Chicago Restaurants

Sure, this city has great architecture, museums, and sports venues. But at its heart, Chicago is really a food town. This is evident in the priority that good eating takes, no matter the occasion. Rain or shine, locals will wait in a line that snakes around the corner for dolled-up doughnuts at Doughnut Vault. They’ll reserve part of their paychecks to dine at inventive Alinea. And they love to talk about their most recent meal—just ask.

It's no wonder that outdoor festivals are often centered on food, from Taste of Chicago in summer, which packs the grounds at Grant Park, to smaller celebrations, like the German-American fest in Lincoln Square, a mini-Oktoberfest in fall.

Although the city has always had options on the extreme ends of the spectrum—from the hole-in-the wall Italian beef sandwich shops to the special-occasion spots—it's now easier to find eateries in the middle that serve seasonal menus with a farm-to-table mantra. For the budget conscious, it's also a great time to dine: some talented chefs aren't bothering to wait for a liquor license, opening BYOB spots turning out polished fare (just try Ruxbin in West Town).

Expect to see more Chicago chefs open casual concepts—Rick Bayless, Paul Kahan, and Michael Kornick have a head start with their respective sandwich, taco, and burger spots. Yet the goal remains the same: to feed a populace that knows good food and isn't willing to accept anything less than the best. In the following pages, you'll find our top picks, from quick bites to multicourse meals, in the city's best dining neighborhoods.

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  • 1. Spacca Napoli Pizzeria

    $ | Ravenswood | Pizza

    Despite Chicago's renown for deep-dish pizza, locals are swept away by the thin-crust Neapolitan pies at this bright Ravenswood gem. Finely...Read More

  • 2. Piece

    $ | Wicker Park | Pizza

    The antithesis of Chicago-style deep-dish pizza, Piece's flat pies mimic those made famous in New Haven, Connecticut. The somewhat free-form...Read More

  • 3. Pizzeria Due

    $$ | River North | Pizza

    Serving inch-thick pizzas in a comfortable, though well-worn dining room, Pizzeria Due is where everyone goes when they've found out that Uno...Read More

  • 4. Pizzeria Uno

    $ | River North | Pizza

    Chicago deep-dish pizza got its start here in 1943, and both local and out-of-town fans continue to pack this Victorian brownstone for the filling...Read More

  • 5. Pompei Little Italy

    $ | Little Italy | Pizza

    Cheap, cheerful, and fast—what's not to love about Pompei? Little Italy's only casual café with a strong kitchen specializes in square slices...Read More

  • 6. Crust

    $ | Wicker Park | Pizza

    There are only a handful of restaurants around the country that are certified organic, and despite the bureaucracy required for the distinction...Read More

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