Chicago Travel Guide

USA  #3 in Best Foodie Cities in the U.S.
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Courtesy of jaskoomerovic/Getty Images/iStockphoto

What to Eat in Chicago

Most people associate Chicago cuisine with three things: pizza, hot dogs and steak. They wouldn't be wrong. The Windy City has an ongoing rivalry with New York City over who can serve up the better slice – while New Yorkers prefer wide and flat, Chicagoans like their pizza with a deep crust that can carry loads of toppings. For hot dogs, New Yorkers like their hot dogs simple with potato buns and ketchup, mustard or relish, while Chicagoans enjoy their beef franks on a poppy seed bun with yellow mustard, chopped white onion, tomatoes, dill pickles, pickled peppers and a dash of celery salt.

Chicago is also known for its steakhouses – the Loop and the North Side are littered with fine dining establishments that serve prime cuts of beef. Some of the most reputed steakhouses include Joe’s Seafood, Prime Steak & Stone Crab and Benny's Chop House just off The Magnificent Mile and Bavette's Bar & Boeuf in the River North area. Just be warned: A good steak doesn't come cheap in this town.

Another Chicago dish that's popular with locals but not as well-known to tourists is the Italian beef sandwich. Created by Chicago's Italian immigrant community in the early 1900s, this seasoned roast beef sandwich soaked in meat drippings and topped with spicy giardiniera or sweet Italian peppers is found on many hot dog stand and restaurant menus. But, if you want to enjoy an authentic Italian beef sandwich, locals recommend visiting Portillo's. Two locations – one on West Ontario Street in River North and another on West Taylor Street near the South Loop – are available in the downtown area.

If you're looking to save on dining (but don't want to survive on pizza, hot dogs and Italian beef sandwiches alone), move away from the downtown area into Chicago's more ethnic neighborhoods. Travel west for the hummus and tzatziki in Greektown, pasta in Little Italy or tacos in the Lower West Side. Or, head south of downtown to Chinatown for Asian specialties. If you're not sure what you're in the mood for, North Side neighborhoods like Streeterville, Lakeview and Lincoln Park boast eclectic restaurant scenes. Authentic Indian and Pakistani fare are also available west of the North Side's Rogers Park neighborhood along West Devon Avenue. Another great way to explore Chicago's wealth of culinary options is on a food tour.

When you've got a hankering for a cold, crisp beer, consider touring one of the city's top breweries. Or, head out for a night on the town to one of the bars locals love, such as Cindy's rooftop bar or Jake Melnick's Corner Tap. And if you have time, locals say you should make reservations for brunch. Chicago is home to an array of brunch spots, including Lincoln Park's Nighthawk: AM, which serves up inventive items like Frosted Flakes-coated French toast sticks with bourbon maple syrup, or West Town's Beatnik, with its globally inspired menu and popular boozy slushies.

Find the Best Restaurants in Chicago

  • #1
    Oriole
    #1 of 11,312 Places to Eat in Chicago
    TripAdvisor Traveler Rating 5 based on 135 reviewsTripAdvisor (135)
    $$ | American
    661 W. Walnut St., Chicago, IL 60661
    Read More »
  • #2
    Joe's Seafood, Prime Steak & Stone Crab
    #2 of 11,312 Places to Eat in Chicago
    TripAdvisor Traveler Rating 4.5 based on 4239 reviewsTripAdvisor (4239)
    $$ | Steakhouse, American, Seafood
    60 E Grand Ave, Chicago, IL 60611-3533
    Read More »
  • #3
    Smoque BBQ
    #3 of 11,312 Places to Eat in Chicago
    TripAdvisor Traveler Rating 4.5 based on 1558 reviewsTripAdvisor (1558)
    $ - $$ | American, Barbecue
    3800 N Pulaski Rd, Chicago, IL 60641-3197
    Read More »
  • #4
    The Chicago Diner
    #4 of 11,312 Places to Eat in Chicago
    TripAdvisor Traveler Rating 5 based on 287 reviewsTripAdvisor (287)
    $ - $$ | American, Diner
    2333 N Milwaukee Ave, Chicago, IL 60647-2924
    Read More »
  • #5
    The Polo Inn Bridgeport U.S.A.
    #5 of 11,312 Places to Eat in Chicago
    TripAdvisor Traveler Rating 5 based on 317 reviewsTripAdvisor (317)
    $ - $$ | American, Grill, Healthy
    3322 S Morgan St, Chicago, IL 60608-6727
    Read More »
  • #6
    Girl & The Goat
    #6 of 11,312 Places to Eat in Chicago
    TripAdvisor Traveler Rating 4.5 based on 3245 reviewsTripAdvisor (3245)
    $ - $$ | American
    809 W Randolph St, Chicago, IL 60607-2310
    Read More »
  • #7
    The Capital Grille
    #7 of 11,312 Places to Eat in Chicago
    TripAdvisor Traveler Rating 4.5 based on 1040 reviewsTripAdvisor (1040)
    $$ | American, Steakhouse
    633 N Saint Clair St, Chicago, IL 60611-3234
    Read More »
  • #8
    Do-Rite Donuts & Chicken
    #8 of 11,312 Places to Eat in Chicago
    TripAdvisor Traveler Rating 4.5 based on 212 reviewsTripAdvisor (212)
    $ | American, Fast Food
    233 E Erie St, Chicago, IL 60611-2926
    Read More »
  • #9
    Wildberry Pancakes and Cafe
    #9 of 11,312 Places to Eat in Chicago
    TripAdvisor Traveler Rating 4.5 based on 4573 reviewsTripAdvisor (4573)
    $ - $$ | American, Cafe
    130 E Randolph St, Chicago, IL 60601-6207
    Read More »
  • #10
    Molly's Cupcakes
    #10 of 11,312 Places to Eat in Chicago
    TripAdvisor Traveler Rating 4.5 based on 319 reviewsTripAdvisor (319)
    $ | American
    2536 N Clark St, Chicago, IL 60614-1712
    Read More »
  • #11
    Boka Restaurant
    #11 of 11,312 Places to Eat in Chicago
    TripAdvisor Traveler Rating 4.5 based on 654 reviewsTripAdvisor (654)
    $$ | American
    1729 N Halsted St Ste 1, Chicago, IL 60614-5537
    Read More »
  • #12
    Bavette's Bar and Boeuf
    #12 of 11,312 Places to Eat in Chicago
    TripAdvisor Traveler Rating 4.5 based on 1491 reviewsTripAdvisor (1491)
    $$ | American, Steakhouse
    218 W Kinzie St, Chicago, IL 60654-4908
    Read More »
  • #13
    Green Street Smoked Meats
    #13 of 11,312 Places to Eat in Chicago
    TripAdvisor Traveler Rating 4.5 based on 344 reviewsTripAdvisor (344)
    $ - $$ | American, Bar, Barbecue, Pub
    112 N Green St, Chicago, IL 60607-2304
    Read More »
  • #14
    Steak 48
    #14 of 11,312 Places to Eat in Chicago
    TripAdvisor Traveler Rating 4.5 based on 365 reviewsTripAdvisor (365)
    $$ | American, Steakhouse
    615 N Wabash Ave, Chicago, IL 60611-2713
    Read More »
  • #15
    Eddie V's Prime Seafood
    #15 of 11,312 Places to Eat in Chicago
    TripAdvisor Traveler Rating 4.5 based on 919 reviewsTripAdvisor (919)
    $$ | Steakhouse, American, Seafood
    521 N Rush St Suite R01, Chicago, IL 60611-3646
    Read More »
  • #16
    Pierrot Gourmet
    #16 of 11,312 Places to Eat in Chicago
    TripAdvisor Traveler Rating 4.5 based on 332 reviewsTripAdvisor (332)
    $ - $$ | French, Cafe, European
    108 E Superior St, Chicago, IL 60611-2508
    Read More »
  • #17
    Alinea
    #17 of 11,312 Places to Eat in Chicago
    TripAdvisor Traveler Rating 4.5 based on 1516 reviewsTripAdvisor (1516)
    $$ | American, International
    1723 North Halsted St, Chicago, IL 60614-5501
    Read More »
  • #18
    Doughnut Vault
    #18 of 11,312 Places to Eat in Chicago
    TripAdvisor Traveler Rating 4.5 based on 466 reviewsTripAdvisor (466)
    $ | American, Contemporary
    401 N Franklin St, Chicago, IL 60654-4902
    Read More »
  • #19
    IO Godfrey
    #19 of 11,312 Places to Eat in Chicago
    TripAdvisor Traveler Rating 4.5 based on 263 reviewsTripAdvisor (263)
    $ - $$ | American, Bar
    127 West Huron and LaSalle The Godfrey Hotel, Chicago, IL 60654
    Read More »
  • #20
    The Purple Pig
    #20 of 11,312 Places to Eat in Chicago
    TripAdvisor Traveler Rating 4.5 based on 5918 reviewsTripAdvisor (5918)
    $ - $$ | Mediterranean
    500 N Michigan Ave, Chicago, IL 60611-3777
    Read More »

Explore More of Chicago

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