The 40 Best Restaurants in Chicago
As the largest city in the state of Illinois and one of the most populous cities in the United States, there are numerous reasons to visit Chicago. Whether it’s strolling through Millennium Park, touring the Art Institute, or enjoying the view over the city from the 360 Observatory, you’re sure to work up an appetite during your stay. To help you out, we’ve scoured the city to discover the very best places to eat, covering all cuisines and dining styles. From food trucks to fine dining and everything in between, this is the very best that the Chicago culinary scene has to offer!
First opened in 2005 as the cutting edge in modern dining, Alinea has recently reopened after a complete renovation, propelling it once again to the top of the list for dining options in Chicago. There are three different options when dining at Alinea. The Kitchen Table is their most intimate and exclusive service, costing $395 per person. This gets you completely private service with your dining experience. The Gallery serves up to 16 guests and for the slightly lower cost of $305 – 365 per person, guests can enjoy a 16 – 18 course experimental menu, packed full of mind-blowing combinations. Or there’s The Salon. For $210 - $285 diners can enjoy a 10 – 12 course tasting menu, as innovative and multi-sensory as the other options in the restaurant. It’s not cheap, but it’s Chicago’s ultimate fine dining experience.
Prime & Provisions
Prime & Provisions is primarily a steakhouse, and a pretty good one. The beef used by the restaurant is all naturally organic, with no chemicals used in the cows upbringing. It is dry aged on site, in a 500 square foot dry-aging room, lined with Himalayan rock salt to enhance the flavour of the meat. Consistently ranked as serving some of the best steaks in Chicago, there’s nowhere better to head to if you fancy a steak dinner. Other options on the extensive menu include soups, seafood, and oysters, but it’s the range of ribeye, prime rib, filets, and New York strips that diners are predominantly after.
The Chicago Diner
Another meat free option for Chicago diners or visitors, The Chicago Diner first opened its door in 1983, and now boasts two restaurants in the city. Styled as a classic American diner, there is plenty familiar about the inside, but the meat-free menu offers something a little different to what traditional diner-goers may expect. Veggie chicken wings, nachos, chickpea salads, quesadillas and even a meat-free steak are some of the extensive options on the menu. And in true American diner style, there’s a fantastic range of vegan milkshakes, with flavours including chocolate, strawberry, cookie dough and pumpkin pie.
Russian Tea Time Restaurant
Well established traditional Russian tea house in downtown Chicago serving authentic lunches, afternoon teas and dinners. Enjoy warming appetizers such as Ukrainian borscht with beef, cabbage and beetroot, potato latkes with sour cream and apple sauce, and ground beef dumplings (pelmeni). Hearty mains include grilled wild quail on a bed of mashed potato, with poached prunes and a Madeira sauce. Sides include buckwheat kasha, Russian herring and beet caviar. The menu has plenty of vegetarian options, such as stuffed peppers, and an Uzbek layer stew of root vegetables, peppers and cumin. Or splash out on the caviar menu (served by the ounce). For an extra treat, a full afternoon tea service features the works: mini sandwiches, scones and cakes, plus a selection of over 20 teas. The drinks list is extensive, and offers several Georgian wine choices alongside an array of vodkas.
This pioneer-inspired West Town eatery offers a hunter-gatherer style menu geared towards meat and fish lovers. Open for dinner and Saturday brunch, diners can enjoy appetisers such as tenderloin empanadas with garlic tomato sauce, wagyu beef and bacon onion jam sandwiches, or blackened tuna with fried shallots and wasabi aioli. Mains span five hour smoked ribs in BBQ sauce and chargrilled oysters in parmesan, panko and herb garlic butter. Larger groups with advance booking can indulge in the ‘whole animal experience’ where they can feast on a whole wild boar, goat or even alligator roasted over a cherry wood fire. The bar has an extensive cocktail selection, and its rotating beer list showcases international and US craft brewers.
Chicago’s Northside Tao offers pricey, Pan Asian cuisine in a dramatically theatrical setting. The ostentatious multi-level dining area is decked out with a 16 foot high statue of the goddess Quan Yin alongside various oriental themed sculptures, a koi pond and a 40 foot central ‘grand staircase’. Starters range from chicken gyoza to lobster wontons in shitake ginger broth, whilst mains span rib eye steak with maple soy glaze, to honey glazed salmon with lotus root. There is a separate sushi and sashimi menu. The bar serves a selection of house cocktails, beers, wines and sake. Bookings are essential.
Latin American and Asian flavours combine at this popular restaurant, which has branches in the city’s Hyde Park and South Loop districts. A value for money, fusion menu features Bao Tacos (aka bacos): steamed bao buns with fillings like five spice duck, Asian slaw and plum sauce. Choose from hearty filling rice bowls, Panang curry chicken salad, and aromatic ramen soups with noodles, vegetables and a choice of pork, chicken, beef or tofu. Breakfast offerings focus on banh mi (Vietnamese baguette) with a choice of fillings.
This French Vietnamese restaurant and Chicago stalwart has been satisfying hungry diners for over 20 years. Enjoy a warm welcome and atmospheric, old world décor at its new Oak Street premises in the city’s Gold Coast neighbourhood. A concise menu of carefully presented Vietnamese fare includes beef noodle soup, and crispy rolls filled with vegetables or shrimp and pork. Mains span shaking beef (caramelised mignon steak with watercress and lime pepper vinaigrette) and miso glazed roast salmon, with shitake mushrooms and bok choy. Choose to eat in the Colonial style dining room or outside on the all season patio, which boasts a bird’s eye view of Oak Street’s upmarket boutiques.
Now in its 22nd year, Lula Café has become a pillar of the Chicago community, with three branches across the city. The brand defines itself as “unclassifiable”, refusing to put a label on the food it serves and the vibe it offers guests. You can pop in for brunch in the morning or a glass of wine in the evening. There’s also a weekly fixed price dinner on Mondays, which changes every single week. Using fresh, locally sourced ingredients, popular standard dinner menu items include Caesar salad, Atlantic salmon, and a range of pastas. They also do DIY kits for delivery, so you can get a bit of the Lula quality at home.
Fatso’s Last Stand
An award winning hot dog and burger joint, with outlets in Ukrainian Village and Lincoln Park. The wallet friendly menu features the iconic ‘fatso’ burger, and sliced and chargrilled hotdogs, both of which come piled with an array of classic toppings. Also on the menu are breaded fried jumbo shrimp with cocktail sauce, mac and cheese, homemade chilli, and chicken tenders. The drinks list comprises shakes and sodas.
Stylish, upmarket contemporary restaurant in downtown Chicago, open for breakfasts and light meals from 6.30 am. Enjoy elegantly presented dishes served in a chic dining room with airy high ceilings and walls filled with art and vintage books. The sophisticated, seasonal lunch and dinner menus offer tomato braised and charred octopus with parsnip puree, pan roasted walleyed pike with braised kale and truffle, and mushroom ravioli with lemon butter sauce and parmesan crisp. All complemented by an agreeable range of house cocktails, wines and beers.
A highly popular, long established neighbourhood bar and eatery in uptown Chicago. Open for dinner and weekend brunches, the restaurant dishes up American classics, including meat and veggie burgers, salads, sandwiches and house specialities. Sharing plates include their Chimichurri roasted cauliflower with lemon, garlic and cashews. Enjoy a warming bowl of homemade tikka masala soup or vegan chilli. The bar has an award winning cocktail menu, alongside a rotating selection of 16 craft beers, with a focus on US artisan brewers. There are two outdoor terraces perfect for warm days, and a games room which has a pool table and giant Jenga amongst the amusements.
Taxim is an upmarket Greek restaurant in Chicago’s Wicker Park district. Its dinner menu features diverse and authentic regional Greek dishes, made with fresh, seasonal produce. A choice of hot and cold meze (small plates) include fried cauliflower and whipped goat feta, or beer battered fried mussels with sesame garlic sauce. Try mains such as braised lamb shank with yoghurt and orzo, or roasted whole sea bass with lemon and sautéed dandelion. For dessert, opt for Loukoumades, fried dumplings with honey, rose cream, and cinnamon. The extensive, all Greek wine list showcases regional labels. The restaurant has a pleasant rooftop patio for alfresco dining on warm days.
The Fat Shallot Revival Food Hall
This popular Chicago food truck vendor has an outlet in the Revival Food Hall, a group of food stalls located on the ground floor of the historic National Building in Chicago’s central business district. Fat Shallot’s breakfast menu focuses on filled pretzels and bagels, whilst lunchtime offerings span an array of classic and made to order sandwiches, home-made soup and fresh salads. Favourites include the Turkey: roast turkey breast in a pretzel roll with avocado, cucumber and basil aioli. The Grilled Cheese is a tasty combo of melted Muenster cheese on sourdough with sautéed spinach and caramelized onions. The drinks menu includes beers, soft drinks and milk shakes.
A small chain of fast food outlets selling hotdogs, burgers, fries and shakes. Its Wicker Park eatery is one of three Chicago outlets. The wallet friendly menu presents steak burger sliders such as the Elvis, topped with cheese, peanut butter, bacon and inferno sauce. Or try the Clucker: buttermilk battered fried chicken on a pretzel bun with spicy slaw, pickle and mayo. The Polish Devil Dawg is a hefty combo of spicy hot dog, mustard, onions, peppers and fries. There’s a good drinks selection of craft sodas, iced teas, and inventive shakes such as Hawaiian pineapple or hot fudge marshmallow. Eat in or take away.
Lincoln Park is the setting for this cosy, traditional all day pizza restaurant. Hearty Italian American dishes include bruschetta, chicken tenders, freshly made soups, and salads with a choice of homemade dressings. Choose from a range of Italian sandwiches and pasta dishes, and thin crust or deep pan pizza with all the usual toppings. Pequod’s signature dish is its pan style pizza, which features a caramelised mozzarella crusted edge. The bar serves a variety of tap and bottled beers and wines.
Relaxed, award winning pizza chain which has six outlets across the city centre. This lively family restaurant dishes up Italian staples such spaghetti bolognaise and chicken parmesan, alongside a range of sandwiches and subs. The pizza menus comes with a choice of crust and an array of classic toppings. Try the signature dish, the stuffed crust, deep dish pizza, a longstanding family recipe hailing from Turin, in northern Italy. A children’s menus is available.
This contemporary Jewish delicatessen has recently (February 2021) relocated a couple of blocks to Chicago’s N Southport Avenue, adjacent to the historic Music Box Cinema. Steingold’s purveys comforting classics, using freshly baked bagels, house made lox and thick cut pastrami. An array of hot and cold sandwiches come with names like Sister in Law (a feisty combo of pastrami, dill, kimchi and anchovy mustard on rye), whilst Grandma Rachel features pastrami spiced turkey with pickled coleslaw, Havarti cheese and Russian dressing on challah bread. Opt for a warming bowl of Matzo ball or chicken noodle soup. To finish off, peruse the daily selection of homemade desserts.
American Mexican eatery in the city’s Portage Park neighbourhood. Dishing up burritos, quesadillas, tacos, soups and salads. Try the veggie Butterbean burrito, or the Jumbo Toothpick, a chicken tinga filled tortilla with guacamole, chipotle BBQ sauce and sour cream. House specials include the Sirena taco, which packs bacon wrapped shrimp with pickled red cabbage, chilli aioli and pico de gallo. Or try the Tux, which teams seared scallops with rib eyed steak and jicama slaw, a zesty mix of cucumber, oranges, lime juice and chilli. Wash it all down with a margarita or several. Tatas offers a vegetarian and vegan menu, plus children’s portions.
Creating ‘cosmic sandwiches since 2002’ this popular airy diner in Lincoln Square serves up an inventively diverse all day menu. A range of classic and artisan sandwiches and homemade dishes are on offer, like seafood gumbo, or mac n cheese packing six different cheeses. Breakfast offerings include the seasonal pear, egg and Applewood bacon sub. The hefty Muy Caliente teams two beef or veggie patties, topped with buffalo sauce, Butterkase and Cotija cheeses, avocado, jalapenos, lettuce, and mayo. There are ample non-meat sandwiches too, such as Mountain G, featuring fried tofu, cheddar, avocado, roast Portobello mushroom, and chipotle chutney. Quench your thirst with a selection of root bears, floats and homemade hot spiced cider.
One of Chicago’s most beloved restaurants, BOKA specializes in seasonal American cuisine, served up by head chef Lee Wolen. The restaurant has won numerous awards and been granted Michelin stars throughout it’s history, with diners consistently blown away by the quality of food on offer. As well as entrees including slow cooked Arctic Char and beef short ribs, there’s also a seasonal tasting menu. For $165 per person, guests can be served up with eight magnificent courses, all personally created by the head chef with all the love and attention one would expect for that price tag.
Gina and Andy had both been vegan for varying lengths of time when they decided to open their own vegan diner in the heart of Chicago. Partly for environmental reasons and partly for health reasons, veganism was something that had become a part of their lives and their decision to share this with Chicago diners has paid off brilliantly. Using top quality meat substitutes, diners can still munch on burgers, burritos, tacos and more, as well as more traditional vegan dishes including salads and sweet potato fries. Veganism is taking off around the world as individuals look harder at their ethical and environmental footprint, so Kal’ish can hopefully expect a promising future.
Located in the popular Lincoln Park area of the city, Sapori Trattoria has long been bringing authentic Italian cuisine to the diners of Chicago. The intimate and cozy restaurant isn’t massive, with a handful of tables and a small outside dining area. But it serves up some of the best Italian food in the entire city, at affordable prices. Classic pasta dishes such as bolognese and gnocchi, risotto, fish, and chicken dishes are all in good supply. The restaurant also serves takeaway food and is able to host private events with sufficient prior notice, including small wedding receptions, birthdays, and corporate events.
As the first restaurant to receive a 5-star TripAdvisor rating on our list, you know S.K.Y. is going to be good. Housed in a 19th century building, the restaurant is so-named after the initials of the head chef’s wife – Seon Kyung Yuk. Chef Gillanders has created a contemporary brunch and dinner menu, featuring a range of classic and innovative dishes. Grilled tune, foie gras and S.K.Y fried chicken (using the chef’s own secret recipe) are just some of the options for diners to this fantastic restaurant in the heart of the arty Pilsen neighbourhood.
Award-winning Billy Sunday is a bar located in the Logan Square area of Chicago. Perfect for meeting up with friends at the weekend, the bar offers an extensive array of creative homemade cocktails, whilst they also boast of owning one of the USA’s largest collections of fernet and Amaro, with plenty of rare scotches, bourbons, and rums to keep drinkers satisfied too. Billy Sunday also serves a selection of food, primarily bar nibbles which rotate regularly, keeping the menu fresh.
Housed along Chicago’s famous Cultural Mile, Acanto is another of Chicago’s premier Italian eateries. Perfect for an after-show dinner, the restaurant is an extremely pleasant place to be, with a bright, modern dining area and some outside seating overlooking Millennium Park. The menu offers a diverse range of Italian classics, including pork chops, homemade pasta, and a range of traditional pizzas, made how only the Italians can make them. Acanto is also available for private dining, perfect for family parties or corporate events. Their large “Family Table” can seat up to 14 diners comfortably.
Authentic Roman pizza is the order of the day at Bar Cargo, a well-executed concept opened in the heart of Chicago. The indoor dining area is pleasant enough, but it is the colourful outdoor seating area where guests tend to head, weather permitting. The bright courtyard is painted in all manner of colours with wide screen TV’s showing the latest sports action and lighting used to maintain the ambience into the evening. The menu itself boasts an array of pizza toppings, from simple cheese and tomato to more exotic concoctions using avocado, buffalo grilled chicken and more. There’s a range of cocktails on the extensive bar menu, and Happy Hour runs from 4 – 6pm on Thursday and Friday, with a selected range of $5 drinks.
The Chicago Firehouse
This restaurant earns its name from its former history as a fire station and offers a variety of different indoor and outdoor dining options. The main dining room is gloriously decorated with a large mural, whilst the Solarium is brightly lit by floor to ceiling windows. Outside, the cobblestone patio is lined with trees, providing a tranquil environment in which to dine. The restaurant’s diverse dinner menu is sure to have something to please. Popular dishes include scallops, steaks, burgers, and meatloaf, with a range of gourmet sides and desserts. There are also private dining options in The Mayor’s Room.
Chicago French Market
Chicago’s original food hall brings together more than 30 local vendors to this one destination in central Chicago. The brainchild of the Bensidoun family, it is now a cooperative of local entrepreneurs and family-owned businesses, selling food from around the world. There is a focus on French cuisine, with the in-house seating area styled like a Parisian café and French flags draped throughout the venue. But stalls ranging from Vietnamese to Cuban and Filipino to Japanese mean there’s sure to be something for everyone to enjoy. There are also stalls selling fresh ingredients, just like a traditional market. So, if you didn’t want to dine in, then you can buy your ingredients and head home to cook, the choice is yours.
Greektown is less of an individual restaurant and more of a neighbourhood, the best example of Greek heritage to be found outside of Greece itself. The dining and nightlife area is located on the west side of Chicago and is always busy with tourists and locals alike. There are numerous restaurants and vendors selling traditional Greek cuisine, and it’s also the place where numerous annual events take place, including the Taste of Greece feast and the Greek Independence Day parade.
Homestead on the Roof
The award-winning Homestead on the Roof is, as you may guess, a rooftop restaurant, located above Roots Handmade Pizza in West Town. The 85-seat rooftop patio is especially glorious in summer, overlooking a rooftop organic garden and with vertical hanging gardens, planters and more making you feel like you’re in a tropical jungle. If the weather isn’t great then there’s also a large indoor seating area with a well-stocked bar. Wherever you choose to sit, you’ll have access to the extensive menu of home-cooked comfort food. Mexican head chef Ivan has brought the flavours of home into much of his cooking, with tacos and chicken marinaded in his mothers own Mole Negro sauce recipe just some of the dining options.
Fisk & Co
“Mussels and beer” is the strap line which greets you if you head to the website for Fisk & Co. And this is exactly what you can find at the restaurant. Mussels and frites are their specialty, though there is a healthy range of American classics for those who perhaps aren’t as keen on shellfish. Burgers, steak frites and Caesar salad are some of the other options. Mussel lovers can choose from classic, Belgian, or Thai curry, served alongside a generous portion of fries. Beer is Fisk & Co’s other staple product, with a range of popular and locally brewed craft beers on offer, as well as cocktails, wine and more.
Mad Social’s menu is split into four categories: Mad, Sea, Farm and Earth. Whatever you choose is sure to blow you away with it’s flavour and creativity. Some of the more popular menu items include chicken drumettes, Baja bass, tuna poke tacos and the Mad burger, which is simply crammed with divine ingredients. The restaurant also does a bottomless brunch on Saturdays and Sundays, during which guests can get unlimited Bloody Mary’s or Mimosas for two hours for just $25. The perfect way to spend a weekend with friends or family.
It’s quite a mouthful to pronounce and it serves up a mouthful or two of fantastic Mexican food. Birrieria Zaragoza is a Mexican and Latin restaurant and takeaway service in the east of Chicago. It serves Mexican staples, such as tacos and quesadillas, but specializes in the lesser known birria. This is a cuisine based on goat meat, which can be enjoyed in a variety of dishes, such as tacos or in a stew. It won’t be for everyone but if you’re a fan of Mexican food and looking to try something new then there’s no better place to sample birria in Chicago.
Immm Rice & Beyond
Informal restaurant in Chicago’s uptown neighbourhood, dishing up Thai street food favourites. An extensive menu offers a medley of stir fries, curries, rice dishes, soups and Thai salads. Popular choices include Pad Thai, mango sticky rice, or boat noodles (pork or slow cooked beef with thin rice noodles in a spiced pork broth). Try one of the monthly specials like Pad Kra Prao: sautéed pork with holy basil and bird’s eye chilli. The cuisine is aromatic, plentiful and inexpensive. Vegetarian and gluten free dishes are available.
Lockwood Restaurant and Bar
An elegant, upscale bistro located in the lobby of the Palmer House Hotel in the Chicago Loop. Serving breakfast, lunch and dinner, the menu promises New American fare using locally sourced ingredients. Breakfast choices embrace classics such as French toast, pancakes, and eggs benedict. Lunch and dinner offerings include Hudson Bay scallops with sweet corn puree and toasted peanut scallion salad, and mains such as bourbon brined pork chop with saffron cauliflower and faro risotto. The bar offers a substantial collection of local, craft and draught beers, along with specialty cocktails and an extensive whiskey menu.
Qing Xiang Yuan Dumplings
Qing Xiang Yuan Dumplings is one of the best Chinese restaurants to be found in the city. Their most famous dish is, you guessed it, dumplings. They serve dumplings in a variety of flavours, from pork and cabbage to mushroom and grilled lamb, all for very reasonable prices. Other menu items include pan friend lamb, steamed crab and more. The restaurant is very modern, with menus presented to guests on iPads and they even run dumpling classes where you can learn some of the secrets behind creating their delicious dumplings. In a city with a gigantic Chinatown, it is quite the praise to say that this restaurant really stands out.
For something a little different in Chicago, Smak-Tak offers some of the best Polish food you’re likely to find in the city. Opened in the mid-2000s, it has become well known for its authentic Polish dishes and cozy ambience. Staple menu items include breaded pork cutlet, ground veal and Hungarian style savory pancakes, while the restaurant’s traditional stew will transport you straight to Warsaw. Smak-Tak’s simple slogan “it’s just delicious” certainly rings true for diners to this fabulous little restaurant. They don’t deliver, but you can order food to pick up if you’d prefer to take it away. They’ll also cater your private event from just $17 per person.
A chic, French-inspired bistro in Chicago’s historic financial district. The art deco inspired interior features leather banquettes, 20 foot high floor to ceiling windows, and glass chandeliers. Stylish breakfast, lunch and dinner menus offer a range Gallic classics such as French onion soup, steak frites, and grilled salmon with braised beluga lentils. The restaurant has a spacious covered terrace for alfresco dining all year round.
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