As thorough as our critics are, nobody knows the city’s restaurants, coffee shops, bars, stores, storefront theaters and music venues like Time Out readers.
With this in mind, back in October we launched the Love Chicago Awards to find out more about the local businesses that make your area of the city incredible. Now, after an intense voting period in which nearly 7,000 of you had your all-important say, it’s our great pleasure to reveal the restaurants you love above all others. There were a few close calls (and a few freakin’ landslides), but through it all one thing was clear: Chicagoans are truly passionate about their neighborhoods.
All of which just leaves us to say congratulations to all of this year’s winners, and a hearty thanks to everyone who voted. Now get out there and show your winners some love.
RECOMMENDED: Full list of Time Out Love Chicago Awards winners
Top local restaurants
Paul Kahan’s crowd-pleasing European-style beer hall is beloved by tourists and locals alike. Stop in after work to snack on its trademark spicy pork rinds and study the extensive beer list, or stay for dinner and order the roast chicken with frites. On the weekends, brunch features everything from perfectly scrambled eggs with lobster to a version of chicken and waffles only the Publican could pull off, a sourdough oven pancake topped with a bacon-wrapped chicken thigh.
Sure, you can go to Sun Wah for the barbecue combination plate or Hong Kong–style lo mein. But the real reason this Chinese spot is jam-packed in the evenings isn’t on the menu. Locals know you’re going here (with as many friends as you can drum up) to feast on the Beijing roast Peking duck. While feasting on the perfectly crisp skin tucked inside fluffy steamed bao buns, you’ll find yourself considering making the move to Uptown.
Chicago pride stretches beyond baseball, hockey and hot dogs—it seems Lincoln Park residents are just as proud to have one of the best restaurants in the country in their own backyard. Grant Achatz and his kitchen delight and amuse, turning every tabletop in the room into interactive dinner theater. Suck the helium from an edible balloon and dazzle at the flames on a tabletop fireplace—maybe you’ll forget dinner costs as much as a month’s rent.
While Lake Michigan provides a beautiful view and plenty of summertime leisure activities, it does not grant us the seafood treasures that coastal cities have been blessed with. GT fills that void by providing us with one of the best places to eat seafood in Chicago. There’s not a creature from the sea you can’t find here—there’s oysters on the half shell, creamy clam chowder, buttery lobster rolls and grilled prawns. Close your eyes and you might even believe you’re eating on the shore.
It’s not only the South Side that’s crazy about this no-frills British bakery. Pleasant House is best known for its classic savory pies, but you can also indulge in British classics like Scotch eggs and thick-cut chips (that’s fries to us) doused in gravy and sharp cheddar cheese. Your sweet tooth is covered, too, with a rotating selection of pies, scones and other sugary treats.
Part restaurant, whiskey bar, hotel, and pop-up doughnut and sausage shop, this Logan Square spot does just about everything. The food is approachable and the restaurant just snagged a Michelin star for the fifth year in a row. Longman is open from dawn until well past dusk, so you can enjoy buttery grits for breakfast in the morning, composed salads at lunch and finish your day with a chocolate Fernet milkshake nightcap.
Everyone loves pizza, but that isn’t the only reason this Wicker Park brewpub has legions of faithful fans. The huge, warehouse-like space houses a small brewery that has been putting out award-winning beers since opening in 2001. Plus, the large space is the perfect setting for a group to sit, sip and watch the game on the TVs lining the bar. And about that pizza—the house specialty is New Haven–style, which nixes the traditional mozzarella and replaces it with heaps of garlic and Parmesan.