Chicago, fondly referred to as the "Windy City," holds a unique charm that extends beyond its iconic skyline, deep-dish pizzas, and vibrant music scene.
This Midwestern metropolis is a cradle of culinary diversity, a scene where world-class chefs meet passionate food enthusiasts, creating an exceptional dining culture that will entice your taste buds.
Each neighborhood in Chicago boasts its distinct culinary personality, hosting a myriad of restaurants that range from trendy eateries serving contemporary fusion cuisine to traditional steakhouses honoring the city's rich history.
Whether it's the artistic plating of a Michelin-star meal or the rustic charm of a cozy brunch spot, the dining options are as diverse as the city's cultural mosaic.
Here, every meal promises an unforgettable gastronomic journey.
Embarking on a culinary exploration in Chicago is akin to a treasure hunt.
From upscale dining rooms in Downtown to quaint bistros in the North Side, each restaurant is a universe of flavors waiting to be discovered.
In this guide, we'll journey together into the heart of Chicago's dining scene, unveiling the best restaurants that are as diverse, dynamic, and delicious as the city itself.
1. The Polo Inn Bridgeport U.S.A.
Located in the Bridgeport neighborhood of Chicago, The Polo Inn Bridgeport U.S and A is close to the train station and the city's cultural centers, including the Shedd Aquarium. In addition, guests are just a 15-minute drive from Midway International Airport. Other amenities include complimentary parking and free Wi-Fi. The hotel also has a restaurant.
If you're traveling with children, check out the complimentary breakfast and play area. There are also board games and a children's playroom. The hotel is also within walking distance of the city's attractions, including the Field Museum of Natural History. This hotel offers high-speed internet, which is helpful when navigating the city.
If you're hosting a wedding, corporate event, or any other gathering, you'll be happy to know that this 3-star Chicago hotel is just 6 miles from downtown Chicago. Guests are also a 15-minute drive from the Art Institute of Chicago. With unique, comfortable suites, the hotel also offers a children's menu and a playground for children. Guests can also dine in the on-site restaurant, the Polo Cafe, which serves traditional American fare.
2. The Capital Grille
A trip to The Capital Grille is always a treat, whether you're in the mood for fine dining or a business lunch. The menu is extensive, with several dishes that can be prepared in a variety of ways. The bone-in ribeye, for example, is a popular main course. It comes at 22 ounces and can be cooked to the customer's preferred temperature, from rare to well-done. The steak is served family-style with side dishes.
While the ambiance and menu are both elegant and refined, the food is comforting and familiar. The restaurant's cheesy au gratin potatoes, for example, are a favorite family-style side dish. The dish is a simple yet memorable side dish, and a perfect compliment to your main course.
3. The Chicago Diner Logan Square
Hearty Plates Café offers a wide range of vegetarian & vegan dishes in a comfortable and casual setting. During weekends, this popular dining spot hosts live music and offers a full bar. This family-friendly restaurant is also a great place to grab a bite after a hard day at work.
First opened in Lakeview in 1983, The Chicago Diner has opened a second location in Logan Square. It offers classic American food in a vegan and vegetarian format. Drinks include boozy vegan milkshakes and Casa Noble Reposado Tequila. Burgers are available for both vegetarians and meat eaters.
This diner has been a Chicago landmark for more than 30 years. The company's Logan Square location has the same delicious menu as the original Lakeview location. The Chicago Diner also has a vegan menu. If you're a vegan, you'll find some of the best vegan-friendly dishes in the city. But it's important to remember that the restaurant's menu is quite expensive. Its price range is a bit higher than those of its other locations.
4. Eddie V's Prime Seafood
A seafood chain restaurant, Eddie V's Prime Seafood serves fresh fish and seafood prepared with sustainable practices. The menu changes daily, depending on the season, and includes both domestic and international options. The restaurant's interior is decorated with earth tones, bold colored artwork, and mixed wood finishes.
In addition to serving fresh seafood, Eddie V's Prime Seafood also offers an extensive wine list and prime beef cuts. The restaurant is located at 3100 W. Seventh St. in the River Oaks District. The restaurant is open Monday through Thursday from 4 p.m. to 10 p.m.; on Fridays and Saturdays, it's open until 11 p.m. and Sundays from 4 to 9 p.m.
In addition to serving great seafood, Eddie V's offers wine, live jazz, and a casual atmosphere. Free Wi-Fi is available in the restaurant. The menu includes items such as Kaluga Huso Petrossian caviar and Jumbo Lump crab cake. The restaurant also features classic mojitos and Sedimentary Chardonnay during Happy Hour.
5. Do-Rite Donuts & Chicken - Streeterville
You'll love the donuts here, which are handmade on the Chef-owned counter. The place also features coffee and fried chicken sandwiches. The owner's family has been making donuts for three generations, and the food is delicious.
Located at 233 E. Erie St. in Streeterville, this new donut and chicken spot serves breakfast and lunch. The new lunch menu features fried chicken sandwiches, which are served on a glazed doughnut. The fried chicken is topped with a spicy sauce and a donut. The owners also serve Dark Matter Coffee, which is ethically sourced and locally roasted.
The original location, 50 W. Randolph, opened in 2012, and a second location, Do-Rite Donuts & Chicken, opened at 233 E. Erie St. in 2014. In addition to donuts, the shop has added a seating area, extended hours to seven p.m., and has added fried chicken sandwiches. Mahin declined to say what other new items are on the menu. The new locations are located in the same building as Shake Shack, but the developer has not revealed what plans they have for the rest of the building.
6. Joe's Seafood Prime Steak & Stone Crab
Joe's Seafood, Prime Steak & Stone Crab is a restaurant that is known for its stone crab from the Gulf of Mexico. This restaurant offers a variety of steaks, chops, seafood, and fried seafood at reasonable prices. Customers can also try out the famous Joe's mustard sauce, which has hints of spices and garlic.
Guests can choose from a variety of entrees and appetizers, including a creamy spinach-stuffed mushroom topped with a stringy Swiss cheese. Other starters include crispy fried calamari and crab and artichoke gratin. A second option is stone crab bisque.
7. Smoque BBQ
Smoque BBQ is one of the most popular barbecue restaurants in the city, with a menu that's full of classic American fare. The menu features everything from brisket sandwiches to pulled pork platters. You can even get rib dinners with sides and sauces. The restaurant is also BYOB, so you can bring your own drinks. Smoque's meat is tender, flavorful, and smoky.
The prices are low for BBQ, with sandwiches starting at $7 and a platter with two sides costing $21. For $32, a slab of ribs comes with all the fixins and a side of slaw. You can even try a tasting portion of the meat to see if it's to your liking. You can also bring your own beer, so you can enjoy your meal in the company of friends and family.
Smoque BBQ is a neighborhood joint that draws crowds on a daily basis. Their menu features regional barbecue and even mini portions for kids. Another popular Chicago barbecue joint is Fat Willy's Rib Shack, a sit-down Logan Square spot with full menus of barbecue and sides. The menu also features coloring pages for children.
8. Doughnut Vault
Located in a former bank vault, the Doughnut Vault serves up to 600 delicious doughnuts every day. Owner Brendan Sodikoff, a former executive chef at Alain Ducasse's Per Se, opened Doughnut Vault in River North, Chicago, over a year ago. He also owns half a dozen other restaurants in the city, including Au Cheval Diner, Gilt Bar, Maude's Liquor Bar, and Pizzeria Cella. Despite operating over a dozen other restaurants in Chicago, Brendan Sodikoff only works at Doughnut Vault for 10 hours a week.
Although the Doughnut Vault is a part of the same restaurant group, it is very different from the other locations. The Doughnut Vault is known for its classic flavors and artisanal donuts. Typical varieties include lemon poppyseed, toasted almond, and buttermilk old-fashioned. The atmosphere is more like a small coffee shop than a fancy restaurant.
The Doughnut Vault has one of the largest doughnut selections in the country. You can choose from a large variety of cake and glazed donuts. A visit to The Doughnut Vault is an experience worth having. However, be aware that it is only open for a short window, and you will most likely have to wait for a while until your order is ready.