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Your Best Bets for Kentucky Derby Day in Chicago

Celebrate the best bites and drinks for the Kentucky Derby

Chicago q

It’s time to break out your big hats, pastels, and Mint Juleps—The Kentucky Derby is here! This Saturday, thousands will be flocking to Churchill Downs for the now iconic day of racing. However, if you’re not heading south to see the event in person, you can still celebrate with good food, sweet drinks, and all your best Windy City foodie pals.

Bernie’s Lunch & Supper {660 North Orleans Street; 312.624.9892}

Bernie’s Lunch & Supper will host a Kentucky Derby viewing party on their rooftop this Saturday from 4-7pm (weather permitting). Festive drink specials will include Rabbit Hole Mint Julep as well as a Rabbit Hole Old Fashioned and Rabbit Hole Kentucky Mule. There will also be the Bernie’s Cheeseburger, Lamb Hashwi, and decadent Fries with Garlic Aïoli, for $8 bucks each. There will also be further specials on beer, wine, sangria, and other sides. After a week of on and off rain, here’s hoping the sun will make a much-needed appearance so we can all celebrate in the open air.

Chicago q {1160 North Dearborn Street, Chicago; 312.642.1160}

For a taste of Southern comfort food, there are few spots like Chicago q. The barbecue spot is hosting a special Kentucky Derby party this Saturday, complete with a “Best Hat” competition and live music. Starting at 3pm, you will definitely want to arrive promptly to take advantage of the Derby Buffet and cocktail specials. You can still grab tickets here! 

The Peninsula {108 East Superior Street, Chicago; 312.337.2888}

For an elevated Derby Day experience, The Peninsula will host a series of festivities with a portion of proceeds to benefit The Trotter Project. Start with Afternoon Tea at The Lobby, which will have a special Derby twist complete with Mint Juleps and an outfit contest. After tea, head to The Bar for flights of Woodford Reserve whiskey starting at 2 pm. A DJ will spin music, and there is no cover charge. After the race, a Derby-themed Chocolate Bar will go up in The Lobby at 7 pm, giving a veritable buffet feast of elegant bite-sized chocolate desserts and morsels. A portion of sales from the whiskey tastings and Mint Juleps will be donated to The Trotter Project.


Crispy Chicken Thighs

State and Lake Chicago Tavern at theWit {201 North State Street, Chicago; 312.239.9400}

If you think the Kentucky Derby is really all about the fashion, theWit hotel is the place to be. Specials at State and Lake Tavern include Crispy Chicken Thighs with mustard slaw, bourbon honey, and pepper vinegar. Pair it with a specialty drink like the Large Format Mint Juleps, and you’ll be ready to celebrate all day long. Derby Day attire is recommended and there will be a photo booth with fun Derby inspired props starting at noon. Dressed-up guests can also enter the “Best Dressed” Instagram Contest for a chance to win a $150 Wit gift card.

By Kaleigh Glaza, Online Editor