Where To Find Hygge In Chicago This Winter
By Chicagoist_Guest in Arts & Entertainment on Jan 27, 2017 5:34PM
By Madeline Hester
We can learn a lot from the Danish: universal healthcare, free university education, their ranking as the happiest people in the world—but until all that happens (if ever) in the U.S., there is one Danish import we can take up today, and that’s hygge.
Hygge (pronounced hoo-ga) essentially means “coziness of the soul”, “absence of annoyance” and “cocoa by candlelight” according to Meik Wiking, author of The Little Book of Hygge. It can be used as a noun, adjective or verb, as well as in conjunction with other words such as hyggebukser, that favorite pair of sweatpants you don’t wear in public.
Hygge has been a way of life in Denmark for decades, but only recently is it trending like wildfire—or rather, the crackling fire inside a beautiful hearth. In 2016, hygge was short-listed for the Oxford Dictionary’s ‘word of the year’ and several books were published about the hygge lifestyle. And why not? For those seeking less stress/anxiety, hygge provides an easy wellness approach: think, being social without Snapchat, not just living, but savoring, in the moment, and the chance to exist in a Danish design aesthetic, wherever you go. If you want to try it, and can’t afford a last-minute ticket to Denmark, check out our starter guide on how to experience optimal hygge right here in Chicago.
The interior is less charming at night. Photo by Kailley Lindman.
The Danish have a high consumption of meat, sweets and coffee, so all of those things are considered hyggelig (translation: very hygge). With a hygge life, there is no need to diet. Quit overindulging on pacakged foods and, instead, savor the bites of classic comforts and homemade desserts at these restaurants. (Of course, it doesn’t hurt that oversized wool sweaters are also hyggelig.)
Meaning “love” in Danish, this new West Loop restaurant bakes their own bread, has a Scandinavian aesthetic and a beautiful fire pit in the back. The 8-course tasting menu will make it impossible to rush your meal.
Located at 1350 W. Randolph St.
Tre Kronor Restaurant / Via Food Network
Tre Kronor Restaurant
This Scandinavian bistro in Albany Park is a family-run restaurant, ensuring that each plate of Swedish meatballs comes with an extra helping of coziness.
Located at 3258 W. Foster Ave.
The Bourgeois Pig Cafe
The idea for this Lincoln Park spot was inspired by the owner’s backpacking trip through Europe. With two levels of seating, outdoor patio and a cozy living room feel, there is plenty of space to savor a treat with a friend.
Located at 738 W. Fullerton Ave.
Baker and Nosh
With ample backyard seating, this Uptown bakery is perfect for indulging in a couple jam bars and some monkey bread. They bake their own breads and pastries on the premises; fresh baked is always hygge.
Located at 1303 Wilson Ave.
Baker and Nosh
Kirsten’s Danish Bakery
The Danes eat an average of 18 pounds of sweets a year so it’s completely alright to go for seconds of the awarding-winning kringles made in-house at this bakery in Burr Ridge.
Located at 94 Burr Ridge Pkwy.
Medici on 57th
This charming bakery-turned-restaurant in Hyde Park lies conveniently near the University of Chicago. Order something from their full menu, BYOB and admire the Old World-style artwork created by current and former employees.
Located on 1327 E. 57th St.
The most hygge time of the year is winter, when staying indoors and warm drinks reign. No need for fancy cocktails here; only something strong to keep the belly warm and a fireplace to keep the body warmer. Whether it be over mulled wine or coffee, Weik writes that a hygge conversation, or hyggesnak, should be about the joys of life, i.e. no complaining and no politics. All of these places offer exactly the right atmosphere for just that.
This new, dimly-lit dive bar in Logan Square offers comfy booths, a full bar and a backyard patio (open in spring) perfect for connecting with your close-knit friends. Grab a drink and don’t discuss Trump over their free popcorn.
Located at 2417 N. Milwaukee Ave.
Board games are extremely hygge-perfect for connecting with friends without distracting technology. This Lakeview bar has an ample selection encouraging friendly competition in a laid-back setting.
Located at 1300 W. Addison St.
This bar in Andersonville is famous for its gløgg, or mulled wine. A fireplace sits in the back nook and offers a spot to unwind and warm up from the winter cold.
Located at 5210 N. Clark St.
Inspired by European street bistros, this small bar in Wicker Park is coffee by day and bar by night. The outdoor patio is perfect for long conversations that start in the afternoon and end long after the sun sets.
Located at 2211 W. North Ave.
Heritage Bicycles General Store
Perhaps as expected, cycling is the most hygge of all transportations. This spot offers not only a selection of Chicago-made bicycles, but also a full coffee bar to caffeinate your ride.
Located at 2959 N. Lincoln Ave.
Heritage Bicycles General Store / Instagram
Located in Pilsen, this bar and grill is an ideal location for relaxing with friends. Taken out of the hygge handbook, many of the surfaces were built using re-purposed material-check out the bar top from an old bowling lane and the booths from retired pinball machines. Be sure to relax in their patio during the summer for some green space.
Located at 960 W. 18th St.
Seven out of ten Danes say they experience the most hygge inside the home. The hygge aesthetic is all about candles, fireplaces, things made out of wood, cozy blankets, books, vintage, etc. Imagine hot chocolate and chill meets your grandma’s house. If you’re looking to hygge-ify your surroundings, these shops have some great options to alter your interior.
This vintage/modern design store is filled with comfy furniture, rich blankets and decadent rugs balanced with simple but always interesting accents from local Chicago artists to create the ideal hygge aesthetic.
Located at 1045 N. California Ave.
The Weaving Mill
Run out of a small-scale industrial space in Humboldt Park, The Weaving Mill works with a diverse collection of artists to create new textiles for totes, scarves, and blankets. They also work with Envision Unlimited to help adults with developmental disability. Snuggle up with one of their blankets and feel extra hygge knowing you are helping a good cause.
Read It and Eat
Hygge favors a home-cooked meal over take-out. If you’re clueless in the kitchen, this place sells a wide selection of cookbooks with a test kitchen where they routinely test out recipes (and put out samples!) In addition, they offer cooking classes including some for couples.
Located at 2142 N. Halsted St.
Read It and Eat
Looking for some greenery to go with all that vintage wood, fuzzy blankets and fireplaces? This Pilsen home-goods store has you covered. Specializing in local and eco-friendly houseplants and planters, this shop has everything you need to bring your garden inside during the cold months.
Located at 1152 W. 18th St.
Knits are another major hyggelig fashion statement: perfect for layering, hand-crafted, and a great activity to do in front of the fireplace with your phone off. Don’t know how to knit? Nina provides classes for all skill levels.
Located at 1655 W. Division St.
Know any other places in Chicago that are hygge? Let us know in the comments.