One of the things people ask me for most is the best restaurants in Chicago. Whether you want a good brunch or the best deep dish pizza in the Windy City, there are tons of restaurants to try. After a year and a half, I’m rounding up the restaurants that have blown us away! These are the places to eat in Chicago if you’re planning a trip.
If visiting Chi town is on your list this summer, make sure to check out my Chicago travel guide before you go. I also did a post on the best healthy restaurants in Chicago before too if you’re into clean eats. I will keep updating this list as we find new restaurants. A word of warning: make a reservation as far in advance as possible – Chicago restaurants are incredibly hard to get into!
Beatrix. Great for an easy, casual brunch! They check the boxes on pretty much every brunch dish you could wish for with basic staples that you crave. It’s a little bigger and more traditional than some of the options below!
Joe’s Imports. Hands down the best brunch in the city. They do a bubbles brunch with sparkling wine and make-you-own-mimosas. The various juices and fresh fruit are unparalleled and the food is amazing. Definitely order the parmesan puffs, French pancakes, and if you’re a burrata fan, ask for the avocado toast and sub burrata for egg (it costs $5 but worth it)!
Kanela Breakfast Club. Delicious! There are a few locations in the city and my favorite is the one in Old Town. It’s casual and has that small town feel so it’s not intimidating.
Pacific Standard Time. This is more California-inspired which might be why it is so delicious! We’ve been for both dinner and brunch – both meals were amazing. Try the Hibiscus margarita if you are into margaritas. Get the avocado toast for brunch – it’s probably the best avocado toast I’ve had in the city. They’ve put their own spin on this basic dish!
The Publican. Another great West Loop spot for both dinner and brunch. We’ve been to both! They have amazing waffles and cinnamon buns for brunch. For dinner, they have a forward thinking menu and bench style seating for something a little different.
Roister. Another great brunch spot in West Loop. I got the avocado toast (it was almost as good as the one from Pacific Standard Time mentioned above) but the chicken and waffles is a must if you’re a meat eater. You can also order biscuits with fresh jam to share!
Yolk. This is a guilty pleasure for sure. If you’re looking for traditional diner eats but classier, this is your best bet. It’s a chain but the food is so good so bring your appetite!
Aba. Aba is Ema’s newer, sister restaurant and it’s just as good. There’s a romantic setting inside for dinner so even if you just grab a drink at the bar, you’ll be impressed. I can’t wait to go back in the summer when the patio is open. In true Chicago fashion, reservations are hard to come by so book in advance!
Bad Hunter. This is one of my favorite spots on this list. Bad Hunter is a “veg forward” restaurant which basically just means that they get creative with their vegetable sides. They still serve quite an array of meat options and their menu changes seasonally. Just like almost everything in the West Loop, the vibe is trendy and the decor is stellar. We will definitely be going back.
Barrio. This is a new spot that just opened with another great vibe. There are tons of options on the menu and if you don’t feel like eating a full meal, just grab a cocktail.
Bavette’s. This is the best steak in Chicago (according to Matt)! I had a really delicious salad but the menu is similar to a steakhouse with great sides and a selection of meats (not just steak). You can also BYOB but if you do, you’re asked to give a stranger a glass as your corking fee. I thought that was so fun!
Duck Duck Goat. This restaurant is part of an ultra trendy trio in the West Loop. The other 2 are Girl and the Goat (also delicious) and The Little Goat.
Ema. This is one of my favorite restaurants that I constantly find myself craving. All of the hummus’ are amazing – do the sampler which is available for brunch and lunch – and every dish is incredible. The restaurant is also incredibly cute which makes it one of my top places to eat in Chicago.
Gilt Bar. This spot is also on my drinks list but the buratta was really good. Our food was also amazing and this chocolate mouse pie should not be missed at all. It’s very dark and super romantic too!
Havana. If you’re in the mood for Cuban food, this is a cute little spot right near downtown. It’s a little more casual and ‘off the beaten path’ but in case you wanted something more unique!
Il Porcellino. Chicago knows how to do Italian. We went here with a large group and it was amazing (plus, we got to try a bunch of things). I don’t think there was a single bad dish on the table. Get the cheese breadsticks!
Little Beet Table. Another more unique find, this unassuming spot is great for someone looking for healthier options! They create really interesting dishes and have a rotating menu. It’s usually easier to get in too if you need something in a pinch!
Mercadito. This is another spot we’ve been to multiple times. They have 6 different kinds of guacamole and it’s in the heart of River North. It’s not as authentic as something you’d find back home in Southern California but the drinks are amazing. If you have the chance, go to one of their Experiential Dinners. Matt and I went in April and it was AMAZING. They’re held once a month and they fly in a chef from Mexico! Tickets are $85 but we got 7 courses, 5 specialty cocktails, and 4 tequila tasting (AKA shots) so it’s a great value and such good food too.
Monteverde. This was one of the richest meals we’ve had in Chicago. It was absolutely delicious. If you’re looking to walk out full and love pasta, go here. Make sure to make your reservation months in advance!
Proxi. This new-ish restaurant really blew us away! Their entire menu is international fusion with with flavors inspired from all over the world. Nothing is too out there though! Every single thing we ordered was amazing but the tempura elotes and the blackberry kulfi were my favorites. I also heard this is a great spot for brunch! It’s on several best restaurant lists too!
RPM Italian. I’ve been to this restaurant more times than any other restaurant in Chicago (excluding the restaurants in my office building). The ambiance is amazing, the food is always on point, and the portions are perfectly sized. It’s great for a business dinner, a girls night, or even just cocktails.
Lou Malnati’s. For deep dish pizza, this is the best of the best. Lou’s has been on every food show in America I feel like. It’s that amazing. There are several locations in Chicago so go to whatever is closest!
Piece Brewery and Pizzeria. This spot is fun for groups. We actually went to Piece several times before we moved here. It’s always a good time.
Parlor Pizza. The new River North location didn’t disappoint (plus it’s huge) but the West Loop location will always be my favorite. Especially if you’re bar hopping on a summer night. The menu options are what you’d expect from a typical pizza place and it’s a nice change of pace from deep dish pizza you can find everywhere else in the city.
Celeste. Each level of this bar is a different vibe! I’ve been here for happy hour and a night out and it’s always interesting!
Cindy’s Rooftop. The view from Millennium Park is stunning! It’s great year round but especially good during summer when you can enjoy the patio!
Gilt Bar. I’ve heard great things about the food but I love this spot for the cocktails! It’s a little dark so just be aware.
LondonHouse. One of the best views in Chicago! It’s vantage point allows for the best photos of the river too!
We’ve also been do a few places that were flops. If you want to double check before making a reservation, send me a mess on Instagram and I’ll happily tell you if we’ve been! Do you have any favorite restaurants in Chicago? What are your favorite places to eat in Chicago?