12 Best Places To Eat in Chicago: A Guide For Foodies


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Despite the reputation for calorie-ridden, deep dish pizza, Chicago’s food scene is really quite varied and surprising. Expect tasty brunch, lunch, dinner, small brews, farm-to-table, international cuisine, and off-the-beaten-track places to eat in Chicago.

I’ve been to Chicago many times with my husband and friends and always enjoy what I eat – and at prices cheaper than what you’d find in New York City, what’s not to love? Exploring all the best places to eat in Chicago is a delicious challenge when visiting the Windy City, one I’m always up for – not to mention, eating your way around the city is one of the best things to do in Chicago.

Here’s my list of the top 21 best places to eat in Chicago:

Best Places to Eat in Chicago for Brunch

Chicago does brunch just right.

I’m a true-blue, native New Yorker and my love of my hometown will forbid me from admitting publicly that Chicago’s brunch scene could ever rival New York’s. That being said, I think most people can agree that Chicago knows how to kick brunch’s ass.

Whenever I come to the Third Coast to visit my friends, we always try to get our eat on. Here’s a list of some of our favorite places to eat in Chicago for brunch:

1. Mortar and Pestle

  • Address: 3108 North Broadway
    Chicago, IL 60657. Click here for directions and reviews.
  • Phone: (773) 857-2087
  • Hours: Wednesday – Monday: 8am – 3pm. Tuesday: Closed

I had the best Cubano sandwich I’ve ever had here. Try as I might, I haven’t found a place to top this one no matter which of the best places to eat in Chicago we dine at. Mortal and Pestle is a classic, hipstery, modern-looking restaurant with big windows perfect for people watching.

Last time I was there, I felt comfortable seated in the window seats watching the world go by. I love going somewhere I don’t feel I need to rush out of, ya’ know?

Pro Tip: They are walk-in only and don’t take reservations.

☞ NOTE: another top thing to do in the city is go on the Chicago Architecture River Cruise. After you’ve had a fantastic lunch, hop aboard a boat and learn about the history and architecture along the Chicago River. Don’t miss it!

2. Batter and Berries

  • Address: 2748 N Lincoln Ave
    Chicago, IL 60614. Click here for directions and reviews.
  • Phone: (773) 248-7710
  • Hours: Monday-Sunday: 8am – 3pm

If you are looking for one of the best places to eat in Chicago, look no further. People love this restaurant not just for the wonderful owners, but the fantastic meals. How about apple pie french toast with maple butter? Or maybe some cheesy hash browns?

Batter and Berries is also BYOB, so don’t expect to order a Bellini here.

Pro Tip: This place is popular! Expect a wait, but the line moves fast.

3. Tweet

  • Address: 5020 N Sheridan Rd,
    Chicago, IL 60640. Click here for directions and reviews.
  • Phone: (773) 728-5576
  • Hours: Monday – Sunday: 8:30am—3pm

This is one of my go-to spots to score some awesome biscuits and gravy. Their menu is not all stodgy carbs, though. They have excellent gluten-free options and vegan scrambles to die for.

Located in a really cute restaurant with a bunch of local art on the walls, this cash-only brunch restaurant is a great stop.

Pro-tip: Get one of their Bloody Marys, they are huge and delicious and will give you a great buzz to start your mid-morning stroll.

4. Toast

  • Address: 2046 N. Damen
    Chicago, IL 60647. Click here for directions & reviews.
  • Phone: (773) 935-5600
  • Hours: Monday-Friday: 8am—3pm. Saturday & Sunday: 8am—4pm

With 2 branches in Bucktown and Lincoln Park, Toast has got you covered. This is a cute restaurant filled with knickknacks and fantastic aromas coming from the kitchen.

 

Try their “pancake orgy”, a stack of different varieties of rich and fluffy pancakes (pine nut and mascarpone? Yes please!) and at only $10, this place is a real bargain. This is BYOB, so if you’re looking for mimosas, bring the champagne.

Pro Tip: Get there early. Both branches tend to fill up quickly for brunch on the weekends.

5. Lula Cafe

  • Address: 2537 N Kedzie Ave
    Chicago, IL 60647. Click here for directions and reviews.
  • Phone: (773) 489-9554
  • Hours: Monday-Sunday: 9am—2:30pm

Recently featured in Thrillist’s Best Brunch Spots in America, this one is a real show-stopper among the best places to eat in Chicago. They specialize in farm-to-table fare, mixing up their menus to suit which ingredients are currently in season.

They have a fantastic vegetarian / vegan menu that uses organic, seasonal ingredients. So, enjoy stuffing your face with greens and fruits…and if you have space in your stomach, get the side dish of coleslaw. It’s fantastic!

Pro Tip: They have amazing organic coffee here.

6. Goddess and The Baker

  • Address: 33 S. Wabash Avenue,
    Chicago, IL 60603. Click here for directions and reviews.
  • Phone: (312) 877-5176
  • Hours: Monday-Friday: 7am—8pm. Saturday: 8am—8pm. Sunday: 8am—6pm

If you are looking for something more in the downtown core, then this would be one of the best places to eat in Chicago. They have two branches around town and offer an amazing breakfast.

What I really enjoyed most about this place was the effort they made for Pride Week in Chicago. They had glitter and rainbow coffee, and rainbow pastries!

There are also lots of vegan options. But if you are looking for more of heart-stopping meal, their Mac and Cheese is delicious. Here is, truly, a hipster paradise.

Pro Tip: Great to stop in for a coffee on your way to Millennium Park.

7. Victory’s Banner

  • Address: 2100 West Roscoe Street
    Chicago, IL 60618. Click here for directions and reviews.
  • Phone: (773) 665-0227
  • Hours: Wednesday-Monday: 8am—3pm. Tuesday: Closed

Vegans and vegetarians, rejoice! Here is a good, cheap, veggie-friendly restaurant featuring tons of brunchy yumminess. Don’t miss this casual restaurant’s delicious vegan french toast.

Pro Tip: There’s a lot of available parking outside in case you decide to drive.

8. Longman and Eagle

  • Address: 2657 N. Kedzie Ave.
    Chicago, IL 60647. Click here for directions and reviews.
  • Phone: (773) 276-7110
  • Hours: Monday-Friday: 9am—2am. Saturday: 9am—3am. Sunday: 9am—2am
  • This American, hipster restaurant is not to be scoffed at. Featuring farm-to-table menus and a rotating line-up of fresh ingredients, there is always something special being cooked at Longman and Eagle.

    The real humdinger about this place is the huge list of delicious cocktails and spirits they serve, setting this brunch apart from the rest of the best places to eat in Chicago.

    Pro Tip: Although famous for their brunch, these guys are open late into the night serving food and drink. According to some of my local friends, sometimes they’ll offer really cheap drinks like $1 PBRs.

    Best Places to Eat in Chicago for Lunch and Dinner

    In my opinion, the best places to eat in Chicago are authentic, flavorful and unique. Even if the restaurant I plan to visit only serves burgers, I’d hope that this American classic is done well and leaves me feeling like I had something special.

    For lunch or dinner, Chicago is known for their deep dish pizzas – you can’t go wrong seeking out a chance to drown your hunger in cheese, sauce and bread. That said, here are some other classics in Chicago that you should try.

    9. Lou Malnati’s Pizzeria

    • Address: Over 50+ locations throughout Chicago
    • Phone: numbers vary depending on location.
    • Hours: vary depending on location.

    I’m partial to calling Chicago’s deep dish pizza a glorified casserole with cheese, tomato sauce, and crust. I’m biased though, because aside from a rivalry over whose buildings are the tallest, New York and Chicago tend to have very different ideas over what “pizza” really is. My biases aside, I can’t say “no” to a ton of cheese and a crusty edge no matter how thick that slice may be…

Lou Malnati’s is a staple of deep dish pizza and with so many places to eat in Chicago, you’re likely to come across more than one location beckoning you to come in and stuff yourself with all the carbs a body can handle. I won’t beat around the bush: deep dish pizza is fantastic, but heavy.

I split a personal sized pizza with a friend when I was last there. We ordered the pepperoni and it was amazing. The crust was buttery, the sauce was bright and that cheese oozed all over the place.

Pro Tip: Go for a downtown location and then take a walk along Lake Shore Drive to help burn off that calorie avalanche your body has to deal with.

10. Big Jones

  • Address: 5347 N Clark St
    Chicago, IL 60640. Click here for directions and reviews.
  • Phone: (773) 275-5725
  • Hours: Monday-Thursday: 11am-9pm. Friday: 11am-10pm. Saturday: 9am=10pm. Sunday: 9am-9pm

Here is Southern Louisiana cooking done right. Huge portions will fill you up until you burst with pleasure, before rolling yourself home. The shrimp and grits are out of control, plus they give beignets with your meal!

The price tag for this restaurant is a little on the expensive side, so don’t come if you’re on a shoe-string budget, but it is well worth a visit. If you need more convincing, Thrillist listed Big Jones as one of the best fried chicken joints in America.

Pro Tip: They also serve awesome cocktails.

11. Tank Noodle

  • Address: 4953-55 North Broadway
    Chicago, IL 60640. Click here for directions and reviews.
  • Phone: (773) 878-2253
  • Hours: Thursday-Tuesday: 8:30am—10pm. Wednesday: Closed

This is my favourite Vietnamese restaurant outside of Asia, and is one of the best places to eat in Chicago. Every time I visit the city, I go here and order the crispy, stir-fried, large, rice noodles with seafood. Divinity in a serving bowl.

The restaurant is no-frills and don’t come expecting 4-star service, but I have never walked away from this place disappointed. Even in Vietnam, I couldn’t find the crispy, oily, large noodles like Tank Noodle.

Pro Tip: Go with friends and order a couple of dishes to eat family style.

12. Parson’s Chicken and Fish

  • Address: 2952 W. Armitage Ave.
    Chicago, IL 60647. Click here for directions and reviews.
  • Phone: (773) 384-3333
  • Hours: Monday-Thursday: 11am-12am. Friday: 11am-2am. Saturday: 10am-2am. Sunday: 10am-12am

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