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 pa
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 f
Sure, this city has great architecture, museums, and sports venues. But at its heart, Chicago is really a food town. Thi

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. Gioco

    $$ | South Loop | Italian

    The name means "game" in Italian, and the restaurant fulfills the promise not with venison, but in the spirit of having fun. The decor is distressed...Read More

  • 2. Turquoise Restaurant and Café

    $$ | Lakeview | Turkish

    This bustling Turkish-owned café attempts to please every palate with a mixed menu of Continental and Turkish foods, but it's the latter that...Read More

  • 3. C-House

    $$ | River North | American

    Don't mind the slightly out of place chic nautical decor—celebrity chef Marcus Samuelsson first envisioned the restaurant as a chop house (hence...Read More

  • 4. Erwin Cafe

    $$ | Lakeview | American

    Striking a pose between friendly and refined, this spot has comforting food, a cozy setting, and polished service. Chef Erwin Drechsler often...Read More

  • 5. Rhapsody

    $$ | Chicago Loop | American

    Adjacent to the Symphony Center, home of the Chicago Symphony, Rhapsody is more than a handy spot for a preconcert dinner. Chef Dean Zanella...Read More

  • 6. West Town Tavern

    $$ | West Loop | American

    While it's a little off the beaten path, you can trust that your cabbie will know how to get you here, and it's worth the trip. The handsome...Read More

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