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SAVOR Apogee; Mercadito
DISH: Weekly Dining Guide in Windy City Times
by Andrew Davis, Windy City Times

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An apogee is officially described as "the highest point in the development of something."

Well, the dana hotel and spa lounge Apogee ( 660 N. State St.; )—a concept in collaboration with The Fifty/50 Restaurant Group—certainly achieves a high point physically. It's at the top of the River North hotel, and produces a breathtaking ( if almost vertigo-inducing ) view on all sides, especially out on the patio.

And I'm going to get this out of the way: Yes, the drinks are a little on the expensive side, ranging from $14 to $400 ( the latter for large-format cocktails meant for sharing ). However, compared to other places with similarly priced items, Apogee certainly brings it.

For example, Where Do You Summer? ( $18 ) is served in a real coconut shell and is stuffed with El Dorado rum, falernum, grapefruit, maraschino, tiki bitters and pumpkin spice. There's also the intriguing Mr. Nice Guy ( $42; meant for two people )—served in a bong—that has Elyx vodka, white sage, pineapple and dehydrated blackberry. In addition, those with deeper pockets may want to check out the vaunted pocket service that includes Old Rip Van Winkle 25 Year—which retails for $15,000.

One caveat: There's no food at Apogee, so you might want to stop at a taco stand before coming here. However, be prepared for an unforgettable experience.


Mercadito ( 108 W. Kinzie St.; ) promises an authentic Mexican experience—and, for the most part, it succeeds.

The decor is not very colorful, as is the case with some Mexican restaurants. Mercadito emits a cool, sleek vibe—as is the standard in River North.

As for the cuisine, it's pretty impressive, overall. There are three different types of guacamole, including traditional, mango and toreado ( which is a bit kickier than the others ). The mixto ceviche was also pretty nice.

Also, the tacos ( specifically the lobster one ) were quite appealing. However, the brisket torta is what sealed the deal for me; I'd return for that sandwich alone.

Lastly, the margaritas are a must. Mercadito certainly knows what it's doing there—and those drinks are among the best margaritas I've sampled in Chicago.

Note: Restaurant/bar profiles are based on invitations arranged from restaurants and/or firms.

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