The 41 Best Restaurants in Chicago
The Windy City is a food lover’s wonderland, and the best restaurants in Chicago are brimming with culinary diversity. The streets here are literally lined with glittering windows and flashing signs that speak to the hearts of gourmet and casual diners alike, offering some of the best food in Chicago.
But when it comes to good restaurants in Chicago, many come with unfamiliar names; sometimes the true gems are just off the beaten path.
With so much great food in so many amazing corners of the city, how do you find the top restaurants in Chicago without running all over town? The choices can be overwhelming; there are eateries representing nearly every culinary culture in the world, catering to all tastes and temptations.
There’s not a chance you’ll go hungry when seeking out the best restaurants in Chicago. The real question is are you ready to find your new favorite — or favorites — among all the best places to eat in Chicago?
Jump to Section
- How to Find the Best Restaurants in Chicago
- Best Italian Restaurants in Chicago
- Best New American Restaurants in Chicago
- Best Thai Food in Chicago
- Best Chinese Food in Chicago
- Best Mexican Restaurants in Chicago
- Best Indian Food in Chicago
- Best Fast Casual Restaurants in Chicago
- Best Vegan Restaurants in Chicago
How to Find the Best Restaurants in Chicago
Perhaps the easiest way to discover the best restaurants in Downtown Chicago and surrounding areas is to take a guided food tour. There are food tours in Chicago that will lead you to the doorstep of some seriously fantastic eateries, from hole-in-the-wall hidden gems to warm and cozy restaurants buzzing with ambiance.
These excursions are led by local experts who know where to find all of the top restaurants in Chicago. Even if you’re a resident in the city, you’re bound to sample some iconic Chicago foods you’ve never tried before. Book a tour to get started on your search for the best Chicago restaurants; or, get started exploring the foodie scene on your own with our choices for the 41 best restaurants in Chicago.
Best Italian Restaurants in Chicago
This quaint Italian market offers antipasto, pizza and pasta dishes as well as a pop-up style sub sandwich selection available from noon to 3:00 p.m. daily. They also boast an extensive wine list and “walking” cocktail pouches. And their shelves are loaded up with wonderful gourmet take-home items.
Pisolino | 2755 W. Belmont Ave. Chicago, IL 60618 | $$
2. Piccolo Sogno
The name translates to “little dream,” and what a little dream it is among all the stellar restaurants in Downtown Chicago! Here, you'll find seasonal dishes prepared in rustic fashion offering simple food done well. There's also a four-page wine list that will satisfy any vino lover’s longing, all served in a tidy upscale setting for ultimate enjoyment.
Piccolo Sogno | 464 N. Halsted St., Chicago, IL 60642 | $
3. Sapori Trattoria
A cozy Italian restaurant that serves up classic dishes done gourmet-style in a warm old-world atmosphere, Sapori creates beloved recipes using fresh ingredients and a passion for tradition. Everything is in generous portions, because the best restaurants in Chicago make sure you leave with your belly full!
Sapori Trattoria | 2701 N. Halsted St., Chicago, IL 60614 | $$
4. La Scarola
The best restaurants in Chicago offer atmosphere with their menus, and La Scarola is a prime example. With a stunning array of chicken, steak, veal and seafood specialties, and walls covered in framed photos of the celebrities who’ve dined in, this trim space is filled with fun energy, a funky vibe and great food.
La Scarola | 721 W. Grand Ave., Chicago, IL 60654 | $$
5. Bruna’s Ristorante
This charming eatery opened in 1933, the year prohibition became a thing of the past, and the history in one of the best restaurants in Chicago can be felt in the space and the menu. Bruna’s offers hearty, no-nonsense pasta and chef specialties, as well as a dessert list filled with sweet classics.
Bruna’s Ristorante | 2424 S Oakley Ave., Chicago, IL 60608 | $$
Best New American Restaurants in Chicago
One of the best restaurants in Chicago to feature an inhouse market, this sunny space cooks up satisfying lunch sandwiches, soothing dinner selections and fun cocktails. The unique shopping experience offers imported ingredients, carry-out sauces and pastas from the kitchen, and a fun spread of international goodies.
Daisies | 2523 N. Milwaukee Ave., Chicago, IL 60647 | $$
This restaurant with its sense of social responsibility stands among the best restaurants in Chicago. The menu is a loving tribute to Southern flavors, soul-soothing dinners and comforting desserts, and the atmosphere is a reminder that kindness and hospitality are always in style.
Virtue | 1462 E. 53rd St., Chicago, IL 60615 | $$$
8. The Warbler
With its trim menu of thoughtful gourmet dishes and chic-yet-comfortable ambiance, The Warbler brings American cuisine to the table with a touch of wit. There is also a compelling supper club and beverage program to whet your whistle and turn you into a regular customer at one of the best restaurants in Chicago.
The Warbler | 619 W. Randolph St., Chicago, IL 60661 | $$
9. Lula Café
You can’t go wrong adding Lula to the list of the best restaurants in Chicago. The brunch menu is exemplary, as are the farm dinners, which provide a multi-course gourmet dining experience at a fixed price. Enjoy it all in a well-lit airy space with revolving contemporary art displays.
Lula Café | 2537 North Kedzie Blvd., Chicago, IL 60647 | $$
10. Au Cheval
A diner-style bar that wraps you in rich décor and a sense of classicism, Au Cheval takes its spot as one of the best restaurants in Chicago by making the most of a bar bites menu. You’ll find burgers, egg dishes and cocktails in addition to an expansive beer and wine list. After you've sampled the fare here, be sure to check out Au Cheval's offshoot eatery, Small Cheval, which is one of the best Wicker Park restaurants.
Au Cheval | 800 W. Randolph St., Chicago, IL 60607 | $$
Best Thai Food in Chicago
Seasonal menus that reimagine Thai cuisine make this eatery a new adventure with every visit, in addition to it being one of the best restaurants in Chicago. Choose from meat- and plant-based options that will redefine what traditional tastes can become when a little creativity is added to the mix.
Herb | 5424 N. Broadway, Chicago, IL 60640 | $$$
12. Spoon Thai
Spoon presents a dazzling menu packed with delicious bites and full-blown meals in addition to seasonal specialties. And their B.Y.O.B option, a neat feature among some of the best restaurants in Chicago, allows you to choose your own beverage.
Spoon Thai | 806 N. Western Ave., Chicago, IL 60625 | $
Fine dining with creative versions of traditional Thai dishes make this multi-award-winning spot a jewel among the Chicago food scene and one of the best restaurants in Chicago. For a bit of culinary excitement, you can give your selections a kick by ordering them with authentic Thai spiciness.
Amarind’s | 6822 W. North Ave. Chicago, IL 60707 | $$$
14. Star of Siam
When it comes to the best restaurants in Chicago, fancier isn’t always better. This low-key space offers industrial décor to augment its extensive menu of Thai favorites, all available for dine-in or delivery. With group packages available, you can feed the whole crew a delicious spread at prices everyone will love.
Star of Siam | 2207 N. Clybourn Ave. Chicago, Illinois, 60614 | $
15. Thai Pastry Restaurant
Uptown holds one of the finest Thai restaurants in the city as well as one of the best restaurants in Chicago, combining unique seasonings with fresh ingredients to create traditional dishes. Their vibrant atmosphere and expansive menu lists delicacies like frog legs as well as traditional Thai pastries mentioned in their name.
Thai Pastry Restaurant | 4925 N. Broadway St., Chicago, IL 60640 | $$
Best Chinese Food in Chicago
16. Shanghai Terrace
In the upscale Peninsula Hotel in Downtown Chicago, you'll find a gourmet dim sum restaurant with roaring ‘30s supper club décor and a blend of Shanghainese and Cantonese dishes. This Zagat-listed pearl of an eatery blends old world elegance with new world sensibilities for a one-of-a-kind dining experience. Shanghai Terrace is one of the best restaurants in Chicago for atmosphere and fine dining.
Shanghai Terrace | 108 E. Superior St., Chicago, IL 60611 | $$$$
17. Sun Wah BBQ
The best restaurants in Chicago leave you eager to come back soon, and Sun Wah — a James Beard award-winning family eatery — is no exception. Delicious Chinese BBQ and Hong Kong specialties practically leap off the menu at hungry diners eager for an authentic Chinese dining excursion.
Sun Wah BBQ | 5039 N. Broadway, Chicago, IL 60640 | $
18. Chi Café
A groovy modern vibe permeates the dining room at Chi Café, with its colossal menu of budget-friendly selections, perfect for a deep culinary dive into Chinese food in Chicago at any time of the day or night — literally, the kitchen is open until 2:00 a.m. No need to go hungry when a midnight snack like this awaits you in one of the best restaurants in Chicago.
Chi Café | 2160 S. Archer Ave., Chicago, IL 60616 | $
Sample delectable Chinese treats in this dynamite dim sum diner. You’ll find a delicious array of bites from dumplings to vegetable dishes in a sweet corner locale, with tables perfectly suited for huddling with friends to share your favorites. The best restaurants in Chicago are all about community!
Furama | 4936 N. Broadway St., Chicago, IL 60640 | $$$
20. Phoenix Restaurant
Upscale urban style meets traditional comfort at the Michelin-guide-mentioned Phoenix, one of the best restaurants in Chicago for Chinese cuisine. Order classics from soup to dessert or try the more contemporary casseroles, all presented for viewing in authentic bamboo baskets and cooked fresh to order.
Phoenix Restaurant | 2131 S. Archer Ave., Chicago, IL 60616 | $$
Best Mexican Restaurants in Chicago
This highly-awarded creation from Rick Bayless presents its offerings in an artful menu separated into headings such as Vibrant, Soulful, Enchanting and Luxurious. Read the dish descriptions and you’ll understand why; each selection is a poetic combination of traditional Mexican recipes, modern technique and elevated presentation. Not surprising that it’s one of the best restaurants in Chicago.
Topolobampo | 445 N. Clark St., Chicago IL 60654 | $$$$
22. Bar Takito
Described as “Nuevo Latino American Cuisine,” Bar Takito brings modern Mexican favorites to a fun urban environment. Familiar skirt steak and carnitas dishes mingle with more exotic octopus and portabella offerings and the tequila menu presents 15 versions for your enjoyment.
Bar Takito | West Loop District, 201 N. Morgan St., Chicago IL 60607 | $$
23. Dos Urban Cantina
A husband-and-wife team run this contemporary Mexican eatery, which sources its ingredients from sustainable organic farms. This is responsible dining everyone can feel good about at one of the best restaurants in Chicago.
Dos Urban Cantina | 2829 W. Armitage, Chicago, IL 60647 | $$$
24. Estrella Negra
Gourmet Mexican street food with intriguing options, such as coconut-crusted fried avocado and goat cheese quesadillas, are presented in an eclectic setting strewn with funky décor and laid-back vibes. There’s a lot of happy energy packed into this tidy space, and the exterior mural tribute to los Muertos is a must-see in one of the best restaurants in Chicago.
Estrella Negra | 2346 W. Fullerton Ave., Chicago, IL 60647 | $$$
25. La Chaparrita
Enjoy Mexico City-style street tacos with all the fixings, served in a cozy, authentic grocery store locale — plus an al pastor taco that wins raves from patrons time and again. This is a definite choice for taco lovers in the city as well as being one of the best restaurants in Chicago.
La Chaparrita | 2500 S. Whipple St., Chicago, IL 60623 | $
Best Indian Food in Chicago
26. The Spice Room
Among the best restaurants in Chicago is this luxe dining room, with a deep menu of Indian favorites from samosas to curry and a lovely selection of vegetarian options prepared by gourmet chefs. There are also seafood, beef and chicken offerings as well, and catering is available for those events that call for something special on the table.
The Spice Room | 435 N. Clark St., Chicago, IL 60654 | $$$$
27. Mango Pickle
Enjoy creative gourmet Indian offerings, including high teas and Thali, a presentation that blends tastes and textures into a culinary wonder served on a single plate. You’ll find fun, contemporary versions of Indian classics at Mango Pickle, which is among the best restaurants in Chicago.
Mango Pickle | 5842 N. Broadway St., Chicago, IL 60660 | $$
Modern meets traditional in this exciting blend of authentic Indian flavors and contemporary gastronomical techniques. There’s also a drink menu that explores the ayurvedic properties such as warm, sweet, astringent, salty, bitter and pungent, each with its own signature cocktail. When it comes to the best restaurants in Chicago, few are more creative or enticing.
Rooh | 736 W. Randolph St., Chicago, IL 60661 | $$$
There’s a lot to explore at Cumin, one of the best restaurants in Chicago to offer a split Nepalese/Indian menu. You can sample goat and chicken dishes, traditional tandoori, biryanis, flatbreads and more. And their linear interior has a bright, sophisticated feel, a perfect setting for trying new flavors from the other side of the world.
Cumin | 1414 N. Milwaukee Ave., Chicago, IL 60622 | $$$
30. The Indian Garden
A light-filled oasis dedicated to the sights and sounds of true India, The Indian Garden is one of the best restaurants in Chicago for enjoying an authentic Indian dining experience. Select from a diverse menu of delicious choices for vegetarian and non-vegetarian diners alike, listed by ingredients for easy ordering.
The Indian Garden | 247 E. Ontario St., Chicago, IL 60611 | $$
Best Fast Casual Restaurants in Chicago
31. Superdawg Drive-In
Recreate a classic drive-in dining experience where carhops deliver fast food directly to your car! From the kitschy mascots perched atop the roof to the neon glowing at every corner, you’ll have a hot dog of a time at this authentic open-air diner, built in 1948 and retaining all the nostalgic charm. One of the original best restaurants in Chicago, and family-friendly, too!
Superdawg Drive-In | 6363 N. Milwaukee Ave., Chicago, IL | $$
32. Bombay Wraps
Fresh, fast Indian food served in a flatbread wrap is just the thing when your hunger points you Eastward but your schedule leaves you precious little time for a sit-down dining experience. There are vegan options available too, and the messy sweet potato fries are a can’t-miss side option. For one of the best restaurants in Chicago, this one has things all “wrapped” up.
Bombay Wraps | 122 N. Wells St., Chicago, IL 60606 | $
33. Brown Bag Seafood Co.
Their concept boasts high-quality seafood in a friendly counter format, and their reviews attest to their great food and fast service. Brown Bag Seafood Co. is bright and cheery, awash in natural light and a calypso blue color palette that speaks of cool oceans and fresh catches. A unique choice among the best restaurants in Chicago.
Brown Bag Seafood Co. | 150 N. Riverside Plaza, Chicago, IL 60606 | $$$
34. BIG & Littles
This funky corner spot delivers dishes that are fast, filling and affordably priced. They’ve been featured on the Food Network favorite Diners, Drive-Ins & Dives and their well-lit interior and overstuffed menu means you’ll find exactly what you’re looking for in the best restaurants in Chicago.
BIG & Littles | 1310 N. Milwaukee Ave., Chicago, IL 60622 | $$
35. Hannah’s Bretzel
Hannah's serves creative sandwiches for all meals, from breakfast through dinner, all available on freshly-baked pretzel bread (the “bretzel” in the name, naturally). There are also wraps, soups, salads and fruit dishes available, as well as organic desserts and kid’s meals. And did we mention the wall of chocolate with bars from over 24 national and international brands? Hannah’s Bretzel is one of the best restaurants in Chicago for that reason alone.
Hannah’s Bretzel | 131 S. Dearborn St., Chicago, IL 60603 | $$
Best Vegan Restaurants in Chicago
36. The Chicago Diner
Being “meat-free since ’83” makes The Chicago Diner early adopters of plant-based eating as well as one of the best restaurants in Chicago. Explore an enticing, evolving menu that includes tons of fresh salads, hearty soups and seitan- and tofu-based entrées, sandwiches and desserts — all vegan!
The Chicago Diner | 3411 N. Halsted St., Chicago, IL 60657 | $$
37. Demera Ethiopian
Though Demera offers traditional meat dishes, they have a dedicated vegan menu that includes authentic Ethiopian fare. Family-style combo platters are available for diverse sampling from one of the best restaurants in Chicago.
Demera Ethiopian | 4801 N. Broadway St., Chicago, IL 60640 | $$
Everything Uncooked offers is raw, from breakfast through dessert, for a unique vegan dining experience. Think fresh salads loaded with crisp vegetables, hummus, vegetable noodles and overnight oats. There are also fresh juices, and Uncooked uses compostable utensils and packaging for a fully sustainable operation in one of the best restaurants in Chicago.
Uncooked | 210 N. Carpenter St., Chicago, IL 60607 | $
39. Urban Vegan
With a broad selection of Thai and Asian dishes such as tofu satay, grilled vegetable dumplings and papaya salad, Urban Vegan is fully vegan, using soy shrimp and chicken substitutes to capture the full flavor and texture profile of the original meat-friendly recipes. A blend of vegan and Asian flavors is a must in the best restaurants in Chicago.
Urban Vegan | 1603 W. Montrose Ave., Chicago, IL 60613 | $$
40. Ground Control
The best restaurants in Chicago also include some of the best signage in Chicago, and Ground Control is chief among them. A fun carrot-rocket ship greets you on the sign outside, happily combining the space-with-plants theme and fun diner fare. Enjoy sandwiches, burgers, BBQ, Asian and Mexican selections that will make you wonder how vegan food has gotten so good!
Ground Control | 3315 W. Armitage Ave., Chicago, IL 60647 | $$
41. Loving Heart
One of the most conscientious and best restaurants in Chicago, Loving Heart embraces the modern model of a conscientious vegan eatery by using ingredients that are 80% USDA-certified organic to create a guilt-free, sustainable dining environment. There are wraps, burgers, salads and bowls, or try a weekly meal to make the shift to plant-based less of a hassle.
Loving Heart | 838 W. Montrose Ave., Chicago, Illinois 60613 | $$
When searching among the best restaurants in Chicago for out-of-this-world dining options, you’ll be hard-pressed to name a single beloved spot; there’s such a vivid selection of enticing restaurants that picking just one to love is nearly impossible.
Of course, deciding on the best food in Chicago is a matter of taste. With as many choices as you have at your fingertips, you’ll discover your own list of favorites in no time. No matter which places top your personal collection, finding the best places to eat in Chicago is bound to be a delicious task!
For even more ways to explore exciting cuisines, check out other experiences happening on Cozymeal.