July 2020: There's no denying that Chicago's dining scene has changed dramatically over the past few months as restaurants fight to survive. We've watched Michelin-star holders turn to takeout and neighborhood eateries reinvent themselves as bodegas. Along the way, we've poured one out for those that didn't make it, like wine bar Income Tax and fine-dining beacon Blackbird.
Simultaneously, the hospitality industry is in the midst of a necessary reckoning, which calls on owners to re-examine workplace culture, fair wages and employee safety. Diners, too, are being empowered to put their money where their mouths are by supporting and celebrating BIPOC-owned restaurants throughout the city.
Right now, we realize that everyone is moving at a different pace—some folks are excited to dine alfresco, while others are sticking to takeout for the foreseeable future. The EAT List aims to help you navigate Chicago's dining landscape no matter your comfort level. We'll update this list often in an effort to keep you informed and to shout about the most innovative new offerings (Like Lula Cafe's carryout menu and Tzuco's dining room expansion). Don't forget to wear a mask, respect social distancing rules and tip generously.
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 Chicago. We call it the Time Out EAT List.
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. The EAT List is a unique, 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.
We should also note that a number of the best chefs, restaurants and concepts in the city have been welcomed into the Time Out Market Chicago. Because that is the highest honor we can award, and we now have a tighter relationship with them, establishments related to market vendors have all been included in the EAT List but not ranked alongside other great establishments in the city. You can find those amazing places below.
If you've tried something you love on this list, share it under the hashtag #TimeOutEatList to show your appreciation. Plus, find out more about how we eat through Chicago to make the list.