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Eat Your Way Through the Best Restaurants in Chicago 

Eat Your Way Through the Best Restaurants in Chicago 

Picture of Clarissa Buch Zilberman

Clarissa Buch Zilberman

From deep-dish pizza to haute cuisine, consider this list as a starting point to whet your appetite and inspire your food adventures around the city during the 2024 National Restaurant Association Show and beyond.  

Welcome to Chicago! As the city gears up for the National Restaurant Association Show, it’s the perfect time to explore some of the culinary gems that make Chicago one of the best food cities in America.  

While we can’t cover every noteworthy eatery, these best Chicago restaurants stand out for their unique flavors, innovative dishes, and quintessential dining experiences.  

Burt’s Place

Burt’s Place, located in the Chicago suburb of Morton Grove, is celebrated for its distinct approach to deep-dish pizza. The restaurant gained a cult following partly due to the late Burt Katz, known for his meticulous dough-handling and unique caramelized crust. Burt’s pizzas are characterized by their crunchy edges and slightly sweet sauce, which contrasts with generous layers of cheese and fresh toppings. The ambiance of the restaurant reflects its menu: unpretentious and inviting, with a focus on quality and guest satisfaction. Although Burt Katz passed away in 2016, his legacy endures as the pizzeria operates under new ownership, maintaining his recipes and methods. 

Lou Mitchell’s

Lou Mitchell’s, a landmark diner in Chicago, has been serving customers since 1923, earning its reputation as a beloved staple for breakfast and lunch. Located near the start of historic Route 66, it’s famous for its welcoming tradition of offering “Milk Duds” to women and kids as they arrive and handing out donut holes to those waiting in line. Known as “the first stop on the Mother Road,” Lou Mitchell’s emphasizes hearty, homemade meals, with specialties like fluffy omelets, thick-cut French toast, and pancakes. The atmosphere retains a nostalgic charm, with attentive service that makes everyone feel like family. As a quintessential Chicago experience, Lou Mitchell’s even earned a spot on the National Register of Historic Places. 

Taqueria Chingón

Taqueria Chingón is a Mexico City-style eatery in the bustling Bucktown neighborhood of Chicago. Opened by chefs Sotero Gallegos, Oliver Poilevey, and Marcos Ascencio, the taqueria highlights traditional techniques and flavors but presents them in a modern, refined way. Though the menu frequently rotates, keep an eye out for some of the team’s best-selling favorites like the al pastor tacos, featuring marinated pork, a hint of pineapple, and cilantro; the duck carnitas with date puree and orange; and the cheese quesadilla stuffed with cotija and melty Oaxaca cheese.  


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Barbecue rib tips at one of the best Chicago restaurants

Lem’s Bar-B-Q

Lem’s Bar-B-Q is a legendary barbecue joint in Chicago, deeply rooted in the city’s South Side since its opening in 1954. Known for its traditional pit-smoked meats, Lem’s takes pride in its time-honored cooking methods that create deeply flavorful and tender ribs, tips, and hot links. Their signature dish, the barbecue rib tips, is smothered in a rich, tangy sauce that has been a secret family recipe for generations, drawing barbecue enthusiasts from across the country. 

Perquod’s Pizza

Pequod’s Pizza in Chicago is also famed for its deep-dish pizza with a caramelized crust. By sprinkling cheese around the edge of a cast-iron pan, the cheese crisps and turns golden brown as it bakes, resulting in a distinctively chewy, slightly burnt edge that adds rich flavor to each slice.   

J.P. Graziano Grocery & Sub Shop

J.P. Graziano Grocery & Sub Shop, established in 1937, is a venerable institution in Chicago’s West Loop, renowned for its authentic Italian subs. This family-owned business has evolved from a traditional Italian grocery store into one of the city’s most acclaimed spots for Italian sandwiches. The shop prides itself on its high-quality ingredients, including freshly sliced meats, cheeses, and homemade giardiniera that adds a distinctive zing to each sub. The menu features classics like the Mr. G, a sublime combination of sharp provolone, hot sopressata, prosciutto di parmi, genoa salami, hot oil, marinated artichokes, and truffle mustard; the signature tuna, where the tuna is made-to-order with your choice of mayo; and fresh cannolis to finish 

Lou Malnati’s

Lou Malnati’s is a cornerstone in Chicago’s pizza scene, famed for its iconic deep-dish pizzas. Established in 1971, the restaurant is renowned for its buttery, flaky crust; sweet and tangy tomatoes; and gooey mozzarella cheese. Each pizza is carefully prepared with a recipe that has been refined over decades, ensuring a consistent taste that has become synonymous with Chicago-style pizza. With multiple locations across four states (Illinois, Arizona, Wisconsin, and Indiana), Lou Malnati’s serves not only as a beloved eatery for locals but also as a must-visit spot for Chicago deep dish. 


If you’re looking to splurge, Oriole is the place to go. This two Michelin-starred fine dining restaurant in Chicago’s West Loop neighborhood is known for its meticulously crafted tasting menu. Accessed through a nondescript freight elevator, this restaurant offers an intimate dining experience that combines innovative dishes with impeccable service. The menu is fluid, adjusted seasonally to incorporate the freshest ingredients available, sourced both locally and internationally.  

Mr. Beef

This no-frills spot serves some of the city’s best Italian beef sandwiches. Located in the River North neighborhood, Mr. Beef has built a loyal following since its opening, with guests praising its perfectly seasoned and tender beef, simmered in a rich, savory broth and served on freshly baked Italian rolls. The sandwiches can be ordered “dry” (little gravy), “wet” (dipped in gravy), or “dipped” for a fully soaked experience, and topped with sweet peppers or spicy giardiniera for an added kick. With a fast-paced vibe typical of a busy Chicago lunch spot, Mr. Beef offers a genuine taste of one of Chicago’s iconic foods. 

Red Hot Ranch

This classic fast-food spot is the place for Chicago-style hot dogs and burgers. They’re famous for their Depression-style hot dog (which swaps vegetable toppings for French fries) and freshly griddled double cheeseburgers, which have gained a following for their simplicity and flavor.  

Pastrami sandwich at one of the best Chicago restaurants

Manny’s Cafeteria and Delicatessen

Manny’s Cafeteria and Delicatessen is a historic Chicago institution, serving classic Jewish fare since the 1940s. Located near the city’s downtown, Manny’s is renowned for its hearty, comfort food like pastrami sandwiches, matzo ball soup, and brisket, all served in generous portions. As a family-run business, Manny’s not only offers a warm and welcoming dining experience but also acts as a vibrant gathering place for the local community, reflecting a rich history that contributes to its status as a Chicago landmark.


Monteverde skillfully blends traditional Italian techniques with local ingredients to create dishes that are both inventive and comforting. The restaurant is particularly noted for its pasta, made fresh daily and showcased in a variety of creative dishes like the cacio whey pepe — made with mancini bucatini, pecorino medoro, ricotta whey, and a four-peppercorn blend.  

HaiSous Vietnamese Kitchen

HaiSous Vietnamese Kitchen is a delightfully delicious Vietnamese spot, serving up large portions of your favorite dishes. Highlights include the crispy chicken wings seasoned with caramelized fish sauce, a grilled meat platter with everything from marinated pork shoulder to grilled lemongrass beef, and whipped rice pudding with coconut.  

Vito & Nick’s Pizzeria

There’s more to Chicago than deep dish. A favorite since the early 1950s, Vito & Nick’s Pizzeria is renowned for its thin-crust pizza. These pies feature a crispy crust, zesty tomato sauce, and a generous topping of high-quality ingredients, with the sausage pizza being a particular standout.  

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