Chicago is known for its vibrant food scene, and the city is home to some of the best restaurants in the country. From Southern comfort food to authentic Vietnamese cuisine, there is something to satisfy every craving. Whether you are a local or just visiting the Windy City, be sure to check out these top spots: Luella's Southern Kitchen, Pat's Pizza and Ristorante, Frontera Grill, Topolobampo, Bar Sotano, and many more. Get ready to indulge in a culinary adventure unlike any other in the exciting city of Chicago.
Luella's Southern KitchenAs chef Darnell Reed toiled away in downtown Chicago's hotel kitchens, he envisioned creating a restaurant that paid homage to his great-grandmother Luella. Luella had made her way to Chicago from Mississippi in 1943. Today, his cozy eatery in Lincoln Square serves up some of the best Southern cuisine in the city. From shrimp and grits to chicken gumbo and a delectable platter of fried chicken and waffles, Luella's Southern Kitchen is a gem. This North Side establishment, owned by the Black community, is also a popular brunch spot. Although it offers casual counter ordering, the menu is serious and can satisfy anyone with its hearty and delicious options.
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Looking for a burger and pizza topped with fresh seasonal vegetables? Superkhana International is not your typical dining destination. While the backbone of this restaurant is Indian cooking, diners will recognize the familiar spices that give subcontinental cuisine its unique flavor. But Superkhana isn't your typical Indian American restaurant. The pork vindaloo is a sublime rendition, almost resembling a deconstructed version of the dish. The brunch here is outstanding, with appam (Indian griddle cakes) spiked with fresh produce like spring peas. It's a classic vegetarian option that can appease carnivores by adding bacon. The Hakka noodles are a fresh take on the Indian Chinese classic, and Chicagoans won't find a better version elsewhere. Superkhana's chefs continue to experiment with new dishes. While the butter chicken calzones are a delightful novelty, the restaurant offers much more than just shock value. At Superkhana, they understand that Indian food is about more than just heat.
Pat's Pizza and RistoranteWhile Chicago may be known for its deep-dish pizza, thin-crust pizza is having a moment. Pat's Pizza in Lakeview has a storied history of popularizing tavern-style pies. This family-owned establishment is renowned for its incredibly crispy and thin pizzas. What sets Pat's apart is their unique sausage blend. Whether you opt for carryout, delivery, patio dining, or indoor seating, you're in for a treat.
Frontera Grill, Topolobampo, and Bar SotanoRick Bayless, the Oklahoma-born chef who developed a deep passion for Mexican cuisine, is a household name in River North for his innovative restaurants. Frontera, which opened its doors in 1987, offers a more casual dining experience, while Topolobampo, which followed two years later, was one of the first fine dining establishments in the U.S. to showcase Mexican cuisine. Meanwhile, Bar Sótano serves as an experimental basement tavern, hosting pop-ups and serving creative cocktails. Although Bayless's name sparks debates about cultural appropriation, there's no denying that he has elevated the appreciation for Mexican food in America. (The Tortazo chain, derived from the fast-casual Xoco, is also situated in the same building).
Joe Flamm and his partners have made a big splash in Fulton Market with their meticulously designed restaurant. Since Flamm's victory on Top Chef, the restaurant has attracted visitors from out of town. Rose Mary's menu pays homage to Adriatic drinking food, fusing Italian, Croatian, and Midwestern flavors. The pastas at Rose Mary would fit right in at Spiaggia, one of Chicago's best Italian establishments prior to its closure. The sticky sauce on the ribs will be familiar to Southwestern and Northwestern natives. Their menu also features cevapi, a Balkan-style sausage, and perfectly grilled octopus. This restaurant exudes a vibrant energy and offers a seasonal tasting table during the warmer months. Reservations are highly recommended.
Chef Curtis Duffy gained fame with the opening of his award-winning restaurant, Grace, on Randolph Street. Now, he aims to bring that same passion and creativity to Fulton Market with his new venture, Ever. The restaurant offers a single tasting menu (vegetarian options are available) showcasing Duffy's precise techniques and playful execution. For example, he artfully cuts ribbons of freeze-dried hamachi. Fine dining experiences can be polarizing, but Ever provides a meal with a dash of theatrics that exceeds expectations. Although it is one of the pricier options in Chicago, the experience is well worth it.
Oriole could have rested on its laurels when it reopened in July 2020 after a long closure. This Michelin-starred restaurant was already known for pushing the boundaries of fine dining without pretension. However, instead of simply reopening, the management team completely renovated the space and provided chef Noah Sandoval with a new kitchen to work his magic. Sandoval does not disappoint, treating guests to a fantastic tasting menu. The foie gras course, enhanced with pink peppercorn and anise hyssop, is a standout dish that lingers in one's memory.
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Upscale Indian cuisine is a rarity in downtown Chicago. The arrival of Rooh in 2019 not only filled that void, but also brought some much-needed diversity to the West Loop. In addition to familiar classics like butter chicken, Rooh offers a taste of modern Indian cooking with dishes like jackfruit kofta, scallops with gunpowder pepper, and achari monkfish. Guests can enjoy the restaurant's heated and tented patio as well.
Monteverde, the first restaurant from former Top Chef contestant and Spiaggia chef Sarah Grueneberg, has quickly become one of Chicago's premier Italian destinations. The star attractions at this West Loop hotspot are the pastas, and customers can watch the skilled cooks behind the counter as they roll out dough and create the delectable noodles. While the restaurant continues to offer a takeout menu during the pandemic, the dining room provides a lively atmosphere with options like whole-bird chicken parm. Gluten-free options are also available and notable.
HaiSous Vietnamese KitchenHaiSous in Pilsen is an inspiring story of resilience for Thai and Danielle Dang, who survived financial fraud at their previous restaurant, Embeya. Now, they can focus on what they love most: creating delicious food and providing exceptional hospitality. Thai Dang, a native of Vietnam, uses various techniques from his homeland, including claypot cooking, to craft a menu that is both ambitious and unpretentious. Grilled wild boar with lemongrass is just one example of the culinary masterpieces found here. Danielle Dang's cocktail expertise also deserves recognition, as she expertly pairs drinks with her husband's two tasting menus. Guests can also order dishes à la carte.
Carnitas Uruapan RestaurantChicago's Mexican community and food enthusiasts from around the world flock to this long-standing counter-service establishment in Pilsen, where they celebrate the entirety of the pig. Customers can order succulent carnitas by the pound at the front counter and settle down at a table to customize their own individual tacos with a selection of salsas, tortillas, and beans. Alternatively, they can order ready-made tacos, soups, and cactus salad. Be prepared for lines and wait times, especially during peak hours on weekends.
While Chicago boasts a variety of food halls, 88 Marketplace offers a truly unique experience in East Pilsen. This Chinese grocer carries an extensive selection of ingredients not commonly found in chain supermarkets. On the second floor, visitors will find a food court featuring 312 Fish Market, a sit-down restaurant known for its creative sushi menu at affordable prices. A Place in Northeast offers delectable dumplings and other delights, BBQ King 88 offers barbecue duck and more, and Holu Steakhouse serves up rare, high-quality cuts of beef and top-notch cocktails. Qiao Lin Hotpot, possibly the best hot pot in Chicago, is also located here. For something sweet, head to Pure Tea. While it took some time for 88 Marketplace to gain momentum, it now operates seamlessly.
Chicago may not receive the recognition it deserves for its tacos, but one grocery store in Little Village produces some of the finest in the city. From carne asada to crispy tripe, La Chaparrita's tacos are carefully crafted and bursting with flavors and textures. Located on a quiet residential street, this restaurant is an authentic Chicago gem. Takeout only.
Feeling the quesabirria craze? Make your way to the Southwest Side near Midway International Airport for a taste of the incredibly tender, slow-cooked goat that goes beyond the latest food trend. The menu may be simple, but the flavors are intense. The handmade tortillas and accompaniments create the perfect foundation for a memorable Chicago dining experience. This family-run establishment operates as a takeout-only venue, so make sure to arrive early, as it often closes in the early evening.
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Family is the heart and soul of Jade Court, a distinctive Cantonese restaurant located in the University of Chicago's Harper Court development. Following in the footsteps of their late father, Eddy Cheung, who originally opened the restaurant in University Village, Carol Cheung and her brother continue to push the boundaries of Cantonese classics. Even a seemingly simple dish like egg foo young, often found at Chinese American fast-food joints, is treated with careful precision at Jade Court. Trust Carol Cheung's recommendations, as she possesses an innate understanding of which dishes will satisfy guests, whether seafood or beef specialties. The bar program at Jade Court is also worth noting, offering unique collaborations and tropical-style drinks with a touch of Chinese American influence. Expect a tiki experience without the stereotypes.
After years in the Chicago restaurant scene, Erick Williams has finally realized his dream of opening his own establishment. With Virtue, Williams aims to challenge expectations of Southern food and provide a fresh perspective on Black cuisine. The menu offers a range of options, from lighter fare like cauliflower with cashew dukkah and root cellar vegetables to heartier dishes like beef short ribs with creamed spinach and crushed potatoes. In 2022, Williams was awarded the James Beard Award for Best Chef: Great Lakes. As one of Eater's Best New Restaurants in 2019, Virtue has firmly established itself as an iconic Chicago dining spot.
Lem's showcases the legendary aquarium-style smokers for which Chicago is renowned. Located on 75th Street, this small shack specializes in sauced baby back ribs and giant hot links. Lem's is credited with popularizing the serving of rib tips with sauce, a Chicago tradition that has since captured the hearts of many.
Not all Harold's Chicken Shacks are created equal, as several articles have highlighted. This observation is not news to Chicagoans, although the national recognition of the Harold's brand through celebrity endorsements like Chance the Rapper's has stirred up further discussions. At the corner of 127th and Halsted, this Harold's location is famous for its crispy chicken (fried in beef fat) and its unique mild sauce, a cult favorite condiment. While customer service may not be the main draw, the quality of the chicken and the distinct flavor of the mild sauce have gained a passionate and vocal fanbase.
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Breaking free from the allure of downtown deep-dish establishments, it's worth exploring Milly's Pizza in the Pan in Uptown. Although it started as a ghost kitchen in Humboldt Park during the pandemic, Milly's has recently settled into a permanent location on the North Side, with an expansive delivery zone. Run solely by Robert Maleski, this one-man operation crafts artisanal pizzas using quality ingredients and achieves that coveted "burnt" ring of caramelized cheese around the edges. While deep dish pizza can be polarizing, Maleski's approach revives the magic and even wins over the most skeptical critics.
Obelix is a genuine Chicago story. This restaurant, run by French American brothers Oliver and Nicolas Poilevey, is the result of their parents' success in running some of the city's finest French establishments, such as Le Bouchon and La Sardine. With Obelix, the brothers have taken the lessons they learned from their parents and infused their own urban perspective. The menu at Obelix includes massive seafood towers, a taco with foie gras, and a decadent beef Wellington. Traditional French staples like gooey French onion soup remain, but this bistro has a modern and comfortable ambiance, blending multiple culinary traditions to create a truly unique French Chicago dining experience.
Randolph Street was once synonymous with culinary innovation, but it has since become a dance floor for national companies trying to prove their worth. Fortunately, J.P. Graziano's remains an icon in the West Loop. This old Italian grocery store has transformed into a sandwich haven. Lunchtime lines can be lengthy, so it's best to order online. Among the squadron of delicious subs, the specialty is the Mr. G, which features a truffled vinaigrette. Graziano's also prepares its own giardiniera, so it's the perfect place to stock up on Chicago's famous pickled pepper blend.
Spinning J Bakery and Soda Fountain
Spinning J's delectable pastries ensnare customers, but this nostalgic bakery in Humboldt Park offers a menu that extends well beyond pies. Of course, the seasonal delights like key lime and s'more are not to be overlooked, but don't underestimate the power of the homemade biscuits that anchor their breakfast sandwiches (try the roasted poblano), the quiche, square-cut pizza, and milkshakes. Spinning J is an absolute must-visit.
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Nine Bar is a remarkable incarnation of the iconic Chinatown restaurant, Moon Palace Express, as it introduces the neighborhood's first and only cocktail bar. While the carefully crafted cocktails are a major attraction, one should not overlook the simple yet delectable pub menu. The Mapo hot fries pay homage to both America and China with a spicy snack reminiscent of poutine. The McKatsu is a uniquely inspired fried pork cutlet that draws inspiration from fast-food spots but adds a twist with its spicy Chinese mustard. The wings and dumplings are also exceptional. As Chicago recovers from the pandemic, people will feel more comfortable dining at bars, and Nine Bar is poised to provide the city's finest bar menu.
Middlebrow is a cozy brewery taproom in Logan Square, flanked by outstanding restaurants like Dos Urban Cantina, Giant, and Osteria Langhe. Their beers are incredibly drinkable, perfect for sipping during a camping trip, thanks to ales, lagers, and other varieties infused with top-quality fruits and unique ingredients. The bread program takes the spotlight in the morning with tantalizing ham sandwiches and more. The afternoon pizza is a massive draw, especially on Tuesday when Middlebrow unveils its tavern-style pies. With ingredients like charred kale, their pizzas stand out from the rest of the city's offerings, boasting a farm-to-table element that sets them apart.
One of the most exhilarating dining experiences in Chicago awaits at the secret location in Edgewater. Don Young, known as the "youngest chef to preside over a Michelin-starred kitchen," gained his accolade at Temporis in West Town. After stints at various establishments, including Venteux, he embarked on his own venture. Duck Sel, a playful pun inspired by a mushroom, is a sophisticated pop-up that showcases the chef's mastery of multiple culinary techniques. It pays tribute to the underground pop-up scene that launched the careers of many renowned chefs, making it the ideal choice for a memorable night out. Bi-monthly on-site ticket sales offer patrons a unique dining experience. While Young is content with his pop-up, he aspires to establish his own restaurant in the future.
Khmai Cambodian Fine Dining
The mother-daughter duo behind Khmai Cambodian Fine Dining has made a significant impact in Rogers Park. They have garnered national acclaim for sharing their culture through a cuisine that is underrepresented in the Midwest. Guests can indulge in magnetic dips, delectable egg rolls, complex stews, and more. It is worth noting that Khmai's service has received criticism for lacking polish compared to other restaurants, but decoding Cambodian food and satisfying a customer base with many questions and constant comparisons to other Asian cuisines is no small feat. The servers possess the knowledge and passion necessary to answer inquiries, making the dining experience truly remarkable. Khmai Cambodian Fine Dining has been recognized as one of America's Best New Restaurants for 2022 by Eater.
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Avatars of Superdawg founders Maurie and Flaurie Berman keep watch over this renowned Chicago drive-in at the intersection of Devon, Nagle, and Milwaukee. Those iconic statues of giant hot dogs, resembling the Bermans, can be seen from blocks away. Superdawg offers a nostalgic experience where customers park their cars and communicate with the staff through crackling speakers, while carhops deliver trays of mouthwatering food. Unlike a traditional Chicago-style hot dog, Superdawg uses its own thick, proprietary all-beef sausage topped with mustard, pickled green tomato, and chopped Spanish onions. Wrapped in a box of crinkle fries, this creation is a true delight. Superdawg has a second location in Wheeling, a suburb of Chicago.
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Since Joey and Brenna Beato took over Community Tavern, the Portage Park restaurant has evolved beyond its origins as a neighborhood steakhouse. However, it has managed to maintain its warm community atmosphere. The bar program boasts a robust selection, and on certain days, kids under 12 can enjoy a free meal. The menu defies categorization in the best possible way: an Asian-inspired dumpling section features an exceptional option stuffed with mushroom butter. The white prawn carbonara seamlessly fuses Thai and Italian influences, while the bibimbap can be elevated with skirt steak as a nod to the restaurant's roots as a steakhouse.
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With two smokers churning out meaty St. Louis-style and baby back ribs, tender brisket, and apple-and-oak-smoked pulled pork, this renowned destination in the Northwest Side neighborhood of Irving Park brings the flavors of Kansas City and Memphis to Chicago. During the pandemic, owner Barry Sorkin expanded takeout and outdoor dining options, adding a patio in the former parking lot.
The best way to describe the culinary offerings at Superkhana International, the Logan Square popup-turned-landmark, is "Indian-ish." It playfully combines subcontinental flavors with creative American hangover food, while incorporating fine dining techniques to earn street cred. The result is a fusion that defies cultural boundaries and challenges the notion that "authenticity" means adhering to someone else's rules. Superkhana features Indian-inspired Tex-Mex dishes like chili cheese naan, topped with pickled jalapeños and a melange of mozzarella and Indian Amul cheese. The Italian-American influence shines through their signature butter chicken calzone wrapped in homemade naan. And, for lovers of American diner classics, they serve Manchurian potatoes, a Chinese-American twist on cheese fries. Chefs Yoshi Yamada and Zeeshan Shah's menus showcase a harmonious blend of creativity and craftsmanship.
Mi Tocaya Antojería
Chef Diana Dávila's contemporary Mexican eatery pays tribute to the indigenous cuisine of pre-colonial Mexico and the women who preserved those traditions, influencing contemporary Mexican food. Each item on the menu comes with a brief history, detailing its inspiration and the regions and ethnic heritage it represents. Dining at Mi Tocaya is far from a dull history lesson. The vibrant decor and energetic open kitchen infuse the space with excitement. The knowledgeable waitstaff is genuinely passionate about the food, and for good reason. Every dish on the menu is outstanding and original, offering surprises and fresh dimensions to even the most well-versed lovers of Mexican cuisine. Mi Tocaya Antojería is a culinary journey that celebrates tradition while pushing boundaries.
Since its debut in the fall of 1999, in Logan Square before it became a trendy neighborhood, the eclectic Lula Cafe has defied categorization. However, don't let their communal and inclusive vibe mislead you; they are serious about creating exceptional food with ethically sourced ingredients. The ever-changing menu reflects the freshness of the ingredients available, providing a well-crafted improvisation that has solidified Lula's status as a Chicago institution over its 25-year history. On Monday nights, guests can indulge in a prix fixe vegetable tasting menu and receive expert wine pairing suggestions from their impressive list. Weekend brunches are always bustling, with unique iterations of breakfast sandwiches that will leave you longing for more. But truly, any time is a great time to experience the culinary excellence that Lula Cafe has to offer.
While Chicago is home to numerous taquerias, Taqueria Chingon in Logan Square has risen to the forefront. Founded by three talented Mexican chefs who honed their skills at acclaimed French establishments La Sardine and Le Bouchon, this taqueria offers delicate and exceptional tacos. The pork and veggie pastors, cooked on a trompo, showcase a mastery of texture. Taqueria Chingon is also an excellent place for the adventurous food enthusiast to try organ meats. The weekly specials offer a delightful surprise, with the chefs conjuring up unique flavor combinations. They have recently added a patio that adds to the overall appeal of the establishment.
It can be challenging for Chicago hot dog stands to distinguish themselves when most of them use the same dependable Vienna Beef product. However, Redhot Ranch has managed to stand out. First, they use natural-casing sausage, resulting in a unique texture that offers a satisfying bite. The stand is also known for serving Depression dogs, the Chicago variant that features french fries in the bun. Not to be overlooked are their griddle burgers, a late-night indulgence that is incredibly satisfying. Redhot Ranch has locations in Lakeview and Bucktown, and the owners have opened 35th Street Red Hots near Sox Park in Bridgeport, which offers the same menu.
During the day, Hermosa offers chef Ethan Lim's buzzworthy twist on the classic fried chicken sandwich, featuring pickled papaya and long beans that help balance the flavors of the marinated dark meat. In addition, the restaurant serves various contemporary interpretations of Thai and Cambodian cuisine. By night, chef Lim transforms the neighborhood storefront into an exclusive supper club, offering "Family Meal" for groups of up to 10 guests. The tasting menu is a beautifully expressed culinary autobiography, showcasing Lim's outstanding skills. Due to high demand, reservations for the supper club experience must be made well in advance. However, those who are unable to secure a seat can still enjoy the daytime take-out menu, which features items from the exclusive dining experience.
Chef Grant Achatz and Nick Kokonas's esteemed fine dining establishment proudly holds the distinction of being the only Chicago restaurant with three Michelin stars. Alinea is renowned as one of the world's best restaurants. Step into the luxurious dining room in Lincoln Park and prepare for a truly sensory experience. Achatz, known for his innovative approach, employs scents like citrus and smoke to create a theatrical ambiance. Dishes are presented as works of art, further enhancing the culinary journey. Given the exquisite experience, it's no surprise that Alinea is a top contender on every Chicagoan's dining bucket list.
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Of the numerous Italian beef joints in Chicago, most of which have seen an upswing in popularity thanks to the FX series "The Bear," Johnnie's Beef is widely regarded as the standard by which others are measured. Since 1961, this cash-only walk-up has been serving what locals consider the best Italian beef in town. This is due to their guarded family recipe, featuring a secret blend of seasonings and spices. The soft, crusty French bread perfectly soaks up the rich homemade gravy, while the fresh giardiniera adds a zesty kick. Be sure to order your sandwich "juicy" (or "dipped") and be prepared for potential spills on your shirt, as the flavor is truly worth it.
Upon first glance, Kasama may seem like a casual spot for a quick brunch bite, offering counter service ordering, excellent pastries, coffee, and Filipino breakfast staples on an average weekday. However, closer inspection reveals the precision exhibited by the line cooks in the open kitchen and the elevated touches brought to the service by the floor staff. It's like dining at your favorite diner, but led by graduates of the Culinary Institute of America and seasoned industry professionals. The real surprise comes in the evenings when Kasama transforms into one of Chicago's most exciting and inventive fine dining experiences. Chef-owners Genie Kwon and Tim Flores present a 13-course tasting menu that incorporates Filipino influences into their technically ambitious, cutting-edge dishes. Guest chefs, such as "Top Chef" winner Dale Talde, are often invited to headline special pop-up events.
Joe Flamm and his partners have created something exceptional in Fulton Market with Rose Mary, a meticulously designed restaurant that has become a destination for out-of-towners familiar with Flamm's Top Chef victory. Described as "Adriatic drinking food," Rose Mary pays homage to the European heritage of Italian, Croatian, and Midwestern influences. Their pasta dishes would have found a home at Spiaggia, one of Chicago's premier Italian restaurants prior to its closure. The ribs, with their sticky sauce, evoke a comforting sense of familiarity, appearing reminiscent of both the Southwest and Northwest sides of the city. The Balkan-style sausage, cevapi, and perfectly grilled octopus are among the other highlights. The energy within the restaurant is palpable, and during the warmer months, Rose Mary offers a seasonal tasting table experience that requires advance reservations.
Chef Curtis Duffy's celebrity status soared when he opened his award-winning restaurant, Grace, in Randolph Street. He has since brought his culinary prowess a few blocks west to Fulton Market, where Ever debuted in 2020. While offering just one tasting menu (with vegetarian options available), Duffy remains committed to showcasing precise techniques with playful execution. For instance, artfully cut ribbons of freeze-dried hamachi demonstrate the technical expertise and creativity in their dishes. Fine dining experiences can be polarizing, but for those seeking a dash of theatrics with their meal, Ever fulfills that desire better than any other restaurant in Chicago. It is worth noting that dining at Ever comes at a higher price point compared to other establishments in the city.
When Oriole reopened in July, it could have rested on its laurels. After all, it was already renowned for pushing the boundaries of fine dining without pretension. However, the management decided to completely overhaul the space, providing chef Noah Sandoval with a brand-new kitchen to showcase his talent. Sandoval does not disappoint in his new environment, presenting a fantastic tasting menu. Notably, the foie gras course, featuring pink peppercorn and anise hyssop, stands out as one of the best in recent memory.
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ROOHThere are limited options for high-end Indian cuisine in downtown Chicago. Rooh's entrance in 2019 is remarkable not only because it fills that gap but also because it brings much-needed diversity to the West Loop. Patrons will be thoroughly impressed with the familiar favorites like butter chicken, but they will get a taste of modern Indian cooking with dishes like jackfruit kofta, scallops seasoned with gunpowder pepper, and achari monkfish. The restaurant also offers a heated and tented patio.
MonteverdeThe first restaurant by former Top Chef and Spiaggia chef Sarah Grueneberg has swiftly established itself as one of the best Italian destinations in Chicago. The pastas are the stars at this popular West Loop spot, and diners can witness the hard work happening behind the counter as cooks expertly prepare the delectable noodles. The restaurant's takeout menu, introduced during the pandemic, is still available, but the dining room offers vibrant choices like whole-bird chicken parm. Additionally, the gluten-free menu is worth noting.
88 MarketplaceChicago is home to various food halls, but none quite compare to the unique experience offered by 88 Marketplace, the Chinese grocer in East Pilsen. This grocery store stocks a wide range of ingredients that are not easily found in chain supermarkets, making it a sought-after destination. However, it's the food court on the second floor that truly steals the show. Headlined by 312 Fish Market, a sit-down restaurant with an incredibly creative sushi menu at affordable prices, the food court also features delights from A Place in Northeast, including dumplings, barbecue duck, and more from BBQ King 88. On the first floor, Holu Steakhouse offers rare, high-quality cuts of beef alongside top-notch cocktails, making it a refreshing alternative to the stuffy River North steakhouses. To complete the experience, visitors can head to Qiao Lin Hotpot for possibly the best hot pot in Chicago, and then stop by Pure Tea for something sweet. While it took some time for 88 Marketplace to gain momentum, it is now thriving in every aspect.
La Chaparrita TaqueriaChicago doesn't receive enough recognition for its exceptional tacos, but this delightful grocery store in Little Village undoubtedly serves some of the finest in the city. From carne asada to crispy tripe, these tacos are skillfully crafted and fit perfectly in customers' hands. Every bite delivers a mix of textures and flavors that is truly delightful. This restaurant, located on a peaceful residential street, is a true gem of Chicago. Takeout only.
Birrieria ZaragozaReady to experience the hype around quesabirria? Make your way to the Southwest Side, near Midway International Airport, for goat that has stood the test of time and isn't just a trendy food. Birrieria Zaragoza offers a simple menu packed with deep flavors. The handmade tortillas and accompanying dishes form the foundation of a signature Chicago meal. This family-run restaurant is exclusively for takeout, so it's essential to arrive early, as it usually closes in the early evening.
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Jade CourtAt the heart of Jade Court, a unique Cantonese restaurant in the Harper Court development at the University of Chicago, lies family. Carol Cheung, the daughter of the late Eddy Cheung, who initially opened the restaurant in University Village, has carried on the family legacy. The Cheungs push the boundaries with their interpretations of Cantonese classics. For example, they treat the classic egg foo young, often found in fast-food Chinese restaurants, as a precious creation. Carol Cheung's recommendations are always wise to follow, as she possesses an exceptional understanding of which dishes to suggest, spanning from seafood to beef. The bar program at Jade Court is equally remarkable, featuring unique collaborations and tropical-style drinks. It's a tiki experience through a Chinese American lens, without any unnecessary baggage.
The Original Vito & Nick's PizzeriaEstablished in Chinatown nearly three decades ago, Triple Crown swiftly became the go-to spot in Chicago for authentic Cantonese delicacies. With a particular emphasis on the sublime seafood preparations that Southern China and Hong Kong are renowned for, this family-operated eatery endeavors to immerse its patrons in the rich cultural legacy that influences its extensive menu. One notable standout is their all-day dim sum service, featuring steamers brimming with an array of delicately handcrafted dumplings, soups, vegetables, and delectable sweet and savory buns, available from morning till night.
In a city where various styles of Asian cuisine abound in virtually every neighborhood, ranging from contemporary fusion establishments to traditional hidden gems, Triple Crown serves as a vivid reminder that timeless classics endure as long as they are executed with the meticulous care that this multi-generational establishment consistently delivers.
Ghin Kao Eat RiceLocated in Pilsen, Ghin Kao Eat Rice is a Northern Thai restaurant with a notable mention in the Michelin guide. The sibling chef duo of Nova and Kami Sasi fearlessly embrace bold flavors, refusing to water down their dishes for Western diners. Their menu remains unapologetically fiery, yet meticulously balanced, exemplifying how a robust spice profile can provide immense satisfaction and enjoyment rather than mere shock value.
Adorned with graffiti signage and exuding an atmosphere of classic hip-hop, this BYOB favorite in Pilsen offers a modest menu that allows a group of six famished friends to sample most of the culinary offerings. However, be sure not to miss out on the sinus-clearing Krapow Gai, the refreshing Som Tum Thai, or the true star of the show, Grandma's Pork Belly, an indulgent and comforting delight.
Le BouchonCelebrating its 30th anniversary as a treasured bistro in Bucktown, Le Bouchon exemplifies how mastery of the classics and unwavering commitment to tradition can triumph over passing culinary trends and the ubiquity of small plates. With legendary endorsements from the late Julia Child and frequent visits from the Obamas, Le Bouchon has not only earned its place among Chicago's finest dining establishments but is also widely regarded as one of the nation's premier French bistros.
Distinguished by meticulous attention to detail, technical expertise, and a profound affection for the cuisine, Le Bouchon elevates familiar dishes like steak frites, tarte l'oignon, and trout "en croûte." The latter is a true standout—flaky puff pastry enfolding delicate ocean trout, served alongside a luscious English pea mousse and smoked trout roe.
Throughout the decades and the numerous accolades, Le Bouchon remains deeply rooted in its role as a cherished neighborhood eatery. Locals eagerly flock to enjoy half-priced bottles from its exceptional wine list on Mondays. And on Tuesdays, they savor the opportunity to indulge in an affordably-priced three-course prix fixe menu.
Cellar Door ProvisionsAward-nominated chef Ethan Pikas, from Cellar Door Provisions, used the closure necessitated by the pandemic to refine his artistry in preparing Northern Italian cuisine, distilling it to its pure essence. This reimagined version of Cellar Door Provisions embraces a minimalist approach, featuring a concise, meticulously curated dinner menu and a thoughtfully selected array of natural wines.
Pikas's menu revolves around showcasing vegetables and seafood, allowing the quality of the ingredients to shine. His mature and self-effacing approach places him as a steward behind his dishes, rather than a master seeking the limelight. Each dish comprises of just three or four precisely orchestrated components, enabling the plates to speak for themselves. This unwavering focus on simplicity ignites a renewed passion in diners, often overshadowed by the convoluted avant-garde experiences commonly found in upscale culinary establishments.
AvecIf you find yourself enamored with Mediterranean-style small plates, prepared in wood-fired ovens, and convivially served at communal tables, you owe a debt of gratitude to the visionaries at Avec. Chef Paul Kahan, a recipient of the prestigious James Beard Award, played a pivotal role in pioneering this ubiquitous American dining trend back in 2003. Today, his talented team continues to lead the pack with innovative cuisine inspired by the wine regions of southern Europe.
Under the guidance of Chef de Cuisine Dylan Patel, Avec retains signature dishes such as the tantalizing bacon-wrapped chorizo-stuffed dates and the indulgent salt cod brandade served alongside grilled sourdough. However, it is Patel's seasonal creations that truly make the menu shine. During a recent visit, the roasted sweet potatoes, complemented by za'atar buttermilk, pickled lemons, and crispy bulgar, emerged as the winter's quintessential bite in Chicago.
ParachuteParachute, nestled inconspicuously within an aged century-old house in Avondale, might easily be overlooked as one of Chicago's finest culinary gems. However, this unassuming establishment hides a world-class contemporary Korean menu crafted by the talented husband-and-wife chef duo, Beverly Kim and Johnny Clark. When the pandemic struck, numerous loyal patrons feared for the fate of their beloved Parachute. After closing its doors in early 2021 due to the challenges of a take-out-focused concept, the restaurant reemerged last summer, garnering renewed praise and reestablishing its status as a destination worth venturing to, despite losing its coveted Michelin star during the transition.
However, this period away from the limelight only strengthened Kim and Clark's resolve. With newfound confidence and a comprehensive revitalization, Parachute now showcases a resolute focus on the Korean side of their signature "Korean-American cuisine." It has once again cemented its position as a beloved neighborhood institution worth embarking on a culinary pilgrimage for.
In a city renowned for its culinary scene, Chicago offers an array of standout restaurants that satisfy every palate. From soulful Southern cuisine at Luella's Southern Kitchen to the mouthwatering pizzas at Pat's Pizza and Ristorante, there is no shortage of delectable options to explore. Whether you are craving authentic Mexican flavors at Frontera Grill and Topolobampo or seeking innovative Vietnamese dishes at HaiSous, Chicago's diverse culinary landscape truly has something for everyone. So, whether it's indulging in a classic Chicago hot dog at Superdawg Drive-In or treating yourself to fine dining at Alinea, embark on a gastronomic adventure and discover the best restaurants the Windy City has to offer.