8 Local Chains We Love in Chicago

By Sarah Freeman  |  January 21, 2014

It’s lunchtime, you're hungry, and the greasy cheeseburger in the corner is calling. Ignore it and grab something more wholesome and local at one of these eight hometown chains we love. Each one serves reliable lunches with local ingredients that won’t leave you struggling through an afternoon burger bust.

  • Dollop Coffee & Tea Co.

    The Formula: Local coffee with baked goods and pastries sourced from nearby Hoosier Mama and Fritz Bakery
    Number of Locations: 4, including its latest location with Hoosier Mama Pie Company in Evanston
    Lunch for One: $7
    Menu Highlights: Vanilla nut latte, cappuccino, Daily Metropolis blend
    Tasting Notes: Hot coffee served in cool cafes designed to encourage lingering

  • DMK Burger Bar

    The Formula: Burgers + hand-cut fries + beer (or milkshakes for those feeling especially gluttonous)
    Number of Locations: 3, with DMK Burger & Fish coming soon to Evanston
    Lunch for One: $12
    Menu Highlights: The Big DMK, NY pastrami, bison burger
    Tasting Notes: Bonus points for grass-fed beef that is served on freshly baked buns with artisanal cheese

  • Goddess & the Grocer

    The Formula: A sanctuary for local artisanal products, freshly made sandwiches, salads and prepared foods
    Number of Locations: 4, with its Bucktown location soon expanding to a larger space across the street
    Lunch for One: $10
    Menu Highlights: California Dreamin’, Greek Goddess, Turkey Reuben
    Tasting Notes: Simple sandwiches are made fresh to order and show off ingredients like rotisserie chicken, sliced deli meats and seasonal produce

  • Hannah’s Bretzel

    The Formula: Fast-casual sandwiches featuring organic ingredients served in an eco-friendly environment
    Number of Locations: 5
    Lunch for One: $12
    Menu Highlights: Thanksgiving 365, Hannah’s club, apple thyme brie
    Tasting Notes: European accents like Spanish Serrano ham, white-truffle goat cheese and the signature pretzel Bretzel baguette make the sandwich

  • Protein Bar

    The Formula: Redefining the power lunch with protein-driven wraps and bowls filled with whole grains
    Number of Locations: 11, with 5 more scheduled to open this year
    Lunch for One: $11
    Menu Highlights: One El of an Oatmeal, Buffalo Bar-rito, healthy parm bowl
    Tasting Notes: Bold flavors like spicy buffalo sauce and bright basil pesto help diners forget that it’s healthy

  • M Burger

    The Formula: Bare-bone burgers from the Lettuce Entertain You group
    Number of Locations: 4
    Lunch for One: $7
    Menu Highlights: M Burger, Dr. Betty, butterscotch milkshake
    Tasting Notes: Single or double burgers are reasonably priced with an equally irresistible taste thanks to naturally raised beef and chicken

  • Saigon Sisters

    The Formula: Modern Vietnamese with traditional bánh, bao and rolls
    Number of Locations: 3
    Lunch for One: $11
    Menu Highlights: Classic bánh mì, shrimp spring rolls, Wagyu beef bánh bao
    Tasting Notes: Bright herbs and fresh flavors define pork, chicken, seafood and vegetarian dishes

  • Tortas Frontera

    The Formula: Rick Bayless' Mexican sandwich shop in O'Hare (and now Urban Market)
    Number of Locations: 4, plus one more coming soon to Philadelphia
    Lunch for One: $13
    Menu Highlights: Chipotle chicken torta, pepito torta, cochinita pibil torta
    Tasting Notes: The only thing worth eating when flying in or out of O’Hare