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What is love? Baby don’t hurt me no more.
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The Ultimate Comfort Food Dishes to Conquer Valentine’s Day Blues in Chicago

How do you mend a broken heart? With dumplings, of course.

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What is love? Baby don’t hurt me no more.
| Shutterstock

Even Chicagoans get the blues, especially in the midst of a pandemic winter with grey skies and snowy sidewalks in need of shoveling. Fortunately, the city is equipped with many countermeasures and antidotes in the form of comfort food: dishes that tickle a nostalgic thread in the subconscious or generally produce a sunnier disposition. Or, folks can just cut to the chase and send themselves (or a loved one) a 9-inch heart-shaped deep-dish pizza from Lou Malnati’s — available for shipping nationwide.

The exact definition of comfort food is tricky to pin down, and largely depends on family, heritage, and native region. Still, even those who didn’t grow up eating carbonara or congee can find solace in a warm meal made with love.

As of January 23, Chicago restaurants are permitted to serve customers indoors with a 25 percent maximum capacity per room, or 25 people — whichever is fewer. At the same time, despite winter weather, a number of Chicago restaurants continue to offer outdoor seating. Regardless, the state requires reservations for indoor and outdoor dining. The level of service offered is indicated on each map point. However, this should not be taken as an endorsement for dining in, as there are still safety concerns. For updated information on coronavirus cases in your area, please visit the city of Chicago’s COVID-19 dashboard. Studies indicate that there is a lower exposure risk when outdoors, but the level of risk involved with patio dining is contingent on restaurants following strict social distancing and other safety guidelines.

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Note: Restaurants on this map are listed geographically.

1. Kimchi Jjigae at Cho Sun Ok Restaurant

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4200 N Lincoln Ave
Chicago, IL 60618
(773) 549-5555
Visit Website

Korean barbecue often gets top billing at Cho Sun Ok, a neighborhood favorite since 1980, but those seeking a spicy, soulful emotional Band-Aid should hold out for for kimchi jjigae. The bright red soup balances intense kimchi heat and flavor with tofu, chili garlic, and ginger to create a concoction one could cuddle up with.

A small black bowl of bright red soup with kimchi
Cho Sun Ok’s kimchi jjigae
Cho Sun Ok [Official Photo]

2. Cheshire Tonkatsu Kare at Bokuchan's Japanese Curry House

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3517 N Spaulding Ave
Chicago, IL 60618
(312) 684-8989
Visit Website

Chef Shin Thompson captures the delightful simplicity of karae-raisu, or Japanese-style curry rice, at his newish virtual restaurant Bokuchan’s. The curry itself is slightly sweeter than many South Asian curries Chicagoans may have encountered, and contrasts well with crunchy panko-coated tonkatsu (fried Cheshire pork cutlet). There’s a reason the dish has been a homestyle staple for generations.

3. Tourtière at Dear Margaret

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2965 N Lincoln Ave
Chicago, IL 60657
(773) 360-8213
Visit Website

Canadian comfort food is the name of the game at Dear Margaret, so it comes as no surprise that chef Ryan Brosseau’s (Perennial Virant) tourtière — a petite meat pie stuffed with pork, mushrooms, potatoes, and herbs wrapped in a lard crust — is brimming with homey warmth and charm.

A small meat pie on a white plate beside a small salad
Dear Margaret’s Tourtière (mushroom, potato, herb, and pork filling; lard crust)
Garrett Sweet/Eater Chicago

4. Momo at Chiya Chai Cafe

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2770 N Milwaukee Ave
Chicago, IL 60647
(773) 360-7541
Visit Website

Dumplings are arguably one of the most adorable foods, as they are essentially little pockets of joy delivered in their own edible wrappers. Chiya Chai’s momo are a case in point, with varities including vegetable, Darjeeling pork, prairie bison, and lamb with dill —all perfect for filling the emotional void of a pandemic winter.

5. Steak Burrito at Mi Tocaya Antojería

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

Burritos are a way of life for many, as acclaimed chef Diana Dávila well knows. That’s why she compliments her fiercely innovative, boundary-pushing menus with a staple known and loved by many Chicagoans: an unfussy steak burrito outfitted black beans, beer-marinated onions and banana peppers, and avocado.

6. Carbonara at Daisies

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2523 N Milwaukee Ave
Chicago, IL 60647
(773) 661-1671
Visit Website

Handmade pasta has an incredible ability to turn a gloomy day into a cozy one. Daises’ expertly-made carbonara with Catalpa Farms bacon and a generous dusting of Parmesan will have local diners happily twirling their forks in no time.

7. Deep Dish at Pequod's Pizza

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2207 N Clybourn Ave
Chicago, IL 60614
(773) 327-1512
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However one feels about the efficacy of deep dish as a symbol of Chicago cuisine, the fact remains that a difficult day is always improved with pizza. Pequod’s, adored for its caramelized crust, has earned a reputation for offering one of the best pies in town — one so carb-heavy that it’ll lull any diner to pleasant dreams in short order.

8. Pierogis at Podhalanka

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1549 W Division St
Chicago, IL 60642
(773) 486-6655
Visit Website

Podhalanka has warmed the cold, craggy hearts of Chicagoans for years with unadulterated Polish classics. Newcomers and regulars would be well served by seeking out its super-popular pierogis, or Polish dumplings, stuffed with potato and cheese, cabbage, or meat.

9. Matzo Ball Soup at Jeff & Judes

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1024 N Western Ave
Chicago, IL 60622
(773) 661-1227
Visit Website

Modern Jewish deli Jeff & Judes bucks tradition in numerous ways, but owner Ursula Siker’s matzo ball soup, which features a big, fluffy matzo ball in a golden chicken broth, is a heartwarming hit with even the most skeptical bubbes and zaydes.

10. Mushroom Adobo at Kasama

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1001 N Winchester Ave
Chicago, IL 60622
(773) 697-3790
Visit Website

Adobo is seen by many as the heart of Filipino cuisine — a dish loaded with history that varies between households. Chef Tim Flores taps into that nostalgia with his meat-free version, dubbed mushroom adobo (soy-braised mushroom, garlic rice, fried egg) at Kasama, which he runs with wife and chef Genie Kwon in Ukrainian Village.

11. Suan Tang Shui Jiao at Lao Peng You

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2020 W Chicago Ave
Chicago, IL 60622
(872) 206-8624
Visit Website

When brothers and veteran Chicago chefs Daniel and Eric Wat opened Lao Peng You in West Town, they said the restaurant was inspired by their memories of family pot lucks. It follows, then that their feature item — suan tang shui jiao, or dumplings in a hot and sour broth (aged dark soy, vinegar, chili oil) — make diners feel like they’re part of the family too.

A bowl of dumplings in broth
Lao Peng You’s unique Chinese dumplings
Garrett Sweet/Eater Chicago

12. Soto Ayam at Minahasa

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125 S Clark St
Chicago, IL 60603
(773) 770-6169
Visit Website

Buzzy new regional Indonesian restaurant Minahasa from chef John Avila (Gibsons Italia) and his mother Betty Avila proffers a comforting blanket of a dish in the “special occasion” soto ayam. The pair describe it as “Indonesian chicken noodle soup,” but the comparison doesn’t do justice to the

clear, spectacularly flavorful chicken broth filled with sliced hard-boiled egg, diced tomatoes, bean sprouts, shredded chicken, lime, and sambal, plus a topping of crunchy fried garlic and shallots.

13. Pozole en Pepian Mole Verde at 5 Rabanitos Restaurante & Taqueria

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1758 W 18th St
Chicago, IL 60608
(312) 285-2710
Visit Website

Pozole, a traditional hominy-based Mexican stew, is an ideal antidote to wintertime blues, and chef Alfonso Sotelo’s (XocoTopolobampo) version comes with wonderful depth and complexity. The bowl is packed with pork or chicken, avocado, juicy lime, and topped with a pile crunchy chicharron and sliced radish.

14. Congee at Chi Cafe

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2160 S Archer Ave
Chicago, IL 60616
(312) 842-9993
Visit Website

Congee — a rice porridge popular throughout many Asian countries — may just be the ultimate comfort food. Like kimchi jjigae, many fans grew up eating the dish when they were sick, and fostered a lifelong an affection for its flexibility and glutinous texture. Chinatown spot Chi Cafe features a number of versions, including preserved egg with vegetable and clam; salted pork bone; and abalone and shredded chicken.

15. Pork Steak at Virtue Restaurant

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1462 E 53rd St
Chicago, IL 60615
(773) 947-8831
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Decorated chef Erick Williams knows all about comfort with at his Southern restaurant Virtue in Hyde Park, where he’s featuring a luscious pork steak with smothered cabbage and granny smith apple.

16. Oxtail Stew at Garifuna Flava

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2518 W 63rd St
Chicago, IL 60629
(773) 776-7440
Visit Website

Though it hails from the tropics, there are few dishes better suited to Chicago winters than oxtail stew. Garifuna Flava, serving food of the Caribbean and Central America, has a rich and fragrant version that’s well worth venturing out of doors.

17. Fried Chicken at 5 Loaves Eatery

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405 E 75th St
Chicago, IL 60619
(773) 891-2889
Visit Website

One of Chicago’s top spots for fried chicken, 5 Loaves Eatery keeps fans coming back with its best-selling birds. Marinated for 24 hours to achieve next-level crispiness, the juicy pieces will linger in the memory long after they’ve been devoured.

18. Rib Tips at Lem's Bar-B-Q

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311 E 75th St
Chicago, IL 60619
(773) 994-2428
Visit Website

Chicago is synonymous with rib tips, and rib tips are synonymous with Lem’s. It’s a simple equation, and one that draws locals and visitors to the South Side barbecue haven in all kinds of weather. Save time and just order the crispy, tender, messy delights by the bucket.

1. Kimchi Jjigae at Cho Sun Ok Restaurant

4200 N Lincoln Ave, Chicago, IL 60618
A small black bowl of bright red soup with kimchi
Cho Sun Ok’s kimchi jjigae
Cho Sun Ok [Official Photo]

Korean barbecue often gets top billing at Cho Sun Ok, a neighborhood favorite since 1980, but those seeking a spicy, soulful emotional Band-Aid should hold out for for kimchi jjigae. The bright red soup balances intense kimchi heat and flavor with tofu, chili garlic, and ginger to create a concoction one could cuddle up with.

4200 N Lincoln Ave
Chicago, IL 60618

2. Cheshire Tonkatsu Kare at Bokuchan's Japanese Curry House

3517 N Spaulding Ave, Chicago, IL 60618

Chef Shin Thompson captures the delightful simplicity of karae-raisu, or Japanese-style curry rice, at his newish virtual restaurant Bokuchan’s. The curry itself is slightly sweeter than many South Asian curries Chicagoans may have encountered, and contrasts well with crunchy panko-coated tonkatsu (fried Cheshire pork cutlet). There’s a reason the dish has been a homestyle staple for generations.

3517 N Spaulding Ave
Chicago, IL 60618

3. Tourtière at Dear Margaret

2965 N Lincoln Ave, Chicago, IL 60657
A small meat pie on a white plate beside a small salad
Dear Margaret’s Tourtière (mushroom, potato, herb, and pork filling; lard crust)
Garrett Sweet/Eater Chicago

Canadian comfort food is the name of the game at Dear Margaret, so it comes as no surprise that chef Ryan Brosseau’s (Perennial Virant) tourtière — a petite meat pie stuffed with pork, mushrooms, potatoes, and herbs wrapped in a lard crust — is brimming with homey warmth and charm.

2965 N Lincoln Ave
Chicago, IL 60657

4. Momo at Chiya Chai Cafe

2770 N Milwaukee Ave, Chicago, IL 60647

Dumplings are arguably one of the most adorable foods, as they are essentially little pockets of joy delivered in their own edible wrappers. Chiya Chai’s momo are a case in point, with varities including vegetable, Darjeeling pork, prairie bison, and lamb with dill —all perfect for filling the emotional void of a pandemic winter.

2770 N Milwaukee Ave
Chicago, IL 60647

5. Steak Burrito at Mi Tocaya Antojería

2800 W Logan Blvd, Chicago, IL 60647

Burritos are a way of life for many, as acclaimed chef Diana Dávila well knows. That’s why she compliments her fiercely innovative, boundary-pushing menus with a staple known and loved by many Chicagoans: an unfussy steak burrito outfitted black beans, beer-marinated onions and banana peppers, and avocado.

2800 W Logan Blvd
Chicago, IL 60647

6. Carbonara at Daisies

2523 N Milwaukee Ave, Chicago, IL 60647

Handmade pasta has an incredible ability to turn a gloomy day into a cozy one. Daises’ expertly-made carbonara with Catalpa Farms bacon and a generous dusting of Parmesan will have local diners happily twirling their forks in no time.

2523 N Milwaukee Ave
Chicago, IL 60647

7. Deep Dish at Pequod's Pizza

2207 N Clybourn Ave, Chicago, IL 60614

However one feels about the efficacy of deep dish as a symbol of Chicago cuisine, the fact remains that a difficult day is always improved with pizza. Pequod’s, adored for its caramelized crust, has earned a reputation for offering one of the best pies in town — one so carb-heavy that it’ll lull any diner to pleasant dreams in short order.

2207 N Clybourn Ave
Chicago, IL 60614

8. Pierogis at Podhalanka

1549 W Division St, Chicago, IL 60642

Podhalanka has warmed the cold, craggy hearts of Chicagoans for years with unadulterated Polish classics. Newcomers and regulars would be well served by seeking out its super-popular pierogis, or Polish dumplings, stuffed with potato and cheese, cabbage, or meat.

1549 W Division St
Chicago, IL 60642

9. Matzo Ball Soup at Jeff & Judes

1024 N Western Ave, Chicago, IL 60622

Modern Jewish deli Jeff & Judes bucks tradition in numerous ways, but owner Ursula Siker’s matzo ball soup, which features a big, fluffy matzo ball in a golden chicken broth, is a heartwarming hit with even the most skeptical bubbes and zaydes.

1024 N Western Ave
Chicago, IL 60622

10. Mushroom Adobo at Kasama

1001 N Winchester Ave, Chicago, IL 60622

Adobo is seen by many as the heart of Filipino cuisine — a dish loaded with history that varies between households. Chef Tim Flores taps into that nostalgia with his meat-free version, dubbed mushroom adobo (soy-braised mushroom, garlic rice, fried egg) at Kasama, which he runs with wife and chef Genie Kwon in Ukrainian Village.

1001 N Winchester Ave
Chicago, IL 60622

11. Suan Tang Shui Jiao at Lao Peng You

2020 W Chicago Ave, Chicago, IL 60622
A bowl of dumplings in broth
Lao Peng You’s unique Chinese dumplings
Garrett Sweet/Eater Chicago

When brothers and veteran Chicago chefs Daniel and Eric Wat opened Lao Peng You in West Town, they said the restaurant was inspired by their memories of family pot lucks. It follows, then that their feature item — suan tang shui jiao, or dumplings in a hot and sour broth (aged dark soy, vinegar, chili oil) — make diners feel like they’re part of the family too.

2020 W Chicago Ave
Chicago, IL 60622

12. Soto Ayam at Minahasa

125 S Clark St, Chicago, IL 60603

Buzzy new regional Indonesian restaurant Minahasa from chef John Avila (Gibsons Italia) and his mother Betty Avila proffers a comforting blanket of a dish in the “special occasion” soto ayam. The pair describe it as “Indonesian chicken noodle soup,” but the comparison doesn’t do justice to the

clear, spectacularly flavorful chicken broth filled with sliced hard-boiled egg, diced tomatoes, bean sprouts, shredded chicken, lime, and sambal, plus a topping of crunchy fried garlic and shallots.

125 S Clark St
Chicago, IL 60603

13. Pozole en Pepian Mole Verde at 5 Rabanitos Restaurante & Taqueria

1758 W 18th St, Chicago, IL 60608

Pozole, a traditional hominy-based Mexican stew, is an ideal antidote to wintertime blues, and chef Alfonso Sotelo’s (XocoTopolobampo) version comes with wonderful depth and complexity. The bowl is packed with pork or chicken, avocado, juicy lime, and topped with a pile crunchy chicharron and sliced radish.

1758 W 18th St
Chicago, IL 60608

14. Congee at Chi Cafe

2160 S Archer Ave, Chicago, IL 60616

Congee — a rice porridge popular throughout many Asian countries — may just be the ultimate comfort food. Like kimchi jjigae, many fans grew up eating the dish when they were sick, and fostered a lifelong an affection for its flexibility and glutinous texture. Chinatown spot Chi Cafe features a number of versions, including preserved egg with vegetable and clam; salted pork bone; and abalone and shredded chicken.

2160 S Archer Ave
Chicago, IL 60616

15. Pork Steak at Virtue Restaurant

1462 E 53rd St, Chicago, IL 60615

Decorated chef Erick Williams knows all about comfort with at his Southern restaurant Virtue in Hyde Park, where he’s featuring a luscious pork steak with smothered cabbage and granny smith apple.

1462 E 53rd St
Chicago, IL 60615

Related Maps

16. Oxtail Stew at Garifuna Flava

2518 W 63rd St, Chicago, IL 60629

Though it hails from the tropics, there are few dishes better suited to Chicago winters than oxtail stew. Garifuna Flava, serving food of the Caribbean and Central America, has a rich and fragrant version that’s well worth venturing out of doors.

2518 W 63rd St
Chicago, IL 60629

17. Fried Chicken at 5 Loaves Eatery

405 E 75th St, Chicago, IL 60619

One of Chicago’s top spots for fried chicken, 5 Loaves Eatery keeps fans coming back with its best-selling birds. Marinated for 24 hours to achieve next-level crispiness, the juicy pieces will linger in the memory long after they’ve been devoured.

405 E 75th St
Chicago, IL 60619

18. Rib Tips at Lem's Bar-B-Q

311 E 75th St, Chicago, IL 60619

Chicago is synonymous with rib tips, and rib tips are synonymous with Lem’s. It’s a simple equation, and one that draws locals and visitors to the South Side barbecue haven in all kinds of weather. Save time and just order the crispy, tender, messy delights by the bucket.

311 E 75th St
Chicago, IL 60619

Related Maps