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The Mag Mile has struggled with traffic throughout the pandemic, but has been picking lately.

Where to Eat and Drink Near the Magnificent Mile in Chicago

Downtown Chicago has plenty to offer

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The Mag Mile has struggled with traffic throughout the pandemic, but has been picking lately.

The Mag Mile is Chicago’s major commercial artery and one of the most prestigious shopping strips in the city. But despite the history (the “Magnificent Mile” moniker date backs to the 1940s), Michigan Avenue has been struggling during the pandemic. Stores have closed, and Downtown Chicago continues to battle the perception that its unsafe. However, efforts, like Sundays on State, aim to attract crowds and to show the public that Michigan Avenue can be a pleasant experience for the whole family.

As Chicago’s downtown area deals and attempts to heal from the pandemic, here are the best places to dine near Michigan Avenue.

As of June 11, Chicago restaurants have fully reopened and the city has lifted restrictions on capacity and social distancing. However, on July 30, the city issued guidance recommending that everyone wear facial coverings while indoors. For updated information on coronavirus cases, 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 safety guidelines. The latest CDC guidance for vaccinated diners during the COVID-19 outbreak is available here; dining out still carries risks for unvaccinated diners and workers. Find a local vaccination site here.

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Aster Hall

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This essential food hall from Hogsalt Hospitality is located on the fifth and sixth floors of the 900 North Michigan Shops. The pandemic has forced the hall to scale back operations, but diners will still find burgers from Small Cheval, salads, tacos, and sandwiches.

Aster Hall features 16 food “vaults”
Aster Hall [Official Photo]

Adorn Bar & Restaurant

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James Beard Award winner Jonathan Sawyer left Cleveland for Chicago so he could open Adorn inside the Four Seasons Hotel. This in an all-day restaurant, but Sawyer doesn’t sacrifice with ambitious dishes like Lobster & Spaghetti “Joe Beef” Style (a reference to the Montreal restaurant, served with bacon lardons, cognac butter, tarragon). Also look out for the red wine and truffle poutine.

A square black bar with a large modern chandelier hanging overhead. Barry Brecheisen/Eater Chicago

The Signature Room at the 95th

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High atop the John Hancock Center, Signature Room is a classic Chicago restaurant with perhaps the best city’s views from its 95th floor. There’s also a bar where customers can duck in without a full meal.

NoMI, the seasonal, French-inspired restaurant on the seventh floor of the Park Hyatt Chicago, is ideally located for hungry downtown visitors seeking a fine dining experience. The space includes a restaurant, lounge, and rooftop bar with views of the city and bustling Michigan Avenue below.

A restaurant’s dining room full of windows that show downtown Chicago skyline views.
NoMI offers terrific downtown views
NoMI [Official Photo]

This gorgeous restaurant comes from Carlos Gaytán, the first Mexican-born chef behind a Michelin-starred restaurant (Mexique). Gaytán is known for blending classic western techniques with Mexican food. While that might be reassuring for those who underestimate what Mexican flavors are capable of, one look at the restaurant and diners will understand where Gaytán’s heart is: The space is filled with artifacts from his hometown. This restaurant was poised for greatness before COVID-19 with a stellar guajillo-roasted octopus, Gaytán’s signature steak with chipotle goat cheese fondue, and a French onion soup amped up with poblano. Don’t forget about brunch which features stellar Mexican pastries.

A long octopus tentacle on a plate with a circular cake of vegetables and aioli on the side. Barry Brecheisen/Eater Chicago

Althea is from celebrity chef Matthew Kenney and is probably Chicago’s No. 1 choice for upscale food for vegans who want a restaurant that doesn’t cook meat (other restaurants, notably Ever and Brass Heart, offer terrific vegan options, but they also cater to omnivores). Of course, Althea sits inside Saks Fifth Avenue, and that retailer sells leather and other goods strict vegans would avoid, so diners will have the pick their comfort levels. Vegan cacio e pepe (made with kelp noodles), barbacoa tacos (with oyster mushroom), and coconut and mango ceviche are some of the highlights. 

Portillo's

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A Chicago-style hot dog is a can’t-miss during a visit, and eaters don’t have to leave downtown to check out the most beloved local chain in the area for dogs, Italian beef, addictive milkshakes, chocolate cake, and much more for cheap. It’s not actually on the Magnificent Mile itself, but is worth a brief detour to refuel.

The only Midwest location for Joe and Lidia Bastianich’s Italian food wonderland, the Chicago spot includes two floors full of restaurants focusing on an array of dishes, grocery and retail items, a microbrewery, a Nutella bar, gelato, and much much much more. Though it’s two blocks off of the Mag Mile itself, a little side trip will lead to serious payoff. Former partner and disgraced celebrity chef Mario Batali sold his shares and stepped away from the business in 2017.

Eataly’s sole location in the Midwest
Marc Much/Eater Chicago

Labriola Chicago

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This three-prong operation from a partner in the popular Stan’s Donuts chain includes a restaurant, cafe, and bakery featuring Italian favorites such as baked ziti, chicken vesuvio, and more. The deep-dish pizzas are sublime; skip the chains and make a visit.

Tonight is the perfect night to stay home and have Chicago's Best Pizza delivered. Call us to order (312) 955-3100

Posted by Labriola Chicago: Ristorante and Cafe on Tuesday, November 12, 2019

Tanta Chicago

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This popular Peruvian chain, from famed chef Gaston Acurio, has been consistent in River North since opening in 2013. The casual approach has provided a venue for dates, families, and tourists as they scout around downtown Chicago. But Tanta is also a destination for locals looking for dishes like chaufa aeropuerto, saltado, and anticucho. The drinks are also of note, with plenty of pisco.

Lao Sze Chuan (Downtown)

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Take the elevator or escalators to this large dining room where owner Tony Hu (nicknamed “the mayor of Chinatown”) brings all his favorites, including his dry-chili chicken, to downtown Chicago. Like the name suggests, Sichuan food is the focus. But for folks afraid of heat, there are enough menu items to please any fan of Chinese and Chinese-American food.

Kostali by Naha

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Known for Brindille in River North, chef Carrie Nahabedian and cousin Michael have opened another restaurant in Downtown Chicago. Find seafood, pasta, and more with a Mediterranean menu. There’s also a special “Tipsy Tea” on select days where groups can have a little boozy fun.

A roasted fish covered by greens. Kostali/Neil Burger

After taking advise from fellow celebrity chef Rick Bayless, José Andrés brought his first restaurant, Jaleo, to Chicago. This River North spot serves the same tapas as other locations. It also has a counter for a quick bite and drink. A basement bar will debut later in 2021.

A red and white dining room Barry Brecheisen/Eater Chicago

Frontera Grill/Bar Sótano/Topolobampo/XOCO

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The epicenter of Rick Bayless’s Mexican empire, the building is home to all three of the celebrity chef’s landmark restaurants. The original, Frontera Grill, is still an extremely tough table with long waits nightly for groundbreaking mid-priced food; Topolobampo is Michelin-starred fine dining that won the James Beard Award for Outstanding Restaurant; and XOCO is casual counter service for outstanding tortas, churros, hot chocolates, and more. In addition, Bayless and daughter Lanie opened speakeasy-style spot Bar Sótano in 2018 right underneath Frontera Grill.

Frontera Grill
Frontera Grill remains one of the hottest near-Mag Mile destinations
Barry Brecheisen/Eater Chicago

Lou Malnati's Pizzeria

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Lou Malnati’s is probably what most Chicagoans think of when describing deep-dish pizza, and the Malnati family have built an empire throughout the city and its suburbs. This Michigan Avenue location is on the ground floor of the Wrigley Building, where the Tribune once was headquartered. Lou’s is a great place to take tourists and locals alike. The thin-crust pizza is also solid, as are newer options like a low-carb pizza that uses sausage as the crust.

The interior of Lou Malanti’s on Michigan Avenue.
The interior of Lou Malanti’s on Michigan Avenue.
Lou Malnati’s

RPM Seafood

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RPM Seafood was a landmark opening for Lettuce Entertain You Enterprises, as the city’s largest hospitality group unfurled a massive complex with a pizzeria, seafood restaurant, and private event space along the Chicago River. Lettuce’s “RPM” line of restaurant are known to attract celebrities, as Giuliana and Bill Rancic are the “R” in the restaurant’s name. 

Barry Brecheisen/Eater Chicago

Venteux Brasserie, Cafe & Oyster Bar

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It’s been a while since a French restaurant made waves in Chicago, but that’s what Venteux is attempting to do in side the historic Carbide & Carbon Building. Chef Don Young is a native Chicagoan with Michelin experience at Temporis in West Town. He brings a vibrancy to modern French food with playful spins on classics. There’s also a rooftop bar.

Barry Brecheisen/Eater Chicago

Hanabusa Cafe

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The tall and fluffy Japanese souffle pancakes at Toronto import Hanabusa Cafe, just a block off the Mag Mile, are a reminder that breakfast is the most important meal of the day and should not be neglected. Choose from an array of toppings, including custard, matcha, and fresh fruit. There’s also an extensive tea menu, yogurt drinks, and savory offerings for those who can’t stand sweets first thing in the morning.

Chicago Athletic Association

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The gorgeously reborn hotel across from tourist-magnet Millennium Park is home to multiple terrific restaurants and bars. There’s a multiple-course cocktail experience like no other (Milk Room), a gorgeous throwback restaurant serving American classics (Cherry Circle Room), a bar and eatery with bocce and other parlor games (Game Room), a Shake Shack on the ground floor, and the biggest draw of them all — perhaps Chicago’s best rooftop bar and restaurant, Cindy’s on the top floor.

Dine with Cindy herself ✨ Playing hostess or party planner this spring? We'd love to have you. Drop us a line at cindysevents@chicagoathletichotel.com to learn more.

Posted by Cindy's Rooftop on Thursday, April 11, 2019

JIAO by Qing Xiang Yuan Dumplings

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JIAO by Qing Xiang Yuan Dumplings is the more casual spinoff of a Chicago Chinatown favorite. With a large menu of Chinese dumplings, JIAO is good for a quick and affordable bite. It’s a good alternative to fast food with enough options to make picky eaters happy.

The Gage

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An upscale Irish pub and restaurant, the Gage is consistently one of Chicago’s best-executed and best-run bars and eateries year in and year out. Right on Michigan Avenue across from Millennium Park, it’s a perfect pit stop for a drink and a snack while doing touristy things, for a full dinner, or for drinking. Sibling Italian restaurant Acanto is another great option.

The Gage across from Millennium Park
Barry Brecheisen/Eater Chicago

Aster Hall

This essential food hall from Hogsalt Hospitality is located on the fifth and sixth floors of the 900 North Michigan Shops. The pandemic has forced the hall to scale back operations, but diners will still find burgers from Small Cheval, salads, tacos, and sandwiches.

Aster Hall features 16 food “vaults”
Aster Hall [Official Photo]

Adorn Bar & Restaurant

James Beard Award winner Jonathan Sawyer left Cleveland for Chicago so he could open Adorn inside the Four Seasons Hotel. This in an all-day restaurant, but Sawyer doesn’t sacrifice with ambitious dishes like Lobster & Spaghetti “Joe Beef” Style (a reference to the Montreal restaurant, served with bacon lardons, cognac butter, tarragon). Also look out for the red wine and truffle poutine.

A square black bar with a large modern chandelier hanging overhead. Barry Brecheisen/Eater Chicago

The Signature Room at the 95th

High atop the John Hancock Center, Signature Room is a classic Chicago restaurant with perhaps the best city’s views from its 95th floor. There’s also a bar where customers can duck in without a full meal.

NoMI

NoMI, the seasonal, French-inspired restaurant on the seventh floor of the Park Hyatt Chicago, is ideally located for hungry downtown visitors seeking a fine dining experience. The space includes a restaurant, lounge, and rooftop bar with views of the city and bustling Michigan Avenue below.

A restaurant’s dining room full of windows that show downtown Chicago skyline views.
NoMI offers terrific downtown views
NoMI [Official Photo]

Tzuco

This gorgeous restaurant comes from Carlos Gaytán, the first Mexican-born chef behind a Michelin-starred restaurant (Mexique). Gaytán is known for blending classic western techniques with Mexican food. While that might be reassuring for those who underestimate what Mexican flavors are capable of, one look at the restaurant and diners will understand where Gaytán’s heart is: The space is filled with artifacts from his hometown. This restaurant was poised for greatness before COVID-19 with a stellar guajillo-roasted octopus, Gaytán’s signature steak with chipotle goat cheese fondue, and a French onion soup amped up with poblano. Don’t forget about brunch which features stellar Mexican pastries.

A long octopus tentacle on a plate with a circular cake of vegetables and aioli on the side. Barry Brecheisen/Eater Chicago

ALTHEA

Althea is from celebrity chef Matthew Kenney and is probably Chicago’s No. 1 choice for upscale food for vegans who want a restaurant that doesn’t cook meat (other restaurants, notably Ever and Brass Heart, offer terrific vegan options, but they also cater to omnivores). Of course, Althea sits inside Saks Fifth Avenue, and that retailer sells leather and other goods strict vegans would avoid, so diners will have the pick their comfort levels. Vegan cacio e pepe (made with kelp noodles), barbacoa tacos (with oyster mushroom), and coconut and mango ceviche are some of the highlights. 

Portillo's

A Chicago-style hot dog is a can’t-miss during a visit, and eaters don’t have to leave downtown to check out the most beloved local chain in the area for dogs, Italian beef, addictive milkshakes, chocolate cake, and much more for cheap. It’s not actually on the Magnificent Mile itself, but is worth a brief detour to refuel.

Eataly

The only Midwest location for Joe and Lidia Bastianich’s Italian food wonderland, the Chicago spot includes two floors full of restaurants focusing on an array of dishes, grocery and retail items, a microbrewery, a Nutella bar, gelato, and much much much more. Though it’s two blocks off of the Mag Mile itself, a little side trip will lead to serious payoff. Former partner and disgraced celebrity chef Mario Batali sold his shares and stepped away from the business in 2017.

Eataly’s sole location in the Midwest
Marc Much/Eater Chicago

Labriola Chicago

This three-prong operation from a partner in the popular Stan’s Donuts chain includes a restaurant, cafe, and bakery featuring Italian favorites such as baked ziti, chicken vesuvio, and more. The deep-dish pizzas are sublime; skip the chains and make a visit.

Tonight is the perfect night to stay home and have Chicago's Best Pizza delivered. Call us to order (312) 955-3100

Posted by Labriola Chicago: Ristorante and Cafe on Tuesday, November 12, 2019

Tanta Chicago

This popular Peruvian chain, from famed chef Gaston Acurio, has been consistent in River North since opening in 2013. The casual approach has provided a venue for dates, families, and tourists as they scout around downtown Chicago. But Tanta is also a destination for locals looking for dishes like chaufa aeropuerto, saltado, and anticucho. The drinks are also of note, with plenty of pisco.

Lao Sze Chuan (Downtown)

Take the elevator or escalators to this large dining room where owner Tony Hu (nicknamed “the mayor of Chinatown”) brings all his favorites, including his dry-chili chicken, to downtown Chicago. Like the name suggests, Sichuan food is the focus. But for folks afraid of heat, there are enough menu items to please any fan of Chinese and Chinese-American food.

Kostali by Naha

Known for Brindille in River North, chef Carrie Nahabedian and cousin Michael have opened another restaurant in Downtown Chicago. Find seafood, pasta, and more with a Mediterranean menu. There’s also a special “Tipsy Tea” on select days where groups can have a little boozy fun.

A roasted fish covered by greens. Kostali/Neil Burger

Jaleo

After taking advise from fellow celebrity chef Rick Bayless, José Andrés brought his first restaurant, Jaleo, to Chicago. This River North spot serves the same tapas as other locations. It also has a counter for a quick bite and drink. A basement bar will debut later in 2021.

A red and white dining room Barry Brecheisen/Eater Chicago

Frontera Grill/Bar Sótano/Topolobampo/XOCO

The epicenter of Rick Bayless’s Mexican empire, the building is home to all three of the celebrity chef’s landmark restaurants. The original, Frontera Grill, is still an extremely tough table with long waits nightly for groundbreaking mid-priced food; Topolobampo is Michelin-starred fine dining that won the James Beard Award for Outstanding Restaurant; and XOCO is casual counter service for outstanding tortas, churros, hot chocolates, and more. In addition, Bayless and daughter Lanie opened speakeasy-style spot Bar Sótano in 2018 right underneath Frontera Grill.

Frontera Grill
Frontera Grill remains one of the hottest near-Mag Mile destinations
Barry Brecheisen/Eater Chicago

Lou Malnati's Pizzeria

Lou Malnati’s is probably what most Chicagoans think of when describing deep-dish pizza, and the Malnati family have built an empire throughout the city and its suburbs. This Michigan Avenue location is on the ground floor of the Wrigley Building, where the Tribune once was headquartered. Lou’s is a great place to take tourists and locals alike. The thin-crust pizza is also solid, as are newer options like a low-carb pizza that uses sausage as the crust.

The interior of Lou Malanti’s on Michigan Avenue.
The interior of Lou Malanti’s on Michigan Avenue.
Lou Malnati’s

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RPM Seafood

RPM Seafood was a landmark opening for Lettuce Entertain You Enterprises, as the city’s largest hospitality group unfurled a massive complex with a pizzeria, seafood restaurant, and private event space along the Chicago River. Lettuce’s “RPM” line of restaurant are known to attract celebrities, as Giuliana and Bill Rancic are the “R” in the restaurant’s name. 

Barry Brecheisen/Eater Chicago

Venteux Brasserie, Cafe & Oyster Bar

It’s been a while since a French restaurant made waves in Chicago, but that’s what Venteux is attempting to do in side the historic Carbide & Carbon Building. Chef Don Young is a native Chicagoan with Michelin experience at Temporis in West Town. He brings a vibrancy to modern French food with playful spins on classics. There’s also a rooftop bar.

Barry Brecheisen/Eater Chicago

Hanabusa Cafe

The tall and fluffy Japanese souffle pancakes at Toronto import Hanabusa Cafe, just a block off the Mag Mile, are a reminder that breakfast is the most important meal of the day and should not be neglected. Choose from an array of toppings, including custard, matcha, and fresh fruit. There’s also an extensive tea menu, yogurt drinks, and savory offerings for those who can’t stand sweets first thing in the morning.

Chicago Athletic Association

The gorgeously reborn hotel across from tourist-magnet Millennium Park is home to multiple terrific restaurants and bars. There’s a multiple-course cocktail experience like no other (Milk Room), a gorgeous throwback restaurant serving American classics (Cherry Circle Room), a bar and eatery with bocce and other parlor games (Game Room), a Shake Shack on the ground floor, and the biggest draw of them all — perhaps Chicago’s best rooftop bar and restaurant, Cindy’s on the top floor.

Dine with Cindy herself ✨ Playing hostess or party planner this spring? We'd love to have you. Drop us a line at cindysevents@chicagoathletichotel.com to learn more.

Posted by Cindy's Rooftop on Thursday, April 11, 2019

JIAO by Qing Xiang Yuan Dumplings

JIAO by Qing Xiang Yuan Dumplings is the more casual spinoff of a Chicago Chinatown favorite. With a large menu of Chinese dumplings, JIAO is good for a quick and affordable bite. It’s a good alternative to fast food with enough options to make picky eaters happy.

The Gage

An upscale Irish pub and restaurant, the Gage is consistently one of Chicago’s best-executed and best-run bars and eateries year in and year out. Right on Michigan Avenue across from Millennium Park, it’s a perfect pit stop for a drink and a snack while doing touristy things, for a full dinner, or for drinking. Sibling Italian restaurant Acanto is another great option.

The Gage across from Millennium Park
Barry Brecheisen/Eater Chicago

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