A popular spy-theme restaurant and bar brings its secretive customs to Chicago.

By Jamie Bartosch
August 15, 2017
Photo courtesy of SafeHouse

When you're seeking intrigue in the Windy City, look for the red door at 60 E. Ontario St., just west of the Magnificent Mile in the River North neighborhood. It's the unofficially official entrance to SafeHouse Chicago, a restaurant, bar and nightclub that opened in March 2017 with a focus on all things clandestine.

Like its sister location, the legendary SafeHouse Milwaukee (also known by its crafty cover, International Exports Ltd.), SafeHouse Chicago stations "security" staff inside the door. To get in, you have to perform random assigned tasks to prove you're part of the mission. Don't worry; you'll pass and get the nod to descend a darkened staircase to an underground world of eats, drinks and mystery.

Photo courtesy of SafeHouse

In keeping with the restaurant's Control is Watching theme, surveillance cameras and photos of real-life and Hollywood spies line the walls. Artifacts include a torpedo and an aircraft fuselage suspended from the ceiling. When you see the panel of lighted buttons with a "Do not touch" sign, give in to temptation. But be ready to generate laughs from other diners.

The crowd here-a mix of hipsters and tourists-doesn't come for the food and drink so much as the artifice and activities. An impressive magician does tricks with cards near the Gadget Bar. A scavenger hunt cast as Recon Duty forges alliances with other patrons. Just a typical night for a spy on the town (safehousechicago.com).

Photo courtesy of SafeHouse