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Photograph: Neil Burger

The 60 best restaurants in Chicago you have to try

There's no shortage of fantastic food in this city, but these Chicago restaurants make our list of top eats.

Edited by
Jeffy Mai
Written by
Zach Long
,
Morgan Olsen
&
Emma Krupp
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November 2022: On our latest roundup of the city's best eateries, we continue to welcome back old favorites, including Mott St. and Owen & Engine. They're joined by Korean fine dining concept Jeong and opulent steakhouse Maple & Ash. You can also scroll through Time Out Market Chicago's various vendors at the bottom of this list. 

The best restaurants in Chicago come in all shapes and sizes, from pizza joints and Michelin-starred heavyweights to some of the best cheap eats Chicago has to offer. The cuisines are just as varied, with every corner of the globe represented through Korean, Mexican, Italian, Mediterranean and Indian fare. Whether you're a lifelong resident or simply visiting for the weekend, stuffing your face at one of these restaurants is easily among the best things to do in Chicago. This belt-busting food scene shows no signs of slowing down, so we cut to the chase and ranked our essentials—the absolute best restaurants in town.

Our editors scour the city for great dishes, excellent value and insider info. They pay their way and sometimes, like the rest of us, their delivery driver gets lost (here's how we eat through Chicago to make the list). We hope to provide an authentic snapshot of Chicago's ever-evolving dining experience right now: We update it constantly with the best new restaurants in Chicago as well as decades-old stalwarts that keep us coming back for more. It could be a mega-hyped destination restaurant or a remarkable food truck: If it’s on the list, we think it’s terrific, and we bet you will, too.

Time Out Market Chicago
  • Restaurants
  • West Loop

We've rounded up the best chefs in the city to join us at Time Out Market Chicago, a culinary and cultural destination in the heart of Fulton Market. The 50,000-square-foot space houses 18 kitchens, three bars and one drop-dead gorgeous rooftop terrace—all spread across three floors. Our mission is simple: Bring Time Out Chicago to life with the help of our favorite chefs, the ones who wow us again and again. You'll find delicious barbecue from chef D’Andre Carter at Soul & Smoke, Big Kids' delicious burger, fried chicken from Luella's Southern Kitchen, creative milkshakes from JoJo's ShakeBAR and much, much more.

Best restaurants in Chicago

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

What is it?: A two-Michelin-starred fine dining experience from chef-owner Noah Sandoval.

Why we love it: Chicago is home to a number of upscale tasting menus but few are able to match Oriole’s deft execution. Upon arrival, guests are escorted into a freight elevator and given a drink before the door opens to reveal the dining room. Though there’s no telling what Sandoval has in store each evening, you can look forward to a minimalist style of cooking that puts the spotlight squarely on the premium ingredients. Acclaimed mixologist Julia Momose and beverage director Aaron McManus complement the food with inventive cocktails and an Old World-inspired wine list.

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Jeffy Mai
Assistant Editor
  • Restaurants
  • Hot dogs
  • Suburbs
  • price 1 of 4

What is it?: An old-school Italian beef and ice stand over in Elmwood Park.

Why we love it: Just like with deep dish pizza and Chicago-style hot dogs, locals will never agree on the best Italian beef maker. The closest to a consensus is Johnnie’s, a legendary spot that necessitates a pilgrimage to the suburbs. You’ll have plenty of time to decide on what to order as you wait in line behind regulars, but we suggest getting the beef—dipped and with hot peppers. Order a lemon Italian ice to cool your mouth off afterwards.

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Jeffy Mai
Assistant Editor
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  • Restaurants
  • Mexican
  • Archer Heights
  • price 1 of 4

What is it? A family-owned Mexican spot in Archer Heights that's the G.O.A.T. when it comes to goat meat.

Why we love it: Thick handmade tortillas, salsas made to order, bright-pink agua fresca—you can get all of that to go. Their only purpose, however, is to accompany the restaurant’s signature platters of chopped goat meat. Unlike other birrierias, this goat doesn’t touch a consommé until it’s plated, when some of the tomato-based broth is spooned over it. At that point, a good dousing of hot sauce, and maybe a squeeze of lime and some onions, is all you need for the city’s best tacos.

  • Restaurants
  • Filipino
  • East Village
  • price 2 of 4

What is it? A modern Filipino-American bakery and fine dining restaurant from husband-and-wife team Tim Flores and Genie Kwon (Oriole), Kasama boasts both a Michelin-starred tasting menu and a selection of casual daytime dishes that'll have you saying “I'll take one of each.”

Why we love it: Believe any and all of the hype on this one: Kasama really is as good as they say it is. Come by in the morning for brunch fare like a longanisa-topped breakfast sandwich or a full Filipino breakfast (longanisa/tocino, fried egg, garlic fried rice and pickled papaya) and some of Chicago's best pastries. At night, book a coveted seating for the restaurant's 13-course tasting menu, a Filipino-inspired journey that swings from dishes like nilaga with A5 wagyu to a perfect little croissant served with a sprinkling of freshly shaved black truffles.

Time Out tip: If you don't have your heart set on dining indoors, skip the inevitable weekend line and order online for pickup—we promise your meal will taste just as good. 

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  • Restaurants
  • Japanese
  • Logan Square
  • price 4 of 4

What is it?: An eight-seat sushi counter run by bold and ambitious chef Otto Phan.

Why we love it: Phan left Austin, Texas to come to Chicago with the goal of creating the city’s best sushi. He fulfills those aspirations every night at his nondescript Logan Square restaurant, which is also one of the most expensive experiences in town. Those who are able to secure a seat are treated to a front-row view of the chef slicing raw fish and serving it on extra large rice grains that have been seasoned with aged red vinegar. You’ll pay a pretty penny but Kyoten’s omakase provides some of the finest bites money can buy, made with luxurious products flown in from Japan.

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Jeffy Mai
Assistant Editor
  • Restaurants
  • Korean
  • River West/West Town
  • price 4 of 4

What is it?: An upscale Korean restaurant from talented chef Dave Park and his partner Jennifer Tran.

Why we love it: Jeong is the fanciest Korean experience in Chicago, bar none. Park, who previously ran celebrated food court stall Hanbun in the suburbs, uses modern preparations to elevate traditional flavors. His tasting menu showcases gorgeous and inventive plates, like a disc of salmon tartare topped with doenjang yuzu gastrique, crunchy rice pearls and dollops of crème fraiche.

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Jeffy Mai
Assistant Editor
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  • Restaurants
  • American
  • West Loop
  • price 2 of 4

What is it?: A European-style beer hall focusing on pork and seafood from one of Chicago’s most notable restaurant groups.

Why we love it: One Off Hospitality Group’s shrine to beer, pork and seafood hasn’t skipped a beat since debuting back in 2008. Boisterous crowds pack the long communal tables and booths that resemble pig pens for a taste of everything from oysters and charcuterie to veggie-forward plates. The selection changes often to highlight what’s in season, but mainstays like spicy pork rinds and bread service courtesy of Publican Quality Bread are musts. A good chunk of the ingredients on the menu are also sourced from local farms.

Time Out tip: Don’t overlook brunch at the Publican. It’s among the top weekend options and offers goodies like thick cut maple-braised bacon.

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Jeffy Mai
Assistant Editor
  • Restaurants
  • Lower West Side
  • price 2 of 4

What is it? Named after his wife's initials, chef-owner Stephen Gillanders' Pilsen restaurant offers an Asian-inspired menu that's not afraid to experiment.

Why we love it: Nothing is quite what you expect it to at S.K.Y., making for a dining experience that's filled with delightful surprises. From the Japanese ceasar salad to the foie gras bibimbap, the flavors and presentations frequently go against your expectations—just embrace (and enjoy) the unpredictability.

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  • Restaurants
  • Mexican
  • Logan Square
  • price 2 of 4

What is it? Translating to "my namesake" in Spanish, Mi Tocaya is a term of endearment that chef Diana Dávila has bestowed upon her neighborhood Mexican restaurant in Logan Square.

Why we love it: Dávila recreates childhood memories through her food, offering guests a lineup of soul-warming dishes like duck carnitas and fish in mole rojo. The guac, which is dusted with chile ash, is still on the menu, and a slate of cocktails rounds out the mix (the Ancestral Old Fashioned is brilliantly balanced and truly unique).

  • Restaurants
  • Korean
  • Avondale
  • price 2 of 4

What is it?: A small Korean-American spot from James Beard Award winners Beverly Kim and Johnny Clark.

Why we love it: The husband-and-wife duo emphasize quality over quantity so expect a brief menu. You should rest easy, though, because every dish is stellar. To start, the seafood pancake—consisting of shrimp, calamari, garlic chives and spring onions—is remarkably crisp and accompanied by an onion-chili dipping sauce, while the yukhoe (Korean beef tartare) can be taken to the next level with the addition of caviar. The bossam platter is the star of the mains, featuring pork belly, pork collar, kimchi and cabbage to make wraps with, as well as oysters on the half shell.

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Jeffy Mai
Assistant Editor
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  • Restaurants
  • Soul and southern American
  • Hyde Park
  • price 2 of 4

What is it? Chef Erick Williams's love letter to the Southern experience of cooking through passed-down recipes and reimagined expressions.

Why we love it: You can practically feel the soul oozing from the menu at this Hyde Park restaurant. It's because Williams cooks with his heart, whether he's plating fried green tomatoes with tender shrimp and creamy rémoulade or he's fixing his famous collards, which arrive studded with hunks of smoked turkey meat. Second only to the food is the ambiance, which is sexy without trying too hard—perfect for a cozy date night.

  • Restaurants
  • Steakhouse
  • Rush & Division
  • price 3 of 4

What is it?: An opulent Gold Coast steakhouse that spares no expenses to satiate guests.

Why we love it: Chicago is home to some of the best steakhouses in the world but few can match the vibe and aesthetic of Maple & Ash. Upstairs on the posh second floor dining room, you’ll spot groups of 20-somethings celebrating birthdays, couples on date nights or power brokers doing business. Chef Danny Grant’s menu aims to please with delicacies like caviar, fire-roasted seafood towers, dry-aged beef and truffle agnolotti. Oh, and save room to build your own sundae for dessert.

Time Out tip: If you don’t want to make any decisions, leave it in the kitchen’s hands with the “I Don’t Give a F*@k” tasting menu.

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Jeffy Mai
Assistant Editor
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  • Restaurants
  • Pizza
  • Ashburn
  • price 1 of 4

What is it? The king of thin-crust pizza done Chicago-style.

Why we love it: Serving pies since 1949 (although this location opened in ’65), Vito and Nick’s is a Chicago tradition. The cracker-thin, tavern-style crust is loaded up with rich red sauce, gooey mozzarella and fennel-flecked sausage chunks; test the limits with a few more toppings—we like mushroom, pepper, onion and black olives on ours. For the complete experience, stop by to sip an ice-cold Old Style in the dining room while catching a glimpse of the Bears or Sox game on TV.

  • Restaurants
  • British
  • Logan Square
  • price 2 of 4

What is it?: A cozy, British-inspired gastropub that’s ideal for a couple of drinks or a full meal.

Why we love it: Whether you’re a regular or it’s your first time, stepping into this inviting pub feels like reuniting with an old friend. Traditional English fare such as bangers and mash, Scotch eggs and fish and chips dominate the menu, but you’d better not skip the burger. Hailed as one of the best in the city, it features caramelized onions piled atop a patty made from a blend of Slagel Farm chuck, short rib and brisket. You’ll want to wash it down with a craft beer—which there are plenty of. On the second floor, a fireplace flanked by leather seats and a Chesterfield sofa encourages folks to stay a while.

Time Out tip: The pub is located across from Regal City North so you can grab a delicious bite before heading to the movies.

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Jeffy Mai
Assistant Editor
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  • Restaurants
  • Italian
  • West Loop
  • price 3 of 4

What is it? Top Chef alum Sarah Grueneberg's pasta playground in the West Loop.

Why we love it: Italian food is meant to be shared, and at Monteverde, that's never an issue. Fill your table with a smogasboard of small plates, handmade pastas and shareable mains (read: they're freakin' huge). You absolutely mustn't skip the burrata e ham starter—which comes with warm English muffin-like rounds called tigelle—nor the spaghetti al pomodoro, a simple but soul-affirming dish that stars Grueneberg's spot-on roasted tomato sauce.

  • Restaurants
  • American creative
  • West Loop
  • price 4 of 4

What is it? John Shields and Karen Urie Shields’s two-for-one special in the West Loop: a fine-dining destination upstairs and the city's best burger in the sultry basement.

Why we love it: You can choose your own adventure at this double feature—and neither option will lead you astray. Cozy up on the couch with the Loyalist's famed Dirty Burger, a messy medley of cheesy, oniony goodness that's now available for takeout and delivery. Or splurge for Smyth's multi-course tasting menus, a two Michelin-starred exploration of Smyth County, Virginia. 

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  • Restaurants
  • Vietnamese
  • Lower West Side
  • price 2 of 4

What is it? Chef Thai Dang and co-owner Danielle Dang's love letter to Vietnamese cooking, showcasing rich flavors and overlooked dishes.

Why we love it: No matter how familiar you may be with Vietnamese cuisine, there's a good chance that something on HaiSous's menu will surprise you. Stick to standards like crispy wings covered in caramelized fish sauce or branch out by trying an octopus salad with eggplant confit. If you prefer a guided dining experience, order one of the tasting menus served family-style.

  • Restaurants
  • Seafood
  • South Deering
  • price 1 of 4

What is it? Chicago’s quintessential cash-only seafood smokehouse, located just north of the Indiana border.

Why we love it: Remember the bridge-jumping scene in Blues Brothers? It happened right next to Calumet Fisheries. The best way to get there is to drive—mostly because your car will double as your table when you leave with your bounty. One of the state's few remaining smokehouses, Calumet smokes all of its own seafood in-house using only natural wood. You can taste the difference when you sample the salmon, catfish and sturgeon—all of which are available by the pound. That shouldn't stop you from tacking on an order of crispy shrimp and cocktail sauce, the perfect grab-and-dunk appetizer for eating on the go.

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  • Restaurants
  • Barbecue
  • Greater Grand Crossing
  • price 2 of 4

What is it? A rite of passage for local and visiting chowhounds alike, Lem's is an institution-status barbecue house that deals in meaty things and fried chicken.

Why we love it: Chicago may not be known as a barbecue destination in its own right, but Lem's single-handedly puts the South Side on the map with its unique aquarium-style smoker, which weighs in at 64 square feet. Regulars love the rib tips and hot links—and luckily, the combo meal gets you a taste of both. It's takeout only at Lem's, so plan on dining in your car or taking this saucy feast home.

  • Restaurants
  • Pan-Asian
  • River West/West Town
  • price 2 of 4

What is it?: An Asian fusion spot that serves an eclectic selection of street-food-inspired bites.

Why we love it: The core of the menu is Korean, but influences from other Asian cuisines are littered throughout. You’ll sit down to options such as jumbo everything wings, pork-shoulder-stuffed cabbage and udon noodles with marinated cod roe and kimchi. The ballyhooed Mott Burger is also as good as advertised—an East-meets-West creation packing double patties, sweet potato shoestrings, miso butter onions, American cheese, dill pickles, pickled jalapenos and hoisin aioli.

Time Out tip: If you want to eat the burger at a table, it’s only offered in the dining room before 7pm. Otherwise, it’s available all night long at the bar.

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  • Restaurants
  • American
  • Logan Square
  • price 2 of 4

What is it? A unanimously beloved neighborhood darling that's been doing the whole farm-to-table thing long before it was a thing.

Why we love it: There’s a reason Lula has been a Chicago staple for more than two decades. Chef-owner Jason Hammel and his team present dishes made with the freshest seasonal ingredients, and it shows—from pastries to turkey sandwiches to roast chicken, everything you'll eat here tastes like it's been thoroughly iterated and perfected.

Time Out tip: Lula serves brunch every day, so if you're free on a Thursday or Friday morning, your Classic Lula Breakfast Burrito awaits.

  • Restaurants
  • River North

What is it? Chef Carlos Gaytán's splashy Chicago comeback: a breathtakingly beautiful River North restaurant that pays homage to his hometown of Huitzuco, Mexico.

Why we love it: Open for just a few years, Tzuco has already cemented its place among the city's best restaurants, thanks in no small part to Gaytán's French-inspired Mexican cooking. The French onion soup, for instance, is imbued with meaty poblano peppers, and the steak tartare is remixed with pickled jalapeños, cilantro, and guacamole.

Time Out tip: A heated, all-season patio makes it possible to dine outdoors no matter the forecast, but you must check out the otherworldly dining room, too.

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  • Restaurants
  • Chinese
  • Armour Square
  • price 1 of 4

What is it? Known to many as QXY, this Chinatown mainstay is the dumpling authority of Chicago.

Why we love it: When it comes to dumplings, we're of the mindset that more is always better. It's why we flock to QXY for the seemingly endless menu that details dozens of fillings that are sorted by protein—from pork and pickled cabbage to scallop and lotus root. If you can dream it, they probably have it. Place your order with the whole household in mind—that way, you can try a few different flavors in one sitting.

  • Restaurants
  • Hot dogs
  • Lake View
  • price 1 of 4

What is it? A no-fuss, late-night siren song that slings some of the tastiest burgers in town.

Why we love it: What Chicagoan hasn't found themselves at Red Hot Ranch in the wee hours of the morning in search of sustenance? For less than $7, one of the city's best cheeseburgers is yours—with thick-cut fries to boot! Thin, griddled patties shine with a little help from melty cheddar, LTO and special sauce. It's simple but undeniably decadent. Still hungry? Toss in a half-order of fried shrimp, which arrive golden in hue and accompanied by cocktail sauce for dipping. Then, sit back and let the food coma commence.

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  • Restaurants
  • Mexican
  • Logan Square

What is it? A tasty homage to the streetside eateries of Mexico City, Taqueria Chingón brings pozole, ceviche and tortilla-wrapped meats to Bucktown.

Why we love it: The tacos al pastor are a must, with tender bits of pork finding their match in creamy avocado salsa, sweet pineapple and flecks of cilantro. Vegetarians aren't left out of the fun: There's a veg-based version of the dish that subs in portobello mushrooms and celery root to create a spot-on rendition that's anything but boring. And if you're feeling extra hungry, the churros are an irresisitible dessert.

  • Restaurants
  • Delis
  • West Loop
  • price 1 of 4

What is it? Chicago's answer to Katz's Delicatessen, where cooks in paper hats serve gigantic sandwiches, bowls of matzo ball soup and cafeteria classics like meatloaf and pepper steak.

Why we love it: Whether you're showing up for breakfast, lunch of dinner, the Jewish deli fare at Manny's is gonna fill you up. Bring an appetite and order a generous bagel and lox, the signature corned beef or simply ask the folks behind the counter what's good today.

Time Out tip: Love Manny's meats, cheeses and bagels? You can order them in bulk and stock your home deli with everything you need to make the perfect bagel and lox.

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  • Restaurants
  • American creative
  • Lincoln Park
  • price 3 of 4

What is it? Chef Jenner Tomaska (Next) and his wife/business partner Katrina Bravo bring art-inspired tasting menus to a well-to-do corner near the Lincoln Park Zoo.

Why we love it: If you can afford to drop $200 on a meal, the fancy Cheetos and pork ribs slathered with Thai banana caramel served on custom serving pieces won't disappoint. Plus, Tomaska and Bravo's seasonal dinners highlight the work of local artists (like photographer Paul Octavious and painter Courtney Shoudis), with a portion of proceeds going to charity.

Time Out tip: Not ready to splurge for the tasting menu? Swing by Bar Esmé (they take walk-ins) for more modestly priced snacks.

  • Restaurants
  • Israeli
  • Sheffield & DePaul

What is it? New Orleans chef Zachary Engel's (Shaya) raved-about—and Michelin-starred—entry to Chicago's dining scene: a Middle Eastern eatery in the heart of Lincoln Park.

Why we love it: When we heard that Engel was packing up his bags and moving to Chicago, the anticipation was palpable. And so far, the James Beard Award winner hasn't let us down. Instead of an a la carte menu, guests choose their own four-course adventure. The kitchen orchestrates a parade of hummus, fire-roasted veggies and proteins, balloon-shaped pita and addictive sides. 

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  • Restaurants
  • French
  • Lake View

What is it? An unpretentious, warm and inviting destination for hearty French-Canadian fare.

Why we love it: With a focus on seasonality and ingredients sourced from the Midwest, you'll nearly always find something new (and fresh!) to eat. The menu of charcuterie, sweetbreads and aged duck breast is rich, but executive chef Ryan Brosseau doesn't shy away from bracing, acidic flavors—like extra-tart vinaigrettes or neon Piparra peppers.

Time Out tip: No matter what time of year you visit, plan to kick off your meal with an order of fried smelts.

  • Restaurants
  • Vietnamese
  • Lake View
  • price 2 of 4

What is it? A bright, spacious Vietnamese restaurant run by husband-and-wife team Chinh Pham and Son Do. 

Why we love it: Sochi Saigonese feels upscale, casual and familiar all at once, the kind of place where you could grab a lesuirely lunch with friends in the afternoon and return again in the evening for date night (and probably still have plenty left on the menu to discover, too). The food here boasts an attention to detail that bursts to life in each dish, from spring rolls made with imported Vietnamese rice paper to the long-simmered, ridiculously aromatic Saigonese pho loaded with rosy slivers of brisket, flank steak, rice noodles and herbs. 

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  • Restaurants
  • Logan Square

What is it? The noodle palace turned sandwich shop that Joe Frillman built in Logan Square.

Why we love it: There's something about tucking into a bowl of handmade pasta that feels like a big, warm hug. That's why we ring Daisies when we've had a long day. The menu is built around a roster of rotating pasta dishes that change with the season to highlight super-fresh ingredients like lentils, stinging nettle and green garlic. Each bite tastes a bit more special when you hear about Frillman Farms, which is owned and operated by Frillman's younger brother, Tim, and provides produce to the kitchen (as well as many other top eateries across the country).

  • Restaurants
  • Mexican
  • Lower West Side
  • price 1 of 4

What is it? An ode to pork that dates back to 1975, when Inocencio Carbajal brought his famed recipe to Chicago from Michoacan, Mexico.

Why we love it: What's not to love about a storefront that sells carnitas by the half-pound? Customers even get to select their meat, with choices ranging from ribs and shoulder to skin and belly. Go with the surtida, a sampler platter of all the cuts served with salsa, tortillas and all the fixings. If you've got a long car ride home, an order of chicharron should tide you over.

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  • Restaurants
  • American
  • Bridgeport
  • price 2 of 4

What is it? A carnivore's paradise laden with duck fat hot dogs, duck wings and prime rib sandwiches, located on the border between Bridgeport and Pilsen. 

Why we love it: Armed with a beautiful patio and a menu filled with rich dishes that pair well with a drink, chef-owner Kevin Hickey's Duck Inn is like the fanciest backyard barbecue you've ever been to. Relax under the sun with creative cocktail while you nibble on cheese curds and duck fat fries, or dig into decadent specialties like the rotisserie duck. It's Chicago-style food done with gusto.

  • Restaurants
  • Ethiopian
  • Uptown
  • price 1 of 4

What is it? A crown jewel of the city's culinary scene and a must-visit for anyone who's craving traditional Ethiopian eats.

Why we love it: With more than a decade of experience under its belt, most Chicagoans know Demera on a first-name basis. Owner Tigist Reda is backed by years of watching and helping the women in her family cook. If it's your first time, do like the regulars and order a shareable messob, which is loaded up with your choice of meat and veggie dishes to sample with a friend.

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  • Restaurants
  • Italian
  • West Loop
  • price 1 of 4

What is it? An iconic family-owned sandwich shop that deals in Italian stackers as big as your bicep that are layered with the best cold cuts in town.

Why we love it: None of the sandwiches will set you back more than $15, but the Mr. G is our favorite: a bunch of meats—hot sopresatta, prosciutto di parma, volpi genoa salami—plus provolone, truffle mustard vinaigrette, hot oil, marinated artichokes, basil and lettuce on a long roll from D'amato's Bakery.

Time Out tip: Toss in a bottle of giardiniera or muffuletta to recreate the magic at home.

  • Restaurants
  • Mediterranean
  • West Loop
  • price 2 of 4

What is it? A Randolph Street stalwart that dishes out Midwestern-influenced Mediterranean fare with a killer wine list to match.

Why we love it: We have to believe that there are very few restaurants in the world that are as consistently special as avec. It's the kind of spot that makes us swell with pride for our dining scene, the kind of place we can't help but flock to even though there are plenty of newcomers to try. The chorizo-stuffed, bacon-wrapped dates are as good as everyone says, and an order of the "deluxe" focaccia stuffed with taleggio and ricotta cheeses is an absolute must for the table.

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  • Restaurants
  • Contemporary American
  • Lincoln Park
  • price 4 of 4

What is it? Chicago's lone three-Michelin-starred restaurant, helmed by the great chef Grant Achatz.

Why we love it: Arguably Chicago's finest fine dining restaurant, Alinea is as focused on the experience of having a meal as it is about what you consume. Settle in for an evening of deconstructed dishes, billowing dry ice and edible art. Every ingredient is hand-selected and each presentation is oozing with creativity—just be prepared to pay as much as $400 a head for your multi-course meal.

  • Restaurants
  • Contemporary American
  • Bucktown
  • price 2 of 4

What is it? With seasonal tasting menus and great
à la carte options, Bucktown stalwart The Bristol toes the line between fine dining and an upscale neighborhood restaurant.

Why we love it: If you have some cash to spare, executive chef Larry Feldmeier's eight-course New American tasting menu is one of the best in town. But you can experience some of the same farm-fresh ingredients by ordering from the dinner menu, including pillowy milk bread, handmade pastas and a half roasted chicken.

Time Out tip: Enjoy a cup of Rare Tea Cellars tea with your dessert.

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  • Restaurants
  • Chinese
  • Ukrainian Village

What is it? A cozy hideout for noodle-loving, dumpling-adoring Chicagoans.

Why we love it: Brothers Eric and Daniel Wat looked to family traditions to dictate their thoughtful menu. The dumplings are crafted by hand and stuffed with everything from pork and dill to mushroom and chives; they're served in an aromatic broth that tastes of shrimp, sesame, soy, garlic and chili oil. But you mustn't overdo it on dumplings, if only to ensure you still have room to slurp dan dan noodles, devour the addictive eggplant salad and eat a round of awe-inspiring lamb and cumin-spiced Xian bing bread.

  • Restaurants
  • Pizza
  • Lincoln Park
  • price 1 of 4

What is it? An unassuming neighborhood bar in Lincoln Park serving a Chicago-style pizza that's somewhere between pan pizza and deep dish.

Why we love it: A trip to Pequod's typically involves some waiting; first for a table and then for your pie to come out of the oven. But with a beer in your hand and a game on the TV, you'll be biting into the crispy, caramelized cheese that lines the crusts of these pizzas before you know it. Top your 'za however you like—nearly everything tastes good when it's immersed in Pequod's mouth-watering tomato sauce and mozzarella cheese.

Time Out tip: You can score a 7-inch personal pizza for just $7 Monday through Friday from 11am-3pm. It's a hell of a lunch special.

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  • Restaurants
  • Italian
  • West Loop
  • price 3 of 4

What is it? The long-awaited Fulton Market restaurant helmed by Top Chef winner Joe Flamm, combining his passions for Italian and Croatian cooking.

Why we love it: Flamm describes the offerings at Rose Mary as "Adriatic drinking food," and we agree with this assessment. Dishes like Gnocchi with beef cheek, pork ribs and tuna crudo pair perfectly with the glasses of organic wine and cocktails that incorporate Eastern European spirits. It's possible to have a light dinner here, but you're better off arriving very hungry.

  • Restaurants
  • American creative
  • Logan Square
  • price 2 of 4

What is it? A teeny-tiny mammoth of a restaurant that nails simple, unpretentious Midwestern fare. 

Why we love it: Coming out of the pandemic, Chef Jason Vincent overhauled Giant's entire menu, allowing a few classics (like the delicious onion rings) to stick around. Get cozy in the tightly-packed 44-seat dining room and explore the varied offerings, including extremely solid pastas, flank steak, bougie scallops and a microwaved chocolate cake that you probably couldn't replicate at home.

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  • Restaurants
  • West Loop

What is it? Curtis Duffy and Michael Muser return to Chicago's dining scene with a fine-dining beacon that offers a set menu consisting of eight to 10 courses.

Why we love it: Getting a reservation at the latest concept from the team behind Grace isn't cheap, but the ambitious (and beautifully plated) dishes based around proteins and seasonal vegetables are a must for fine-dining enthusiasts. And sitting in the dimly lit, seriously sexy dining room is nearly as thrilling as the cuisine that's served to you over the course of your two-hour meal. 

  • Restaurants
  • Bakeries
  • Lincoln Square
  • price 1 of 4

What is it? With locations in Lincoln Square and Uptown, Nhu Lan makes bánh mì for omnivores and vegetarians alike.

Why we love it: The expansive menu of sandwiches are served on freshly-baked baguettes and topped with crisp jicama, carrots and jalapeño slices. The meaty variants made with pâté, headcheese and roasted pork are just as good as plant-based options like lemongrass or ginger tofu.

Time Out tip: The bánh mì is the star, but those with a taste for Vietnamese cuisine should take a look through the cooler. You'll find an array of sweet dessert beverages, flan and pork buns that you can take home and reheat.

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  • Restaurants
  • Seafood
  • Albany Park
  • price 1 of 4

What is it? One of the city's best values, Lawrence Fish Market is a cash-only, counter-service seafood purveyor that specializes in unbelievably cheap sushi.

Why we love it: You might walk right past this takeout-only spot in Albany Park if you don't catch the small neon sign in the window that reads "sushi" with a fish jumping out of the water. That'd be a mistake. Part fish market, part sushi shop, the unassuming storefront has a long list of classic and inventive rolls, sashimi and nigiri, but you're here for the party trays—even if you're only ordering for two. Tray C2, for instance, is loaded up with three rolls and 24 pieces of assorted sushi, priced at a cool $38.

  • Restaurants
  • Chinese
  • Armour Square

What is it? The revival of a long-running Chinatown favorite, overseen by Kenny Yang of Strings Ramen Shops.

Why we love it: With decor and neon accents inspired by the streets and markets of 1950s Hong Kong, Ken Kee is like two restaurants in one. Order crab rangoon, assorted congee and beef brisket casserole from the all-day menu, or opt for the Noodle Cart offerings (served from a dedicated kitchen). You can customize your noodle bowl to your liking, picking the broth, the noodles and all of the delicious toppings from a long list of options.

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  • Restaurants
  • Mexican
  • Lower West Side
  • price 1 of 4

What is it? The permanent Pilsen home of longtime Maxwell Street Market taco vendor Rubi's.

Why we love it: Serving a menu of tacos that include charcoal-grilled asada and pastor in handmade tortillas, you'll find out why folks regularly queued up to get their hands on Rubi's delicious Mexican cuisine.

Time Out tip: Hours are currently limited to Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays, and pre-ordering online is a good idea unless you love waiting.

  • Restaurants
  • Greek
  • Logan Square

What is it? A contemporary Greek restaurant in the heart of Logan Square, helmed by former RPM chef Doug Psaltis.

Why we love it: Fresh, feel-good Mediterranean fare is the focus of the Andros Taverna menu, whether you're chowing down on baked feta and eggs for brunch or a mezza collection piled with spreads, olives and crudités for dinner. And don't skip pastry chef Hsing Chen's desserts, including a custard pie with roasted figs and pistachio on a phyllo crust and kourabiedes almond cookies.

Time Out tip: On Saturdays and Sundays, the brunch menu offers a great reason for a return visit, with baked goods such as a baklava bear claw accompanied by dishes like gyros and baked feta served with eggs.

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Original Rainbow Cone
  • Restaurants
  • Ice cream parlors
  • Beverly
  • price 1 of 4

What is it? A Chicago ice cream stand that's served a five-flavor cone for almost a century.

Why we love it: A Rainbow Cone is something that you simply can't have anywhere else in the world, which is what makes it so special. It helps that it's actually very delicious, stacked with chocolate, strawberry, Palmer House (vanilla with cherries and walnuts), pistachio and orange sherbet, though you'll have to eat it fast to avoid making a multi-colored mess.

  • Restaurants
  • Barbecue
  • Irving Park
  • price 1 of 4

What is it? An exemplary North Side barbecue joint devoted to the meatier things in life—from brisket and pulled pork to slabs of St. Louis ribs.

Why we love it: The crew here doesn't believe in taking shortcuts, meaning each rub, smoke, sauce and cut of meat has gone through a lengthy vetting process. The fruits of this painstaking labor include lip-smacking ribs, smoky brisket and juicy pulled pork—all of which can be savored via delivery, takeout and sit-down dining. Save room for house-made sides and desserts—we're particularly fond of the BBQ beans and melt-in-your-mouth peach cobbler.

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  • Restaurants
  • Latin American
  • Bucktown
  • price 1 of 4

What is it? A Costa Rican restaurant in Bucktown with a beautiful patio that's perfect for gatherings with friends or a low-key date.

Why we love it: There's something for everyone on the menu at Irazú, whether you're looking for a vegetarian burrito and some empanadas or are ready to dig into the signature chifrijo (fried pork layered with black beans, white rice and pico de gallo) and a pepito stacked with steak, grilled onions and spicy Lizano sauce. Just make sure to save room for an oatmeal milkshake.

Time Out tip: Irazú is BYOB and there's a great wine shop (Red & White Wines) right across the street if you need a bottle.

  • Restaurants
  • Hot dogs
  • Norwood Park
  • price 1 of 4

What is it? An old-fashioned drive-in where uniformed servers ferry hot dogs, fries and malts straight to your car window.

Why we love it: Besides the nostalgia factor? Nearly everything on the menu (including the delicious namesake all-beef frank loaded with Chicago-style toppings) comes nestled amid crispy crinkle-cut "Superfries" in a colorful, cartoon-covered box. If you're not craving a hot dog, you'll also find double-decker "Whooperburgers" and creamy "Supershakes."

Time Out tip: Don't have a car? You can walk up and place an order at the window or get Superdawg delivered.

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  • Restaurants
  • Cafés
  • Logan Square
  • price 2 of 4

What is it? A meat- and cheese-centric cafe just off the California Blue Line stop that serves Metropolis coffee and sandwiches during the day as well as cheese boards and charcuterie in the evening.

Why we love it: Lardon's charcuterie offerings can function as a meal or as a light snack. Split between two people, the chef board is nearly enough for yourself and a date; split between three to four, it’ll tide you over between after-work drinks and an at-home dinner.

Time Out tip: Believe it or not, this meat-heavy menu boasts some great salads for lunch. Try the veggie-packed Green Monster salad with tarragon-green goddess dressing.

  • Restaurants
  • Wicker Park

What is it? Named after chef-owner Brian Jupiter's great-grandmother, Ina Mae Tavern brings the Big Easy to Bucktown.

Why we love it: Don't get us wrong—we love Jupiter's O.G. West Town spot, Frontier, but there's something about Ina Mae that feels deeply personal. A tribute to New Orleans cuisine, the menu revolves around a roster of po' boys and fried chicken. Try both with the Nashville fried chicken po' boy, which is dressed in a tongue-tingling hot sauce and served on freshly baked French bread.

Time Out tip: The walk-up window is always stocked with liquid courage, whether it's frozen daiquiris in the summertime or boozy hot buttered rum come winter.

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  • Restaurants
  • Bakeries
  • Logan Square
  • price 2 of 4

What is it? A neighborhood bakery serving a wildly creative assortment of treats, from an Italian beef galette to brioche topped with pineapple, passionfruit and decadent Tajín caramel. 

Why we love it: Visiting Sugar Moon requires commitment—it’s only open Friday through Sunday, and lines trail down the block for hours at a time—but know that your patience will be rewarded with what just might be the best damn pastries you’ve had in years. Order in bulk and never skip the signature tahini chocolate chip cookies: Voluminous, crispy-edged and still gooey in the center, they’re one of the bakery’s few permanent menu items.  

Time Out tip: Arrive before opening for your best shot of avoiding a sprawling line—and if you can’t avoid waiting, an espresso from nearby coffee shop Necessary & Sufficient will help pass the time.

  • Restaurants
  • Sandwich shops
  • Irving Park

What is it? A family-owned and operated sandwich shop in Irving Park that serves excellent subs, grinders, melts, burgers, hot dogs and more.

Why we love it: If you're looking for protein served between bread or on a bun, the menu at JT’s Genuine Sandwich Shop contains enough options for everyone in your group to get what they want. First-timers should try the breaded pork tenderloin  or the vegetarian-friendly Beans & Greens Melt.

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  • Restaurants
  • Vegan
  • Wicker Park
  • price 2 of 4

What is it? An entirely plant-based (and gluten-free) concept from chef Rodolfo Cuadros, not far from his delicious pan-Latin American restaurant Amaru in Wicker Park.

Why we love it: Forget about tofu and seitan—Bloom Plant Based Kitchen wants to change your perception of a meatless meal. You'll find everything from "cheese" boards made with whipped cashew requeson to toasted yuca gnocchi, a novel dish topped with shaved cashew pecorino.

Time Out tip: Order the baja taco, made with a tempura-battered banana blossom on a hemp seed tortilla with smoked chili oil.

  • Restaurants
  • Contemporary American
  • Logan Square
  • price 2 of 4

What is it? An elegant, dimly-lit pub from the same folks behind Lardon, the adjoining salumeria and all-day café. 

Why we love it: With a tight menu of new American fare and locally-sourced beer, Union isn’t exactly reinventing the wheel when it comes to Chicago dining—but that’s OK, because the combo works beautifully here. Puzzle over an ever-changing menu of Midwest beer (including brews from Perennial Artisan Ales in St. Louis and Eagle Park Brewing in Muskego, Wisconsin) and creative riffs on old-fashioned cocktails, and don’t miss out on the restaurant’s hulking, gorgeous brisket burger topped with bone marrow aioli and onion strings.

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  • Restaurants
  • Peruvian
  • Belmont Cragin
  • price 2 of 4

What is it? Peruvian-born chef Karlo Caceres’ delicious tribute to the street food of Lima. 

Why we love it: Chicago’s home to a handful of Peruvian restaurants, but none hit the spot quite like this new-ish joint in Belmont Central. Feast on traditional dishes like lomo saltado (a staple of chifa, Peru’s homegrown tradition of Cantonese cuisine) served with hand-cut fries or a bracing platter of ceviche clasico studded with plump, toasted kernels of chulpe corn, and plan on washing it all down with a bottle of Peru’s iconic Inca Kola. 

Time Out tip: Swing by on Saturday and Sunday mornings for breakfast picks like the butifarra sandwich, which layers slices of country-style jamon del país with mustard, lettuce and tangy salsa criolla.

  • Restaurants
  • Hot dogs
  • Portage Park
  • price 2 of 4

What is it? A year-round outpost of small but mighty hot dog stand that originally opened in Bronzeville's Boxville Marketplace, founded by local musician Bobby Morelli and his daughter Brooklyn.

Why we love it: The standard Chicago-style dog is solid, but meatheads need to try sausages made with filet mignon and Alaskan salmon, each topped with savory sauces.

Local chefs, restaurants and concepts we love so much that we welcomed them into Time Out Market

  • Restaurants
  • Japanese
  • River West/West Town
  • price 2 of 4

Serving some of the city's best sushi, this warm, cozy room in West Town seems to encourage you to stay for hours, sipping sake and Japanese whisky. Start with appetizers like the chrunchy chicken karaage or the decadent roasted bone marrow served with ribeye tarare before moving on to sashimi, nagiri and maki selections. You'll find everything from bluefin tuna to Alaskan king crab on the menu, along with speciality items that can be accompanited by optional caviar supplements. But sushi at Arami doesn't just benefit seafood lovers—yasai (vegetables) are available as maki or nigiri and include a slice of tender eggplant squiggled with miso-peanut dressing.

  • Restaurants
  • Greek
  • West Loop

Restaurateur Louie Alexakis knows a thing or two about Greek cuisine, having spent nearly three decades working in the restaurant biz in Greektown and nearby suburbs. He and partner Lou Canellis drew from that experience to open Avli Taverna—a concept that puts a contemporary spin on regional Greek dishes—in Lincoln Park in 2018. Four years and multiple Chicago locations later, Alexakis has brought a highlight reel of dishes to Time Out Market, with a menu broken into three categories that capture the full spectrum of Avli’s approach to Greek cuisine. Whether you’re in the mood for flaky spinach pie, filo-wrapped prawns or chicken souvlaki served on house-made pita bread, Avli delivers an authentic taste of Greece and its diverse food culture.

 

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  • Restaurants
  • West Loop

When co-owners Manish and Rina Mallick first traveled to Goa, they were captivated by the region’s beautiful white sand beaches and Portuguese architecture. But the coastal Indian state’s delicious cuisine left an even bigger impression, with pristine seafood served alongside spicy curry and fluffy poi bread. The pair founded Bar Goa with the help of chef Sahil Sethi to share these delicacies with Chicagoans, serving a variety of dishes that just happen to pair nicely with a cold beer or a refreshing cocktail.

  • Restaurants
  • Sandwich shops
  • West Loop

You’ll never be bored at Big Kids, a sandwich joint in Logan Square where nostalgia and creativity reign supreme. Open since 2020, the restaurant’s ‘90s-inspired sandwiches and sides are equal parts irreverent and delicious, incorporating everything from secret spice mix, potato chips and melted cheese to the signature Big Kids shiddy sauce—basically, the stuff of any stoner’s munchies-fueled dreams. Don’t hesitate to tack on an order of gooey Boom Boom tots if you’re feeling extra hungry.

 

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  • Restaurants
  • West Loop

Steaming bowls of noodles have been a fixture of chef Bill Kim’s menus ever since he opened his first restaurant, and diners have always been eager to slurp his latest creations. Originally launched as a delivery-only concept, Bill Kim Ramen Bar specializes in broths that draw on Korean, Vietnamese and Mexican flavors, garnished with a creative array of toppings. Whether you’re looking for a conventional bowl or ramen or something a bit more adventurous, Kim has something you can enjoy by the spoonful. 

  • Restaurants
  • Cafés
  • Lake View
  • price 1 of 4

Stop by midday for chef Judy Contino’s acclaimed pastries and desserts, and chances are you’ll pull up a chair in the tiny, charming bakery café for lunch. You won’t go wrong with any of the handful of rotating daily menu options, such as carrot jalapeño soup, spinach ricotta quiche or tuna-salad sandwich. But make no mistake—it’s all just a precursor to that beautiful meringue tart and a long list of French-inspired pastries and baked goods.

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  • Time Out Market
  • West Loop

Named after his Teta (Lebanese Arabic for “grandma”) and inspired by the love that she put into her cooking, Mitchell AbouJarma founded Evette’s to share her delicious recipes with hungry Chicagoans. Serving dishes that channel bold Lebanese flavors, Evette’s specializes in spit-roasted shawarma, golden fries and fresh salads that use as many local ingredients as possible. After a few bites, you may feel the warmth that comes from eating a meal made with care.

 

  • Restaurants
  • West Loop

In 2020—after years spent working in award-winning kitchens across the country—chef Tony Quartaro reached out to a few neighbors in Beverly to see whether they’d be interested in trying his homemade pasta sauce. Word spread fast, and pretty soon so many friends, family and coworkers were clamoring for a taste that Quartaro decided to open Gemma Foods, a West Town storefront offering fresh, hand-crafted pasta dishes for pickup and delivery. Start with an order of fan favorite canestri alla vodka—the elbow-shaped pasta’s ridges and hollow center are perfect for scooping up every last bit of creamy vodka sauce. 

 

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  • Restaurants
  • West Loop

The classic diner gets a dose of ‘80s- and ‘90s-inspired nostalgia at JoJo’s Shake Bar, where visitors can sip decadent milkshakes beneath photos of Biggie Smalls, Bill Murray and other heroes from the era. You can opt for a customized flavor or try a milk bar (essentially a milkshake in popsicle form), but we also suggest one of the shop’s signature Biggie Shakes if you’re feeling adventurous: Topped with a cornucopia of cookies, candy and marshmallows, they’re a delightful sugar rush and a blast from the past all at once. 

 

  • Restaurants
  • West Loop

Chef Rodolfo Cuadros refers to himself as a “nomad” after a decade spent working alongside Latin American cooks in Miami, London and France. When he opened Wicker Park restaurant Amaru in 2019, Cuadros set out to serve pan-Latin cuisine and share parts of the various cultures that inspire his recipes. Lil Amaru is a continuation of Cuadro’s mission to explore the soul of Latin American cooking, focusing on delicious dishes that are commonly sold by street vendors in countries like Mexico, Cuba and Colombia.

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  • Time Out Market
  • West Loop

Inspired by childhood experiences visiting family in Oahu, Ty Fujimura’s Lono Poke pays tribute to the authentic Hawaiian poke you find at markets in the beachside town of Haleiwa. Forget basic build-your-own bowls popularized during the fast-casual poke craze a few years back: Lono Poke’s dishes combine glistening cubes of fresh fish and premium white rice with flavorful toppings like crisped shallots, snappy seaweed and signature “Ono” sauce for a genuinely delicious taste of Hawaiian culture and the true Aloha spirit. 

  • Restaurants
  • West Loop

What type of cuisine makes you most nostalgic? For chef Darnell Reed, it’s southern food—like fluffy biscuits and extra-juicy fried chicken whipped up by his great-grandmother, Luella, who came to Chicago in the ’40s by way of Morgan City, Mississippi. Reed’s Lincoln Square restaurant honors Luella with a menu inspired by her expert home cooking, pairing succulent, double-brined fried chicken alongside buttermilk waffles and a decadent drizzle of syrup. Take a bite and you’ll wish you’d grown up eating Luella’s meals, too. 

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  • Restaurants
  • West Loop

A chance meeting at a dinner party (and an Instagram DM) brought Phillipe Sobon and Cynthia Orobio together in 2019, eventually resulting in a restaurant concept that combines their respective Polish and Colombian heritages. Mashing up empanadas and pierogi into “emparogi” and topping a Polish sausage with pickles and a pineapple glaze, Polombia’s menu takes the contrasts and commonalities of the two cuisines in stride, offering dishes that take your taste buds on a globe-trotting adventure.

  • Restaurants
  • Barbecue
  • Evanston
  • price 1 of 4

Veterans of Michelin-starred fine-dining restaurant Moto, chef D’Andre Carter and Heather Bublick founded Soul & Smoke as part of their catering company—but the concept has since taken on a life of its own. Based out of Evanston (with a takeout location in Avondale as well as a kitchen at Time Out Market Chicago), Soul & Smoke's menu is built around barbecue meats and homestyle sides, including delicate smoked brisket and a supremely creamy mac and cheese. Snag meats by the pound or between two buns—and keep an eye out for the Soul & Smoke food truck, which stops by farmers markets and festivals throughout Chicago and the suburbs.

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  • Restaurants
  • Pan-Asian
  • Wicker Park
  • price 1 of 4

Chef Bill Kim keeps our bellies happy with his playful menu of Asian staples at this sunshine-filled restaurant in Wicker Park. Start with an assortment of dumplings, which are available by the piece in flavors like pork and cilantro and chicken red curry. You'll want to save room for hearty entrees like ramen with braised pork belly, creamy coconut curry pho, fried rice bowls and Thai fried chicken. The youngsters won't feel left out: The kids' menu offers fan-favorites like belly-warming noodle soup and PB&J soft serve.

  • Restaurants
  • West Loop

Named for the great hall of eternity in Norse mythology, Valhalla represents the crowning achievement of chef Stephen Gillanders’ multi-decade culinary career—a journey that took him around the world while working for Jean-Georges Vongerichten before leading him to Chicago, where he opened award-winning restaurants S.K.Y. and Apolonia. Here at Time Out Market, Gillanders combines his globe-trotting background and fine dining bonafides for a chef’s counter tasting experience suffused with personal touches and luxurious, label-defying cuisine. Step inside and prepare for a meal so next-level, you might even call it heavenly.

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