Top Restaurants in Chicago
Locals crowd around long communal tables for Mediterranean small plates, such as crushed tomato and olive oil–braised octopus, pheasant sausage with brussels sprouts, and house-cured salumi.
Foodies are swooning over this candlelit wine bar and eatery. The simple and rustic menu is heavy on sharing (think flatbreads with serrano ham and marchego cheese or a simple braised rabbit over fettuccini) while the extensive wine list boasts nearly two-dozen wines by the glass, each for less than 10 bucks.
This newbie pizzeria has the distinction of being the only restaurant in the Midwest that’s 100% certified organic. Everything here is as earthy as it gets, from the delicious, cracker-thin-crust, nouveaux pizzas right down to the crunchy waitstaff. During summer months, relax with a killer cocktail (try the blackberry mint julep or one of the offbeat vodka infusions – everything from espresso and cardamom to horseradish) on the outdoor patio.
Tired shoppers seek refueling at this basement collection of fancy food stands where guests can choose from over a dozen different culinary styles.
The hour-long wait is worth it at restaurateur Doug Sohn’s self-described sausage superstore and encased meat emporium. Never mind the Chicago-style dogs; it’s creations like the Chardonnay-infused rattlesnake sausage with bacon-garlic dijonnaise and Mirabo walnut cheese that everyone’s swooning over. Don’t miss french fries rendered in duck fat on weekends.
The cupcake craze shows no signs of slowing, as evidenced at this sugary sweet bakery frequented by soccer moms and their bratty broods. Confections are simple, delicious, and easy on the wallet (and try finding another place this side of the Mississippi with swing-set seating at the counter!).
Chef Homaro Cantu’s marriage of food and science has rocked the culinary world. Think servers in lab coats, edible menus, and utensils that release aromatic vapors.
Nella Pizzeria Napoletana
Don’t expect Chicago-style deep-dish at Nella Pizzeria Napoletana, a Lincoln Park eatery helmed by Windy City native Scott Harris (of the Francesca’s chain fame). Do look forward to Italian antipasti and airy, authentic Neapolitan crusts buckling under the weight of classic ingredients like sweet salami, fresh arugula, prosciutto di Parma, mozzarella di Bufala, and San Marzano tomato sauces.
This West Loop restaurant has already been dubbed an instant classic. Think roasted rabbit with ricotta dumplings or slow baked veal breast with mint noodles in a setting that marries Art Nouveau with simple modern.
“The Donald” is determined to put his indelible stamp on Chicago’s dining scene and he’s set to do so with this restaurant inside his eponymous Trump Hotel. Thirty-foot floor to ceiling windows are matched only by chef Frank Brunacci’s robust modern American dishes like a slow-poached red snapper with Yukon Gold potato puree and bacon drizzle.
Gastro-centric Lincoln Square has its finest culinary expression at this much ballyhooed fresh-from-the-sea sushi and Japanese restaurant.
The Lobby at the Peninsula
The Windy City isn’t big on late dining, but for an only-in-Chicago experience, head to the Pen’s fifth-floor lobby, order a 12-ounce rib eye, and take in Michigan Avenue through the 20-foot windows.
The Signature Room and Lounge
At the bar and restaurant on the 95th and 96th floors of the John Hancock building you can have cocktails and a sumptuous dinner with your view.
The Wiener's Circle
This iconic hot dog stand is where drunken North Siders come to trade barbs with the acerbic staff and dine on greasy food. Not for the faint of heart.
Our Experts save you money with travel deals and advice
The lowest rates for Mediterranean cruises can be found in the winter months, when temperatures hover in the 50s and ports are largely crowd-free.
Karen Dion Freelance Editor
Sign up for the Top 25 Newsletter
to get exclusive weekly deals