The Best Restaurants in Chicago
Collected by Nicole Schnitzler , AFAR Local Expert
The food scene is alive and well in Chicago. This town collects Michelin stars and James Beard Foundation awards like they were Cubs trading cards. Even with chefs like Grant Achatz and John Shields pushing the boundaries of modern American cuisine, you can still count on Chicago for good old hot dogs and deep-dish pizza. If you’re coming to the City of Big Shoulders, pack your appetite.
1639 S Wabash Ave, Chicago, IL 60616, USA
Chef and owner Ryan McCaskey helms the menu at this South Loop tasting-menu restaurant, where he’s best known for contemporary American fare that serves as a nod to his formative years in coastal Maine. Diners travel to partake in his...
1723 N Halsted St, Chicago, IL 60614, USA
For serious food lovers, a trip to Chicago isn’t complete without a visit to Alinea. For some, a trip to Chicago would be because of Alinea. Chef Grant Achatz's culinary playground has earned three Michelin stars since opening in 2005, the first...
800 W Randolph St, Chicago, IL 60607, USA
Why the best burger in Chicago is served at a bar with a Frenchname might be a question for the ages. But rather than question it, just go there! The single burger at Au Cheval is actually a double, and don't evenask about the double cheeseburger!...
2308, 802 W Randolph St, Chicago, IL 60607, USA
Chef Dan Snowden runs the show at this West Loop restaurant, where a vegetable-forward approach has been drawing crowds since its October 2016 opening. Plates like the tempura-fried lemons and broccoli, and chilled carrot noodles appeal to...
619 W Randolph St, Chicago, IL 60661, USA
When it opened doors in 1998, this West Loop destination helped pave the way for Restaurant Row and all of the gastronomic glory that would follow. Ever since, Blackbird's been filling seats (intimate banquette seating, thank you) with diners...
1729 N Halsted St, Chicago, IL 60614, USA
The dishes are as gorgeous as the environs at this Lincoln Park eatery, where chef and partner Lee Wolen serves contemporary American fare by way of seasonally driven and artfully composed plates. Grilled bass with charred eggplant and cucumber or...
809 W Randolph St, Chicago, IL 60607, USA
1415 N Wood St, Chicago, IL 60622, USA
The team behind this Wicker Park newcomer took several research trips to New Orleans before opening up, the better to channel that city's mom-and-pop joints, dive bars, and corner stores. Now Chicago diners can enjoy iconic Southern dishes (think...
1460 W Chicago Ave, Chicago, IL 60642, USA
Partners Dave Park and Jen Tran opened this Noble Square newcomer earlier this year, with the same modern Korean cuisine that gained them a loyal following (and a nomination for a James Beard Foundation award) at Hanbun, an elevated take on a...
630 W Lake St, Chicago, IL 60661, USA
When the team from the two Michelin-starred Oriole announced they were teaming up with cocktail ace Julia Momose for a new bar-driven concept venue, Chicago diners knew there were good things to come. Those things happen nightly at Kumiko, as...
737 W Randolph St, Chicago, IL 60661, USA
Sushi chef B.K. Park waited 20 years to open his own omakase restaurant, and in March 2019, his dream came true. In September, just five months after it opened, Mako obtained a Michelin star. Those familiar with Park's work at Lincoln Park's Juno...
1020 W Madison St, Chicago, IL 60607, USA
The combination of a Top Chef alum slash James Beard Award winner, a buzzing Chicago neighborhood, and an in-house pastificio(Italian for "pasta factory") was a surefire recipe for success for this Italian hot spot. It’s here that chef Sarah...
953 W Fulton Market, Chicago, IL 60607, USA
Next is famous for its ever-changing theme menus. The most recent is "The World's 50 Best Restaurants," featuring dishes created by the world's best chefs and curated by the Next team. When I was there we ate the centerpiece, and the floating...
661 W Walnut St, Chicago, IL 60661, USA
The team at this West Loop dining destination wanted to create a space that felt less like a restaurant and more like a home, and upon first glance, it looks like they succeeded (thanks to a freight-elevator entrance, exposed timber, potted...
3500 N Elston Ave, Chicago, IL 60618, USA
Diners fill the seats on the nightly at this Avondale eatery, where wife-and-husband team Beverly Kim and Johnny Clark dole out American-meets-Korean cuisine with big-time twists and turns (done with such genius that they’ve already earned...
565 W Randolph St, Chicago, IL 60661, USA
Leather, hand-glazed tiles, rich velvets, and a barrel-vaulted ceiling define this 5,000-square-foot space, which was carefully renovated to preserve elements of the building's original occupant, the Werner Printing Company. The bold, global...
1466 N Ashland Ave, Chicago, IL 60622, USA
Schwa is kind of a difficult place to describe; it's such an eclectic bundle of everything, you just have to experience it for yourself. The exterior of the building makes it look like it should be condemned, but it's actually structurally sound....
177 N Ada St #101, Chicago, IL 60607, USA
Not only do husband-and-wife team John Shields and Karen Urie Shields share an impressive culinary background (one that entails gigs at Tru, Alinea, and Charlie Trotter’s between them), they now share two restaurants: the Loyalist, a...
2nd Floor, Suite 1, 980 N Michigan Ave, Chicago, IL 60611, USA
This iconic Italian eatery has been delivering modern fine-dining experiences to Gold Coast crowds for more than 30 years. Those decades have given Spiaggia plenty of time to acquire the reputation it boasts today—one built on several James...
2152 N Damen Ave, Chicago, IL 60647, USA
Locals, out-of-towners, and food-and-bev industry crowds alike flock to this Bucktown restaurant—one of the first to modernize the fine dining scene in Chicago with louder music, less showiness, and no white tablecloths. Settle into...
330 N Wabash Ave, Chicago, IL 60611, USA
Situated on the second floor of the Langham Hotel, this restaurant is open around the clock—and after tasting the team’s handiwork, we’re all the more thankful. Seasonal American cuisine is the specialty here, a focus that chef...
449 N Clark St, Chicago, IL 60654, USA
Rick Bayless opened his upscale Mexican restaurants Frontera Grill and Topolobampo in the late 1980s and then won a litany of James Beard Awards, including Outstanding Restaurant (in 2007 and 2017). He took the top spot in the first season of Top...
- 1 Longreads A Very Big Little Country
- 2 COVID + Travel Singapore and Thailand Are Opening to U.S. Travelers—What to Know About Southeast Asia Travel
- 3 Natural Wonders How to Watch the Orionids and Draconids Meteor Showers in October 2021
- 4 COVID + Travel We Reviewed the CDC-Approved COVID Home Tests for International Travel—Here’s What to Know
- 5 Trains Wes Anderson Designed a Train Carriage—and It Looks Like Something out of His Movies