Where are you going?
Or, let us surprise youSpin the Globe ®

Chicago Dining

Rockin' Burgers
Chicago Dining
Home to more than 5,000 restaurants, 25 Michelin-starred spots, and the James Beard Awards ceremony, Chicago is a dominant player in the culinary game. From $2 tacos to haute tasting menus, here are some of the best places to eat in Chicago.
By Nicole Schnitzler, AFAR Local Expert
Au Cheval / Kevin Miyazaki
  • 1 / 10
    Rockin' Burgers
    Rockin' Burgers
    Back in 2010 Lady Gaga tweeted that she loved Kuma’s Corner on Belmont, and today there are still lines out the door. Fortunately, the Kuma’s burgers—with heavy-metal-inspired names like Iron Maiden and Lair of the Minotaur—are worth the wait. They’re topped with succulent, crunchy, spicy, messy heaps of delectable ingredients sourced from local purveyors. And, appropriately, they're served to the sounds of Black Sabbath in the background. For a deceptively simple burger cooked just so and topped with pickles and Dijonnaise, go to Au Cheval on Randolph.
    Au Cheval / Kevin Miyazaki
  • 2 / 10
    A Tasting-Menu Town
    A Tasting-Menu Town
    If you're looking to go big on a dinner in Chicago, you've come to the right place. The city is home to 25 Michelin-rated restaurants, and most of those venues earned their stars for thoughtful and progressive tasting menus that are perfected on the nightly. In the West Loop, try Grace, where Curtis Duffy offers two menus—one for omnivores ("Fauna") and one for vegetarians ("Flora")—each of which highlights the chef's dedication to of-the-moment seasonality and meticulously sourced ingredients. A few blocks away diners will find Oriole, an eatery from chef Noah Sandoval that features an extended tasting menu of cleverly paired bites (think Hudson Valley foie gras with Hudson Canyon scallops and dried wild blueberries). Don't miss a chance to experience Acadia, a South Loop dining destination from Ryan McCaskey. The menu showcases the chef's prowess for a range of techniques and flavor combinations—especially those stemming from coastal Maine, where he continues to spend his summers.
    Photo Courtesy Acadia
  • 3 / 10
    Elegant Weekend Brunches
    Elegant Weekend Brunches
    A sunny Saturday calls for a decadent brunch in gorgeous surroundings, and RH Chicago is just the place for the occasion. The Restoration Hardware outpost houses Three Arts Club Café, an atrium-enveloped eatery from chef Brendan Sodikoff that highlights everything from salads and scrambles to lobster rolls and burgers. In the Loop, it's all about Travelle, the Langham hotel's second-floor restaurant that spins out reinterpreted and refined takes on classics from chef Ricardo Jarquin (think chicken and waffles with glazed bacon and bread-and-butter pickles, or the Travelle Benedict, complete with lobster and truffle hollandaise). For an all-out brunch in the Bucktown area, head straight to Mindy's HotChocolate for a number of seasonal specials, such as beet toast with whipped ricotta or banana coffee cake with babka streusel.
    Travelle / Ricardo Jarquin
  • 4 / 10
    Upscale Mexican
    Upscale Mexican
    Chicago chef Rick Bayless has three Mexican restaurants on the corner of Clark and Illinois streets: Frontera Grill, Topolobampo, and Xoco (two of those—Frontera Grill and Topolobampo—have received James Beard Awards for Outstanding Restaurant). At Xoco, try a torta and some pork-belly chilaquiles, and don’t leave without sampling the churros and chocolate. For great tacos, opt for the al pastor variation at Big Star in Wicker Park or any of the flavor-packed options at Logan Square newcomer Mi Tocaya Antojería (examples include the Milpa, with charred butternut squash and corn crema, or the Campechano, with chorizo and carne asada). If you're craving something a bit more adventurous, try Birrieria Zaragoza on Pulaski, where juicy, slow-roasted goat and handmade tortillas are specialties.
    Photo by John Joh
  • 5 / 10
    Culinary-Driven Cocktails
    Culinary-Driven Cocktails
    Cocktail menus around town are only continuing to grow, and for good reason: Now more than ever before, the beverage director, bartender, and mixologist alike are proving that they have a seat at the table. At CH Distillery, it's distiller Tremaine Atkinson who remains hard at work blending up bespoke spirits for the label, which is known for everything from vodka and rum to amaro and limoncello. Fat Rice in Logan Square recently opened the Ladies' Room, a bar that's styled after the Chinese gambling halls of 19th-and-20th-century Macao and that features chef Abraham Conlon's boozy handiwork. And at Honey's, a menu from beverage manager Gil Izaguirre features a small but mighty lineup of libations comprised of kitchen-inspired ingredients (like sorrel, smoked paprika, and basil).
    CH Distillery
  • 6 / 10
    Fine Dining on Michigan Avenue
    Fine Dining on Michigan Avenue
    An afternoon of shopping on the Magnificent Mile calls for a dinner out, and, thankfully, there's no shortage of prized choices just footsteps away. At the corner of Oak and Michigan there's Spiaggia, a fine-dining Italian restaurant that has become a bit of an institution among the city's most discerning gourmands (and President Obama himself). A few blocks away you'll find Nomi Kitchen, a New American restaurant in the Park Hyatt with sweeping views of Michigan Avenue and Water Tower Place. Start things off with sushi (they have a serious knack for it here), and don't miss dessert from chef Greg Mosko—especially longtime favorites like the skillet cookie. For an afternoon tea that you won't soon forget, visit the Peninsula, where an array of sandwiches and sweets accompany a tea of your choosing in their lobby's cavernous and stately dining area. 

    Spiaggia / Galdones Photography
  • 7 / 10
    Restaurant Row on Randolph Street
    Restaurant Row on Randolph Street
    Chicago’s Restaurant Row is a stretch of several blocks on West Randolph Street that features restaurants by cookery luminaries Paul Kahan and Stephanie Izard. Today that neighborhood buzz is only on the uptick, thanks to the arrivals of impressive spots like Bad Hunter, where chef Dan Snowden specializes in vegetable-forward plates brimming with flavor, or Monteverde, where James Beard 2017 winner Sarah Grueneberg dishes up modern takes on Italian favorites with a focus on house-made pasta. Just blocks away is Paul Kahan’s flagship restaurant, Blackbird. It’s a small space filled with draped white tables where the staff brings out plates from an incredible tasting menu; impeccable service makes it the perfect date-night restaurant. As is Elske, where David and Anna Posey offer a menu comprised of hyper-seasonal local fare with a nod to Nordic cuisine, and Eden, a stylish new eatery with an emphasis on New-American-meets-Mediterranean meals.
    Bad Hunter / Kristen Mendiola
  • 8 / 10
    Great Breakfasts around Town
    Great Breakfasts around Town
    Every neighborhood in Chicago has a good breakfast spot, but there are some popular joints that visitors should make an effort to check out. Stephanie Izard’s Little Goat Diner on West Randolph shows off her passion for delicious, well-cooked comfort food with a twist. Order the Fat Elvis waffles (with peanut butter, bacon, and banana) and the tempura mashed potatoes. Longman & Eagle in Logan Square serves a fantastic PBR breakfast, with house-made sausage and a can of Pabst Blue Ribbon; Orange in Lincoln Park offers its signature orange-flavored coffee alongside an incredible pancake flight with flavors that change daily.
    Photo by age fotostock
  • 9 / 10
    Chicago-Style Hot Dogs
    Chicago-Style Hot Dogs
    Chicago hot dogs are piled high with onions, tomatoes, peppers, and pickles, and they look like they’ve been dragged through a garden. Several places around town do a great Chicago dog, including Wiener Circle in Lincoln Park, where your order comes with lots of yelling between customers and staff. Nobody takes it personally; in fact, there are online fan pages devoted to this notorious late-late-late-night joint. Other authentic Chicago dogs can be found at Portillo's (possibly the most franchised hot dog stand in town, and famous for its Italian beef) and the Superdawg drive-in on Milwaukee, which is decorated with 12-foot frankfurters. Not one to mess with tradition, the place hasn't changed its trademark Superdawg recipe since the 1950s.
    Photo by Adam Alexander/Choose Chicago
  • 10 / 10
    Chicago's Deep-Dish Pizza
    Chicago's Deep-Dish Pizza
    Pizzeria Uno is one of the best-known Chicago-style pizzas, thanks to a thick crust layered with gooey cheese and chunky tomato sauce. Uno’s is franchised in more than 20 states, but the original restaurant still stands at the corner of Ohio and Wabash—and visitors still line up to get in. Giordano’s locations are spread around the city, and they specialize in an extra-tall stuffed pizza with plenty of cheese to go around. Lou Malnati’s, also with multiple locations, is the oldest pizza name in town and a favorite among Chicagoans for its crunchy crust and rich layer of tomato-Parmesan sauce.
    Photo by Alyssa Riley