Lincoln Park may not be the hottest new dining destination, but the North Side neighborhood is home to some of the best restaurants in Chicago. Our favorite Lincoln Park restaurants include something for every price point and craving—from some of the most delicious cheap eats Chicago has to offer to the city's only three-Michelin–star restaurant (that's Alinea—and yes, you need a reservation). You'll even find the best deep dish pizza in Chicago, a top-rated sushi spot and fantastic Middle Eastern cuisine among the best Lincoln Park restaurants. When it comes to eating out, don't sleep on this sweet lakeside community. Hungry yet? Grab a table at one of our favorite Lincoln Park restaurants.
RECOMMENDED: Our complete guide to Lincoln Park Chicago
Best Lincoln Park restaurants
Regularly lauded as the best restaurant in Chicago, if not the country, Alinea lives up to the hype. Chef and mastermind Grant Achatz delivers a well-orchestrated ride that plays with textures and temperatures while remaining grounded in season, flavor and flawless execution. The menu is constantly changing, so you never know what dish will steal the show when you’re in the audience.
Hummus, falafel, shakshuka, labneh—hell—even pita. You will have no doubt already experienced many of the dishes on Galit’s broad-spectrum Middle Eastern menu. But this Lincoln Park newcomer from James Beard award-winning chef Zachary Engel (Shaya, Zahav) is where you go to revise the standard for how they should taste. Everyone who dines here should begin with salatim (an array of dips and pickles) and hummus, each served with fluffy, charred pita balloons. Or forego the hard work of choosing with The Other Menu, a tighter series of shareables for $65.
The signature pan pizza—in all its glory with a ring of caramelized cheese around the crust—remains the same. Skip flavorless fried-vegetable appetizers, salads and sandwiches and save your appetite for a couple of ginormous slices of a sausage pie, dotted with perfectly spiced, Ping-Pong-ball–size pieces of seasoned ground pork.
Walking into this dimly lit sushi speakeasy, you'll all but forget you're in Lincoln Park. The menu here highlights the freshest raw fish—from salmon and scallops to tuna and hamachi. The talented chef Naoki Nakashima steers the ship, offering playful Japanese small plates (we're big fans of the edamame "guac"), classic maki rolls and sashimi, and delectable hand rolls.
The theory goes like this: The first time you eat at this unassuming Greek spot, you may try the gyro salad—well-spiced slices of meat sitting atop simple greens—and you’ll think: “Not bad.” But according to the cultish customer base that swears by this place, it’s on your third visit—when you order the juicy chicken kebabs, the vinegary Greek fries or the flaky spanakopita—that the spell is cast.
A mainstay in Chicago's vast food scene, Boka has been serving inventive seasonal American fare for more than a decade. Chef Lee Wolen is the mastermind behind balanced dishes like cured fluke with pickled watermelon and roasted Spanish octopus with eggplant, spicy 'nduja, hazelnut and lemon. Order a la carte or go all in on a eight-course tasting menu.
With an assortment of breads and sandwiches, this airy bakery-cafe is a great spot for lunch. But Floriole’s soul is its French pastry, skillfully executed by owner Sandra Holl. Among our favorite offerings are the canelés—petite, fluted cakes with caramelized exteriors and custardy cores flavored with vanilla and rum.
Sushi's the name of the game at Juno. Under the watchful eye of sushi chef BK Park, you'll find immaculate sashimi, restrained maki and creative takes on Japanese classics. Yes, everything looks beautiful and you'll want to spend time admiring what you've ordered, but don't take so many Instagram photos that you forget to actually eat your food.
Okay, so technically you’re not eating outside, but when you’re only a few feet from a pond in the middle of Lincoln Park, you’re as close to nature as it gets in the city. Even more so when you sample chef Bruce Sherman’s latest creations, concocted with as much locally grown organic food as he can get his hands on.
The folks at Blue Door Farm Stand are obsessed with seasonality, and they work with their suppliers to ensure every menu is packed with peak produce. The fruit plate is drizzled with local honey, the seared salmon sits atop a bed of perfectly cooked asparagus, and the burnt orange créme brulée is showered with toasted macadamia nuts. The rustic dining area, which is spread across two floors, is filled with sunlight and adorned with farmhouse-chic furniture, making it an ideal destination for brunch with friends or a dinner date.
Chicago restaurateur Jared Leonard spent over a year perfecting his personal recipe for Nashville hot chicken, and the dedication shows. Taste his craft at one of six locations (and counting), where poultry is served Naked, Classic, Hot or X-Hot. We're big fans of the slaw-topped hot chicken sandwich, and we've been known to toss in collard greens and mac and cheese from time to time.
This dimly lit fondue spot is a reliably romantic date destination. The four-course Prince Geja Combination, while pricey, allows couples a chance to get cozy while experimenting with various dips. A salad starter is followed by the cheese fondue appetizer with bread, grapes and apples. Then, beef tenderloin, chicken breast, lobster tail, jumbo shrimp and sea scallops are brought out to be cooked in the tableside hot oil pot. Be sure to save room for the flaming chocolate fondue dessert.
If you can't afford to jet off to Los Angeles every weekend, consider Summer House Santa Monica the closest you'll get to the West Coast without hopping on a plane. The dining room is painted in calming tones and outfitted with hanging plants (if you squint, they almost look like palm trees). The menu is light and bright, with standby dishes like the ahi tuna and watermelon tostadas and roasted cauliflower smothered in jalapeno pesto, candied lemon and breadcrumbs. Heck, you might even catch a tan if you play your cards right.
The sister restaurant to Summer House Santa Monica, Stella Barra looks like a dark sports bar, but is actually turning out delicious pizzas, like the fennel-heavy sausage, which has an airy, crispy crust. Pair it with a Sicilian Highball—basically a deeper, bitter, more delicious Moscow Mule.
You’re crazy if you start your meal at Rickshaw Republic with anything other than its crackly, gingery, twice-fried chicken wings. Some other takes on Indonesian street food are also successful, and we're also sold on the creative interior, the BYOB no-corkage-fee policy and refreshing desserts such as the jackfruit shaved ice.
Nothing’s changed much in the decades since this Old Town rib institution started packing in the crowds, and that’s okay with us. We’ll still cram our way into the old tavern to wait among the masses (they don't accept reservations) for the falling-off-the-bone, baked-then-grilled baby backs.
Grab a table in the tiny Christmas light–strewn room at this 51-year-old subterranean seafood spot, and start out with the Mulligan stew. For more fried goodness, have the Thirty-Two Pointer for an entrée—a crunchy pile of smelts, perch, frog legs, clam strips and fat shrimp. And if you’re looking to crack some crab, splurge on the massive, meaty king legs.