Chicago has numerous classic restaurants that are all worth a visit, but the following places have historic dining spaces that extend the tradition beyond the menu. Many are decades old while others are more recent but each has a storied past visible in its style and setting. Take a look for yourself and stroll down memory lane inside some of the city's most iconic dining rooms.Read More
10 Classic Chicago Dining Rooms
Take a journey through history at these 10 spots.
The Berghoff Restaurant
What started as a saloon selling its own beer has turned into a Chicago institution. The Berghoff has endured for more than a century and even to this day, very little has changed. It still offers its own specialty sodas made popular during the Prohibition era alongside contemporary German fare. And every year the city issues liquor license no. 1 to the landmark restaurant, a tradition that started after prohibition was repealed.
Chicago’s iconic Pump Room is one of the city’s most famous dining rooms, having served countless celebrities throughout the decades. After a brief closing, the restaurant reopened in 2011 under new ownership in the remodeled Public Chicago Hotel. The menu features farm-to-table fare including pastas and flatbreads along with Pump Room classics such as roasted lobster.
The Walnut Room
Macy’s famous Walnut Room holds the honor of being the country’s oldest continually-running restaurant. It’s located on the 7th floor of the store and its 17,000 square-foot dining room has been feeding shoppers since 1907, when it was originally known as the South Tea Room. Today, the most popular menu item remains Mrs. Hewing’s 1890 Original Chicken Pot Pie, a classic recipe that continues to satisfy adults and children alike.
Cape Cod Room
Many greats have left their marks—literally—on the Drake Hotel’s vintage seafood restaurant. The cozy, nautical-themed dining room opened in 1933 and has served famous guests such as Joe DiMaggio and Marilyn Monroe, whose carved initials can still be seen on the wooden bar. Other traditions that have stood the test of time include preparing the signature Dover sole tableside, a crowd-pleasing best seller.
Also featured in:
Drive-in restaurants are near-relics of yesteryear, with Superdawg being one of the rare exceptions. The iconic hot dog stand has been open since 1948, offering car service so patrons don’t have to leave their vehicles. The signature Superdawg remains a prime example of the Chicago hot dog and hungry drivers coming down Milwaukee Ave. continue to be greeted by giant wiener figures of owners Maurie and Flaurie on the roof of the restaurant.
Chicago Pizza and Oven Grinder Co.
The classic Victorian-style building has seen its share of tragedy over the decades. The infamous St. Valentine’s Day Massacre took place across the street and a house fire gutted the place in 1971. Today, it’s been revived and rebuilt as the home of the Chicago Pizza and Oven Grinder Company, where the specialty is the pizza pot pie. Each pie contains an individual-sized serving of Sicilian bread-type dough and is loaded with housemade tomato sauce, cheese, sausage and mushrooms.
You won’t find many dining rooms anywhere in the country like Silver Palm’s. Set inside a 1940’s Budd dining car, the restaurant is named after the Atlantic Coast Line Railroad, which runs from Washington D.C. to Miami. As for the food, the signature item on the menu is the 3 Piggy sandwich that’s packed to the brim with smoked ham, pork tenderloin bacon, gruyere, onion ring and egg.
Wicker Park’s popular restaurant and bar is a unique experience unlike any other. It’s located inside a 1920’s historic private bank and features reclaimed and restored material from the original space. Coolest of all, the lounge is set inside the bank vault, which contains a large steel door and copper deposit boxes.
Chicago Chop House
History lines the walls at Chicago Chop House, where hundreds of photos retell the city’s past. The restaurant itself is located inside a Victorian brownstone house that holds three separate dining rooms across multiple floors. Diners feel right at home and the food lives up to the grandiose setting as Chop House is one of the few steakhouses in town offering dry-aged and Mishima steaks, a unique cut known for its “delicate flavor and tenderness.”
Patio at Cafe Brauer
No trip to Lincoln Park Zoo would be complete without a visit to the Patio at Café Brauer. The restaurant sits beside the historic Prairie School-style landmark right next to the South Pond. The original Café Brauer was one of the city’s most popular during the early twentieth century and while it closed in the ‘40s, the space can still be rented out for private events and functions.
Also featured in: