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A round plate with octopus and greens.
Rose Mary’s baby octopus is a crowd pleaser.
Rose Mary

The 38 Essential Restaurants in Chicago

The restaurants worth adjusting busy schedules to check out

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Rose Mary’s baby octopus is a crowd pleaser.
| Rose Mary

It’s hard to believe that 2022 is already half-way done, but as tourists filter in and out of Chicago for the summer, the city’s baseball teams flounder, and as music festivals close public walkways, it’s time to update the Eater Chicago 38.

This collection of Chicago’s best restaurants provides answers for the classic question: “Where would you dine if you had one night in the city?” The list recognizes some all-time greats and restaurants that have pushed culinary boundaries. This list is for locals who want to make the most out of their nights. It’s also for visitors unfamiliar with the city.

As the world recalibrates, the summer 2022 update brings six additions. Dolo, En Passant, Honey Butter Fried Chicken, Jeong, Lost Larson, and Tzuco continue to serve wonderful meals but depart to share the limelight.

Have tips or suggestions for the Eater 38? Send them to the Chicago tipline. And head here for a guide to Chicago’s newer restaurants. For all the latest Chicago dining intel, subscribe to Eater Chicago’s newsletter.

Health experts consider dining out to be a high-risk activity for the unvaccinated; it may pose a risk for the vaccinated, especially in areas with substantial COVID transmission.

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Note: Restaurants on this map are listed geographically.
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Superdawg Drive-In

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Avatars of Superdawg founders Maurie and Flaurie Berman stand guard over this venerable Chicago drive-in at the intersection of Devon, Nagle, and Milwaukee; customers can spot those giant hot dog statues bearing the Bermans’ likenesses from blocks away. Superdawg is a throwback dining experience where customers park their cars and talk to staff through crackling drive-in speakers and carhops bring out trays of food. Superdawg’s offering isn’t a traditional Chicago-style dog. Rather than a Vienna Beef frank, Superdawg uses a thick, proprietary all-beef sausage that comes with mustard, pickled green tomato, and chopped Spanish onions. This is all cradled in a box of crinkle fries. There’s a second suburban location in Wheeling.

A blue cardboard rectangle food container with a hot dog inside. Barry Brecheisen/Eater Chicago

Luella's Southern Kitchen

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While chef Darnell Reed toiled in hotel kitchens in downtown Chicago, he imagined opening a restaurant that honored his great-grandmother Luella, who arrived in Chicago from Mississippi in 1943. Now, his tiny Lincoln Square restaurant serves some of the city’s best Southern food, including cream shrimp and grits, chicken gumbo, and a mighty platter of fried chicken and waffles. This Black-owned restaurant on the North Side is also a popular brunch destination. It’s a casual spot with counter ordering, but it brings a serious menu where everyone can find something hearty and delectable.

Bayan Ko

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Bayan Ko is the only place in Chicago where diners can find lumpia, empanadas, and fried rice with shrimp and Cuban-style mojo pork. With Cuban and Filipino owners, the restaurant dips into both countries with impressive results. The focus isn’t fusion, but taking dishes from both cultures that complement each other. The sandwiches, like the Pinoy burger (made with beef and longanisa), standout. The Adobo wings are addicting and the pancit is worth a detour. The restaurant is BYO and reservations of recommended for the weekend.

Community Tavern

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Since Joey and Brenna Beato took over Community Tavern, the Portage Park restaurant has expanded its menu, setting itself apart from its origins as a neighborhood steakhouse. But, fortunately, the neighborhood aspect remains. The bar program is robust and kids ages 12 and younger eat free on certain days. The menu offers is diverse; it might be off-putting to those who demand cohesion or some sort of menu narrative, but for those who enjoy delicious food it makes sense. There’s a section of Asian-style dumplings, including one stuffed with mushroom butter. A white prawn carbonara is as much Thai as Italian, and the bimbimbap can be supercharged with skirt steak (a nod to the old steakhouse).

Smoque BBQ

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With two smokers to prep meaty St. Louis-style and baby-back ribs, tender brisket, apple-and-oak-smoked pulled pork, and more, this destination on the Northwest Side neighborhood of Irving Park delivers barbecue in the style of Kansas City and Memphis. During the pandemic, owner Barry Sorkin expanded takeout and outdoor dining options, including a patio in the former parking lot.

A brown wooden fence separates a low, dark-looking building from the sidewalk. Red awning hangs off the building.
This Irving Park barbecue spot serves some of the most sought-after meats in the city.
Barry Brecheisen/Eater Chicago

Superkhana International

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Want to find a great burger and delicious pizza topped with the freshest veggies of the season? Superkhana International isn’t what diners expect. The restaurant’s backbone is Indian cooking, and diners will detect the familiar spices that make subcontinental cuisine unique. But this isn’t Tata’s Indian American restaurant. The pork vindaloo is sublime, almost a deconstructed version of the dish. The brunch might be the best in town with appam, the Indian griddle cakes, spiked with fresh produce such as spring peas. It’s a classic veggie option than can be brokered toward carnivores by adding bacon. The Hakka noodles are fresh — the best version of the Indo-Chinese classic Chicagoans will be able to find. The chefs at Superkhana are just finding their groove. The novelties remain — butter chicken calzones are glorious. But the restaurant offers much more than shock and awe. Indian food is about more than heat.

Pat's Pizza and Ristorante

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Chicago thin-crust pizza is having a moment, with the city’s pizza makers eager to defy the notion that this is only a deep-dish town. (Settle down, deep-dish fans. The thick slices are still awesome.) Pat’s Pizza in Lakeview has a storied history of popularizing tavern-style pies. This family-owned spot sports some of the crispiest, thinnest pizzas around. Pat’s uses its own sausage blend for the pizza, which also helps set this place apart. Pies are available for carryout, delivery, patio, and indoor dining.

A Chicago tavern-style pizza with a few pieces missing. Garrett Sweet/Eater Chicago

Mi Tocaya Antojería

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Few chefs share the talent and drive that Diana Dávila exhibits while showcasing a dazzling display of small Mexican dishes in Logan Square. Dávila isn’t shy about taking risks: she isn’t pandering to the typical American diner. This isn’t a place to fill up on chips and salsa with a pitcher of margaritas; Dávila left her previous job after owners tried to force those expectations on her. That’s not to say there’s not a taste of the familiar — the guacamole, steak burrito, and fried oyster tacos are all stellar. But customers should dive into unique items like peanut butter lengua and tlacoyo de nopalitos, the latter of which represents Dávila’s obsession with pre-Hispanic Mexico.

Lula Cafe

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Chef and owner Jason Hammel continues to keep the community at the forefront of the operations at Lula Cafe, which has, since 1999, endeared itself to many in Logan Square as a welcoming space for New American cuisine. This is an all-day cafe with fresh-baked pastries and a stellar breakfast burrito. At night, the wine list goes deep to accompany dishes like roast chicken, beet bruschetta, and summer squash with Santa Rosa plums, tropea onions, and basil. Find a seat at the bar and enjoy oysters and snacks like chicken liver mousse.

A brick building with a sign that reads “Lula Cafe.”  Marc Much/Eater Chicago

Daisies

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Daisies has evolved to be more than just a spot for beautifully made pastas. Chef Joe Frillman and family have met every challenge that pandemic has posed with creativity. They converted the back dining room to a market for local vendors when the state suspended indoor dining. They’ve been working the farmers market every week with gusto. During this time, Daisies has started to offer a lunch menu where weekday diners can score a decadent wagyu cheesesteak (the beef and cheddar) or nosh on the best homemade sour cream and onion dip around. It’s the little touches that make Daisies one of unique, with a casual and welcoming feel. But then it comes back to those pastas, all full of Midwestern farm-to-table pride (the produce comes from Frillman’s farmer brother).

Taqueria Chingon

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Chicago has plenty of taquerias, but this Logan Square entry (right across the street from Bucktown), has quickly ascended to the head of the class. From a trio of Mexican chefs who worked at acclaimed French restaurants La Sardine and Le Bouchon, Taqueria Chingon offers delicate top-notch street-style tacos. The pork and veggie pastors off the trompo offer masterclasses in texture. This is also a great place to try out organ meats and other treats for the uninitiated. The weekly specials are worthy of repeat eating. You never know what the chefs will scheme. They recently debuted a patio.

Taqueria Chingon is top notch.
Garrett Sweet/Eater Chicago

Pequod's Pizza

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Chicago-style deep-dish pizza is a polarizing topic for locals that has bred resentment in recent years, as national media consistently use it in an ongoing struggle to understand Chicago. It’s not that deep dish pizza isn’t delicious; it’s just that Chicagoans don’t want the city to be defined by the dish alone. Though Pequod’s version isn’t exactly the deep dish that tourists expect — it’s thinner than the stuffed pizza many travel magazines feature — it’s still the premier take on the style. The crust features a chewy rim of caramelized cheese that may appear burnt, but that chew adds a special texture that sets it apart. There are locations in Lincoln Park and suburban Morton Grove. Be prepared to wait on weekends.

A thick slice of deep-dish pizza as its lifted away from the pie.
Locals adore Pequod’s pies.
Pequod’s Pizza

Kyōten

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This reservation-only sushi restaurant resides in a quaint space off the Milwaukee, Western, and Armitage intersection in Logan Square. Chef Otto Phan is a character, and he believes he serves one of the best meals in the country, and at $440 to $490 per person, it better be. Phan sources from the best fish in Japan, and diners can tell he leaves nothing for granted — the grains of rice, soy sauce, and other ingredients are premium. This is one of the most unforgettable meals in Chicago and a must for lovers of sushi.

A piece of nigiri with a slice of raw, red fish on a bed of white rice.
Kyoten’s fish is top notch.
Barry Brecheisen/Eater Chicago

Redhot Ranch

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It’s hard for hot dog stands to differentiate themselves from the pack in Chicago as all of them, for the most part, use the same product: dependable Vienna Beef. But Red Hot Ranch has managed. First, the stand uses sausage with natural casings. This provides the dogs with a unique bite, snappier than the Oscar Mayers that many Americans grew up eating. The stand also serves Depression Dogs, the Chicago variant that comes with french fries in the bun. The griddle burgers are also of note. There are few meals as satisfying late at night. Red Hot Ranch has locations in Lakeview and Bucktown, and 35th Street Red Hots, near Sox Park in Bridgeport, is from the same owners and has an identical menu.

Hermosa Restaurant

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Hermosa may look similar to a neighborhood hot dog or beef stand that many Chicagoans grew up with, but chef and owner Ethan Lim, who had a stint at Alinea Group’s Next Restaurant and Aviary, uses his culinary talent to take Chicago classics to the next evolutionary level, incorporating Asian flavors to create a Cambodian fried chicken sandwich and an Italian beef banh mi. But for those who want a composed meal more sophisticated than a fast-casual sandwich, Lim also offers a popular “Family Meal,” essentially a chance to buy out the entire room for dinner. The chef acts as a one-man show, loading the table up with delicious pan-Asian plates (noodles, Cambodian beef dishes) meant to be shared.

Chef Grant Achatz and Nick Kokonas’s fine dining institution is not only the city’s only restaurant to have three Michelin stars, it’s also considered one of the world’s best. Inside the luxurious Lincoln Park dining room, expect a sensory overload. Achatz uses heavily scented citrus, smoke, and other smells to provide diners with a theatrical experience: servers present dishes as though they were works of art. As dinner for two can run close to $1,000 for two, including wine pairings, Alinea is the restaurant that appears most frequently on Chicagoans’ bucket lists.

A muted, carpeted dining room.
Alinea remodeled in 2016.
Matthew Gilson/Alinea Group

Johnnie's Beef

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The best example of Chicago’s iconic Italian beef sandwiches exists outside of the city at the two suburban locations of Johnnie’s Beef. The original space in Elmwood Park is a relic that first opened in 1961 (there’s also a second location in Arlington Heights). The menu is simple: beefs (the monosyllabic term locals use for Italian beef sandwiches), charcoal-grilled Italian sausages, and hot dogs. The thin-cut beef is moist and perfectly seasoned with hints of oregano. The hot peppers deliver plenty of heat but don’t overwhelm the meat. Don’t sleep on the beef-sausage sandwich, which combines tender slices of Italian beef with a robust sausage. Pepper-and-egg sandwiches are also available daily; they’re mostly aimed at Catholic customers who need a meat-free option on Lent Fridays. For dessert, there’s a stellar lemon Italian ice. While the city has plenty of beef options, Johnnie’s is worth the drive to the ‘burbs.

Adalina

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The thought of a loud and crowded dining room doesn’t appeal to everyone, especially during the pandemic. But the staff at Adalina have created something special with careful attention to service and a thoughtful Italian American menu that betrays downtown tourist trap stereotypes. This is a throwback to those fancy-free years of dining before 2020, before vaccines. And it’s done with such joy thanks to wonderful mafaldine, ravioli, and lumache. For more robust hungers, the chops are on par with most upscale steakhouses. But the atmosphere is much better than the stuffy old guard.

2020 was a challenging time to open a restaurant, but the pandemic couldn’t stop the husband-and-wife team of Tim Flores and Genie Kwon. Kasama was one of the year’s true bright spots: it was named one of Eater’s 11 Best New Restaurants in America. Kwon handles the amazing pastries, like an eclair-shaped croissant topped with Serrano ham or salmon, while Flores prepares Filipino dishes for breakfast and brunch, including spins on lumpia and rice plates with tocino (roasted char siu-like pork) and longaniza (charred sausage). This past fall, Kasama introduced a fine-dining dinner tasting menu, one of the few Filipino tasting menus in the country, that immediately became one of the hottest tickets in town.

A tray with chicken wings, tocino, loganiza, and lumpia Shanghai. Garrett Sweet/Eater Chicago

Soulé amps up soul food classics like nourishing shrimp and grits, jerk chicken wings, and blackened catfish. The attention to small details in the food has made the restaurant a favorite in the neighborhood and has also drawn many visiting celebrities, particularly musicians and athletes, including former Chicago Bull Bobby Portis, and NBA legend Scottie Pippen.

Frontera Grill, Topolobampo, and Bar Sotano

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Rick Bayless is the Oklahoma-born chef who obsessed over Mexican cuisine, appearing on TV and creating his own grocery food empire, and his restaurants still remain landmarks in River North for their inventive Mexican cuisine. His flagship, Frontera, which opened in 1987, provides a more casual dining experience, while sibling Topolobampo, which opened two years later, was one of the first restaurants in the U.S. to present Mexican food in a fine dining atmosphere. Bar Sótano is the baby of the group, a basement tavern that serves as an experimental space with pop-ups and creative cocktails. Bayless’s name often prompts emotional responses when it comes to discussion about cultural appropriation, but there’s no question that he’s raised appreciation for Mexican food in America. (Fast-casual Xoco, which has been spun out into the Tortazo chain, is in the same building).

A dining room with white brick walls and teal banquettes.
Bar Sotano is among four restaurants from Rick Bayless in River North.
Barry Brecheisen/Eater Chicago

Rose Mary

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Chef Joe Flamm and his partners went big in Fulton Market, opening a meticulously designed restaurant that’s become a destination for out of towners who know the chef from his Top Chef win. But Rose Mary, described as “Adriatic drinking food,” is a love letter to locals with European notes by fusing Italian, Croatian, and Midwestern sensibilities. The pastas would be at home at Spiaggia, one of the best Italian restaurants in Chicago before it closed and where Flamm cut his teeth. The ribs have a sticky addicting sauce that breeds a familiarity to those who grew up in both the Southwest or Northwest sides. They serve cevapi, a Balkan-style sausage. The octopus, cooked over a wood grill, is perfect. There’s a great energy in the restaurant which also offers a seasonal tasting table over the warmer months. Reservations are a must for the latter.

A bright dining room in a restaurant with black and white tile, light wooden floors, and bar stolls with full back rests.
Rose Mary is a beautiful restaurant.
Barry Brecheisen/Eater Chicago

Ever Restaurant

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Chef Curtis Duffy became a superstar when he opened his first award-winning restaurant, Grace, on Randolph Street, and he’s brought that energy a few blocks west to Fulton Market, where Ever opened in 2020. Duffy is offering only one tasting menu (vegetarians will be accommodated), but he remains committed to showing off precise techniques with playful execution. Case in point: artfully cut ribbons of freeze-dried hamachi. Fine dining tends to be polarizing, but for folks who want a meal with a dash of theatrics, Ever fulfills that niche better than any Chicago restaurant. Just note that this is one of the most expensive meals in Chicago.

Oriole could have sat on its laurels when it reopened last July for the first time since March 2020. The Michelin-star recipient was already known for pushing the boundaries of fine dining without pretension. But instead, management gutted the space and gave chef Noah Sandoval a new kitchen to play with. The chef doesn’t disappoint in his new workplace and has created a fantastic tasting menu. The foie gras course — with pink peppercorn and anise hyssop — is one of the best in memory. This is one of the best places to celebrate in Chicago.

An open kitchen inside a restaurant. Garrett Sweet/Eater Chicago

Both two-Michelin-starred and with James Beard-nominated chefs, Smyth takes great pains to please diners with a creative tasting menu that pushes boundaries. This is a restaurant for great celebrations. The tasting menu is $265 and a seat at the chef’s table costs $325. The basement bar, Loyalist, features dive bar vibes but with a delicious menu highlighted by two of the best burgers in the city.

Chicagoans have few choices for upscale Indian food downtown. Rooh’s 2019 arrival is noteworthy not only because it fills that void, but because it also gives the West Loop some sorely needed variety. Patrons will be more than impressed with familiar classics such as butter chicken, but jackfruit kofta, scallops dusted with gunpowder pepper, and achari monkfish offer a better taste of modern Indian cooking. The restaurant also has a heated and tented patio.

A white plate with two pieces of protein, swooshes of sauce, and delicate garnishes.
Rooh takes a more composed and modern look at Indian food.
Barry Brecheisen/Eater Chicago

Monteverde

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The first restaurant from former Top Chef and Spiaggia chef Sarah Grueneberg has quickly cemented itself as one of Chicago’s top Italian destinations. The pastas are the stars at this West Loop hotspot, and customers can see cooks hard at work behind the counter rolling out dough and creating the delectable noodles they will soon consume. The restaurant’s takeout menu from the pandemic remains, but the dining room offers lively options like whole-bird chicken parm. There’s also a notable gluten-free menu.

Manny’s Cafeteria & Delicatessen

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The torchbearer for a dying breed of Jewish delis and diners in Chicago, Manny’s has endured for more than half a century in the South Loop, thanks to its massive and delicious pastrami sandwiches, an array of hot homestyle dishes on steam tables, and a family-friendly atmosphere cultivated over generations. The cafeteria-style setting is plastered with decades-old newspaper clippings and letters from Chicago luminaries. The space also now houses a new wing for bagels, sweets, coffee, and food to go. In its heyday, Manny’s was where Chicago politicians were often seen brokering deals.

HaiSous Vietnamese Kitchen

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HaiSous in Pilsen is a remarkable comeback story for Thai and Danielle Dang after they survived financial fraud at their previous restaurant, Embeya. Now, without worrying about working with a criminal, they’re free to focus on food and hospitality. Thai Dang, a native of Vietnam, uses a number of techniques from back home, including claypot cooking, to create a menu that’s as ambitious as it is unpretentious with dishes like grilled wild boar with lemongrass. Danielle Dang’s expertise with cocktails should be better recognized, as she pairs drinks to compliment her husband’s two tasting menus. Customers can also order a la carte.

A small metal pan holds a colorful monkfish dish topped with green dill, pickled shallots, and fresno.
Turmeric-laced monkfish with dill, pickled shallots and fresno served with rice noodles topped with scallion confit and roasted peanuts at HaiSous.
Mistey Nguyen

Carnitas Uruapan Restaurant

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Chicago’s Mexican community and food enthusiasts worldwide flock to this longtime family-owned, counter-service institution in Pilsen that celebrates all parts of the pig. Order carnitas by the pound at the front counter and settle into a table — if one is available — to craft your own individual tacos with a mix of salsas, tortillas, and beans; or order tacos, soup, and cactus salad ready-made. Prepare for lines and waits during peak weekend hours.

A platter of meat, a bowl of salsa, a paper container of chicharron, and a red Jarritos soda sit on a green tablecloth.
A carnitas platter with the fixings at Carnitas Uruapan.
Carnitas Uruapan

88 Marketplace

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Chicago has many food halls, but none offer the same type of experience as 88 Marketplace, the Chinese grocer in East Pilsen. The grocery store stocks tons of pan Asian ingredients not readily available at chain supermarkets. That alone makes it a destination, but the second-floor food court offers wonders, headlined by 312 Fish Market, a sit-down restaurant with one of the most creative sushi menus in town at affordable prices. Find dumplings and other delights from A Place in Northeast, barbecue duck and more from BBQ King 88, and an outlet of Chiu Quon Bakery. On the first floor, there’s Holu Steakhouse, where diners can find rare, pricey, and delectable cuts of beef along with top-notch cocktails. No stuffy River North steakhouse can compare. Then find Qiao Lin Hotpot, possibly the best place for hot pot in Chicago. Finally, get something sweet at Pure Tea. It took a while for 88 Marketplace to get going, but it’s now chugging on all cylinders.

A hand holding tongs over a table grill, with a piece of raw beef.
Holu is one of the best steakhouses in Chicago.
Ashok Selvam/Eater Chciago

La Chaparrita Taqueria

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Chicago doesn’t get enough love for its tacos, but this charming little grocery store in Little Village produces some of the finest in the city. From carne asada to crispy tripe, these tacos fit delicately in customers’ hands, and are best enjoyed with tiny bites to savor the mix of textures and flavors. This restaurant, on a quiet residential street, is a true Chicago original. Carryout only.

Pizza Fried Chicken Ice Cream/Maria’s/Kimski

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These three businesses in one space make up a love letter to Chicago. “Tavern-style pizza” is a marketing term that’s only gained steam in recent memory, a reference to the thin-crust, square-cut pizza that’s found all over the city; the slices are convenient to snack on while holding a beer in the other hand. Pizza Fried Chicken Ice Cream’s razor-thin version, preferably topped with Makowski sausage, is the real deal and worth reheating in your home oven if you live far from Bridgeport. PFIC also serves bars from Pretty Cool Ice Cream and ace fried chicken and mushrooms from Kimski chef Won Kim. Kimski, meanwhile, is the city’s only Korean-Polish restaurant, where Kim gets to make chicken wings and stuff pierogi with Korean ingredients. They’re all owned by the same family behind Maria’s Community Bar, one of the city’s most beloved packaged good stores (also known as a “slashie”), a bar and liquor store hybrid.

Birrieria Zaragoza

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Feeling the quesabirria mania? Head to the Southwest Side near Midway International Airport for goat that isn’t labeled as the latest food trend. There’s a simple menu packed with deep flavors here. The handmade tortillas and accouterments form the foundation of a signature Chicago meal. This family-run restaurant is takeout-only. Get there early, as it often closes by early evening.

A server ladles juices over a plate of goat meat.
A large birrieria plate at Birrieria Zaragoza.
Birrieria Zaragoza

Jade Court

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Family is at the heart of Jade Court, a unique Cantonese restaurant in the University of Chicago’s Harper Court development. Carol Cheung has taken the torch from her father, the late Eddy Cheung, who originally opened the restaurant in University Village. The Cheungs push boundaries with their renditions of Cantonese classics. For example, elitists might laugh at the sight of egg foo young, a staple at Chinese-American fast food restaurants, but Jade Court cooks treat the dish as precious cargo, pumping out the best version of the dish they can. Customers would be wise to trust Carol Cheung’s recommendations: she has an uncanny understanding of which dishes to suggest to customers, running the gamut from seafood to beef. The bar program is also noteworthy, with unique collaborations and tropical-style drinks. It’s tiki without the baggage through a Chinese-American lens.

A steel ladel spooning food out of a wok onto a plate.
Jade Court’s food is amazing.
Garrett Sweet/Eater Chicago

Virtue Restaurant

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Chicago restaurant veteran Erick Williams has finally launched the restaurant he’s been dreaming of opening. In his new space, Williams is intent on smashing all expectations for Southern food and hopes to give diners a new perspective on Black cuisine. If customers want lighter fare, there are dishes like the cauliflower with cashew dukkah and root cellar vegetables. For richer appetites, the beef short ribs with creamed spinach and crushed potatoes satisfy. work. Williams won the James Beard award in 2022 for Best Chef: Great Lakes.

A colorful cauliflower dish sits inside a grey bowl on a light wood table.
Virtue’s cauliflower with cashew dukkah, root cellar vegetables, and rice
Nick Fochtman/Eater

Lem's Bar-B-Q

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Chicago’s legendary aquarium-style smokers are on display at Lem’s, underneath a giant lighted sign off 75th Street. This small shack specializes in sauced baby-back ribs and giant hot links. Chicago is credited with creating the practice of serving rib tips slathered with sauce, and this is the place to give newbies an introduction.

A hand holds aloft a rack of ribs with a tong in front of a full smoker. Nick Murway/Eater Chicago

Harold's Chicken Shack

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Not all Harold’s Chicken Shacks are created equal, as a few writers have found. This isn’t news for any Chicagoan, but it bears repeating, as Harold’s has become a nationally-known brand thanks to celebrity fans like Chance the Rapper. This particular Harold’s, on the corner of 127th and Halsted, is known not for customer service, but for its crisp chicken (fried in beef fat) and its own take on mild sauce, the must-have condiment that’s become a cult favorite. Still, not everyone will agree: Harold’s fans are passionate and really enjoy arguing about which location is best.

Superdawg Drive-In

A blue cardboard rectangle food container with a hot dog inside. Barry Brecheisen/Eater Chicago

Avatars of Superdawg founders Maurie and Flaurie Berman stand guard over this venerable Chicago drive-in at the intersection of Devon, Nagle, and Milwaukee; customers can spot those giant hot dog statues bearing the Bermans’ likenesses from blocks away. Superdawg is a throwback dining experience where customers park their cars and talk to staff through crackling drive-in speakers and carhops bring out trays of food. Superdawg’s offering isn’t a traditional Chicago-style dog. Rather than a Vienna Beef frank, Superdawg uses a thick, proprietary all-beef sausage that comes with mustard, pickled green tomato, and chopped Spanish onions. This is all cradled in a box of crinkle fries. There’s a second suburban location in Wheeling.