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Photograph: Huge Galdones

Where to find amazing bread service in Chicago

Bread is back, baby! Chicago chefs serve crusty loaves and pillowy buns with all the right accoutrements.

Written by
Kelsey Ogletree
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We love emulsions and foams and pâtés just as much as the next food-obsessed Chicagoan, but there’s something to be said about taking it back to the basics. High on our list of dinnertime essentials is a basket of fresh-baked bread to tide us over until the main event. Following a rather sad low-carb decade, where even measly dinner rolls all but disappeared (thanks a lot, Atkins diet), bread service is making a major comeback. Chefs at the best restaurants in Chicago are happy to oblige with sourdough loaves, pillowy brioche buns and flame-kissed pita rounds. Take a look at the all-time best bread service in Chicago—we even tossed in a few freebies.

The best bread service in Chicago

  • Restaurants
  • Contemporary American
  • West Loop
  • price 1 of 4

So many of our favorite Chicago restaurants source their loaves from Publican Quality Breads—and for good reason. Head baker Greg Wade is somewhat of a local legend and was even honored with the James Beard Award for Outstanding Baker in 2019. Taste his craftsmanship at Publican Quality Meats in the West Loop, where, in addition to a laundry list of amazing sandwiches, you can order Bread & Spread ($6), which includes a daily selection of fan-favorite bread, pickles and your choice of pork and duck rillettes or pimento cheese.

  • Restaurants
  • Contemporary American
  • Near South Side
  • price 4 of 4

Calling all butter snobs! At two-Michelin-star Acadia, chef Ryan McCaskey and executive pastry chef Kyleen Atonson team up on an epic course that pairs fine house-made breads (think buttermilk biscuits and sunflower whole wheat sourdough) with small-batch craft butter from Ploughgate Creamery in Vermont. You’ll be tempted to lick the plate clean when your server’s not looking.

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  • Restaurants
  • American
  • Rush & Division

Named StarChefs’s Rising Star Baker for Chicago in 2018, Alexander Roman knows his way around a loaf. At Somerset in the Gold Coast, Roman bakes more than a dozen breads in-house, from focaccia and ciabatta to pillowy brioche buns. Complimentary bread service includes country white bread with salted whipped butter for lunch and fresh Parker House rolls for dinner. Diners can also splurge on specialty recipes, like the blueberry oat muffins, which are crafted using flour from the restaurant’s stone mill.

Fisk & Co.
  • Restaurants
  • Loop

One thing that sucks about adulthood? It’s not often that you get the opportunity to eat soft pretzels and cheese. Fisk & Co. in the Loop is changing that with their pretzel monkey bread ($8), a cast-iron pan that’s stuffed with chewy, house-made balls of salt-dusted bread and served with a generous helping of pimento cheese for dunking. Auntie Anne’s has nothing on this grown-up appetizer.

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  • Restaurants
  • Seafood
  • River North

Steakhouse dinners often call for form-fitting dress pants and sleek party dresses, but you’ll want to make room for a carbo-loaded food baby at this River North hot spot. The complimentary pull-apart rolls, served piping hot and brushed with your choice of garlic or Parmesan butter, practically melt in your mouth—the perfect excuse to spoil your dinner.

  • Restaurants
  • Brasseries
  • Loop

Five years ago, dining in the Loop was something you did more for convenience than experience. That’s all changed, however, with the addition of worthy newcomers like Cochon Volant Brasserie. You’ll find yourself wandering in here for three meals a day, following the scent of chef Matt Ayala’s French and sourdough breads baked daily. And while the hearty baguette is enjoyable on its own, it’s particularly amazing for scooping up mouthfuls of cheese from the warm brie plate ($15).

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  • Restaurants
  • Mediterranean
  • West Loop

There’s nothing wrong with over-ordering Mediterranean spreads—think whipped feta and muhammara—just so you can get your hands this West Loop restaurant’s famous bread. The original recipe from chef CJ Jacobson is a mashup of naan and pita that’s brushed with clarified butter and sprinkled with za’atar spice (a blend of sesame, sumac and wild mountain thyme). The result is a little exotic and totally addicting, which isn’t a problem when servers will refill your basket free of charge if you ask nicely.

  • Restaurants
  • Lake View

At Tied House in Lakeview, Debbie Gold devotes an entire section of her menu to fancy things you can put on bread. Start with an order of Parker House rolls, seeded rye bread and honey oat porridge bread ($6)—all baked fresh daily—before choosing your own adventure of smears. Keep it simple with crème fraîche honeycomb or go all in with bone marrow butter or green tomato marmalade ($4–$6 each).

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  • Restaurants
  • Wrigleyville

Before you treat yourself to one too many beers at Wrigley Field, pad your belly with the cast iron focaccia ($7) at Maddon’s Post, the Italian- and Polish-inspired restaurant from Cubs manager Joe Maddon and Chicago chef Tony Mantuano. The dough is made in-house, crammed into a triangular cast-iron dish and baked in a wood-fire oven before it’s topped with aromatic herb butter. We’ll give you a second to wipe the drool off your keyboard.

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