19 of the Best Places to Eat In Chicago!

Posted: Thursday, Apr 15 2021

The Windy City has no shortage of fantastic food.

Known for its sports teams, skyscrapers, and historic setting, Chicago is also an amazing food city! From hole-in-the-wall pizza joints to Michelin-starred eateries, there’s a plethora of options for an unforgettable dining experience. Here are some well-loved restaurants and potentially hidden gems around the city.

Of course, please take into account that many restaurants and their dining options have been altered or limited due to the pandemic. It’s always a good idea to plan ahead and make reservations if possible. Check out the map at the end to find all of these Chicago favorites!


Diners + Casual Eats

Photo courtesy of Rica Arepa

Rica Arepa

4253 W Armitage Ave, Chicago, IL 60639

$ | Venezulean

“When I went to Rica Arepa this past Friday , I felt like I was chilling back in South America.

Known for welcoming salsa music and authentic eats, Rica Arepa transports guests to Venezuela. On the menu are tostones, empanadas, fresh juices, and of course arepas! This is a great options for vegans and vegetarians with a wide selection of plant-based entrees. Rica Arepa is also pet-friendly!

Flour Power

1642 W Chicago Ave, Chicago, IL 60622

$ | Italian

You can definitely tell Chef Wilson excels in his craft. The quality of the handmade pasta is delectable!

Flour Power is the perfect place to go for a low-key, high-quality comfort meal. This mom-and-pop spot features fresh-made pasta daily, prepared by Chef Wilson Bauer. The menu changes every night and you can see the featured nightly options on their Instagram.

Smoque BBQ

3800 N Pulaski Rd, Chicago, IL 60641

$$ | Barbecue

Great BBQ! Good meat, yummy sides, and great sauces. I’d highly recommend the brisket!

A favorite spot for elevated down home cooking, Smoque (smōk) BBQ offers a blend of rich meat flavor, savory hardwood smoke, spiced rubs, and sweet sauce to bring their guests to BBQ heaven. The chefs work hard to match the right meat cut to the right rub, wood smoke, sauce, and cooking technique. Smoque’s main sauces, rubs, and sides are also made in-house. Servings sizes are generous with enough for lunch the next day!

Superdawg Drive-In

6363 N Milwaukee Ave, Chicago, IL 60646

$ | Hot Dogs

Can’t go wrong with dogs from Superdawgs!

Combine feel-good food with vintage vibes and you’ve got Superdawg Drive-In. Started in 1948, this low-key hot dog stand was started to help the owner pay his way through school. Since then, it has become a local favorite in Chicago’s North Side. Superdawg is still family owned and operates in the same location it was built! Featuring two iconic hot dogs on the roof, this quick-service establishment is unmissable. If you’re looking for a place with old-fashioned charm, check out Superdawgs.

KFire Korean BBQ

2528 N Milwaukee Ave, Chicago, IL 60647

$ | Korean Barbecue

I will be making this my go to place.

KFire is a grilled to order restaurant that specializes in authentic Korean BBQ. From yummy, pre-planned BBQ plates to house made sides, Kfire has plenty of options that are sure to satisfy. Popular menu items include the bokki fries, the Kalbi BBQ plate, and the kimchi fried rice balls. They also offer vegan options, including the Impossible Kalbi, which is 100% meatless!

Photo courtesy of KFire

Restaurants

Ema

74 W Illinois St, Chicago, IL 60654

$$ | Mediterranean

Ema is AMAZING! You won’t retreat stopping in. Exceptional food, service, and ambiance. Loved everything about it!”

Ema is serving up delicious Mediterranean-inspired small plates and spreads, accompanied by fresh breads. Signature dishes at this airy venue include spicy hummus, house made stracciatella with vine-ripened tomatoes, and lamb Kefta kebabs. Ema is a great place to eat when you want to sample and share several items with friends!

If you enjoy Ema, check out their sister restaurant, Aba!

Photo courtesy of Tanta Chicago

Tanta Chicago

118 W Grand Ave, Chicago, IL 60654

$$$ | Peruvian

“One of Chicago’s finest restaurants. You don’t have to be an expert on Peruvian or Latin food to appreciate the fine cuisine here. We dream of going back.

Tanta shares the flavors of Peru with authentic dishes and an inviting downtown atmosphere. From the Pacific to the Andes and the Amazon, Tanta seeks to celebrate the culinary diversity present in Peru’s culture. Tanta also uses locally sourced ingredients, paying attention to vendors with sustainable farming and fishing practices. Menu specialities include fresh ceviches, Pisco inspired cocktails, and plenty of seafood!

Rooh Chicago

736 W Randolph St, Chicago, IL 60661

$$$ | Indian

The food and service at Rooh was phenomenal. Highly recommend doing the culinary journey.

Meaning soul or spirit, Rooh brings the essence of Indian through an immersive restaurant experience. Awarded Executive Chef, Sujan Sarkar, carefully balances traditional flavors, fresh ingredients, and international inspirations. This restaurant prides itself on presenting progressive Indian cuisine accompanied by a vibrant atmosphere. The elegant plates and South Asian cocktails will make you want to come back again and again!

HaiSous Vietnamese Kitchen

1800 S Carpenter St, Chicago, IL 60608

$$ | Vietnamese

On each visit, the restaurant has impressed with its superb food, exciting cocktails, and excellent service.

Husband and wife chef duo, Thai and Danielle Dang, share rich flavors and their taste at this nationally-acclaimed restaurant. Known for the excellent pairing of unique dishes with yummy cocktails, this is a great option for inexpensive, but special, nights out.

Photo courtesy of HaiSous Vietnamese Kitchen

Virtue Restaurant

1462 E 53rd St, Chicago, IL 60615

$$$ | American Southern

“Was the food as good and delicious as advertised?  You betcha!!

If you’re searching for hearty Southern cooking in a warm, welcoming environment, look no further than Virtue Restaurant in Hyde Park. The owners and chefs here strive to create a culture of hospitality and kindness with their space. They serve familiar, comfort flavors with a few unexpected surprises! Menu items include gizzards, gumbo, and catfish, with mac and cheese being a fan favorite, so don’t skip that!

The Publican

837 W Fulton Market, Chicago, IL 60607

$$$ | American

“The food, service, and atmosphere is AMAZING at The Publican!”

An homage to Medieval farmhouse fare, The Publican serves up an eclectic, rotating menu utilizing seasonal ingredients sourced from across America. They pride themselves on their beer, pork, and oysters, so make sure you try at least one of those! They also have a carefully selected beer and spirits list featuring a wide variety of modern and historical international brews. The set up is reminiscent of a European beer hall, with long tables perfect for spirited gatherings with friends. This is a great spot for both brunch and an up-class happy hour!


Fine Dining

Alinea

1723 N Halsted St, Chicago, IL 60614

$$$$ | American

“This is definitely a special occasion dining experience! Taste was superb, unexpectedly transformed food to pieces of arts!”

Behind a non-descript exterior lies a top-ranked and award-winning fine dining experience. Specializing in creative, New American cuisine, this restaurant is a leader in the world of molecular gastronomy. As of December 2017, Alinea is one of 14 restaurants in the U.S., and the only in Chicago, to earn a coveted Michelin 3-Star rating! Exceptional quality food also garners exceptional prices, so be aware that dining here may put a dent in your wallet. However, diners and chefs alike agree that the experience is worth it!

Tzuco

720 N State St, Chicago, IL 60654

$$$ | Mexican

“Every dish was memorable and had so much flavor, that I don’t even have a favorite.

Born in Guerrero, Mexico, Michelin-star winning head chef Carlos Gaytán endeavors to bring the flavors of his childhood and home country to the table at Tzuco.

Many diners work through the menu family style, attempting to sample several dishes in one sitting. Some of Tzuco’s standout dishes include the cactus-incorporated ceviche verde and the pulpo enamorado, an octopus-centered entree.

Featuring beautifully crafted plates and wine imported from Mexico, Tzuco is a great option for a flavor experience.

Photo courtesy of Formento’s

Formento’s

925 W Randolph St, Chicago, IL 60607

$$$ | Italian

After Amalfi coast in Italy I never thought I would be able to enjoy good quality pasta anywhere again but this place proved me wrong!

Modern cuisine meets generational tradition at Formento’s, a newer restaurant in the West Loop. Created in tribute to the owner’s grandmother, many of the dishes are crafted from traditional family recipes. The extensive wine menu includes more than 600 varietals from around the world!

Smyth + The Loyalist

177 N Ada St #101, Chicago, IL 60607

$$$$ | American

“The attention to detail and the friendliness of the staff are unparalleled. A very high recommend for an experience that is unlike any other.

This unique Chicago venue features two exceptional dining options in one, both offering inventive and high-end American fare with custom wine pairings. The Smyth’s atmosphere and cuisine are both inspired by chefs John and Karen Shield’s experiences in the farmlands of Smyth County, Virginia. With three multi-course tasting menus at different price points, the two Michelin-starred Smyth offers an unforgettable meal.

Downstairs, The Loyalist is the more laidback sister to The Smyth. Presented as a classic neighborhood bar, The Loyalist is known for having a welcoming ambiance, casual fare, and delicious cocktails. It’s the perfect, cozy restaurant for a special dinner with family and friends.


Vegan + Vegetarian

True Food Kitchen

1 W Erie St, Chicago, IL 60654

$ | Health food

“If I could give this place 6 out of 5 stars, I would! A place where you can eat out and feel good afterwards!

True Food Kitchen seeks to provide crave-able food that makes their diners feel not only satisfied, but healthy, after a meal. Each bite serves up big flavor and the chefs use fresh ingredients in all their dishes. They all also utilize a seasonal menu rotation to capture fruits and veggies during their ripest, and most nutrient-rich, periods. True food Kitchen cooks by the philosophy that great tasting food can serve as the foundation for a life well lived!

Handlebar

2311 W North Ave, Chicago, IL 60647

$$ | American

Wow! Super cool, chill place with excellent food! Unique menu consisting of creative and delicious vegan and vegetarian food.

Handlebar is a cozy bar restaurant that serves both seafood and vegetarian/vegan comfort food. They’ve got creative specials like bagel carrot lox and bbq mac and tot bowls, as well as more traditional favorites like vegan burgers. They also have a full service bar and a coffee counter so this is the perfect place for a chill vibe day or night!

Photo courtesy of Handlebar

The Chicago Diner

3411 N Halsted St, Chicago, IL 60657

$$ | American

“No better place in Chicago to grab a veggie / vegan meal.

Meat Free Since ’83 is the motto of this local vegan favorite. The Chicago Diner serves classic American diner food, but vegetarian! When the owners first opened, critics, loan officers and family members scoffed at the idea. But those haters have definitely been proven wrong! They’re a proudly no-frills establishment with a large menu of creative vegetarian and vegan comfort food, that’s been satisfying guests for over 30 years. Now they have two locations, one in Logan Square and the other on N Halsted St. You will definitely find something you’re looking for on this menu!

Photo Courtesy of Kitchen 17

Kitchen 17

3132 N Broadway, Chicago, IL 60657

$$ | American

I adore Kitchen 17! Best spot for vegan comfort food in town!

Kitchen 17 is a 100% vegan restaurant and bakery that also has board games! This is a great spot to hit up with friends for a relaxing night out. Serving a variety of classic comfort foods including burgers, seitan sandwiches, and pizza (both, deep dish and New York style), you’re sure to find something to satisfy a comfort food craving.


Where are these places?

Want to see where all of these delicious restaurants are compared to your house, hotel, Airbnb, or apartment? Check it out here!


And that’s not all!

These are only a small fraction of the amazing places to eat in Chicago, but hopefully you learned about some new places! Looking for something else to do after a meal? Try The Escape Game Chicago, the perfect activity to complete a night out!

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