[A note about this guide: This is in no way an exhaustive list of good restaurants in Chicago. I am not a restaurant critic. Like most people the places I eat at are determined by the geography of my life, personal taste, and my budget. I’ve tried to focus on places that are evergreen and that feel like Chicago (whatever that means). These are the places I take people to when they visit, and where I eat regularly.]
A Lincoln Park classic, and one of my favorite places for lunch. The Charburger with American and a side of Greek fries is about as good as life gets. Also, believe it or not, a great place to see celebrities.
The original cool Chicago restaurant keeps going strong, and remaining relevant, after all these years.
When people claim the secret ingredient is love, it is usually bullshit. But the care and attention coming out of this kitchen is really something. Chicago’s Sqirl, basically.
If you’re going to have a fancy meal in Chicago why not go to a place run by a couple of nice people making some of the most interesting and yet relatable food in town. Also, my vote for best-looking dining room.
My home away from home. Outstanding pastry, including the perfect almond croissant.
My vote for the best coffee in Chicago.
The spot for the best Chicago dog (ketchup not even allowed on the premises) in a cool looking dive.
Mindy Segal is the godmother of Chicago pastry and this is where you can enjoy all of her plated desserts. But also check out her bakery stand (and lots of other good stuff) at Revival Food Hall.
Quite simply the best thing a human can possibly eat. Get your beef sweet AND hot.
The most exciting bakery in Chicago. Sourdough Pineapple Muffins, Matcha Danish, Pepita Crunch bars—a truly special (and badass) place.
If I could only recommend one restaurant in Chicago, it would be this long-time favorite. Definitely the place I have eaten at the most in my life. It is the perfect neighborhood restaurant, that also happens to be a destination restaurant.
Really special Italian ice, made using real fruit. A summer staple for Bucktown and Logan Square residents.
A lot has changed through the decades I have been eating at this Albany Park classic, but the Persian food remains as good as ever.
My neighborhood market, and one of the best in Chicagoland. Famous donuts, live bluegrass, and a great selection of vendors.
If you insist on deep dish pizza, this is where to go.
British pub food and so much more. One of my absolute favorite things about Chicago. See also: The Plant.
A classic Chicago bakery, like they used to make them. The cheese fries (not what you think) are irresistible.
My favorite market in the city. Good vendors and good vibes in one of my favorite neighborhoods.
Go for the moles, stay for the freshly made tortillas.
A perfect little neighborhood bakery with the biggest heart. I’m here at least once a week.
Like if we still had corner soda shops but they were cool and progressive and had some of the best bakery in town. A real treasure.
Another Chicago institution and historically significant as Barack Obama’s old stomping/stumping ground. One of the few integrated restaurant spaces in Chicago. The omelette is always reliable, and the people-watching is top-notch.
They don’t care about trends or being cool, they just consistently deliver incredible food using local ingredients. The service is memorably good. One of the best restaurants in town.
I grew up eating here and still think it is the best tavern pizza in Chicago. Get hot giardiniera on yours, and pitcher of RC cola. It’s like your little league team just won the championship. Rainbow Cone is not too far away for dessert.