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Eater’s List of Best Midwest Restaurants Features 11 Chicago-Area Spots

Going beyond the region’s “meat and potato” diet

Here’s the namesake dish from Fat Rice, as the restaurant made the first Eater Midwest 38.
Nick Fochtman
Ashok Selvam is the editor of Eater Chicago and a native Chicagoan armed with more than two decades of award-winning journalism. Now covering the world of restaurants and food, his nut graphs are super nutty.

It shouldn’t be a big surprise that the biggest city in the region scored the most restaurants in the inaugural Eater Midwest 38, released today via Eater National. Ten restaurants represented Chicago — as did Palatine’s Ramen House Shinchan. Eater restaurant critic Bill Addison’s selections include three-Michelin-starred Alinea in Lincoln Park, Beard Award-winning chef Sarah Grueneberg’s West Loop pasta mecca Monteverde, and South Side rib tip staple Honey 1 BBQ in Bronzeville.

Chicagoans like to point to a laundry list of accolades and how their city is home to the Beard Awards as evidence of Chicago’s culinary sophistication — one that stretches beyond comfort foods like deep-dish pizza and hot dogs. But not everything has gone upscale, Addison said. The list captures the most-essential restaurants in the Midwest, and the state breakdown went like this: Illinois (11), Indiana (three), Michigan (six), Minnesota (four), Ohio (eight), and Wisconsin (five).

“The ‘meat and potatoes diet’ persists as a default stereotype of the Midwest, but, if you’re looking for it, in any of the region’s cities there’s a wealth of cuisines and cultures,” Addison said. “Chicago has that multiplicity encapsulated and magnified: The immigrant communities who’ve translated their specialties into restaurant environments and that in turn become culinary touchstones for the community; a surplus of creative chefs who learned from pioneers like Charlie Trotter and create their own singular cuisines.”

Parachute is an example of an excellent neighborhood restaurant.
Marc Much

Jonathan Brooks’ Milktooth led the way in Indiana. University of Michigan favorite Zingerman’s Deli is a highlight from The Mitten. Meritage in the Twin Cities and Camp Washington Chili in Cincinnati also earned spots. So did Ardent, Milwaukee’s acclaimed tasting-menu restaurant. While Chicago’s culinary excellence didn’t surprise Addison, he did uncover a few unexpected finds.

“Like all the greatest American food cities, there’s a kinetic sense to the dining scene; I show up and I’m never sure what new regional Mexican cuisine will have emerged, or which chef will be spinning together ingredients and ideas in startling, wonderful ways.,” he said. “I’m always most surprised — maybe delighted is a better word, by how so much greatness comes out of Chicago’s neighborhood restaurants: I’m thinking particularly of Parachute and Fat Rice and Mi Tocaya, but there are so many others.”

Monteverde in the West Loop also made the list.
Marc Much

Restaurants from Illinois are listed below. Check out the full Midwest 38 on Eater National.

Eater Midwest 38 Illinois Restaurants

  • Alinea (Lincoln Park)
  • Big Jones (Andersonville)
  • Boeufhaus (Ukrainian Village/Humboldt Park)
  • Fat Rice (Logan Square)
  • Honey 1 BBQ (Bronzeville)
  • Mi Tocaya Antojeria (Logan Square)
  • Monteverde (West Loop)
  • Parachute (Avondale)
  • The Publican (Fulton Market)
  • Ramen House Shinchan (Palatine)
  • Schwa (Wicker Park)

Honey 1 BBQ

746 East 43rd Street, , IL 60653 (773) 285-9455 Visit Website

Fat Rice

2957 West Diversey Avenue, , IL 60647 (773) 661-9170 Visit Website

Schwa Restaurant

1466 North Ashland Avenue, , IL 60622 (773) 252-1466 Visit Website

Big Jones

5347 North Clark Street, , IL 60640 (773) 275-5725 Visit Website


3500 North Elston Avenue, , IL 60618 (872) 204-7138 Visit Website


1020 West Madison Street, Chicago, IL 60607 (312) 888-3041

The Publican

837 West Fulton Market, , IL 60607 (312) 733-9555 Visit Website


1012 North Western Avenue, , IL 60622 (773) 661-2116 Visit Website

Ramen House Shinchan

1939 South Plum Grove Road, , IL 60067 (847) 496-4189 Visit Website

Mi Tocaya Antojeria

2800 W Logan blvd, Chicago, IL 60647 (872) 315-3947 Visit Website


1723 North Halsted Street, , IL 60614 Visit Website