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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 or one of the best Chicago walking tours.

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 10,012 Places to Eat in Chicago
    Tripadvisor Traveler Rating 5 based on 151 reviewsTripadvisor (151)
    $$ | American
    661 W. Walnut St., Chicago, IL 60661
    Read More »
  • #2
    The Polo Inn Bridgeport U.S.A.
    #2 of 10,012 Places to Eat in Chicago
    Tripadvisor Traveler Rating 5 based on 337 reviewsTripadvisor (337)
    $ - $$ | American, Cafe, Healthy, Grill
    3322 S Morgan St, Chicago, IL 60608-6727
    Read More »
  • #3
    Joe's Seafood, Prime Steak & Stone Crab
    #3 of 10,012 Places to Eat in Chicago
    Tripadvisor Traveler Rating 4.5 based on 4318 reviewsTripadvisor (4318)
    $$ | Steakhouse, American, Seafood
    60 E Grand Ave, Chicago, IL 60611-3533
    Read More »
  • #4
    The Chicago Diner
    #4 of 10,012 Places to Eat in Chicago
    Tripadvisor Traveler Rating 4.5 based on 298 reviewsTripadvisor (298)
    $ - $$ | American, Diner
    2333 N Milwaukee Ave, Chicago, IL 60647-2924
    Read More »
  • #5
    Smoque BBQ
    #5 of 10,012 Places to Eat in Chicago
    Tripadvisor Traveler Rating 4.5 based on 1589 reviewsTripadvisor (1589)
    $ - $$ | American, Barbecue
    3800 N Pulaski Rd, Chicago, IL 60641-3197
    Read More »
  • #6
    Do-Rite Donuts & Chicken
    #6 of 10,012 Places to Eat in Chicago
    Tripadvisor Traveler Rating 4.5 based on 225 reviewsTripadvisor (225)
    $ | American, Fast Food
    233 E Erie St, Chicago, IL 60611-2926
    Read More »
  • #7
    Girl & The Goat
    #7 of 10,012 Places to Eat in Chicago
    Tripadvisor Traveler Rating 4.5 based on 3296 reviewsTripadvisor (3296)
    $ - $$ | American
    809 W Randolph St, Chicago, IL 60607-2310
    Read More »
  • #8
    Wildberry Pancakes and Cafe
    #8 of 10,012 Places to Eat in Chicago
    Tripadvisor Traveler Rating 4.5 based on 4677 reviewsTripadvisor (4677)
    $ - $$ | American, Cafe
    130 E Randolph St, Chicago, IL 60601-6207
    Read More »
  • #9
    Boka Restaurant
    #9 of 10,012 Places to Eat in Chicago
    Tripadvisor Traveler Rating 4.5 based on 674 reviewsTripadvisor (674)
    $$ | American
    1729 N Halsted St, Chicago, IL 60614-5537
    Read More »
  • #10
    Steak 48
    #10 of 10,012 Places to Eat in Chicago
    Tripadvisor Traveler Rating 4.5 based on 400 reviewsTripadvisor (400)
    $$ | American, Steakhouse
    615 N Wabash Ave, Chicago, IL 60611-2713
    Read More »
  • #11
    Doughnut Vault
    #11 of 10,012 Places to Eat in Chicago
    Tripadvisor Traveler Rating 4.5 based on 470 reviewsTripadvisor (470)
    $ | American
    401 N Franklin St, Chicago, IL 60654-4902
    Read More »
  • #12
    The Capital Grille
    #12 of 10,012 Places to Eat in Chicago
    Tripadvisor Traveler Rating 4.5 based on 1065 reviewsTripadvisor (1065)
    $$ | American, Steakhouse
    633 N Saint Clair St, Chicago, IL 60611-3234
    Read More »
  • #13
    Bavette's Bar & Boeuf
    #13 of 10,012 Places to Eat in Chicago
    Tripadvisor Traveler Rating 4.5 based on 1522 reviewsTripadvisor (1522)
    $$ | American, Steakhouse
    218 W Kinzie St, Chicago, IL 60654-4908
    Read More »
  • #14
    Wildberry Pancakes and Cafe
    #14 of 10,012 Places to Eat in Chicago
    Tripadvisor Traveler Rating 4.5 based on 289 reviewsTripadvisor (289)
    $ - $$ | American, Cafe
    196 E Pearson St, Chicago, IL 60611-2101
    Read More »
  • #15
    Green Street Smoked Meats
    #15 of 10,012 Places to Eat in Chicago
    Tripadvisor Traveler Rating 4.5 based on 357 reviewsTripadvisor (357)
    $ - $$ | American, Bar, Barbecue
    112 N Green St, Chicago, IL 60607-2304
    Read More »
  • #16
    Molly's Cupcakes
    #16 of 10,012 Places to Eat in Chicago
    Tripadvisor Traveler Rating 4.5 based on 327 reviewsTripadvisor (327)
    $ | American
    2536 N Clark St, Chicago, IL 60614-1712
    Read More »
  • #17
    Eddie V's Prime Seafood
    #17 of 10,012 Places to Eat in Chicago
    Tripadvisor Traveler Rating 4.5 based on 930 reviewsTripadvisor (930)
    $$ | Steakhouse, American, Seafood
    521 N Rush St Suite R01, Chicago, IL 60611-3646
    Read More »
  • #18
    IO Godfrey
    #18 of 10,012 Places to Eat in Chicago
    Tripadvisor Traveler Rating 4.5 based on 267 reviewsTripadvisor (267)
    $ - $$ | American, Bar
    127 West Huron and LaSalle The Godfrey Hotel, Chicago, IL 60654
    Read More »
  • #19
    The Purple Pig
    #19 of 10,012 Places to Eat in Chicago
    Tripadvisor Traveler Rating 4.5 based on 5974 reviewsTripadvisor (5974)
    $ - $$ | Mediterranean
    500 N Michigan Ave, Chicago, IL 60611-3777
    Read More »
  • #20
    La Scarola
    #20 of 10,012 Places to Eat in Chicago
    Tripadvisor Traveler Rating 4.5 based on 592 reviewsTripadvisor (592)
    $ - $$ | Italian, Sicilian, Southern-Italian
    721 W Grand Ave, Chicago, IL 60654-5507
    Read More »

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