I’m probably biased, but Chicago has some seriously great food. As someone who eats out a lot, I consider myself somewhat of an authority.
Obviously this list is based solely on my own experiences and most are out in neighborhoods that are far from the epicenter of the city. But if you want to eat a good meal, here are some great places to start.
My husband and I go here like… once every two weeks, at least. Everything I have ever had here has been absolutely fantastic. The staff is super friendly, the cocktails are delicious, and I dream of their crispy cauliflower appetizer frequently.
Crispy cauliflower to start, mushroom agnolotti for the main course, and a Rose Bill cocktail.
Is it super fancy? No. Is it authentic? I have no idea. It’s definitely not some bougie, gentrified $17-a-taco joint, that’s for sure. But something about Garcia’s has absolutely charmed me. The food is probably not the best Mexican cuisine in the city but it’s perfect comfort food. Their margaritas are delicious and more importantly, BIG. 10/10, highly recommend every time.
I love the avocado tostadas with beans and rice, plus a frozen passionfruit margarita.
Orso’s is such a glorious, old school Italian restaurant. It’s got giant, gorgeous chandeliers, framed photos of famous visitors, and at dinner service, they even have live piano players.
Yet the prices aren’t ridiculous. It’s surprisingly humble while feeling like a “last of its kind” sort of place. The patio during the summer is enchanting, and on Mondays you can get half off a carafe of house wine.
Bruschetta to start, then Ravioli Piacere with Vodka Sauce.
I’m willing to bet you haven’t had Venezuelan food, and if that’s true – boy are you missing out! Bienmesabe is only a few blocks from our new house, and it’s become a near-weekly take out staple. Their arepas are HEAVENLY, and their appetizer sampler is delicious.
Get the appetizer sampler (to share, it’s huge!) – my favorites are the Tostones and Mandocas. Then the Reina Pepiada Arepa, a massive bun filled with cheese, chicken and avocado.
If you love barbecue, you will find yourself in heaven here. I still think this is one of Chicago’s best kept secrets. Even though it’s quite near downtown, it’s hardly ever super packed. But the chef was Oprah’s personal chef for like, 20 years, so enough said.
Literally everything I’ve ever had here is delicious, but I usually end up getting the Flight, which includes smoked chicken, pulled pork and brisket. Definitely try the carrot cake sometime – it’s massive so either share it with the table or plan to take some home.
Munno Pizzeria + Bistro
Munno is another hidden gem near our new home – it was named a Michelin Bib Gourmand restaurant last year, which is basically the “everyday restaurant” version of a Michelin star. They mostly do pizza (and absolutely delicious ones at that) but they have a few pasta dishes that are incredible.
The Gnocchi alla Sorrentina is FANTASTIC. Plus the burrata salad to start is always an excellent idea!