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Photograph: Sandy Noto

16 Chicago chefs share their favorite takeout orders

Upgrade your takeout game and order like a pro

Morgan Olsen
Written by
Morgan Olsen
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Chefs—they're just like us. When they have a night off, they too avoid the kitchen in favor of the best restaurants for delivery in Chicago. They spring for the good stuff: crispy chicken wings, soul-soothing curry, pillowy dumplings and creamy hummus. We asked the city's top chefs to spill their takeout cravings, and they really delivered. Next time you're stumped on what to order, take a cue from the pros behind the best restaurants in Chicago and upgrade your carryout routine accordingly. After all, there's never been a better time to support local restaurants.

RECOMMENDED: Dig into the best cheap eats in Chicago

What Chicago chefs order for delivery and takeout

Margaret Pak, Thattu
Photograph: Martha Williams

Margaret Pak, Thattu

"Lao Sze Chuan immediately comes to mind. The fragrant lamb with cumin, the classic dry chili chicken and mapo tofu is what I normally order. Thinly sliced cumin lamb is so good with plain white rice and gets me every time. Vinod loves the dry chili chicken, perfectly fried bite-sized pieces of chicken swimming with the zingy szechuan peppers and more peppers. We both love the comforting spicy mapo tofu and always hope for leftovers the next day."

Curtis Duffy, Ever

"My favorite takeout is from Tiparos. The tom kha gai soup with jasmine rice is amazing. Also the crispy chicken wings are incredible. My wife and I always have a hard time making it home without eating them on the way. I have been going to Tiparos since 1999. Always consistent!"

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Sarah Grueneberg, Monteverde
Photograph: Sandy Noto

Sarah Grueneberg, Monteverde

"I am loving Galit delivery and takeout right now and have been since quarantine. The wood-fired pita are second to none, you won’t find a better hummus in Chicago and their flavors overall are just delicious! Other favorites of mine are the labneh (homemade yogurt) and ezme (tomato, pepper, walnut spread)."

Erick Williams, Virtue
Photograph: Courtesy Rajun Cajun

Erick Williams, Virtue

"These days, my go-to takeout spot is Rajun Cajun. I absolutely love their alu gobi, an incredible cauliflower and potato curry. I probably eat their dal curry, a lentil curry, twice a week. Not only is the food great but, being located right across the street from Virtue, it’s hyper-local for me."

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Andrew Lim, Perilla

"My favorite go-to is this little shop in Albany Park called Ssyal Ginseng House. It's a Korean mom-and-pop shop but literally everything there is absolutely delicious. I usually get the chicken stew (whole cornish hen stewed for hours with ginseng, sticky rice, dates, garlic, and some other ingredients that are supposed to be great for your immune system and overall health). It also comes with a few different side dishes that they make daily. In Korean this dish is called 'ssam gehtang.' It's large enough to share and is perfect for the cold winter months ahead of us."

Carlos Gaytan, Tzuco
Photograph: Jaclyn Rivas

Carlos Gaytan, Tzuco

"We have endless extraordinary carryout and delivery options in this city. But two of my favorite dishes for carryout would have to be the exceptional organic fried chicken with spicy habanero butter and the Maine lobster dumplings from S.K.Y. Most of the time, I arrive home late, order, and enjoy my dishes while watching soccer or movies."

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Zoe Schor, Split-Rail
Photograph: Courtesy Chengdu Impression

Zoe Schor, Split-Rail

"If I’m lucky enough to have a quiet evening in, I'm often hanging with my parents. They live very close to my favorite Chinese restaurant on the North Side, Chengdu Impression. We always get the pan-fried dumplings, scallion pancakes and dry chili chicken. The chicken is so amazing."

Darnell Reed, Luella’s Southern Kitchen

"I love ordering takeout, and we have many great options, but my favorite place to order from is Haire's Gulf Shrimp. This is the best bag of fried shrimp you'll find on the planet. Sweet, savory and succulent! They also make a homemade cocktail sauce, and they never disappoint because the consistency is as impressive. My family loves them. The only issue is they somehow never survive the drive home."

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Mari Katsumura, Yūgen
Photograph: Jaclyn Rivas

Mari Katsumura, Yūgen

"One of my favorite places to order takeout from is MingHin’s Chinatown location on Archer. I always order dim sum—I think their offerings are some of the best in town. The fried taro puffs are above and beyond one of my top guilty pleasures. I would also recommend the shumai, country-style dumplings, tripe with ginger, chicken feet with special sauce and BBQ pork buns. If you have room for dessert definitely indulge in the egg custard tart."

Brian Jupiter, Frontier and Ina Mae Tavern
Photograph: Tim Flores

Brian Jupiter, Frontier and Ina Mae Tavern

"Kasama is my new spot. You can't go wrong with ordering anything on their menu, but my favorite dishes are the mushroom adobo, ham and cheese danish and chocolate tart."

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Jonathan Zaragoza, El Oso and Birrieria Zaragoza

"Our go-to to-go spot is JJ Thai Street Food. The food is always on point and the staff is so sweet and amazing. The sai krok isan sausage has to be my favorite dish, so much so that I order my own portion. They serve it with peanuts and Thai bird chile for that perfect bite."

Thai Dang, HaiSous
Photograph: Jason Little

Thai Dang, HaiSous

"[My wife, Danielle, and I] love any precious morning time we have with each other, so Sweet Maple Cafe is our spot. We used to dine in for breakfast or brunch. We’ve been enjoying it also from home too. Which is great also. Laurene has been at it for some time now on Taylor Street."

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Maya-Camille Broussard, Justice of the Pies
Photograph: Gary Adcock / Studio37

Maya-Camille Broussard, Justice of the Pies

"Virtue—I love chef Erick's elevated approach to Southern fare. I'm obsessed with the cornbread, blackened catfish with Carolina gold rice and barbequed carrots, gem lettuce salad, collard greens and cheddar grits. I don't know that many chefs who make me clamor for their Southern food—I happily run toward his food."

Dave Park and Jennifer Tran, Jeong

"Our favorite place to order from is a Chinese restaurant in Chinatown called Yummy Yummy Noodles. We love getting their wonton noodle soup and the shrimp and yellow chives with scrambled eggs. The small restaurant is run by an incredibly kind and warm family. One time when I was walking to my car with the food I heard someone yell 'Miss Jennifer!' I turn around to find the wife of the restaurant. I thought I had forgotten to pay, but she chased me down because they forgot to give me soy sauce for my dumplings and she wanted to make sure I had some for our dinner. This happened the first time I picked up food there and have been coming back ever since. They truly warm the belly and soul, which is greatly needed this year."

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Tim Flores, Kasama
Photograph: Jeremy Bolen

Tim Flores, Kasama

"Genie and I usually do takeout from Triple Crown in Chinatown. Such a good place to get a well-rounded and satisfying meal. Plus we always have leftovers, which is great. Typically we order the Hong Kong-style seafood trio, salt and pepper eggplant, garlic peapod tips and stir-fried soy sauce chow mein. They also do takeout dim sum. My family has been going there for years."

 Ryan Pfeiffer, Big Kids
Photograph: Time Out / Morgan Olsen

Ryan Pfeiffer, Big Kids

"Mondays for me are for the good times. I spend the whole day with my fiancé, Elaine, and our dogs, Jerry and George. Like friggin' clockwork, we always order from Humboldt Haus, a sandwich shop down the street from our house. I get the West Sider, she gets the Italian, and we share our chips with the dogs. Great people, damn good cold cuts and a sign that says 'sandwich bar.' Humboldt Haus figured it out."

Still hungry?

  • Restaurants

We're officially over cooking. Anyone else? Lucky for us, some of the best restaurants in Chicago will bring the feast straight to your doorstep thanks to the modern convenience of delivery service. Whether you're craving pepperoni-studded pizza, crispy fried chicken, soul-soothing ramen or one of the tastiest burgers in Chicago, the options at your fingertips are nearly endless.

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