It’s a well-known fact that food significantly affects both physical and emotional wellness. So a delicious meal could change the course of not just a whole day but someone’s entire life, as well. This might be why tourists often flock to Chicago.
Carrying mouth-watering aromas and top-notch cuisine, it comes as no surprise that the fondly called Windy City blows in countless visitors each year. Whether craving for Japanese, Italian, American, Mexican, or something new, Chicago hosts a menu of highly-rated restaurants able to whet and satisfy any appetite.
Amid those hundreds of culinary havens dotting the city, there are a few who undeniably take the stage. So for travelers and locals alike, here are the top ten restaurants you would not want to miss in Chicago.
Radiating a seamless marriage of vintage and contemporary, patrons who have visited the Michelin-starred “Sepia” not only recall the unforgettable taste of innovative American cuisine it boasts of but also of history.
Built from an 1890 print shop, Sepia provides a tour for both the mind and the taste buds, showcasing the decades that have painted Chicago while serving meals simmering with Founder Chef Andrew Zimmerman’s passion and lauded expertise.
Sepia serves a four-course menu and features delectable dishes such as foie gras tart, king crab chawanmushi, Slagel farms sirloin, Berkshire pork confit, and sablefish misoyaki—perfectly complemented with a curated artisanal wine list.
- Rose Mary
As the debut project of Top Chef Season 15 winner Chef Joe Flamm, overwhelming expectations were pinned on the launch of “Rose Mary”—and, in true Joe Flamm fashion, the restaurant did not disappoint.
Named after the chef’s grandmothers, Mary and Mary Rose, and the famed herb rosemary, the restaurant has quickly established itself as the home of the city’s best Italian and Croatian cuisine. Opened only this year, the venue has captivated patrons and has elevated its menu of what Flamm calls “Adriatic drinking food” as a definite must-have.
Opened amid the pandemic, Rose Mary has secured a haven for food enthusiasts and is currently open for reservations and private event bookings.
- Omakase Yume
There’s only one place Chicago locals go to when that craving for sushi hits. Located at Washington Boulevard, Chicago, Illinois, Omakase Yume sweeps a taste of the ocean into The Windy City.
Translating into “up to the Chef” and “dream,” the Michelin-star restaurant is the brainchild of renowned Chef Sangtae Park. After conquering the field with Badaya in Highland Park, and Izakaya Yume in Niles, the culinary talent finally assuaged popular demand by creating a venue where he could explore his reputation for satisfying patrons with anything he serves them.
Operating through reservations amid the pandemic, Omakase Yume offers a lauded dining experience with 16 mouth-watering courses per person.
- The Duck Inn
Booked as the meat lover’s paradise on Earth, The Duck Inn is a crowd-favorite gastro-tavern located at Loomis Street and the Chicago River, sitting on the border of Chicago’s flourishing Pilsen and Bridgeport neighborhoods.
Branching out from its name, the award-winning and Michelin-decorated inn offers a wide range of finely cooked meals. From steak, seafood, vegetables, chicken, duck, burger, and cheese-laden dishes to decadent, chocolate desserts, this restaurant is a master at getting stomachs rumbling and even better at quieting them down.
Apart from its flavorful menu, The Duck Inn also features exciting events such as its Backyard Pizza Night Wednesdays, which are available through reservations.
It’s not an official food adventure in Chicago if BOKA’s not on the list. Launched in 2003 and serving Chef Lee Wolen’s signature seasonal American food, BOKA is held as one of The Windy City’s most beloved restaurants to date.
Providing food and hospitality that warms the soul, BOKA is distinguished for its excellent service. This unparalleled reputation in the industry, augmented by a continuously expanding menu of savory dishes, has garnered the restaurant a whopping seven consecutive Michelin stars.
Now, reopening after the enforced lockdown, BOKA is readying to host locals and tourists and has ignited excitement worldwide by welcoming reservations.
- Au Cheval
Any Chicago local would point to Au Cheval for a great meal. Home to arguably the best burger in the country, Au Cheval is a must-visit for anyone who happens to find their way in the city. Featuring a cozy space for a casual hang-out or a moment to soak in the ambiance, the wood-paneled restaurant is perfect for the visiting friend or the wandering traveler.
Outside of their famed burgers, Au Cheval also has a mouth-watering array of dishes such as chopped chicken liver, roasted marrow bones, chilaquiles, potato hash, and peppered bacon on the side. It also has a separate menu for beers, wines, desserts, and spirits.
For a taste, Au Cheval does not offer reservations and, instead, operates on a first-come-first-serve-basis.
- Noodle Creations
An itinerary staple for tourists, Noodle Creations is a frequented hotspot in Chinatown, Chicago. Serving authentic Chinese cuisine, people can’t help but come back for the restaurant’s Shaxian combination platter, which carries braised side dishes such as braised egg, pig feet, stomach, pork belly, beef shank, chicken gizzard, and duck wing.
Other crowd-favorite dishes include Shaxian dumplings, egg noodles in peanut sauce, fried beef bao, lychee pork, drunken pork spare ribs, hot pepper beef, razor clam omelet, and stir-fried mei fun—bringing a taste of China to Chicago.
To grab a bite, Noodle Creations has recently launched an online platform and is now taking orders online with fun discounts and a loyalty point acquisition system.
- Girls & the Goat
The Girl & the Goat is no stranger to those who have been in Chicago since 2010. The trendy restaurant first welcomed guests that year and established itself as one of the first restaurants on the city’s Restaurant Row in West Loop.
Along with its seasonal menu, cocktails, wine, and locally rooted beer, Girl & the Goat is renowned for its exemplary hospitality—treating customers like family and fostering connections with its growing list of patrons.
With a branch in Los Angeles, the Girl & the Goat furthers its glowing reputation and has expanded its service to include gift cards, catering, and private events, with reservations being offered amid the pandemic.
- Andros Taverna
Nestled at the heart of Logan Square is the emerging hub for delicious food. Known as “a good place to eat,” Andros Taverna is a contemporary Greek restaurant established by Chef Doug Psaltis.
Outlining an enticing selection of traditional Mediterranean food and inventive, seasonal new dishes, Andros Taverna is quickly rising as the place to try. Among the must-haves are its avgolemono soup, traditional tzatziki, chicken souvlaki, grilled lamb chops and T-bones, barbounia tiganita and its octopus souvlaki.
Together with its menu, the restaurant also offers homemade pastries, coffee freddos, dessert, and “Lil’ Hercules Meals” for the young and growing heroes.
It’s the place to go for Middle Eastern cuisine cravings. Owned and operated by Andres Clavero and the award-winning Chef Zachary Engel, Galit is the Middle Eastern Restaurant on the bucket list.
Located in the Lincoln Park neighborhood, Galit is patronized for its great food, highlighting the unique tastes of Middle Eastern and Israeli dishes. The welcome burst of flavors in its traditional and seasonal recipes ensures that guests are always in for a treat—leaving them wanting more and coming back with friends and family.
This remarkable effect has led to Galit fostering a sense of community in its reach and shaping a heartwarming space where people can freely share and explore their love for food.