9 Must-Try Restaurants in Chicago

9 Must-Try Restaurants in Chicago

  • Choose City Living
  • 08/3/22

The dining scene in Chicago, is truly something special. Whether you’re in the mood for casual eats, classic dishes, or Michelin-star fine dining, Chicago has it all. Pick any cuisine, and you’re sure to find something that fits your cravings within a short walk or drive. Dining in the Windy City represents every corner of the globe from Chinese, Mediterranean, Mexican, Italian, Indian, Korean, Thai, American, and so much more.

While it’s nearly impossible to narrow all the fantastic restaurants to a shortlist, we’ll do our best. Here are nine restaurants you must try next time you’re in Chicago.

Try these delicious Chicago restaurants

Lou Malnati’s Pizzeria

410 N Michigan Ave
Chicago, IL 60611
(847) 562-1814
Photo courtesy of Forbes
If you’re looking for some of the best deep-dish pizza in all of Chicago, you must check out one of Lou Malnati’s eleven locations in the city. It’s the oldest family name in Chicago pizza and serves up some of the tastiest flavors you’ll find. The founder, Lou Malnati, gained his deep-dish pizza roots back in the 1940s but didn’t open his first pizzeria until 1971. He was known as a fun, loving man who made the best Chicago pizza around. His spirit still carries on into the restaurant today.

Maple & Ash

8 W Maple St
Chicago, IL 60610
(312) 944-8888

If you’re interested in a classy fine dining experience, book a reservation at Maple & Ash. The restaurant has i- joined Chicago’s classic steakhouse culture, just north of downtown in  the Gold Coast. Behind the menu is chef Danny Grant, who has two Michelin stars. Patrons can choose from items like steak frites, specialty salads, and handcrafted desserts. Meanwhile, the wine menu has been recognized by Wine Spectator as one of the best around. Wine director Amy Mundwiler rotates wine onto the menu from the restaurant's overall selection of about 1,600 labels. Patrons are undoubtedly ecstatic that the patio is open in time for summer after a long period that saw the restaurant focus on delivery and pickup. Seating is divided between the dining room and patio.

Au Cheval

800 W Randolph St
Chicago, IL 60607
(312) 929-4580
Photo courtesy of Au Cheval
This open kitchen offers an upscale “diner” experience featuring an exciting range of menu items from bologna to foie gras. Au Cheval offers a quaint diner-style bar for its patrons and isn't shy about its passion for eggs. You can enjoy a variety of dishes, including chopped chicken liver, roasted bone marrow, egg-focused entrees, and tasty sandwiches and burgers. And while they don’t accept reservations, guests are welcome to walk in on a first-come-first-serve basis.

Cleo’s Southern Cuisine

4248 S Cottage Grove Ave
Chicago, IL 60653
(773) 575-7120

Cleo’s Southern Cuisine has become a perennial Bronzeville favorite for its elevated take on Creole Southern food. Set just a few blocks west of Lake Michigan, this southern-style restaurant features a comprehensive selection of food that makes you feel good. Cleo’s serves some of the best chicken wings in Chicago, and it’s nigh impossible to order just one of their famous gold corn muffins. With these and more standout home-style items, it’s no wonder Michelin recently named Cleo’s a restaurant to watch. Chef Kristen Harper started her restaurant in response to the encouragement of friends who loved her cooking. She named the restaurant after her grandmother, and signature dishes like the pan-seared Atlantic salmon and crab mac ‘n’ cheese keep patrons coming back for more. Stop by on the weekend after calling in your reservation.

Bar Takito

201 N Morgan St
Chicago, IL 60607
(312) 888-9485

A fantastic restaurant in its own right, Bar Takito stands out on this list for being just plain fun to visit. The restaurant is located in the hip Fulton Market, and its owners classify their eatery as Nuevo Latino American Cuisine. If you’re there for brunch, try the French toast and enjoy its mind-blowing combination of caramel-rum bananas, rosemary creme, Anglaise orange compote, and ricotta. Other items that pop off the menu include papas frites, grilled octopus, and an assortment of tacos. Indeed, a consensus is rare on which is the best taco here. The coffee-braised beef tacos, pork shoulder tacos, and Brunkow cheese tacos have their claim. The restaurant caters for events and is a popular site for groups because its menu accommodates persons of particular diets. Alternatively, stop in for Taco Tuesday and treat yourself to a margarita.

Quartino Ristorante

626 N State St
Chicago, IL 60654
(312) 698-5000

Quartino is a fresh and somewhat incongruous presence (big compliment) on the Gotham-like State St. in River North, just north of downtown Chicago. If you’re looking for proof of concept, know that Quartino is owned by the owners of familiar Chicago restaurants Gibson’s Bar & Steakhouse and Hugo’s Frog Bar & Fish House. The menu at Quartino seeks a specific vibe: that of Italian bistros and osterias that serve fresh local wines at a lower cost than bottled water. In keeping with that convivial atmosphere, nearly every item on the menu at Quartino is meant to be shared, and the restaurant encourages large parties (if you’re bringing more than 20 people, pre-ordering is recommended). Reservations only apply to indoor seating, so if you prefer the patio, be sure to get there a bit early.


Wicker Park
1840 W North Ave
Chicago, IL 60622
(312) 757-4444

Another Italian fixture in Chicago, Etta radiates warmth from its woodfired hearth out into the two floors of giant, no, colossal dining areas. It’s an enormous restaurant, but that doesn’t take away from its quality. The chefs know what they’re doing here; the place operates under the same ownership as Maple & Ash (mentioned previously). For maximum contrast, place an order for the ricotta pillows and follow that up with the fire pie, a delicious spicy pizza with crust burnt to perfection. Pasta lovers will be in heaven here, too, because Etta serves finely textured bowls with names only they can pronounce. Despite the restaurant’s size, you’ll want to make reservations well ahead of time, especially for groups of more than four. The ace up your sleeve is that there is now a second Etta location in River North.


820 W Lake St
Chicago, IL 60607
(312) 733-4818

Momotaro is yet another restaurant located in trendy Fulton Marketplace in the West Loop. It bills itself as “the first modern Japanese restaurant brought to you by BRG in Chicago.” Even that description sells Momotaro short. Dining here feels cinematic, and there are plot twists in the place’s structure, chiefly the subterranean Izakaya (which in Japanese means “stay-drink-place”). You can thank New York design firm AvroKO for your beautiful surroundings, whereas Executive Chef Gene Kato gets credit for the food. In addition to traditional Japanese items like sushi and nigiri, the nuanced menu provides hot and cold dishes like miso soup and live prawns, respectively. Not to bury the lede, but Momotaro was recently named Restaurant of the Year in both Chicago Magazine and Chicago Social. Call well ahead of time and enjoy looking forward to your reservation here.

Cindy’s Rooftop

12 S Michigan Ave
Chicago, IL 60603
(312) 792-3502

Cindy’s Rooftop is most accurately described as the crown jewel of the Chicago Athletic Association hotel. The restaurant and bar are situated 13 stories above Millennium Park, and the central aspect of your view looks out onto Lake Michigan. With its open-air terrace, vaulted glass, and steel frame, Cindy's frequents best rooftop lists put out by Chicago media. The menu rotates seasonally and focuses on American fare that complements Cindy’s drinks and wine lists. With a booking window of 30 days, circumspect diners will want to call ahead a month in advance and be persistent (reservations fill fast!). Book time here for an epic occasion, casual brunch, or just because.

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