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Be hon­est — when you think of food in Chica­go, you think deep-dish piz­za, Chica­go style hot dogs and maybe some Gar­ret­t’s pop­corn — if you real­ly know your stuff.  But I’m here to tell you that the Windy City food scene is so much bet­ter than that. 

Don’t get me wrong, I love a good old Chica­go dog every now and then.  But if you and your part­ner are look­ing for some­thing a lit­tle more adven­tur­ous on your week­end away, or you’ve got an entire fam­i­ly full of food­ies excit­ed to try the dif­fer­ent culi­nary cre­ations the city has to offer, then we’ve got just the list for you.






If you love good food,check out these restaurants in Chicago to have the most memorable culinary experience. Foodies rejoice! Whether you live locally or a visiting on a family trip to chicago, these restaurants won't disappoint!




roister chicago kitchen

Where the mag­ic hap­pens. Pho­to cour­tesy of Tock.


If you’re a food­ie who’s done any research on the food scene in Chica­go, you’ve like­ly heard of Grant Achatz, the sem­i­nal father of the more recent food rev­o­lu­tion in Chica­go.  His most famous restau­rant, Alin­ea, is regard­ed as one of the best restau­rants in the world.  But unless you’re ready to shell out over $300 per per­son for his mul­ti-course din­ing expe­ri­ence, Alin­ea maybe isn’t your first choice, as much as you’d prob­a­bly love to eat there (trust me, it’s on my buck­et list).

Still want to expe­ri­ence the culi­nary amaz­ing­ness that is Mr. Achatz? Rois­ter, anoth­er one of his restau­rants, is quite tru­ly the next best thing and is eas­i­ly one of our top three favorite restau­rants in Chicago. 

Locat­ed in Chicago’s Ful­ton Mar­ket neigh­bor­hood, Rois­ter is sur­round­ed by a pletho­ra of fan­tas­tic restau­rants in a neigh­bor­hood that has quick­ly become rec­og­nized for its food scene.  But it stands a head above the rest, in our opinion.

The menu changes fre­quent­ly based on what’s in sea­son, but there are a few peren­ni­al favorites that main­tain a stand­ing spot.  The lasagne is hands down one of the best things I’ve ever had (which is say­ing some­thing, since I gen­er­al­ly do not like lasagne) and the ched­dar ril­lettes are deli­cious.  Add the Rois­ter Old Fash­ioned with a hint of brown but­ter and you’ll have the mak­ings of a meal you’ll be talk­ing about for years. 





Para­chute is a true dia­mond of Chicago’s Avon­dale neigh­bor­hood.  Locat­ed about twen­ty min­utes north of the city’s cen­ter, Para­chute is def­i­nite­ly worth what some might con­sid­er a bit of a longer trek.  The Kore­an-Amer­i­can fusion restau­rant is small, but quaint (as many of the best restau­rants often are) and offers a menu that changes sea­son­al­ly but is always delicious.

Their Bing Bread is per­haps one of their most famous items and lit­er­al­ly melts in your mouth.  Oth­er items typ­i­cal­ly include an inno­v­a­tive take on bi bim bop and pick­led veg­eta­bles, and their offer­ings boast a wide array of meats, seafood, and veg­gies, from duck and yel­lowfin tuna to pork bel­ly and braised beef. 




If you like Viet­namese food, or have always want­ed to try it, HaiSous is a spot for you.  Nes­tled in the heart of the Pilsen neigh­bor­hood, south­west of the city, it’s received an impres­sive 5 out of 5 stars from thou­sands of review­ers on Resy.

The menu mix­es tra­di­tion­al Viet­namese dish­es with clas­sic street food.  Their veg­etable cur­ry was lit­er­al­ly so deli­cious that our table of four debat­ed order­ing anoth­er one, even though we were all well-beyond stuffed from the oth­er awe­some dish­es we ordered.  Every­thing from the chick­en wings to the let­tuce wraps was per­fect.  And of course, you have to save room for their delec­table rice pudding. 





pizza at bonci chicago

So many options. Pho­to cour­tesy of Bon­ci Pizza.


It’s no secret that Chica­go is known for its piz­za.  Around here, the mot­to seems to be the deep­er the dish the bet­ter the ‘za.  But though I might get kicked out of the city for what I’m about to divulge, I’ve nev­er been a fan of the deep dish.  Give me Chica­go style dogs any day (hope­ful­ly that redeems me a bit?), but deep dish just isn’t my thing. 

So where do I get my piz­za fix?  That would be Bon­ci, a small, counter-ser­vice piz­za place in the West Loop neigh­bor­hood that hails from Rome.  It’s tech­ni­cal­ly a chain, but don’t let that deter you.  Their piz­za is like noth­ing I’ve ever had before.  The crust is at once crisp yet fluffy.  The top­pings change dai­ly, with some that are more tra­di­tion­al (meats, cheeses, veg­gies, you know) and some that are total­ly wild, like ricot­ta, blue­ber­ry, and honey. 

Bon­ci’s serves their piz­za by the slice, so make sure to mix and match to get your­self some vari­ety.  While there’s no indoor seat­ing, there is some counter space where you can stand and eat, or in the sum­mer, get your­self a spot on their small patio and peo­ple watch.





My hus­band and I firm­ly believe that you don’t have to be James Beard nom­i­nat­ed or Miche­lin starred to be a fan­tas­tic, mem­o­rable restau­rant.  Some of the meals we con­tin­ue to rave about, even years lat­er, are the ones we got at unas­sum­ing food trucks or small hole-in-the-wall enclaves.

One such place is Irazu, a Cos­ta Rican restau­rant on the bor­der of Buck­town and Wick­er Park that offers tra­di­tion­al Cos­ta Rican fare.  There’s admit­ted­ly noth­ing fan­cy about this place and the food is sim­ple.  But as Paul Hol­ly­wood likes to say in the Great British Bake Off, “If you do things sim­ple, you have to do them real­ly, real­ly well.”  And Irazu does clas­sic Cos­ta Rican bet­ter than any oth­er Cos­ta Rican restau­rant we’ve been to (out­side of the real Cos­ta Rica that is).

Their taco and bur­ri­to plates are amaz­ing­ly good and served with the best fried plan­tains.  Oth­er favorites include all of the empanadas (of which there are sev­er­al vari­eties), the chifri­jo, and my hus­band’s vice — their home­made milk­shakes.  In sum­mer, their fun and vibrant patio is hard to beat.  And it’s def­i­nite­ly a place the whole fam­i­ly would enjoy. 





Where are all my Mediter­ranean lovers at?  I could eat hum­mus, falafel, and baba ghanoush all day long if you let me.  One of my favorite Mediter­ranean restau­rants in the city is Aba, a chic and pop­u­lar restau­rant with a beau­ti­ful rooftop patio in Ful­ton Market.

With influ­ences from Israel, Lebanon, Turkey, and Greece, their menu is eclec­tic and expan­sive.  Some of the more unique dish­es include an Every­thing Jerusalem Bagel which is sub­lime and a lamb ragu hum­mus that will for­ev­er ruin every oth­er hum­mus for you.  All of their kebabs are deli­cious, though the salmon kebabs and cau­li­flower kebabs are per­son­al faves.  And their green falafel is a must try!




Antique Taco


If you’re any­thing like us, there are times when you want a tra­di­tion­al taco from the neigh­bor­hood taque­ria and then there are times when you want new aged tacos with non-tra­di­tion­al top­pings and unique flavors.

If you’re in the mood for the lat­ter, you can’t beat Antique Taco in Wick­er Park.  They’re a small counter-ser­vice restau­rant, but serve up big fla­vor.  Billed as “farmer’s mar­ket style” tacos, they offer unusu­al twists on old favorites, like chick­en tacos with yogurt, cucum­ber, and mint to give them more of a mediter­re­an flare and pork car­ni­tas tacos with bar­be­cue sauce and bacon.  It’s hard to go wrong with chips and guac, but their off-the-cob elote goes great with chips as well. 

Make sure to save room for their hor­cha­ta milkshake!





sushi rolls

The per­fect roll. Pho­to Cred­it: Louis Hansel


One thing my hus­band and I are always in the mood for?  Amaz­ing, qual­i­ty sushi.  We’ve trav­eled all over the world, and nine times out of ten, if there’s a good look­ing sushi place near­by, we’re going to try it.  In Napa?  Yep.  Nan­tuck­et?  Check.  Ams­ter­dam?  You bet.  Switzer­land.  Yes ma’am. 

We con­sid­er our­selves sushi con­nois­seurs.  So it might sur­prise you to learn that of all the fan­tas­tic, upscale sushi places in Chica­go, one of our favorites is a lit­tle BYOB place in Lake­view called Tanu­ki.  It’s one of those places that can seat no more than thir­ty peo­ple at a time and where you can get away with a nice din­ner for two for under $50.

The sushi is tru­ly fan­tas­tic.  They offer a wide selec­tion of tra­di­tion­al sashi­mi, nigiri, and maki, but what real­ly sets them apart is their diverse menu of sig­na­ture rolls.  We love some of the more cre­ative fla­vors, and have a hand­ful that we return to time and time again because they’re fam­i­ly favorites, like the Hel­l’s Pit Tuna Crunch and their White Cas­tle role with a lit­tle bit of fresh mango.

Oth­er things that keep bring­ing us back to this delight­ful place?  The spicy miso soup and their $0 cork­age fee.  What’s not to love about that? 


Don’t miss! A Local’s Guide To The 11 Best Fam­i­ly Friend­ly Things to Do in Chicacgo


Ramen Takeya


My hus­band and I walked to Ramen Takeya a few months back.  It’s about a mile from our loft and we like to work for our din­ner.  There was a 40 minute wait, so we hung out­side on the curb.  In a mat­ter of 30 min­utes, on four sep­a­rate occa­sions, groups of peo­ple walked by and some­one in the group could be heard say­ing a vari­a­tion of: “Have you guys heard of this place, Ramen Takeya?  It’s so good.  Some of the best ramen, for sure.”

We real­ized then that our lit­tle ramen secret was out.  But we can’t dis­agree.  There are sev­er­al awe­some ramen places in Chica­go, but Ramen Takeya is one of the top.  They use free range broth sourced from cage free chick­ens, instead of tra­di­tion­al pork broth, so you don’t feel as heavy after eat­ing it.  Their Miso Bold & Spicy is always my go-to (if you haven’t noticed, I love spicy things) and my hus­band loves their Fried Chick­en Buns. 




loyalist chicago bar

Burg­ers and craft cock­tails. A match made in heav­en. Pho­to cour­tesy of Tock.


Ask a Chica­go food­ie where to get the best burg­er in Chica­go and many will say Au Cheval.  While Au Cheval’s famous burg­er is total­ly worth the hype, a less­er known burg­er that’s just as good in our opin­ion is the burg­er just down the street at the Loyalist.

Loy­al­ist is the casu­al base­ment bar/lounge in the dual-restau­rant con­cept of Smyth & the Loy­al­ist, where Smyth is the upscale tast­ing room.  Though Smyth has the Miche­lin stars, Loy­al­ist has the more relaxed vibe and is eas­i­ly just as delicious.

Though their menu recent­ly under­went an over­haul, their Loy­al­ist Dirty Burg remains and is a burg­er that’s hard to beat.  And trust us when we say that no mat­ter what you order off the menu it will be culi­nary perfection. 



El Che


El Che tech­ni­cal­ly bills itself as a steak­house, but before you start think­ing stuffy steak­house vibes, I’ll caveat that it’s no ordi­nary steak­house.  With eclec­tic Argen­tin­ian and South Amer­i­can influ­ences we con­sid­er it more of an Argen­tin­ian restau­rant with steak on the menu. Most of their meat and veg­gie for­ward menu is slow-roast­ed over a live-fire and meant to evoke tra­di­tion­al back­yard bar­be­cues in Argentina. 

Per­son­al favorites include their house empanadas, of which they always have two sea­son­al vari­eties on the menu.  Though I’m not usu­al­ly a steak per­son, I make an excep­tion when­ev­er we go here.  Their steaks lit­er­al­ly melt in your mouth and come slathered in the best chimichur­ri I’ve ever had.  While their menu tends to rotate based on what’s in sea­son, you can’t go wrong with any of their hearth-roast­ed veg­eta­bles — they’re always deli­cious­ly sea­soned and per­fect­ly charred.  They have a way of turn­ing a sin­gle pota­to into a life-chang­ing expe­ri­ence — just ask my hus­band who will be all-too-will­ing to tell you about the fact that I still rave over a sweet pota­to we had there three years ago.

If we’ve got your mouth water­ing, then do your­self a favor and get to Chica­go to check out all the fan­tas­tic food the city has to offer!  We promise not to judge if you sneak your­self a slice or two of deep dish too.

Mor­gan is a brand design­er and writer who splits her time between man­ag­ing her cre­ative stu­dio, Atlas + Anchor, and writ­ing about her life­long love affair with trav­el. A wan­der­lus­ter at heart, she’s a big pro­po­nent of explor­ing the roads less trav­eled because they often lead to amaz­ing views, mem­o­rable sto­ries, and the most unas­sum­ing but life-chang­ing restau­rants. Orig­i­nal­ly from Ohio, Mor­gan now lives in the heart of Chica­go with her fam­i­ly and is quite pos­si­bly the only per­son with­in city lim­its who hates deep dish pizza. 
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If you love good food,check out these restaurants in Chicago to have the most memorable culinary experience. Foodies rejoice! Whether you live locally or a visiting on a family trip to chicago, these restaurants won't disappoint!