Chicago Restaurant Guide
The Windy City is known for many things, but our biggest takeaway? It is a food-lovers paradise! Between juicy Italian-beef sandwiches, mouth watering deep dish pizza, topping-heavy Chicago style hot dogs & more, this town boasts a rich, culinarily diverse, iconic food scene. But with endless restaurants on every street, where does one even start?! We have broken down our top restaurant recommendations in our Chicago Restaurant Guide below!
Best Casual Restaurants
The Italian beef sandwich is perhaps the most iconic sandwich in all of Chicago, and there’s no better place to try it than the famous Johnny’s Beef. Offering beef, Italian sausage, and hot dogs, the menu is simple but bursting with flavor. We highly recommend getting the italian beef with hot giardiano peppers – you can thank us later. This is one spot that we do not recommend ordering for delivery, as the juicy meats are meant to be eaten fresh (no one likes soggy bread).
Hidden in the depths of a 1920s boiler room in Edgehill Village is this gorgeous and unique speakeasy. The entrance is located in an alleyway, through a semi-secret yellow triangle door without any signage, and down a concrete spiral staircase gilded with gold railings. The dimly lit bar is designed within many of the original components like exposed brick, large blocks of cement, a towering smokestack, and high ceilings, providing hip and exclusive vibes. With its incredible cocktail list and unmatched character, it’s the perfect place to snuggle up with a date in a cozy booth.
This Hyde Park restaurant offers Southern flavors, soul-soothing dinners and comforting desserts, finished with a welcoming and cozy ambiance. With each bite, it is more clear that Chef Erick Williams truly pours his soul into each dish, most of which come from generations of passed down recipes. This is the perfect spot for a cozy, romantic date night.
This all-day cafe is a hidden gem in Logan Square that has been offering New American cuisine for over two decades. Between the fresh-baked pastries, daily brunch menu, extensive wine list, and multi-course gourmet dinner menu, this spot has something to offer everyone. The food has a farm-to-table focus, which is served in a well-lit, airy space with contemporary decor.
A chic & modern speakeasy in West Loop, serving seasonal American cuisine by Chef Andrew Zimmerman. You can expect a gorgeous setting with modern chandeliers, floor-to-ceiling wine walls, and a vintage ambiance, complete with exceptionally polished service.
This West Loop spot, well-known for Top Chef winner Joe Flamm, is a must-not-miss when it comes to food, as well as the atmosphere. Fusing Italian, Croatian, and Midwestern cooking, the menu is unique and will leave you wanting to come back over and over again. Be sure to book a reservation far in advance (but don’t pass up a seat at the bar if you see one!).
Another West Loop, Italian hot spot that has quickly cemented itself as one of Chicago’s top Italian restaurants. From former Top Chef and Spiaggia chef Sarah Grueneberg, this restaurant offers endless small plates, pastas, and massive entrees, all served family style.
A quaint Italian market, Pisolino offers pasta, pizza, and wine in a laid-back setting. You can expect mouthwatering bites from noon to 3:00pm daily, composed of high-quality Italian imported goods, as well as locally sourced ingredients.
This luxurious Lincoln Park spot, which is the only Chicago restaurant to have been awarded three Michelin stars, is considered one of the world’s best! If you are looking for an out-of-this-world culinary experience while in Chicago, this fine dining establishment is the place. Be prepared to spend $400 – $500 per person, but trust us, it will be the best money you have ever spent.
Another fine-dining experience that may be the most expensive meal you have ever had, but will be 1000% worth the price. From Chef Curtis Duffy, this West Loop restaurant offers a prix-fixe menu consisting of eight to 10 courses, set in a dimly lit, inviting dining room. You can expect exquisite dishes based around proteins and seasonal vegetables, composed with precise techniques and a playful execution.
An intimate, 28-seat, Michelin-star restaurant that is known for pushing the boundaries of fine dining without pretension. Since reopening after the pandemic, Chef Noah Sandoval has created a fantastic tasting menu with dramatic flavors that flow from one dish to the next. This is a great spot for a celebration.
Specializing in the Chicago classic deep dish pizza, this old-school Italian chain restaurant is unapologetic about the massive amount of cheese they pack into every pie! Combined with a crust that’s crispy on the outside and pillowy on the inside, perfectly balanced sauce, and Chicago-style sausages, the pizza joint is arguably the best in Chicago.
Going head to head with Giordanos, this Chicago-based chain is also considered by many to have the best deep dish pizza in town! Since 1940, Lou Malnati’s has been serving up flaky, buttery pizza crust, filled to the brim with an exclusive sausage blend, vine ripened plum tomatoes and Wisconsin cheese. There are many locations, ranging from take-out-only counters to large, shiny full-service restaurants all around the city.
This unassuming neighborhood bar in Lincoln Park is another pizza hot-spot that serves a Chicago-style pizza that’s somewhere between pan pizza and deep dish. Unlike most deep dish pizzas, Pequod’s is best known for their unique crust that features a chewy rim of caramelized cheese – mouthwatering, we know. Our recommendation – the house speciality sausage pie, made with a crisp cheese exterior and gumball-sized sausage pieces.
If you are a sushi connoisseur, look no further than Kyoten! This reservation-only, 8-seat sushi restaurant provides guests with an omakase experience that is one of the most unforgettable meals in Chicago. Since 2018, Chef Otto Phan has been shaking up the sushi scene in Chicago with his $440 – $490 tasting menu – all of which is sourced from the best fish in Japan.
This stylish spot is all about the old school hip hop and hand rolls, and comes at a much more reasonable price point. You can expect a full slate of izakaya-inspired bites, their well known ‘San-Sets’, and a full list of cocktails served in soda cans, all set in a fun atmosphere. If you happen to be up for some omakase action, they do offer a 10-seat Omakase room with an 18-course menu.
Mi Tocaya Antojeria
A colorful, laid-back, neighborhood restaurant from acclaimed Chef Diana Davila, who is known for taking risks. If you are looking to fill up on chips and salsa alone, this is probably not the place for you, as this spot goes above and beyond. You can expect a wide range of soul-warming dishes that are far from ordinary, such as the peanut butter lengua, tlacoyo de nopalitos, duck carnitas, wild boar barbacoa, elote-spaghetti squash and more.
La Chaparrita Taqueria
If you are after tacos, this charming little grocery store is a must-not-miss! A true Chicago original, this delicious spot offers Mexico-city style street tacos with all the fixings, pozole, ceviche, tortilla-wrapped meats & more – all served in a cozy, authentic grocery store locale. The must-not-miss items include al pastor tacos, carne asada, crispy tripe, and zesty octopus and shrimp ceviche.
The place to be if you are after an up-scale, eclectic, Mexican-inspired dinner. From Chef/restaurateur Rick Bayless, this River North spot serves up traditional Mexican recipes made with modern techniques and elevated presentations, and is considered one of the best restaurants in Chicago. Like most of our favorite spots, Topolobampo offers an exciting tasting menu, with items such as crispy roasted suckling pig with nutty red mole, Wagyu beef rib-eye and slow-cooked short rib with a black mole made of 28 ingredients, and coconut pearls accented with citrus-jicama salsa, blood orange sorbet, grapefruit-habanero gelatinas and avocado.
Awarded the ‘Best New Restaurant in the Chicago Tribune, this posh destination is one of the best spots to get Mediterranean food. Aba highlights a light style of cooking from its famed chef, CJ Jacobson, with influence from the Mediterranean, including Israel, Lebanon, Turkey, and Greece. The crispy short rib hummus is just one of their well-known items that keeps visitors coming back for more. Be sure to book reservations far in advance, and don’t miss their gorgeous rooftop!
The Purple Pig
No matter the time of day, this is a fave among groups craving first-rate Mediterranean cooking with drinks and a setting to match. The tapas-style dining provides visitors with the flexibility to experiment with eclectic dishes, such as the grilled broccoli dressed with an anchovy vinaigrette, the smoked pork tongue, or even the crispy pig’s ear. Not a daring foodie? Not to worry, the menu has delicious options for all, and the atmosphere is incredibly fun!
Since opening in January 2022, LYRA has been the talk of the town, serving up fresh, holistic fare to Chicago diners in an earth-toned, indoor-meets-outdoor space. The menu incorporates renditions of authentic Greek favorites with locally sourced ingredients, all inspired by over a decade of extensive travel through the islands of Greece. You can expect a large, open kitchen in the center of the dining room, charcoal and wood-burning grills, and a range of items, from comforting and traditional to lighter Mediterranean fare, all of which are designed for guests to share.
Manny’s Cafeteria & Delicatessen
Chicago’s answer to Katz’s Delicatessen, where cooks in paper hats serve gigantic sandwiches, bowls of matzo ball soup and cafeteria classics. Since 1942, this South Loop Jewish deli has been a hot spot for a casual breakfast, lunch, or dinner, and has long been considered Chicago’s best deli. Be sure to come hungry!
JT’s Genuine Sandwich Shop
Imagine thinly-shaved pork in a honey and garlic glaze, served on a sesame roll with provolone, grilled rapini, Calabrian chili aioli, and jus… That is the Italian Roast Pork Sandwich, an absolute must-not-miss dish while visiting Chicago! This family-owned and operated sandwich shop in Irving Park serves up hearty sandwiches with Chicago flare. A few items we recommend include the breaded pork tenderloin sandwich, steak & potato sub, and the grinder. If you happen to love sauce as much as us, don’t miss a douse of calabrian chili oil, dijonnaise, orange chipotle vinaigrette, JT graziano hot giardiniera, or truffle aioli.
Other Must-Not-Miss Spots
A modern Filipino-American bakery and fine dining restaurant from a husband-and-wife duo, Kasama boasts both a Michelin-starred tasting menu and a selection of casual daytime dishes. Whether you head to Kasama for a delicious brunch, freshly made pastries, or an exquisite 13-course tasting dinner, you will leave extremely satisfied.
Maple & Ash
Posh, white-tablecloth steakhouse & seafood eatery with a choice wine list & a martini lounge.