When you come to Chicago, you better come hungry because this city has some of the best food around.
From famous Chicago-style hot dogs (don’t you dare look at that ketchup) to Michelin-starred restaurants, there are over 7,300 dining spots to satisfy every type of craving. And over a hundred of them are dog-friendly because we love our pets in this city too!
So, if you’re visiting Chicago or looking to add to your restaurant bucket list, here are a few local favorites that are sure to delight.
Portillo’s: There are two things first-time visitors should put on their to-do list: try deep dish pizza and a Chicago-style hot dog. Good news for you is that we have both options on this list. Let’s start with the dog. Portillo’s is a classic Chicago restaurant located right downtown. You can get burgers, salads, pasta, Italian beef and, of course, a hot dog with mustard, relish, chopped onions, tomatoes, pickle, sport pepper and celery salt. Oh, and don’t miss out on their chocolate cake too.
Lula Cafe: Located in the heart of Logan Square, Lula Café has been a local staple for over a decade. It doesn’t matter whether you stop in for their weekend brunch or seasonal dinner menu, you can usually count on a wait. But it is worth every minute. Plus, there’s tons to do around the restaurant, so the wait usually goes by pretty quickly!
Pequod’s Pizza: Like hot dogs, deep dish pizza is another menu item that Chicagoans get pretty particular about. Sauce-to-toppings ratio. Crispy, caramelized crust. Tall, flaky crust. Whatever your preference, Pequod’s is definitely worth a try. After all, there is a reason that they’re constantly rated one of the best pizzas in Chicago.
The Warbler: Owned by and located right next to another local favorite Gather, The Warbler knows how to make your tastebuds sing. If you’re into seasonal ingredients, friendly cocktails and gorgeous plating then this is one spot to add to your Chicago restaurant bucket list. It also makes for a great date night!
Spacca Napoli Pizzeria: Yes, this is the second pizza place on this list. It was actually pretty hard to narrow down to just two because there are so many amazing spots in Chicago. The thing about Spacca Napoli though, is that it’s the kind of experience you want to savor over and over again. From the wine selection to the people to the Neapolitan style pizzas with their warm, doughy and baked crust—it really is something pretty special.
Avec: Small plates, large plates, cheese plates and medjool dates—Avec tends to make a lot of the best restaurants in Chicago lists. While the space itself may be on the smaller side, I say the more the merrier because order envy can get real here. So, bring a group to try more of the menu and not regret getting that plate that just went cruising by.
Smoque BBQ: This BBQ joint is churning out St. Louis-style ribs, brisket, pulled pork and all your classic BBQ sides. There’s no frills or thrills when it comes to Smoque, just delicious BBQ smoked to slow perfection. In fact, they’ve had a pretty consistent local following since they opened back in 2006.
Dusek’s Board and Beer: Venture down to Chicago’s Pilsen neighborhood and check out Dusek’s. While their menu does change, the sourdough pretzel bread, iron roasted mussels and double cheeseburger are mainstays for a reason. But really you can’t go wrong with anything here—even their brunch gets talked up. Another great thing about Dusek’s though is that they’re attached to a music venue and two other bars, in case you were looking for a bigger night out.
Smyth + The Loyalist: Smyth + The Loyalist is one of Chicago’s new and more modern steakhouses. But this newcomer is taking things one step further with their dual-restaurant concept. Smyth is the sleeker steakhouse featuring a tasting menu that gets high praise while The Loyalist is the more laid-back sibling with a bar, small bites and “the world’s SECOND best cheeseburger.” Pair these two together though and you’re in for a delicious night.
Sweet Mandy B’s: While maybe not a restaurant, Sweet Mandy B’s is a Chicago staple. Their cupcakes with buttercream frosting and buttery sprinkle cookies are what dreams are made of. And when their motto is “the best things in life are sweet,” you can’t help but agree. So, go ahead and enjoy the sweeter things in life—you’ll be happy you did.