Discover the finest restaurants in Chicago by using our guide, which will take you on a gastronomic journey through the city’s core, where fine dining and a wide range of flavors meet. From iconic establishments with rich histories to trendy eateries pushing the boundaries of innovation, Chicago’s restaurant scene is a vibrant tapestry of dining experiences. Each restaurant on our curated list is a testament to the city’s dedication to gastronomic diversity, showcasing the finest ingredients and culinary craftsmanship. Whether you’re a seasoned food enthusiast or a curious palate ready to explore, join us in savoring the top dining destinations that define Chicago as a culinary capital. Get ready to indulge in unforgettable flavors and experiences that celebrate the richness of Chicago’s dynamic food culture.
Located a few blocks from the famous Lincoln Park Zoo in Bucktown, Alinea is an award-winning and internationally acclaimed fine dining restaurant. Alinea has been deemed the best restaurant in the U.S. and the entire world by national and international travel and food magazines. Alinea has also been awarded three Michelin stars, an honor only afforded to 13 other restaurants globally. Alinea’s menu offers innovative dishes you won’t see anywhere else and is the very definition of avant-garde cooking. Dining at Alinea is a once-in-a-lifetime experience wherein the food, atmosphere, and service are less like a fine-dining restaurant and more like a trip to the theater. There’s a set price per person depending on which dining room and menu you choose. Menus change constantly, so you should check their menu listing when visiting the site to request a reservation.
Monteverde Restaurant & Pastificio is a high-end Italian restaurant located in the West Loop neighborhood. Head Chef Sarah Grueneberg combines traditional Italian cooking with a slew of world flavors that she has experienced during her travels, along with flavors from her cultural background. As per the name, all pasta is hand-made fresh daily, using the freshest, most authentic Italian imported ingredients. The menu is a combination of small plates and large shareable plates for a family-style dining experience. I recommend starting with the artichoke and sunchoke crostini with house-made ricotta, fontina, and truffle and the Texas redfish with eggplant caponata, dill salmoriglio, and pistachio. My favorite pasta dish was the egg yolk ravioli, filled with ricotta and goat cheese and served with kale, garam masala, pomegranate molasses, and toasted pistachio.
Located in Chicago’s West Loop neighborhood, avec Restaurant is a wine bar and Mediterranean-inspired restaurant in a uniquely designed space with all wood floors, walls, and ceilings. Avec Restaurant’s chef Dylan Patel delivers rustic Mediterranean dishes using local Midwest ingredients to accompany the extensive wine list that inspired the restaurant’s founding 17 years ago. Avec Restaurant serves a full dinner and brunch menu along with a wine list that features close to 50 offerings, not to mention cocktails, espresso, and beer. The menu is extensive yet affordable. My favorite dish at avec was the sumac glazed bone-in ribeye with harissa brown butter, grilled artichokes, and heart-baked pita.
Chicago is famous for its deep-dish pizza, and Pequod’s Pizza has been one of Chicago’s premier Chicago-style pizzerias for decades. Located in Sheffield Neighbors, Pequod’s Pizza has received countless press from national and international food and travel magazines and news stations as having the best deep-dish pizza on earth. Pizzas come in a deep metal dish like that of a baked casserole or lasagna. You know you’re in for a hearty, multi-layer pizza with the densest, spongiest crust. They call it pan pizza, but you can also order thin-crust pizza along with numerous selections of appetizers, pasta, salads, and sandwiches. All pizzas are build-your-own, starting with a cheese and tomato sauce base.
Located on the southern side of Chicago’s famous Centennial Park, Lula Café opened in 1999 as one of the pioneers of the farm-to-table movement. Head Chef Jason Hammel has received two James Beard Best Che nominations for his inventive dishes that don’t fit into any singular cuisine. The menu has a wide variety of meat, fish, and vegetarian options. Lunch, dinner, and weekend brunch are served at Lula with both a daytime and evening drink menu. I recommend their fresh mussels with celery soffritto, cubanelle peppers, and sorrel served with garlic toast.
CUBANEO is next on our list and this is not a spot you want to miss, especially if you love delicious Cuban cuisine like we do. This place is a fantastic destination for brunch here in Chicago, but the menu is full of other options as well. We recommend a few empanadas to start and some mojo pork to finish. No matter what you order, it’s going to be tasty!
Smyth + The Loyalist
Smyth + The Loyalist are two different restaurants in one two-story dining space between the Greek Town and West Town neighborhoods. The owners are a married Chef and pastry Chef duo with over thirty years of experience in the fine dining industry. Smyth + The Loyalist is their dual-concept restaurant creation, with the first floor being a tasting-menu restaurant and lounge and the second floor a more extensive menu. No matter which restaurant you choose, local and seasonal ingredients make up both menus. Smyth offers a set chef’s tasting menu, while The Loyalist has a conventional menu. I ate at The Loyalist and had an incredible meal of Poulet Roti Pour Deux, a ½ roasted chicken served over bread and butter with Normande sauce, candied carrots, mashed potatoes, chicken liver, and foie gras mousse and foie gras roasted cauliflower with hazelnuts.
Mi Tocaya Antojería
Meaning, “my namesake”, Mi Tocaya Antojeria is an upscale Mexican restaurant, serving traditional dishes from the owner’s home country and beloved heritage. Mi Tocaya Antojeria was nominated for a James Beard Award for its wonderful food served in a vibrantly colorful presentation. Located in the Logan Square neighborhood, the dining space is equally beautiful and authentic, with colorfully tiled walls and bar, traditional Mexican art, and an old-fashioned tortilla press. You will never see a more unique Mexican food menu than from Mi Tocaya, and while it may have tacos, enchiladas, and chips and salsa, there are so many traditional dishes that you have never heard of before. I recommend the Tlacoyo de Nopalitos, a traditional street food of blue corn masa stuffed with goat cheese and topped with cured cactus salad, Mexican chili oil, and papalo.
Located in Logan Square, Giant is a dressy casual restaurant and cocktail bar, serving a panoply of world cuisines in an intimate and small dining space. Although the dining space is small, it would make Chicago proud as an aesthetic and architectural feat, combining modern and industrial interior design. Their craft cocktail menu offers a delicious selection of infused spirits and fresh ingredients, not to mention their impressive list of microbrewery beers sourced from around the nation. As for their food, I recommend the grilled pork with chimichurri, feta, tomato, and a scallion pancake.
Galit is another Lincoln Square favorite, an Israeli and Middle Eastern restaurant rooted in community and restaurant industry appreciation. Head Chef Zachary Engel has won a James Beard Award for Galit’s seasonal, locally sourced menu of Israeli, Mediterranean, and Middle Eastern dishes accompanied by a refreshing cocktail and wine list. In authentic Mediterranean and Middle Eastern fashion, Galit’s menu has a variety of shared small plates, featuring different dips, spreads, and roasted and raw vegetable salads. Each meal begins with three different hummus varieties, followed by pickled and roasted vegetable mezze. The large plates are all coal-fired dishes like smoked Turkey Shawarma and Lamb Tangier Sausage, to name a few.
Located in East Hyde Park, a few blocks from the Lake Michigan waterfront and Harold Washington Park, Virtue Restaurant offers delicious southern comfort food with classic southern hospitality. Rooted in honoring southern heritage, culture, and cooking techniques, Virtue Restaurant also stands for the continued struggle for civil rights. Virtue’s menu has all the best and most authentic southern favorites, starting with buttermilk biscuits and pimento cheese. I loved their fried green tomatoes with gulf shrimp and remoulade sauce as a starter. I recommend the Walleye main course of crawfish and shrimp etouffee over buttered grits.
Lem’s Bar-B-Q has been a Southside Chicago favorite since it opened in 1954. Owners and brothers Bruce and Mules Lemons have created a Barbeque institution replete with its slew of famous sauces and spice rubs that elevate their meats to a flavorful cut above the competition. Lem’s is famous for its rib tips and hot sausage links, but they also offer delicious fried chicken and shrimp. The menu is a simple list of all the cuts of meat, ribs, and links along with fried chicken and shrimp packages along with classic sides like potato salad, coleslaw, and French fries.
J.P. Graziano Grocery
J.P. Graziano Grocery is on Randolph Street, where it started as an Italian grocer. Over the years, the restaurant became famous for its massive sub sandwiches, to the extent that you should order in advance so you don’t go hungry waiting in line. You can’t go wrong with any of these mouth-watering sandwiches, but my go-to is the house specialty, Mr. G. Layers of soppressata, prosciutto di parma, genoa salami, and sharp provolone with truffle mustard vinaigrette and marinated artichokes make this sandwich the perfect blend of rich meat and tangy toppings.
Located in the East Ukrainian Village neighborhood, Kasama is a Filipina bakery and restaurant run by Filipino native chef duo Cenie Kwon and Anthony Flores. Their unique donuts, pastries, and sandwiches have received a Michelin-bib mention along with plenty of local Chicago press. The New York Times, Chicago Tribune, and Chicago Magazine have all written pieces raving about Kasama’s food, chefs, and authenticity. Along with show-stopping donuts, Kasama offers a small but fantastic daytime menu with dishes you won’t find anywhere else. I opted for the vegetarian mushroom adobo with soy-braised mushrooms, a fried egg, and garlic rice. The Kasama combo sandwich with shaved pork adobo, longanisa sausage, and giardiniera is a meat lover’s dream.
Located in the West Loop neighborhood, Ever Restaurant is a fine-dining New American food bistro run by Michelin-starred Chef Curtis Duffy. The dining experience features a 10-course tasting menu of small, impeccably curated plates that feature every food group from fruits and seeds to surf and turf. Menus constantly change, with a few variations for each season’s bounty. Along with a multi-course set menu, chefs and staff choose a wine program tailored to the menu’s seasonal fare. The meal is a carefully programmed experience that lasts at least two and a half hours, so you are in for a long and lavish night.
Rose May is Chef Joe Flamm’s Fulton Market restaurant. After winning Top Chef, Flamm wanted to serve his unique Italian-Croatian cooking to the people of Chicago. This restaurant is my favorite spot for a nice dinner because you can choose vegetable dishes, fish or meat entrees, or homemade pasta. While everything on the menu is delicious, I usually order the skradin risotto with veal breast, Parmigiano, chicken thigh, and tomato. I’ve never had a creamier risotto than from Rose Mary, so definitely check it out if you love this Italian dish.
Bavette’s Bar & Boeuf
Bavette’s Bar & Boeuf is a French-inspired steakhouse and cocktail bar in Chicago’s Fulton River District, serving high-end meals in a cozy, lively, and hip atmosphere. The dimly lit interior has exposed brick walls, silly mock-taxidermy sculpture wall fixtures, lush suede chairs and leather booths, and impressive old-fashioned French crystal chandeliers. The menu is as decadent and luxurious as the interior of the restaurant, with all the steakhouse classics. I recommend the blue crab cakes with preserved lemon and remoulade sauce to start. If you’re in Chicago, you must try the Chicago cut classic ribeye with bearnaise and steak salt with buttery mashed potatoes and creamed spinach.
Located in the Fulton River District, Oriole is a fine-dining, high-end kitchen specializing in New American dishes. Oriole is a small, intimate restaurant where you can enjoy a multi-course chef’s tasting menu that changes often. The interior is a lovely industrial-chic modern design with exposed brick walls, wood floors, and exposed wood-beamed ceilings. When I ate at Oriole, the menu had a strong Japanese influence, with items like Japanese milk bread, Hamachi, and Miyazaki wagyu beef. However, you never know what will be on the menu when you dine there, and that’s a part of Oriole’s mysterious allure.
Located across interstate 90 from Cabrini Green and Goose Island, Jeong is a high-end South Korean bistro in a small and intimate dining room with traditional delicate stretched paper, wood, bamboo walls, and modern light fixtures and furniture. The menu at Jeong is a tasting of seasonal dishes that changes according to the season’s availability. Regardless of the current menu, however, the presentation of food at Jeong is elegant and stunning, with a full cocktail and wine selection to pair with your meal. The menu I tried featured a salmon tartare with yuzu gastrique that looked like a work of art. The heavier meat and fish dishes on the multi-course menu included seared scallop with Beurre Blanc, spinach, trout roe, chives Mandu, and Kimchi Pork with cucumber and chili crisp.
This Bucktown restaurant makes you feel like you’re eating street food in Mexico City. The chef cooks up traditional dishes with unique flares, but you can also often find custom, seasonal dishes on the menu. In that case, you should try them before they’re gone. From the standard menu, I always find myself ordering more tacos than I can reasonably eat simply because I can’t decide between the al pastor or morcilla. The al pastor has marinated pork with pineapple avocado salsa for savory bites. The morcilla is blood sausage with pepper jam, providing the ideal balance of spice and saltiness.
Milly’s Pizza in the Pan
You can’t visit Chicago without having a pizza, and Milly’s Pizza in the Pan is the best pizza joint in the Uptown area. The cheese reaches the edge of the pan, which is standard for Chicago style, but the unique toppings make it hard to limit yourself to one of these deep-dish pies. Ordering your pizza is half the fun at Milly’s Pizza in the Pan, with names like Updog, Onlypans, Clickbait, and You Do You. My favorite is Craigslist.org, with peppers, mushrooms, red onions, and sausage topped with ricotta cheese.
Girl & the Goat
Located along the West Loop neighborhood’s famous Restaurant Row, Girl & the Goat is a fine-dining world-cuisine restaurant and cocktail bar. Girl & the Goat has a seasonally changing cocktail, wine, and beer menu to accompany its bold, unique wood-fired menu. Whether you’re in the mood for Asian or Italian, there is a dish that satisfies your desire in a creative way. While you will see a wide variety of goat meat and cheeses on the menu, the menu at Girl & Goat has many vegetables, fish, and red meat offerings that run the gamut of world flavors. I recommend starting with the fried brussels sprouts with honey soy glaze, rosemary cream, and togarashi. I tried their delicious confit goat belly with broth, pecan crunch, and apple fennel slaw for the main course.
Located in the Old Irving Park neighborhood, Smoque BBQ is a friendly neighborhood barbeque joint started by five friends and barbeque enthusiasts who collaborated to find the best barbeque rub and sauce recipes as well as award-winning smoking techniques. Their fantastic barbeque has generated a large following and yearly mentions in national and local media as having some of America’s best barbeque. They specialize in Texas-style barbeque that is heavy on the sauce. Their brisket and pulled pork are among the juiciest and most flavorful I’ve had. I also love their individual canister cornbread and barbeque beans as a side. I recommend a ½ and ½ pulled pork and brisket sandwich with slaw and barbeque beans for the best of both worlds.
Spacca Napoli Pizzeria
Spacca Napoli Pizzeria is an authentic Neapolitan pizzeria and Italian eatery in Chicago’s Ravenswood neighborhood. Run by chef and restaurateur Jon Goldsmith and his wife and painter Ginny Sykes, whose beautifully framed works of art line the walls, Spacca Napoli’s interior revolves around the traditional wood-fired brick oven. Spacca Napoli has a large indoor and outdoor seating area along with a full bar, wine list, and beer menu. I recommend the pistachio pizza with fior di latte, sausage, pistachio cream sauce, and basil as a white-based pizza. For a traditional red pizza, I recommend the Funghi e Salsiccia with blended San Marzano tomatoes, fior di latte, basil, mushrooms, sausage, and pecorino gran cru.
Named for the initials of head Chef and owner, Stephen Gillanders, S.K.Y is a fine-dining New American restaurant located in Chicago’s Pilsen neighborhood. Chef Gillanders strives to put a modern twist on traditional world cuisine and the dishes he prepared with his Filipino grandmother when he was a child. S.K.Y. has an extensive wine list and cocktail menu to accompany its dinner and weekend brunch menus. The dinner menu is divided into snacks, appetizers, and mains. I recommend going as a group to try all of the wonderfully innovative and eclectic small plates like the marinated cucumber salad, Maine lobster dumplings, and Rohan duck confit. As for the main dish, I recommend the Grilled beef short rib with whipped gruyere, chimichurri, and lotus root.
Osteria Langhe is an Italian Bistro and wine bar specializing in Northwest Italian cuisine. Located in the Logan Square neighborhood, Osteria Langhe’s interior dining room is a modern take on rustic chic with a giant panorama of the northern Italian countryside lining the back wall. Northern Italian owner Aldo Zanninotto created the wine list using wines imported directly from the Piedmont region of Northern Italy. The menu offers antipasti, small plates, a small main course selection, and some seriously indulgent desserts. The wine is an indispensable part of the meal, and your server will surely guide you on the best wine pairing for your meal. I recommend the risotto special with marinello white or black truffles, sunny egg, mushroom, and fontina val d’aosta.
Au Cheval is a diner-style bar and restaurant that offers high-end diner food along with a vast cocktail and draught beer selection. Located in the Fulton River District, this small, snazzy, and hip diner has some of the best burgers in town, along with some unexpected regional comfort food favorites. The cocktail and beer menus are larger than the food menu, with over fifteen local draught beers alone, not to mention the domestic and imported selections. As for food, you must try their outrageous double cheeseburger with a fried egg and bacon. Try the super-rich crispy fries with mornay sauce, garlic aioli, and a fried farm egg.
Boka is a staple on Halsted Street, celebrating 20 years with Chef Lee Wolen in the kitchen. The seasonal menu uses the best locally sourced ingredients to make these American dinner dishes. Though it’s pricey, I can never resist the roasted dry-aged duck when I’m at Boka. You can order it for yourself or share it with your tablemate, which I recommend you do so you can save room for dessert. The chocolate angel food cake is an indulgence you won’t regret.
One of the oldest hot dog establishments in Chicago, Superdawg Drive-In has been a Bunker Hill drive-in dog stand since 1948. The flashy neon signs, large his and her hot dog figurines on the roof, and the building for the stand have been the same since it opened, barring a few updates. Chicago dogs are 100% beef hot dogs and as juicy as they come, served in a poppy-seed bun with golden mustard, tangy piccalilli, kosher dill pickle, chopped Spanish onions, and hot pepper. Order a side of crispy battered fries, onions, or veggies to accompany your classic Chicago-style hot dog.
Located in Logan Square, one block from Logan Square Park, Daisies is a high-end, stylish New American eatery and cocktail bar specializing in seasonal pasta and vegetables. Owned and run by Chef Joe Frillman and head Chef Thomas Leonard, Daisies is a quaint, rustic-chic space with a lovely back patio and fire pit for enjoying a cocktail al fresco. There is also a specialty food and produce shop inside the restaurant. Vegetarians and meat lovers will find excellent dining options from the vegetable-centric menu. I recommend starting with the herb salad with sweet and spicy peppers, peaches, and every herb under the sun. My favorite pasta dishes are a tie between the black truffle and ricotta ravioli and the potato pierogi with mussels cooked in beer.
If you’re looking for something off the beaten path, try Nine Bar, hidden behind a takeout restaurant in Chinatown. The Mai Tai and Pink Cadillac are my personal favorites, but there are plenty of cocktails to try on the menu. I always make room for snacks since the bar food here is so upscale. General Jones’ Wings are chicken wings tossed in General Tso’s sauce, but you can’t go wrong with the Mapo hot fries or cold sesame noodles.
Carnitas Uruapan Restaurant
Carnitas Uruapan is one of Chicago’s oldest Mexican food restaurants, opening its doors in 1957 under the direction of Michoacan native Inocencio Carbajal. With two locations in West Elsdon and the Lower West Side, Carnitas Uruapan has received national acclaim and featured in programs on Univision, The Food Network, Vice, The Cooking Channel, and PBS for serving the most authentic Mexican food in North America. Carnitas are slow-cooked pork with crispy outsides and tender, juicy insides that are mostly eaten in tacos, but at Carnitas Uruapan, you get it as a whole plate of meat. Try their Carnitas Especial plate that comes with ½ lb. of carnitas, one crispy fried taco dorado stuffed with potato, refried beans, and fresh fruit water.
Honey Butter Fried Chicken
Honey Butter Fried Chicken is a fried chicken fast-food stand and bar with a sit-down location in Avondale and another location in the United Center food court. The Avondale location has a great outdoor patio to enjoy your chicken-centric meal after ordering from the small house in which lies the kitchen. The menu at Honey Butter Fried Chicken has every machination of fried chicken possible, along with a list of foreign and domestic beers, wines, and a small cocktail menu. The fried chicken comes as a plat, sandwich, chicken strips, and more, all cooked with southern comfort flair.
Demera is an Ethiopian restaurant on Broadway, right across from the Riviera Theatre, making it a great place for dinner before catching a show. There are plenty of filling vegan options on the menu, so everyone can find something to enjoy here. My favorite is ye-beg wot, which is a spicy lamb dish cooked in berbere sauce. I also like to start with Ethiopian sambussas as an appetizer since they’re served with a spicy honey awaze sauce. You can choose chicken, beef, spinach, cheese, or lentil sambussas. If you manage to save room for dessert, don’t miss the Ethiopian-style tiramisu.
El Che Steakhouse & Bar
Chef John Manion is in the kitchen of El Che Steakhouse and Bar, bringing Argentinian flavors right off 90 and 290. Though it’s a steakhouse, you can also find seafood and vegetable options. Some of my favorite dishes are oysters with bacon, sweetbreads with a spritz of lemon, and, of course, surf and turf. One of the coolest things about this restaurant is that Chef Manion cooks on a 12-foot hearth, and you can book seats on the counter to watch him work. If you really love the food, you can register for one of the chef’s grilling classes.
With three locations in Lakeview, Bucktown, and downtown Chicago, Redhot Ranch is one of the newest Chicago hotdog stands that claims to represent “the true Chicago dog”. While many people associate Chicago-style hot dogs as being loaded with an entire salad of vegetables on a poppy seed bun, owners at Redhot Ranch stick to the “depression dog,” a simple frank with mustard, relish onions, and peppers. Along with simple Chicago dogs, they also make deliciously caramelized beef patty burgers. Whether you order a dog or a burger, both come wrapped in wax paper and served with old-fashioned fresh-cut fries.
Qing Xiang Yuan Dumplings
Located in Chicago’s Chinatown, Qing Xiang Yuan Dumplings is a family-owned and operated Chinese Dumpling restaurant using a centuries-old family recipe that dates back to the Qing Dynasty. Since bringing the dumpling recipe to American palates, Qing Xiang Yuan Dumplings has received many awards, designed its brand of Chinese tableware, and added new and exciting menu items. There are over thirty steamed dumpling combinations at Qing Xiang Yuan, plus a barbeque menu and appetizers. If you’re feeling overwhelmed with all the options, I recommend ordering from the Chef’s recommendations. I ordered the pork, shrimp, and leek dumplings, and they were delicious.
Hermosa Restaurant is so nice you’ll want to visit it twice. Since it’s on the corner of W. Armitage and N. Kostner, you won’t have to go far out of your way to do so. During the day, you can grab a Cambodian chicken sandwich for lunch. At night, it’s a full Cambodian dining experience with seven courses. The table only seats eight, so you’ll need to plan your dinner months in advance to grab a spot, but it’s worth it. If you order a fried chicken sandwich for lunch, consider adding a side of pickled Thai eggplant or fried beef and vegetable dumplings to get a full taste of the cuisine.
Located a few blocks from Northwestern University and the Museum of Contemporary Art in the Gold Coast area of Chicago, Tzuco is a fine-dining Mexican food restaurant led by the first Mexican chef to win a Michelin Star, Chef Carlos Gaytan. Tzuco is short for Huitzuco, Chef Gaytan’s hometown in the Mexican state of Guerrero. Chef Gaytan has created a unique and creative taste of Mexican cuisine, using the French Haute cooking techniques he has used in his long and successful culinary career. The cocktail and drink menu alone is worth a Michelin Star. For food, I recommend starting with the Pulpo Enamorado (Octopus in Love) with guajillo roasted octopus, salsa macha, pickled carrot, pea, potato, and tonnato aioli. For a truly authentic indigenous Mexican dish, try the Tikin Xic, achiote, and orange marinated mahi-mahi wrapped and steamed in banana leaves and served with parsnip puree, habanero beurre blanc, and tomato avocado salad.
HaiSous Vietnamese Kitchen
Located in the heart of Chicago’s Pilsen neighborhood, HaiSous Vietnamese Kitchen is a high-end Vietnamese cuisine restaurant with an adjoining Vietnamese coffee and banh mi shop. Owned and operated by husband-and-wife duo Thai and Danielle Dang, HaiSous has received national acclaim from the Chicago Tribune, Plate Magazine, Forbes, and USA Today, to name a few. You can choose from Chef’s tasting family-style menus or an a la carte menu. I recommend the chef’s tasting menu for larger parties, and I also recommend going as a group to sample all the delicious dishes. My favorite dish was the Cá kho Bơ, seared halibut, scallop and coconut boudin, and a ginger-scallion emulsion.
Birrieria Zaragoza is a Mexican food restaurant specializing in the regional dish birria, a stew of chili-spiced goat-meat adobo with garlic, cumin, bay leaves, and thyme. Owner Juan Zaragoza hails from the state of Jalisco, where birria reigns supreme, and he and his family have been serving the best birria in Chicago’s Brighton Park neighborhood for the past 14 years. You can order birria by the pound, as a taco, in quesadillas or tacos dorados, as a bowl of stew, or as a plate at Birrieria Zaragoza. I recommend getting the plate which comes with a large portion of birria with its broth and cilantro, onion, lime garnish, hot sauce with arbol chiles, and five handmade corn tortillas.
Parachute is a Korean-American restaurant in Avondale run by a husband and wife team and James Beard Award winners. The chefs focus on quality, so you’ll find a one-page food menu and one page of drinks. I typically ask the server what they recommend and try something different each time, though I have favorites. You should definitely try the pork bossam: sliced pork belly with oysters and cabbage hearts.
Manny’s Cafeteria & Delicatessen
Manny’s Cafeteria & Delicatessen is a traditional New York deli right off 90 and Roosevelt. I can walk into this deli any time of day and order a filling breakfast, lunch, or dinner. They also keep extra bagels, meat, and cheese on hand so you can buy some to-go and continue eating well at home. I always start with matzo ball soup before inhaling a corned beef and pastrami combo sandwich because I can never decide on just one meat. But there are also options like turkey, meatloaf, chopped liver, and BLTs.
Located in the Tri-Taylor neighborhood, EL ideas is a New American fine dining restaurant run by Michelin-starred chef Phillip Foss. Chef Foss’s creative yet accessible approaches to fine dining have won the hearts of customers and critics alike, with wide acclaim from the Chicago Tribune, The Atlantic, Eater.com, and culinary celebrity Andrew Zimmern. EL ideas menu is a multi-course extravaganza. Each dish offers a few bites of deliciously conjured and executed fish, meat, and vegetables displayed as colorful and vibrant plates of art. My favorite dishes were the King Crab with scallop in puff pastry with cauliflower puree and black truffle and the Cajun-style duck with turnip, Swiss chard, pinto beans.
Luella’s Southern Kitchen
Chef Darnell Reed’s Southern restaurant is a tribute to his great-grandmother Luella. It’s in Lincoln Square and serves mouth-watering shrimp and grits, gumbo, and fried chicken. You can’t go wrong with any of the dinner dishes, but this is one place that does brunch right. My favorite brunch item is Nashville hot chicken and toast with a side of collard greens and beignets for dessert. It’s the perfect mix of the South, combining tastes from Reed’s great-grandmother’s native Mississippi with Louisiana flavors.
Sun Wah BBQ
You might not think of Chicago when you consider BBQ restaurants, but Sun Wah BBQ offers something unique: BBQ with a Chinese twist. You’ll see the roasted meat hanging in the window as soon as you approach the Uptown restaurant. I’m a fan of duck, so I love to order the whole crispy duck that’s carved at the table. Since it comes with bao buns, this meal is more than enough to keep me full. However, you can also supplement the entree with wonton soup, shrimp dumplings, or egg noodles.
The Duck Inn
Located right on the waterfront of the Chicago River on the border between Pilsen and Bridgeport, The Duck Inn is a gastropub with a friendly, local vibe. The Duck Inn is located inside an early 20th-century tavern and maintains that old-fashioned cozy neighborhood pub feel. Along with a vast beer selection, the signature dish at the Duck Inn is, not surprisingly, the Rotisserie Duck with duck fat potatoes, baby kale, apples and pears, apple cider vinaigrette, and duck jus. They also have a variety of decadent and high-end bar fare like duck wings, fried cheese curds, duck fat French fries, and Chicago-style hot dogs, to name a few.
Tanta Chicago is a high-end modern Peruvian restaurant in the Near Northside neighborhood close to Northwestern University’s Chicago campus. The elegant yet colorful dining room has a beautiful marble and wood bar along one wall, with the opposite wall covered in a colorful collage of urban and indigenous figures, structures, and patterns. Peruvian cuisine is world-famous, offering a mix of fresh fish and ceviche dishes as well as grilled exotic meats. I recommend starting with the traditional ceviche clasico with seasonal fish, leche de tigre, habanero, corn, sweet potatoes, cancha, red onions, and chalaca. As a main course, I recommend the Chaufa Aeropuerto, stir-fried char siu pork, and vegetable fried rice with a shrimp omelet, scallions, and toasted sesame.
Located in Chicago’s West Loop neighborhood, Viaggio Restaurant Chicago is a traditional Italian kitchen run by head Chef Nicolas Biscaglio. His Italian heritage and years of fine Italian cooking experience shine through in his perfectly executed menu. Since its opening in 2008, Viaggio Restaurant has consistently been named one of Chicago’s best Italian food restaurants. The menu at Viaggio consists of antipasti, fresh handmade pasta, seafood, steak, and chicken dishes. I recommend the mussels in spicy red sauce with crostini to start. While classic dishes like chicken Marsala and Shrimp Scampi are tempting, I had to try the pasta. My favorite was the Rigatoni with Sunday pork gravy, braised pork, and tomato basil sauce.
La Chaparrita is a Mexican restaurant in a store in the South Lawndale neighborhood. Go into the grocery and head directly to the taqueria counter to pick your favorite taco. I love the crispy tripe taco, but I typically order more than I can eat, including a pork sausage taco and frijoles refritos. Since it’s inside the store, you’ll have to carry your order elsewhere to enjoy it. However, I recommend you stay close to this residential neighborhood so you can dart back in to order more if necessary.
If you’re in the Elmwood Park area, head to Johnnie’s Beef for a sandwich, Italian sausage, or hot dog. My mouth starts watering as I wait in line to place my order, and I’m always tempted to order one of everything, but you can’t go wrong with anything on the menu. My favorite is the hot pepper sandwich, where the salt from thin slices of beef cuts the heat perfectly. I also order a lemon Italian ice to cool my tongue after I devour the sandwich.
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When it comes to local restaurant recommendations, we pride ourselves on being a reliable and trustworthy resource. Our suggestions are not just based on our personal experiences, ensuring a more authentic and well-rounded perspective, but also on extensive online research. We diligently searched the internet and reviewed 5 credible sites and blogs, including Chicago.eater.com and Cntraveler.com.
We compiled all the findings in one location and sorted them by the frequency of mentions to ensure you receive top-notch recommendations. We strive to present you with a curated list of establishments that truly stand out, allowing you to enjoy the best dining experiences possible.
Interested in the sources we consulted? Check out the list of all 5 sites we referenced below this paragraph, offering transparency and an opportunity for our readers to explore further. Our commitment is to deliver trustworthy and unparalleled recommendations, helping you make informed decisions on your culinary journeys.