment accordingly. The music can be chill house or it could be Latin funk. Either genre works for me as long as it makes sense to the establishment’s theme.

Drink Menu- I like to see a bar that’s creative with their offerings. I like when bars step outside of their comfort zone and bring ingredients or flavors together. As you read off the ingredients it should be fun to think “how will this all work and still taste good?” The last drink I had at The Sixth was a gin cocktail dressed up with basil powder with a homemade watermelon cube. The drink was fun, enjoyable and the presentation was on point. At Fort Willow there is a cocktail that I had called the Cape Route Mule, which consisted of the following ingredients: cilantro, cumin, ginger and vodka. It was super interesting and really enjoyable. Check it out if you like Moscow Mules.

Food Menu- I love to go to many different kinds of restaurants in all cuisines. The menu has to be engaging to me and offer things that sounds interesting. I usually look up the menu before going anywhere to see what their theme is. Is it a fusion place or is ethnic? Is this a small plate or “Tapas style” place or do they offer family portions? All of these are important when planning out my night. Since I am usually starving by the time I am getting to the restaurant I usually steer away from Tapa style servings. However it works when I am not too hungry which isn’t often. I went to Amerikas a “Nuevo Latino” Fusion (pretty much a fusion of  food from countries within South American and Mexico) restaurant in Oak Park couple weeks back and ordered the Pulpo which is octopus for those the non-Spanish speakers out there. The octopus was cooked very well and was accompanied with toasted garbanzos and fingerling potatoes. Amazing taste and textures. It’s not really an “out there” kind of dish as a whole, but the crunchiness of the toasted garbanzos was a really nice contrast to the chewy octopus.

Service- I think most people would say service makes a difference when you’re out. Whether you’re at a dive bar in Wisconsin or at a Michelin star restaurant downtown Chicago. You want to be treated well. If the server/bartender is on top of his game, friendly, knowledgeable and just overall just nice that helps with the experience. This also lets me know if I will be a return guest to the establishment.

I met a friend who works at Quiote, he was my bartender for a long time and his knowledge of Mezcal and his friendly personality made me a return customer and a friend. Trust me, if you find someone in the food/bar nightlife scene you’ll be good wherever you go. They just know things going on in the industry and they take care of you. Just take care of them too. 🙂

Check please- In my last post I mentioned how you’re given the check matters. I went to The Allis a couple weeks ago they gave me the check in such a cute and dainty way, see photo below.

The Allis check
Check at The Allis
Photo by Belinda Sanmiguel










Have you ever been given a goodbye with shots.. from a bar? Unfortunately we found out shortly after that 1. Those shots were nasty and 2. One of the bartenders almost charged us for them (miscommunication between the bar team). I gave them the benefit of the doubt and I still thought it was a nice way to send us off for the night. Do you dig the old lady dainty dish on it? I do.

So, I’ll ask it again, what draws you into a bar or restaurant?



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