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Chicago Attractions Remain Shut Down As Tourism Remains At A Standstill
Chicago celebrates its birthday on March 4.
Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images

25 Classic Chicago Restaurants to Try

Give up your Chicago card if you haven’t dined at these icons

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Chicago celebrates its birthday on March 4.
| Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images

Chicago’s birthday is on March 4, the anniversary of when the city was incorporated. This year, the city turns 184 years old. The city’s food culture is an important of its overall history, shaped by several culture who have made neighborhoods their homes.

Authenticity is a tricky subject, but when folks ask for a genuine Chicago experience, these classic restaurants come to mind. There are trendier restaurants and ones that may be more important to the current state of the industry, but the following do a better job in capturing Chicago’s soul. These are great places for locals and tourists to visit, so indulge in a classic today.

As of March 2, Chicago restaurants are permitted to serve customers indoors with a 50 percent maximum capacity per room, or 50 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. 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. Superdawg Drive-In

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6363 N Milwaukee Ave
Chicago, IL 60646
(773) 763-0660
Visit Website

Chicago is a great town for encased meats, and while the city has an abundance of hot dog stands selling Vienna Beef products with all the trimmings, Superdawg in Norwood Park is a truly unique experience. It’s the city’s only true drive-in with carhops serving customers from the comfort of their automobiles. The hot dog is a variation of the Chicago-style wiener, with relish, mustard, and a pickled tomato. It doesn’t get much more classic than this.

A drive throw with two giant fiberglas hot dogs on the roof. Barry Brecheisen/Eater Chicago

2. Orange Garden

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1942 W Irving Park Rd
Chicago, IL 60613
(773) 525-7479
Visit Website

This Cantonese restaurant opened in 1932 on Irving Park, according to general manager Ben Ruan, despite rumors that it first began serving in 1924. His family is the third to own the historic spot where diners can dig into Chinese-American favorites including chop suey, chow mein, and egg foo young. The egg rolls are homemade.

3. Twin Anchors Restaurant & Tavern

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1655 N Sedgwick St
Chicago, IL 60614
(312) 266-1616
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Opened in 1932 and under current ownership since 1978, this Lincoln Park speakeasy-turned-restaurant was once frequented by Frank Sinatra, has withstood waves of gentrification, and generates long waits for its popular baked ribs.

4. Podhalanka

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1549 W Division St
Chicago, IL 60642
(773) 486-6655
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Though the Northwest Side has since become the center of the community, Division Street near Wicker Park was once known as “Polish Broadway” with numerous businesses surrounding the strip. One of the last reminders of that past life is Podhlanka, which stands across the street from the Polish Triangle, where Ashland, Milwuakee, and Division cross. Pierogi, borsht, and other classics are served at this warm dive known for affordable meals.

5. Gibsons Bar & Steakhouse

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1028 N Rush St
Chicago, IL 60611
(312) 266-8999
Visit Website

Steakhouses are a dime a dozen in Chicago, where Flintstones-sized chops were once the norm. Gibsons is among the upper echelon of the genre — a Rush Street restaurant where folks still want to be seen; it’s not exclusively for corporate account holders. The steaks are still mammoth, and during dine-in, the dimly-lit first-floor dining room features a classic dark wood bar where patrons can stroll up for a Manhattan. If customers aren’t stuffed by their chops, save room for a giant slab of cake. 

A brick building with a green roof attachment and a neon sign that reads “Gibsons.” Barry Brecheisen/Eater Chicago

6. Pizano's Pizza & Pasta

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864 N State St
Chicago, IL 60610
(312) 751-1766
Visit Website

The origin of Chicago deep-dish pizza is fascinating if not a little convoluted. Pizano’s, a mini chain with four city locations and a fifth in the suburbs, was wounded by Rudy Malnati Sr. He learned the trade while working at Pizzeria Uno’s. The well-seasoned dough is the star and it produces the prototype deep dish that Chicagoans will recognize. 

7. Mart Anthony's Italian Restaurant

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1200 W Hubbard St
Chicago, IL 60642
(312) 421-3477
Visit Website

Red sauce Italian restaurants like Mart Anthony’s were once much more prevalent around Chicago. They feature similar cuisine and vibe — a laid back, dim-lit dining room with large portions of pasta. While others — Club Lucky and Club Lago — come to mind, Mart Anthony feels a little different, tucked being a quiet block of West Town. The bar is also a solid spot to catch up with friends free of pretension.

8. The Walnut Room

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111 N State St
Chicago, IL 60602
(312) 781-3139
Visit Website

Before Crate & Barrel and Lululemon, Marshall Field’s had the Walnut Room inside its State Street flagship store. Despite being taken over by Macy’s, the space is gorgeous and particularly popular during Christmas time. One of the oldest restaurants in America, the chicken pot pie is a classic dish.

The Walnut Room is all decked out for the holidays.
Marc Much/Eater Chicago

9. Italian Village

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71 W Monroe St
Chicago, IL 60603
(312) 332-7005
Visit Website

There are plenty of old-school red sauce joints in Chicago, but Italian Village has been doing it the longest. Now encompassing three restaurants, this Loop institution — opened in 1927 — serves classic Italian-American dishes in rustic themed spaces.

10. The Berghoff

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17 W Adams St
Chicago, IL 60603
(312) 427-3170
Visit Website

Perhaps no restaurant in Chicago is more classic than the Berghoff. Its storied history includes becoming a restaurant during prohibition, receiving the first liquor license in Chicago following prohibition, and maintaining a men's-only bar until 1969. Today, this time capsule, which is upped by its brewing operation, continues to serve traditional German food to tourists and locals alike.

11. Lou Mitchell's

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565 W Jackson Blvd
Chicago, IL 60661
(312) 939-3111
Visit Website

The iconic Lou Mitchell's sign has drawn patrons into the historic diner near Union Station since 1923. Come for hearty, classic diner fare at breakfast and lunchtime, alongside baked goods and complimentary Milk Duds.

12. Al's Italian Beef

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1079 W Taylor St
Chicago, IL 60607
(312) 226-4017
Visit Website

The original Italian beef purveyor since 1938, Al's Beef is a Chicago legend. Assume the proper eating stance at the iconic Little Italy stand and devour the famous beef with jus and giardiniera. The quality of the sandwiches may vary depending on the location, but the Taylor Street mainstay is always reliable and consistent.

13. Manny's Cafeteria & Delicatessen

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1141 S Jefferson St
Chicago, IL 60607
(312) 939-2855
Visit Website

Manny's Cafeteria and Deli is the epitome of a Chicago classic, serving outstanding corned beef sandwiches, pastrami, hot entrees, breakfast, and other Jewish deli favorites to an eclectic crowd. It’s not unusual to find local politicians eating here.

14. Jim's Original

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1250 S Union Ave
Chicago, IL 60607
(312) 733-7820
Visit Website

Much of Chicago’s street food history is offered at Jim's Original, the 24-hour self-proclaimed home of the city's "original" Polish sausage (1941). Because it moved in 1994 after the relocation of the outdoor street market, Jim's Original touts itself as the longest continuously-operating hot dog stand to have once done business on Maxwell Street. The Polish and hot dogs are can't-miss, but the pork chop sandwich is also a Chicago essential.

15. Carnitas Uruapan Restaurant

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1725 W 18th St
Chicago, IL 60608
(312) 226-2654
Visit Website

“Carnitas culture” is under siege thanks to COVID-19, as the ritual of waiting in line indoors and watching workers prepare the pork delicacy is in jeopardy. Tradition is one of the pillars that powers Carnitas Uruapan, one of the city’s finest taco makers. The family-run restaurant has two locations, in Pilsen and Gage Park. 

16. Lindy's Chili & Gertie's Ice Cream

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3685 S Archer Ave
Chicago, IL 60609
(872) 444-5244
Visit Website

Originally a 22-seat stand, this hot dog and chili spot launched in 1924 has expanded significantly and now operates several locations around Chicagoland. The signature dish can be served with or without beans and elbow macaroni at the customer’s discretion. The business changed hands in 1974 and owner Joseph Yesutis brought Gertie’s Ice Cream into the fold.

17. Birrieria Zaragoza

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4852 S Pulaski Rd
Chicago, IL 60632
(773) 523-3700
Visit Website

There are few brighter spots in Chicago than this mild-mannered Archer Heights restaurant. The menu is simple. Customers are going to build their own tacos table side using the soul-reviving stewed goat and handmade tortillas. Don’t expect gooey queso to show off on Instagram. They do have a quesadilla, but this isn’t about “likes.” This is classic Jalisco cooking that never disappoints.

18. Valois Restaurant

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1518 E 53rd St
Chicago, IL 60615
(773) 667-0647
Visit Website

The gimmick at this Hyde Park landmark is allowing customers to “see your food.” But for loyalists, Valois is no novelty the cafeteria-style restaurant has been an essential part of the community since 1921. This all-day restaurant switches out items depending on the time of day. Church groups assemble for breakfast and politicians make sure to be photographed here during election season. The restaurant has made loyal customers out of historic Chicagoans including President Barack Obama and former-White Sox owner Bill Veeck. 

19. Daley's Restaurant

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6257 S Cottage Grove Ave
Chicago, IL 60637
(773) 643-6670
Visit Website

This no-frills soul food diner is a South Side institution and the oldest restaurant in Chicago, opening in 1892 and becoming its current incarnation in 1918. Breakfast is served all day while the dinner menu includes fried chicken, jumbo shrimp, melt sandwiches, and burgers, all of which can be spiced up with the red pepper vinegar found on every table. Daley’s moved across the street in 2019.

Daley’s Restaurant/Mike Zar

20. Lem's Bar-B-Q

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

Many Chicago food enthusiasts exalt Lem's rib tips as the best barbecue in town, and its longevity — opened in 1951 — only supports that claim. The meats are cooked in an aquarium smoker and topped with a thick, tomato-based sauce. Folks who don’t know Lem’s are missing out on true Chicago-style barbecue.

A person ladling barbecue sauce over rib tips.
Rib tips are the focus at Lem’s.
Nick Murway/Eater Chicago

21. Josephine's Southern Cooking

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436 E 79th St
Chicago, IL 60619
(773) 487-2900
Visit Website

For more than three decades, this Chatham beacon has earned its place in the community. A popular stop for the Aretha Franklin, Josephine’s Southern Cooking is known for soul food staples like gumbo, fried catfish, and pork chop. But Franklin isn’t the restaurant’s most esteemed celebrity. That title does to owner and chef Josephine Wade. “Mother Wade” is a figure so beloved that she has a street named after her.

22. Vito & Nick's Pizzeria

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8433 S Pulaski Rd
Chicago, IL 60652
(773) 735-2050
Visit Website

Tavern-style pizza is also known as Chicago-style thin crust or party cut. The pizza, sliced into squares and triangles is the specialty on the South Side a Vito & Nick’s. Order a sausage, green pepper, and onion, and enjoy that with frosty Old Style.

23. Calumet Fisheries

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3259 E 95th St
Chicago, IL 60617
(773) 933-9855
Visit Website

Don't miss this James Beard-honored monument to smoked fish on the far South Side, in business since 1948. Get a paper bag of salmon, shrimp, or black cod and be prepared to eat in the car or on the sidewalk.

24. Harolds Chicken 95th

Copy Link
2237 95th St
Chicago, IL 60643
(773) 941-6338

Harold’s, in its many, many incarnations, is the fried Chicago natives crave the most when forced to move. There’s a certain serenity to things when walking inside, placing an order, and waiting for cooks to fry up an order. Of course, don’t forget to order mild sauce, a condiment that Chicagoans go bezerk for. The locations have seating, but this is primary a takeout operation.

25. Home of the Hoagy

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1316 W 111th St
Chicago, IL 60643
(773) 238-7171
Visit Website

The Chicago-style hoagy isn’t well known beyond South Side communities where it originated. The sandwich isn’t made of the Instagram generation. It’s a sub roll (usual Turano) stuffed with thin-cut beef, onions, green peppers, and sweet sauce. That all gets rolled up into a paper which compresses the entire thing. At Home of the Hoagy, be prepared to wait in line. The shop just moved into a larger location, and walking in it’s clear how important this restaurant is to the community. Many have been craving sweet steak sauce for a while and are eager to scratch their itch.

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1. Superdawg Drive-In

6363 N Milwaukee Ave, Chicago, IL 60646
A drive throw with two giant fiberglas hot dogs on the roof. Barry Brecheisen/Eater Chicago

Chicago is a great town for encased meats, and while the city has an abundance of hot dog stands selling Vienna Beef products with all the trimmings, Superdawg in Norwood Park is a truly unique experience. It’s the city’s only true drive-in with carhops serving customers from the comfort of their automobiles. The hot dog is a variation of the Chicago-style wiener, with relish, mustard, and a pickled tomato. It doesn’t get much more classic than this.

6363 N Milwaukee Ave
Chicago, IL 60646

2. Orange Garden

1942 W Irving Park Rd, Chicago, IL 60613

This Cantonese restaurant opened in 1932 on Irving Park, according to general manager Ben Ruan, despite rumors that it first began serving in 1924. His family is the third to own the historic spot where diners can dig into Chinese-American favorites including chop suey, chow mein, and egg foo young. The egg rolls are homemade.

1942 W Irving Park Rd
Chicago, IL 60613

3. Twin Anchors Restaurant & Tavern

1655 N Sedgwick St, Chicago, IL 60614

Opened in 1932 and under current ownership since 1978, this Lincoln Park speakeasy-turned-restaurant was once frequented by Frank Sinatra, has withstood waves of gentrification, and generates long waits for its popular baked ribs.

1655 N Sedgwick St
Chicago, IL 60614

4. Podhalanka

1549 W Division St, Chicago, IL 60642

Though the Northwest Side has since become the center of the community, Division Street near Wicker Park was once known as “Polish Broadway” with numerous businesses surrounding the strip. One of the last reminders of that past life is Podhlanka, which stands across the street from the Polish Triangle, where Ashland, Milwuakee, and Division cross. Pierogi, borsht, and other classics are served at this warm dive known for affordable meals.

1549 W Division St
Chicago, IL 60642

5. Gibsons Bar & Steakhouse

1028 N Rush St, Chicago, IL 60611
A brick building with a green roof attachment and a neon sign that reads “Gibsons.” Barry Brecheisen/Eater Chicago

Steakhouses are a dime a dozen in Chicago, where Flintstones-sized chops were once the norm. Gibsons is among the upper echelon of the genre — a Rush Street restaurant where folks still want to be seen; it’s not exclusively for corporate account holders. The steaks are still mammoth, and during dine-in, the dimly-lit first-floor dining room features a classic dark wood bar where patrons can stroll up for a Manhattan. If customers aren’t stuffed by their chops, save room for a giant slab of cake. 

1028 N Rush St
Chicago, IL 60611

6. Pizano's Pizza & Pasta

864 N State St, Chicago, IL 60610

The origin of Chicago deep-dish pizza is fascinating if not a little convoluted. Pizano’s, a mini chain with four city locations and a fifth in the suburbs, was wounded by Rudy Malnati Sr. He learned the trade while working at Pizzeria Uno’s. The well-seasoned dough is the star and it produces the prototype deep dish that Chicagoans will recognize. 

864 N State St
Chicago, IL 60610

7. Mart Anthony's Italian Restaurant

1200 W Hubbard St, Chicago, IL 60642

Red sauce Italian restaurants like Mart Anthony’s were once much more prevalent around Chicago. They feature similar cuisine and vibe — a laid back, dim-lit dining room with large portions of pasta. While others — Club Lucky and Club Lago — come to mind, Mart Anthony feels a little different, tucked being a quiet block of West Town. The bar is also a solid spot to catch up with friends free of pretension.

1200 W Hubbard St
Chicago, IL 60642

8. The Walnut Room

111 N State St, Chicago, IL 60602
The Walnut Room is all decked out for the holidays.
Marc Much/Eater Chicago

Before Crate & Barrel and Lululemon, Marshall Field’s had the Walnut Room inside its State Street flagship store. Despite being taken over by Macy’s, the space is gorgeous and particularly popular during Christmas time. One of the oldest restaurants in America, the chicken pot pie is a classic dish.

111 N State St
Chicago, IL 60602

9. Italian Village

71 W Monroe St, Chicago, IL 60603

There are plenty of old-school red sauce joints in Chicago, but Italian Village has been doing it the longest. Now encompassing three restaurants, this Loop institution — opened in 1927 — serves classic Italian-American dishes in rustic themed spaces.

71 W Monroe St
Chicago, IL 60603

10. The Berghoff

17 W Adams St, Chicago, IL 60603

Perhaps no restaurant in Chicago is more classic than the Berghoff. Its storied history includes becoming a restaurant during prohibition, receiving the first liquor license in Chicago following prohibition, and maintaining a men's-only bar until 1969. Today, this time capsule, which is upped by its brewing operation, continues to serve traditional German food to tourists and locals alike.

17 W Adams St
Chicago, IL 60603

11. Lou Mitchell's

565 W Jackson Blvd, Chicago, IL 60661

The iconic Lou Mitchell's sign has drawn patrons into the historic diner near Union Station since 1923. Come for hearty, classic diner fare at breakfast and lunchtime, alongside baked goods and complimentary Milk Duds.

565 W Jackson Blvd
Chicago, IL 60661

12. Al's Italian Beef

1079 W Taylor St, Chicago, IL 60607

The original Italian beef purveyor since 1938, Al's Beef is a Chicago legend. Assume the proper eating stance at the iconic Little Italy stand and devour the famous beef with jus and giardiniera. The quality of the sandwiches may vary depending on the location, but the Taylor Street mainstay is always reliable and consistent.

1079 W Taylor St
Chicago, IL 60607

13. Manny's Cafeteria & Delicatessen

1141 S Jefferson St, Chicago, IL 60607

Manny's Cafeteria and Deli is the epitome of a Chicago classic, serving outstanding corned beef sandwiches, pastrami, hot entrees, breakfast, and other Jewish deli favorites to an eclectic crowd. It’s not unusual to find local politicians eating here.

1141 S Jefferson St
Chicago, IL 60607

14. Jim's Original

1250 S Union Ave, Chicago, IL 60607

Much of Chicago’s street food history is offered at Jim's Original, the 24-hour self-proclaimed home of the city's "original" Polish sausage (1941). Because it moved in 1994 after the relocation of the outdoor street market, Jim's Original touts itself as the longest continuously-operating hot dog stand to have once done business on Maxwell Street. The Polish and hot dogs are can't-miss, but the pork chop sandwich is also a Chicago essential.

1250 S Union Ave
Chicago, IL 60607

15. Carnitas Uruapan Restaurant

1725 W 18th St, Chicago, IL 60608

“Carnitas culture” is under siege thanks to COVID-19, as the ritual of waiting in line indoors and watching workers prepare the pork delicacy is in jeopardy. Tradition is one of the pillars that powers Carnitas Uruapan, one of the city’s finest taco makers. The family-run restaurant has two locations, in Pilsen and Gage Park. 

1725 W 18th St
Chicago, IL 60608

Related Maps

16. Lindy's Chili & Gertie's Ice Cream

3685 S Archer Ave, Chicago, IL 60609

Originally a 22-seat stand, this hot dog and chili spot launched in 1924 has expanded significantly and now operates several locations around Chicagoland. The signature dish can be served with or without beans and elbow macaroni at the customer’s discretion. The business changed hands in 1974 and owner Joseph Yesutis brought Gertie’s Ice Cream into the fold.

3685 S Archer Ave
Chicago, IL 60609

17. Birrieria Zaragoza

4852 S Pulaski Rd, Chicago, IL 60632

There are few brighter spots in Chicago than this mild-mannered Archer Heights restaurant. The menu is simple. Customers are going to build their own tacos table side using the soul-reviving stewed goat and handmade tortillas. Don’t expect gooey queso to show off on Instagram. They do have a quesadilla, but this isn’t about “likes.” This is classic Jalisco cooking that never disappoints.

4852 S Pulaski Rd
Chicago, IL 60632

18. Valois Restaurant

1518 E 53rd St, Chicago, IL 60615

The gimmick at this Hyde Park landmark is allowing customers to “see your food.” But for loyalists, Valois is no novelty the cafeteria-style restaurant has been an essential part of the community since 1921. This all-day restaurant switches out items depending on the time of day. Church groups assemble for breakfast and politicians make sure to be photographed here during election season. The restaurant has made loyal customers out of historic Chicagoans including President Barack Obama and former-White Sox owner Bill Veeck. 

1518 E 53rd St
Chicago, IL 60615

19. Daley's Restaurant

6257 S Cottage Grove Ave, Chicago, IL 60637
Daley’s Restaurant/Mike Zar

This no-frills soul food diner is a South Side institution and the oldest restaurant in Chicago, opening in 1892 and becoming its current incarnation in 1918. Breakfast is served all day while the dinner menu includes fried chicken, jumbo shrimp, melt sandwiches, and burgers, all of which can be spiced up with the red pepper vinegar found on every table. Daley’s moved across the street in 2019.

6257 S Cottage Grove Ave
Chicago, IL 60637

20. Lem's Bar-B-Q

311 E 75th St, Chicago, IL 60619
A person ladling barbecue sauce over rib tips.
Rib tips are the focus at Lem’s.
Nick Murway/Eater Chicago

Many Chicago food enthusiasts exalt Lem's rib tips as the best barbecue in town, and its longevity — opened in 1951 — only supports that claim. The meats are cooked in an aquarium smoker and topped with a thick, tomato-based sauce. Folks who don’t know Lem’s are missing out on true Chicago-style barbecue.

311 E 75th St
Chicago, IL 60619

21. Josephine's Southern Cooking

436 E 79th St, Chicago, IL 60619

For more than three decades, this Chatham beacon has earned its place in the community. A popular stop for the Aretha Franklin, Josephine’s Southern Cooking is known for soul food staples like gumbo, fried catfish, and pork chop. But Franklin isn’t the restaurant’s most esteemed celebrity. That title does to owner and chef Josephine Wade. “Mother Wade” is a figure so beloved that she has a street named after her.

436 E 79th St
Chicago, IL 60619

22. Vito & Nick's Pizzeria

8433 S Pulaski Rd, Chicago, IL 60652

Tavern-style pizza is also known as Chicago-style thin crust or party cut. The pizza, sliced into squares and triangles is the specialty on the South Side a Vito & Nick’s. Order a sausage, green pepper, and onion, and enjoy that with frosty Old Style.

8433 S Pulaski Rd
Chicago, IL 60652

23. Calumet Fisheries

3259 E 95th St, Chicago, IL 60617

Don't miss this James Beard-honored monument to smoked fish on the far South Side, in business since 1948. Get a paper bag of salmon, shrimp, or black cod and be prepared to eat in the car or on the sidewalk.

3259 E 95th St
Chicago, IL 60617

24. Harolds Chicken 95th

2237 95th St, Chicago, IL 60643

Harold’s, in its many, many incarnations, is the fried Chicago natives crave the most when forced to move. There’s a certain serenity to things when walking inside, placing an order, and waiting for cooks to fry up an order. Of course, don’t forget to order mild sauce, a condiment that Chicagoans go bezerk for. The locations have seating, but this is primary a takeout operation.

2237 95th St
Chicago, IL 60643

25. Home of the Hoagy

1316 W 111th St, Chicago, IL 60643

The Chicago-style hoagy isn’t well known beyond South Side communities where it originated. The sandwich isn’t made of the Instagram generation. It’s a sub roll (usual Turano) stuffed with thin-cut beef, onions, green peppers, and sweet sauce. That all gets rolled up into a paper which compresses the entire thing. At Home of the Hoagy, be prepared to wait in line. The shop just moved into a larger location, and walking in it’s clear how important this restaurant is to the community. Many have been craving sweet steak sauce for a while and are eager to scratch their itch.

1316 W 111th St
Chicago, IL 60643

Related Maps