The 50 Best Restaurants in Chicago

Your ultimate bucket list for dining — who came out on top?
March 14, 2017
by Zagat Staff

The people have spoken: presenting Chicago's 50 best restaurants. This year's list is more diverse than ever before, which really speaks to our dynamic and multifaceted dining scene. Hot newcomers are right up there with popular chain steakhouses, neighborhood nooks and casual cafes. Read on for reviews and recommended dishes, and be sure to check out the results of our just-released Dining Trends Survey

Les Nomades
French · Streeterville · $$$$
Food 4.9 · Decor 4.6 · Service 4.8

An "oasis of civility" for "grown-ups" , Roland Liccioni’s Streeterville "institution" offers "exceptional" French haute cuisine "without trendy gimmicks" complemented by a "superb wine list" and "white-glove service" ; an "exquisite townhouse" setting with "luxurious Parisian decor" and floral arrangements adds to the reasons it’s perfect for a "celebration" – or just a "vacation from the present" that "justifies the cost" ; P.S. jackets suggested.
Smoque BBQ
Barbecue · Irving Park · $$
Food 4.8 · Decor 3.5 · Service 4.0

Fans say “nothing else compares” to the “exceptional” BBQ at these “lip-smackin’ good” shacks where “everything on the menu is terrific” , from “spot-on” sides to “off-the chain” sauces; it’s “worth the wait” (and “there almost always is one” ) to get into the “spartan” digs at Old Irving Park, but a “no-pretenses” approach means you can order at the counter, “get messy and fit right in” – or try the seasonal patio; P.S. the Revival Food Hall location has open seating.
avec Restaurant
French · West Loop · $$$
Food 4.8 · Decor 4.3 · Service 4.5

A "longtime favorite" in the West Loop, Paul Kahan’s "dynamic" Mediterranean "still delivers" , pairing "phenomenal" , "creative" small and large plates (the "bacon-wrapped dates are a must" ) with a "thoughtful, fresh" wine list; yes, it can be "crushingly busy" in the "postmodern" quarters where a no-reservations policy during dinnertime leads to "inevitable waits" , but communal seating and a "top-notch" staff add to the "fabulous energy."
West Loop · $$$$
Food 4.8 · Decor 4.4 · Service 4.6

"Always an adventure" for "even the most jaded" diners, this "groundbreaking" West Loop Eclectic from Grant Achatz is "reborn" every few months with a new theme and "superb, innovative" tasting menu backed by "spot-on" wine pairings; "theatrical presentation" and "impeccable service" "stay constant" , so fans say it’s "worth the effort to get tickets" for a "meal you will never forget" – just "worry about the check tomorrow."
River North · $$$
Food 4.8 · Decor 4.5 · Service 4.5

"If you think you know Mexican cuisine" , an "educational experience" awaits at Rick Bayless’ "remarkable" River North "masterpiece" , where "dynamite" tasting menus feature "food that’s wildly inventive" yet still "approachable" , backed by an "excellent wine list" and "cocktails that are works of art" ; "knowledgeable, passionate" service and a "lovely" , "upscale" setting (remodeled with a sculptural ceiling and dramatic lighting) are further reasons to "splurge here."
Ravenswood · $$$
Food 4.8 · Decor 4.4 · Service 4.6

"Intense, refined" flavors shine in chef Chris Nugent’s "brilliantly executed" cooking at this New American "treasure" in Ravenswood, where multicourse tasting menus offer a "wonderful gourmet experience" that "takes the whole evening" ; the "cozy" setting "isn’t stuffy at all" , thanks in part to "impeccable" , "welcoming" service, and though it’s pricey, a BYOB policy (you can choose a bottle from their shop next door) adds "value."
Blackbird Restaurant
American · West Loop · $$$
Food 4.6 · Decor 4.4 · Service 4.5

“Both sophisticated and hip,” this “memorable” West Loop “fine-dining staple” from Paul Kahan and company puts out “thoughtful, precise” New American dishes “bursting with flavor” alongside a “well-rounded wine list” and “unique” cocktails; if the “small,” “minimalist” setting can be “noisy,” that’s just part of its “terrific energy,” and the “bargain” prix-fixe lunch special only adds to its appeal.
Au Cheval
Burger · West Loop · $$
Food 4.6 · Decor 4.0 · Service 4.1

Some of the "richest diner food in town" can be found at Brendan Sodikoff’s "trendy" West Loop hang known for "creative" , "earth shatteringly good" takes on "homestyle" "comfort food" , including potato hash with duck heart gravy, a "delicious" fried bologna sandwich and, of course, the "absolutely killer" burger; "interesting" cocktails, "excellent" beers and a "dark, sexy" vibe add more "hipster" cred – just be "prepared to wait" since it doesn't take reservations.
Japanese · West Loop · $$$
Food 4.6 · Decor 4.6 · Service 4.5

"Crowd-pleasing yet refined" , this "trendy" West Loop hangout serves an "extensive menu" of "meticulously crafted" Japanese creations, including "melt-in-your-mouth" sushi and cooked dishes "you can’t find anywhere else" , alongside "awesome cocktails" ; "beautiful people" fill the "stunning" , AvroKO-designed space, with a downstairs izakaya where it "feels like you’re in Tokyo" , so while it’s "not cheap" , fans say it’s "worth it" for a "special night out."
Fat Rice
Chinese · Logan Square · $$
Food 4.6 · Decor 4.1 · Service 4.4

A "tiny restaurant" with "big flavors" , this "unconventional" Logan Square "standout" offers an "exceptionally creative" Macanese menu ( "it’s every bit as exotic as it sounds" ) of "gorgeous" , "next-level" dishes, including a "fantastic" brunch; factor in "excellent cocktails" and a "convivial" , "boho-chic" setting and it’s "worthy of the hype" – the "only bad part is the wait."
West Loop · $$$$
Food 4.6 · Decor 4.8 · Service 4.6

Expect a "phenomenal" "culinary adventure" at this "dazzling" West Loop New American, where chef Curtis Duffy "outdoes himself" with "stunning" tasting menus "displaying individuality in every dish" , complemented by a "wine selection beyond expectation" ; "gracious service" enhances the allure in the "elegant" surroundings with "well-spaced tables" , so while it’s "at the top of the price line" , it’s a "perfect" place "to celebrate a milestone."
Lula Cafe
Logan Square · $$
Food 4.6 · Decor 4.3 · Service 4.4

“Serving farm-to-table cuisine before it became popular,” this Logan Square “mainstay” is a “gold mine” for “exquisite,” “creative” New American fare (including an “amazing” vegetarian tasting menu) and “wonderful” cocktails; a “well-informed” staff works the “stylish” yet “laid-back” room where you “never feel rushed” – even when there are “huge lines” for the “fantastic,” no-reservations weekend brunch.
Shanghai Terrace
River North · $$$$
Food 4.6 · Decor 4.8 · Service 4.5

A "stunningly beautiful" space with a "terrace that feels like a resort" sets the stage for "sophisticated" Chinese "fine dining" at this "exceptional" River North kitchen at the Peninsula Hotel, turning out "spectacular" plates from Peking duck to dim sum; factor in "superb service" from an "amazing" staff, and fans say it always "delivers" an "excellent" experience that’s "expensive and worth it."
Bavette's Bar & Boeuf
Seafood · River North · $$$
Food 4.6 · Decor 4.5 · Service 4.5

Part "trendy steakhouse" , part "sophisticated speakeasy" , Brendan Sodikoff’s River North "hot spot" delivers "fantastic" , "perfectly cooked" beef (and "wonderful alternatives" ) alongside "amazing" cocktails and an "expansive wine list" ; a "knowledgeable" staff tends the "sexy" space, complete with a "dark" downstairs lounge "ripe for conspiracies" or "a date" , so even if you "have to reserve months in advance" , fans say it’s "well worth planning ahead" for the pleasure.
Joe's Seafood- Prime Steak & Stone Crab
Seafood · River North · $$$
Food 4.6 · Decor 4.3 · Service 4.5

A "hustly-bustly" , "power" vibe prevails at this "classic" River North seafood spot, known for "wonderful stone crab" and steaks that come "seasoned and grilled to perfection" courtesy of a "first-class" , "tuxedoed" staff that "makes you feel fancy" ; factor in a "supper club" –esque setting with an "old-world Chicago feel" and fans say its "expense-account" tabs are justified for the "regal" experience.
Tanta Chicago
River North · $$$
Food 4.6 · Decor 4.3 · Service 4.4

"Justifiably popular" for "memorable" , "amazingly delicious" Peruvian fare and "terrific, unusual cocktails" (the "ceviches and pisco sours are a must" ), this River North "gem" from chef Gastón Acurio also rates for "fabulous" , "attentive" service; the "colorful" setting is "full of energy" (and "noise" ) so some prefer the "beautiful" , if "hard-to-get-into" open-air rooftop.
Nico Osteria
Italian · Gold Coast · $$$
Food 4.6 · Decor 4.5 · Service 4.5

This "high-energy" Gold Coast Italian "go-to" from Paul Kahan and company "delivers on its culinary promises" with "imaginative" offerings such as "ultra-fresh" seafood and "flawless" pastas, backed by craft cocktails and "interesting" wines; a "knowledgeable" , "self-assured" staff tends the "beautiful" Thompson Hotel setting, and if tables feel "tight" you can always "sit at the counter" to "see the cooks" at work, or try the patio in summer.
American · Noble Square · $$$
Food 4.6 · Decor 4.4 · Service 4.4

Be sure and bring the good stuff " when you BYOB to this " wonderful ", " intimate " Noble Square New American where " sublime ", " Asian-infused " tasting menus that " take advantage of seasonal ingredients " are offered in a communal format; factor in " attentive " service and a sleek, remodeled setting and it's " not-to-be-missed.
Frontera Grill
Mexican · River North · $$
Food 4.6 · Decor 4.3 · Service 4.5

Still "fresh and inventive" 25-plus years in, this near "perfecto" River North "icon" showcases Rick Bayless’s "elevated" approach to Mexican cuisine in "outstanding" plates presented in an "informal" , "festive" setting; factor in "exceptional service" and fans say it’s "always worth" the "long waits" for a table, especially if you can pass the time indulging in the "superb margaritas."
Piccolo Sogno
West Loop · $$$
Food 4.6 · Decor 4.5 · Service 4.5

A virtual "visit to Tuscany" , awaits diners at this "superb" West Loop "favorite" featuring an "excellent and extensive" seasonal Italian menu, including "magnificently prepared" fish, complemented by a "deep wine list" full of "gems from Italy; " when the weather permits ", fans recommend the " heavenly " patio, but the " elegant " interior and " stellar " staff add to the reasons it’s " not to be missed in any season."
River North · $$$
Food 4.6 · Decor 4.5 · Service 4.5

Michael Kornick’s "timeless" New American in River North "remains one of the elite" "fine-dining" destinations by pairing "sophisticated" , "outstanding" cooking – including "fantastic" tasting menus and "heavenly desserts" – with a "deep and interesting wine list" ; "refined" yet "comfortable" surroundings and "excellent" service ensure it’s "always a pleasure" , especially "when you want to celebrate."
Indie Cafe
Brunch · Edgewater · $$
Food 4.6 · Decor 4.0 · Service 4.4

Gorgeous " presentations stand out at this " consistent " Edgewater " hidden gem " bringing together " quality " Thai and Japanese (including " magnificent " sushi) in a simple, " unassuming " setting; fans also commend the " prompt " service and " outrageously affordable" tabs.
Texas de Brazil
Brazilian · Streeterville · $$$
Food 4.6 · Decor 4.5 · Service 4.5

"Wear your stretchy pants" and come "extra hungry" to these Brazilian chain steakhouses where "energetic" gaucho waiters deliver an "endless" parade of "tender" , "succulent" meats, and the "fabulous" , "ever-changing" salad bar is a "meal" in itself; the upscale-casual spaces are "comfortable" and inviting ", and while they're not inexpensive, you're guaranteed to leave with a " full belly."
Ada Street
Brunch · Pulaski Park · $$
Food 4.6 · Decor 4.5 · Service 4.5

Off-the-beaten-path " in Pulaski Park, this " hole-in-the-wall hot spot " from Michael Kornick and David Morton (DMK Burger) serves " excellent " New American–Mediterranean sharing plates that combine " familiar ingredients " in " inspired " ways, along with " specially crafted drinks " and a " well-curated wine list "; a " maze-like hallway " leads to the " cool ", " romantic " interior, where the " warm " staff instills a " laid-back " vibe, and the " beautiful" patio is popular in summer.
Gibsons Bar & Steakhouse
Gold Coast · $$$
Food 4.6 · Decor 4.4 · Service 4.5

A "martini and red meat haven" , this "iconic" Gold Coast "staple" and its suburban offshoots "always come through" with "juicy" , "top-notch" steaks, "excellent" seafood and "rich" sides the "size of your head" , all set down by a "professional" crew; an "old Chicago vibe" and a "vibrant" , "see-and-be-seen" atmosphere are further reasons to "empty those pockets and splurge."
Riccardo Trattoria
Italian · Lincoln Park · $$
Food 4.6 · Decor 4.0 · Service 4.5

You’ll "think-you’re-in-Italy" after tasting the "incredible" food at this "charming" Lincoln Park kitchen serving a "menu loaded with impressive options" , from "light and tasty" homemade pastas to "fabulous" meat and seafood dishes ; "caring" , "professional" servers "speak Italian to each other" in the "elegant, white-tablecloth" setting and even if "space is tight" , fans say that only makes it "feel intimate" – just remember to "reserve early.
Lincoln Park · $$$
Food 4.5 · Decor 4.5 · Service 4.5

"Better than ever" , this "high-end" Lincoln Park New American "brings it" with "magnificent" , "cutting-edge" cooking and "creative cocktails" presented in a "beautiful" , "unstuffy" setting with a "quaint" , "hidden" patio and an interior courtyard that offers an "incredible escape" ; "stellar" , "intuitive" service and a "fun bar" add to an overall "awesome experience" that "always impresses."
Publican Quality Meats
West Loop · $
Food 4.5 · Decor 3.9 · Service 4.1

An amazing butcher shop and an even better sandwich shop ", this " playful " West Loop deli from Paul Kahan and company offers a " killer combo " of " charm and quality " in a " small " setting with a " great coffee bar "; an " interesting crowd " frequents its white-tiled surrounds for " inventive ", " delectable " cafe eats, or to browse its " well-curated " market for " awesome charcuterie, cheese " and " fun condiments.
Yoshi's Cafe
Japanese · Lakeview · $$$
Food 4.5 · Decor 4.1 · Service 4.5

Even without the "marvelous" , now deceased chef Yoshi Katsumura at the helm, this Lakeview "neighborhood staple" still "rocks" with an "always-changing menu" full of "exciting" , "unique twists" on French-Japanese fusion offered at a "good value" ; "casual" and "welcoming" , it also boasts "friendly" , "knowledgeable" servers who help make it as "delightful" "for brunch and drinks" as it is for dinner.
Seafood · South Loop · $$$
Food 4.5 · Decor 4.5 · Service 4.5

"Artistically presented as well as exquisitely good" , the "progressive" New American cuisine at this "hip" South Loop kitchen is complemented by "unique cocktails" and an "impressive" wine selection, all courtesy of an "impeccable" staff; though "expensive" tabs leave some to save the "beautiful" , somewhat "formal" dining room for a "special occasion" , the "casual excellence of the bar menu" is a more affordable alternative.
Morton's The Steakhouse
River North · $$$
Food 4.5 · Decor 4.4 · Service 4.5

A "classic steakhouse" experience can be had at this "always-good" Chicago-born chain where "big" portions of "primo" "meat and potato" fare are offered with a side of "pampering" , "old-school" service; "expense-account" tabs come with the territory, but the "upscale" confines work for a "memorable celebration."
Longman & Eagle
Logan Square · $$
Food 4.5 · Decor 4.1 · Service 4.3

This "popular" , "hipster" hangout in Logan Square features "superb" , "innovative" New American fare highlighting "unique ingredients and preparations" dispensed in a "lively" "bar atmosphere" fueled by "awesome drinks" ; a no-reservations policy means it’s often "crowded" , but fans say it’s "worth the wait" for a "meal you’ll be telling people about for a long time."
Japanese · East Village · $$$
Food 4.5 · Decor 4.1 · Service 4.3

This upscale East Village Japanese "always delivers" with some of the "best sushi" and sashimi around plus "excellent" cooked fare like noodles and robata-grilled items; the drink list includes imported beers, specialty cocktails and loads of sake, and large skylights give the "clean and simple" brick-and-wood surrounds an airy feel.
The Capital Grille
Seafood · Streeterville · $$$
Food 4.5 · Decor 4.5 · Service 4.5

When you want to "impress a client" or have a "romantic evening" , this "upscale" chain is a "quintessential" steakhouse pick, offering "consistently delicious" "classic" dishes via "attentive" servers who make you "feel important" ; the setting is "classy but not stuffy" , and if the bill can induce "sticker shock" , well, that's what the "stiff" drinks are for.
Cafe Spiaggia
Italian · Magnificent Mile · $$$
Food 4.5 · Decor 4.5 · Service 4.5

“More relaxed” and “not as pricey” as its neighboring sibling Spiaggia, this Mag Mile “standby” is “fabulous in its own way,” offering “marvelous” Italian dishes in “sleek” surrounds “looking out on Michigan Avenue;” it may “put a dent in your wallet,” but factor in “spectacular service” and fans say it’s an all-around “class act” that “doesn't disappoint.”
Mexican · Noble Square · $$$
Food 4.5 · Decor 4.1 · Service 4.5

Charming " chef-owner Carlos Gaytan " combines his Mexican heritage with his classic French training " at this " modern " Noble Square kitchen, where the " inventive, well-thought-out offerings " showcase " delicate " yet " explosive " flavors; an " intimate ", " understated " setting with " exquisite service " completes the " unique " package, made even more " fantastic " by " out-of-this-world" sangria.
Girl & The Goat
American · West Loop · $$
Food 4.5 · Decor 4.4 · Service 4.5

Stephanie Izard’s "genius vision" defines this "hopping" West Loop "star" known for "life-altering" small plates that feature both "fun" uses of "familiar ingredients" and more "adventurous options" ( "the pig face is a must" ), plus "amazing breads and butters" ; the "high demand" for reservations keeps it "packed with people" , but "strong cocktails" and a staff that "makes you feel special" help ease the inevitable "long wait.
Mr. Beef On Orleans
Italian · River North · $
Food 4.5 · Decor 3.0 · Service 3.9

"Loyal" fans seeking "authentic" "Chicago street food done well" dig this "real-deal" River North "mecca" for its "exceptional" , "gut-filling" sandwiches at bargain prices; ok, some say it "looks like it should be condemned" , but it's still the "king of Italian beef" ; P.S. on weekends it reopens at 10:30 PM to serve late-night diners (till 4 AM Friday and 5 AM Saturday).
GT Fish & Oyster
Seafood · River North · $$
Food 4.5 · Decor 4.5 · Service 4.5

Chef Giuseppe Tentori helms this "upscale" "hit" in River North, crafting "sublime" , "innovative" small plates starring "quality" seafood, matched by "creative" cocktails and an "outstanding" wine list; though the "elegant, beachy" space can be "boisterous" , a "top-notch" staff helps make it "so very lovely" – whether for a "romantic date" , a "business lunch" or a weekend brunch you can "get lost in.
Spacca Napoli Pizzeria
Pizza · Ravenswood · $$
Food 4.5 · Decor 3.7 · Service 4.0

"Dreamy" , "delizioso" Neapolitan pies with thin, wood-fired crust that’s "both crispy and chewy" share the menu with "excellent" appetizers and "interesting imported" beer and wine at this "fun" Ravenswood pizzeria; the "basic" digs are "busy" and "sometimes difficult to get into" , but it helps that there’s "cute outdoor seating in summer."
Hugo's Frog Bar & Fish House
Seafood · Gold Coast · $$$
Food 4.5 · Decor 4.3 · Service 4.5

Tried-and-true " destinations for " excellent " seafood, these " high-end ", " classic fish emporiums " also supply " superb " steaks (from sibling restaurant Gibson’s) courtesy of an " impeccable " staff that’s an added " delight "; the " bustling " interiors have a nautical look, while the Des Plaines outpost offers a " respite" inside Rivers Casino.
Ruth's Chris Steak House
Steakhouse · River North · $$$
Food 4.5 · Decor 4.4 · Service 4.5

Well-prepared " filets " dripping with butter " and served on a " sizzling " hot plate help this chophouse chain stand out in Chicago's " crowded " steakhouse scene; " efficient " service and a " classy " atmosphere also impress – just " take your credit card " because the " first-class" experience doesn't come cheap.
Mercat a la Planxa
South Loop · $$$
Food 4.5 · Decor 4.4 · Service 4.3

"Exquisite" , "high-end" Catalan small plates, "excellent wines" and an atmosphere full of "buzz" evoke "memories of Barcelona" at this "festive and fun" Spanish spot in the South Loop’s Blackstone Hotel; a "beautiful" , "striking" space with an open kitchen and windows "overlooking Grant Park" cements its status as a "must."
The Purple Pig
Mediterranean · River North · $$
Food 4.5 · Decor 4.1 · Service 4.1

“A perennial favorite,” Jimmy Bannos Jr.'s “always lively” Mag Mile gastropub “delights the palate” with “outstanding,” “innovative” Mediterranean small plates featuring “an abundance of pork” ( “fried pig ears, anyone?” ) paired with a “robust wine list;” though its “popularity” and no-rezzies policy can lead to “interminable waits,” most agree the “magic” is worth “braving the crowds” – and the “squeeze” of communal seating.
Kai Zan
Japanese · Humboldt Park · $$$
Food 4.5 · Decor 4.0 · Service 4.5

"Next-level sushi" is the signature of this "inviting" Humboldt Park Japanese, a "hidden gem" whose "beautifully prepared" offerings include "creative but balanced" rolls and "divine" omakase tasting menus, all presented by a "wonderful" , "prompt" staff; a meal in the "cozy" , "unpretentious" space doesn’t come cheap, but fans say the "quality" is "worth every penny."
Armour Square
Food 4.5 · Decor 3.7 · Service 4.1

You "can't go wrong" with the "famous" , "supersized" breaded steak sandwiches at this Italian-leaning Armour Square counter-serve, also featuring "amazing" pizza and "wooooo!" wings on a varied menu; it's "nothing fancy" , but low tabs and the "to-die-for" signature dish make it a "staple."
Tapas Valencia
South Loop · $$
Food 4.5 · Decor 4.5 · Service 4.5

The "amazing variety" of "flavorful" , "well-prepared" Spanish tapas "encourages sampling" at these "authentic" kitchens tended by "cordial" servers; the Naperville location is set in a "charming old mansion" with an outdoor "garden paradise" for "dining under the stars" , while the South Loop outpost has colorful, Miró-esque decor.
a tavola
Italian · Ukrainian Village · $$
Food 4.5 · Decor 4.0 · Service 4.5

An "unassuming" , "hidden" exterior "belies the sophisticated cooking" at this Ukrainian Village "charmer" , a "haven of Italian authenticity" where the trademark "light-as-air gnocchi" and other "deftly executed" dishes are set down by a "terrific" staff; "cozy" and "home-like" , the "understated" setting is elevated by a "serene" feel, plus there’s a "lovely" garden out back.