5 Must-Visit Chicago Restaurants
There’s no shortage of great places to eat in the Windy City, but a handful of new dining spots are worth the trip.
Updated December 13, 2013—Chicago is as famous for its food as for its lakeshore views and neighbourhood enclaves, offering dining choices to please every palate. Here, legendary steakhouses such as Gene & Georgetti mix with chic, modern eateries such as Allium at Four Seasons Hotel Chicago, known for dishing up seasonal, farm-to-table fare. Throw in the city’s scores of bistros, delis, cafés, gastropubs and trattorias and visitors may wonder how they will ever decide from among so many choices. For now, here are some of the stars of the Chicago dining scene that you shouldn’t miss—and some of the dishes each are serving right now.
300 North LaSalle, 1 312/329-1800
Why go: This is not just another great Chicago steakhouse (though this one has its own butcher and aging locker), but one with a great chef, Travis Strickland, who expands the menu well beyond the clichés of the genre as well as offers unique spins on classic seafood dishes.
What to eat: Any of the steaks, but also the Great Lakes whitefish with blackened Cajun crawfish served in a rich butter sauce.
Take note: Floor-to-ceiling windows offer panoramas of the Chicago River, below, and the city skyline.
809 West Randolph Street, 1 312/492-6262
Why go: “G&G’s” no-holds-barred conviviality, warehouse-meets-farmhouse décor and an always buzzing bar keep diners coming back, but it doesn’t hurt that owner Stephanie Izard is a local hero, having won season four of Bravo TV’s Top Chef.
What to eat: Ham frites with smoked tomato aioli and Cheddar beer sauce
Take note: You can sit in the lounge or at the bar, or reserve one of the four seats at the open kitchen, where you might be asked to lend a hand.
59 West Hubbard, 1 312/595-0800
Why go: It’s remained a Chi-town favourite thanks to its ebullient hospitality, hearty bistro classics, a reasonable wine list, 14 craft beers on tap and terrific charcuterie plates to share. You can’t help but have a good time.
What to eat: Macaroni gratinée with French ham.
Take note: Upstairs, the Studio Paris nightclub and lounge, with a retractable glass roof that opens to the Chicago cityscape, is one of the hottest venues in town, popular with locals and visiting celebrities.
18 South Michigan Avenue, 1 312/578-0763
Why go: Henri offers very contemporary, very civilized French-American cuisine in a charming, romantic room inspired by the work of Chicago architect and “father of modernism” Louis H. Sullivan. Wine Spectator listed Henri’s wine list among the world’s best in 2012.
What to eat: Poached turbot served with escargot and potato purée and finished in a sauce Chivry.
Take note: Its location is a quick walk from Millennium Park and Symphony Center, making it a good pre-concert choice.
2657 North Kedzie Avenue, 1 773/276-7110
Why go: Michelin-star chef Jared Wentworth calls the place a “whisky bar,” with more than 200 spirits, but the real reason to go is the gutsy Chicago-style food served up with sophisticated swagger in a rollicking atmosphere.
What to eat: The menu changes often, sometimes daily, so if you spot something you like—such as the wild boar sloppy joe with crispy sage and pickled jalapeño—get there fast, or you may miss it.
Take note: You should also try the whisky flights—a trio of three-quarter-ounce tastes of some of the bar’s famous brands.