Best of the Best

The 50 Best Restaurants in Chicago

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

1. Les Nomades

FrenchStreeterville
4.9
Food
4.7
Decor
4.8
Service

An “oasis of civility” for “grown-ups”, Roland Liccioni’s Streeterville “institution” proffers “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.

What to order: Langoustine ravioli, duo of veal and lamb loin and classic soufflé for dessert make for the perfect French dinner at this Streeterville classic.

2. Smoque BBQ

BarbecueIrving Park
4.8
Food
3.5
Decor
4.1
Service

Fans say “nothing else compares” to the “exceptional” BBQ at this “lip-smackin’ good” Old Irving Park BYOB 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, but a “no-pretenses” approach means you can order at the counter, “get messy and fit right in” – or try the seasonal patio.

What to order: Sample a bit of everything off the small menu, especially the St. Louis ribs, sliced brisket and BBQ beans on the side. 

3. avec Restaurant

MediterraneanWest Loop
4.8
Food
4.3
Decor
4.5
Service

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 leads to “inevitable waits”, but communal seating and a “top-notch” staff add to the “fabulous energy.”

What to order: Medjool dates are a staple at Avec, and for good reason. You also can't go wrong with the roasted salmon and deluxe focaccia. 

4. Next Restaurant

EclecticWest Loop
4.8
Food
4.4
Decor
4.7
Service

“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.”

What to order: The tasting menus are always changing and always exciting, from a childhood-inspired degustation to menus focused on steakhouses, Spanish cuisine and more.

5. Topolobampo

MexicanRiver North
4.8
Food
4.5
Decor
4.6
Service

“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 are further reasons to “splurge here.”

What to order: Start with Bayless' impeccable seasonal tamal, followed by red chile suckling pig for a larger dish and crepas con cajeta for a sweet finale.

6. Goosefoot

FrenchRavenswood
4.8
Food
4.4
Decor
4.7
Service

“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.”

What to order: The seasonal, ever-changing tasting menus here are always impeccable. Items might include dishes like melon gazpacho and asparagus tortellini with smoked rabbit.

7. Blackbird Restaurant

AmericanWest Loop
4.7
Food
4.4
Decor
4.6
Service

“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.

What to order: The salad of endives, seared whitefish and wood-grilled sturgeon are all menu regulars for good reason.

8. Au Cheval

AmericanWest Loop
4.7
Food
4.1
Decor
4.2
Service

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.

What to order: The famous cheeseburger is definitely worth a try, along with the fried bologna sandwich and General Jane’s honey-fried chicken. 

9. Momotaro

JapaneseWest Loop
4.7
Food
4.7
Decor
4.5
Service

“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.”

What to order: Start with charcoal-seared bonito and hirame sashimi, followed by jidori chicken hearts and the cedar roasted sea bream.

10. Fat Rice

AsianLogan Square
4.7
Food
4.2
Decor
4.4
Service

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.”

What to order: The namesake arroz gordo (aka fat rice) is a can’t-miss, and great for groups, made with jasmine rice, sofrito, chorizo, salted duck, char siu pork, linguica sausage, prawns, steamed clams, tea eggs, chicken fat-fried croutons, olives and pickled chiles.

11. Grace

New AmericanWest Loop
4.7
Food
4.8
Decor
4.7
Service

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.”

What to order: You can’t go wrong with any of the meticulous creations off Duffy’s award-winning tasting menus. There are two main tasting options, the Flora menu and the Fauna menu. The former showcases seasonal produce while the latter is more hinged on seafood and meats.

12. NAHA

New AmericanRiver North
4.7
Food
4.5
Decor
4.5
Service

Chef Carrie Nahabedian is “at the top of her game” at this “serious” River North kitchen serving up “phenomenal”, “original” New American–Mediterranean dishes “skillfully prepared” from “top-quality ingredients” and presented by a staff that’s “polished but not overbearing”; factor in a “sleek” but “comfortable” setting and fans say it “never disappoints” as a “first-rate” “fine-dining” option “without pretension.”

What to order: The Greek salad, “French Kiss” oysters and lacquered aged Moulard duck breast are all solid mainstays. 

13. Lula Cafe

New AmericanLogan Square
4.7
Food
4.3
Decor
4.4
Service

“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.

What to order: Beet bruschetta and baked French feta are great choices off the regular cafe menu, along with a revolving door of seasonal dishes on the dinner and brunch menus, like cornbread French toast with peaches. 

14. Tru

FrenchStreeterville
4.7
Food
4.8
Decor
4.7
Service

“Prepare to be wined, dined and amazed” at this fine-dining “gold standard” in Streeterville, featuring Anthony Martin’s “lavish”, “exquisite” French tasting menus in “luxurious”, “serene” surroundings with an “art-gallery feel” (jackets required); instead of “quantifying the dollar outlay”, fans suggest “turning yourself over” to the “outstanding” staff for a “divine experience” “like no other.”

What to order: The tasting menus here are immaculate. They're known for their caviar service, and rotating menu items include dishes like potato purée with raclette cream and jidori chicken with sunflower sprouts.

15. Shanghai Terrace

River North
4.7
Food
4.8
Decor
4.6
Service

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.”

What to order: This is elegant dim sum like you’ve never seen before, with standout items like prawn and pea shoot dumplings and steamed scallops with Chinese celery. Be sure and finish with mooncakes. 

16. Bavette's Bar & Boeuf

SteakhouseRiver North
4.7
Food
4.6
Decor
4.5
Service

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.

What to order: Shellfish towers and garlic shrimp de Jonghe are best followed by one of Bavette’s sterling steaks, like the petite duchess cut with béarnaise.

17. Joe's Seafood, Prime Steak & Stone Crab

SeafoodRiver North
4.7
Food
4.3
Decor
4.6
Service

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.

What to order: The namesake stone crab is worth the wait, along with Joe’s fried chicken. Finish with a slice of seasonal pie.

18. Tanta Chicago

River North
4.7
Food
4.3
Decor
4.4
Service

“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.

What to order: Start with the bracing cebiche tasting of fresh fish before indulging in heartier items like chaufa aeropuerto and pescado frito, all of which are great for sharing.

19. Nico Osteria

ItalianGold Coast
4.7
Food
4.5
Decor
4.5
Service

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.

What to order: The salt-crusted branzino is an essential, and a show-stopper. Save room for the kouign-amann for dessert.

20. Ruxbin

New AmericanNoble Square
4.7
Food
4.4
Decor
4.4
Service

“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; with “attentive” service and “repurposed, visually interesting” decor including “old cookbooks on the walls” and “funky” bathrooms, it’s no wonder fans say it’s “not to be missed.”

What to order: Ruxbin’s tasting menus keep things creative and fresh with items like chicken fried celeriac, jackfruit carnitas and cobia with horseradish pommes purée.

21. Frontera Grill

MexicanRiver North
4.7
Food
4.3
Decor
4.5
Service

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.”

What to order: The Frontera guacamole is some of the best, and the ceviche trio is a great starter as well. For entrees, duck in salsa macha is incredible.

22. Piccolo Sogno

ItalianWest Loop
4.7
Food
4.6
Decor
4.6
Service

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."

What to order: Cecina fritta, chickpea flour fries with Parmesan, are a great way to start a meal, followed by paglia e fieno “straw and hay” green and white ribbon pasta with veal ragu. For something heftier, the braised beef short ribs with soft polenta, red wine and aromatic vegetables is the way to go. 

23. mk

New AmericanRiver North
4.7
Food
4.5
Decor
4.5
Service

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.”

What to order: MK does a lot of things well, including standouts like the two tartares, octopus and the famed “cake & shake” dessert. 

24. Indie Cafe

CafeEdgewater
4.7
Food
4.1
Decor
4.4
Service

“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.

What to order: Asparagus Gold is a real winner, served with shrimp, bacon and mango salsa. The lime-and chile-splashed andaman salad with calamari, scallops and shrimp makes for an impressive salad option, while coconut-glazed pork is a winner from the robota grill. 

25. Texas de Brazil

SteakhouseStreeterville
4.7
Food
4.5
Decor
4.5
Service

“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."

What to order: Give your waiter the green light and get ready to indulge in succulent cuts of meat like filet mignon wrapped in bacon, lamb chops and Parmesan-crusted pork loin.

26. Ada Street

Pulaski Park
4.7
Food
4.6
Decor
4.5
Service

“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.

What to order: The crispy black-eyed peas and blistered shishito peppers with Jamaican jerk butter are essential starter plates. Of the ever-changing larger dishes, chicken-fried pork cheeks is a prime standout. Be sure and finish with chocolate dessert served with toast, Tuscan olive oil and sea salt.

27. Gibsons Bar & Steakhouse

SteakhouseGold Coast
4.7
Food
4.4
Decor
4.5
Service

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.”

What to order: You can’t go wrong with double-baked potatoes and babyback ribs, but when it comes to steaks, try the W.R.’s Chicago cut.

28. Riccardo Trattoria

ItalianLincoln Park
4.7
Food
4.1
Decor
4.5
Service

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.”

What to order: For pasta, the risotto porcini is perfection. Veal saltimbocca is a signature item for entrees, and panna cotta makes for a grand finale. 

29. Boka

AmericanLincoln Park
4.6
Food
4.6
Decor
4.6
Service

“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.”

What to order: Chef Lee Wolen is constantly rolling out new hits off his seasonally inspired menu, like heirloom tomatoes with black garlic and buttermilk, crispy sweetbreads with grapes and roasted suckling pig with fermented ramps. 

30. Publican Quality Meats

AmericanWest Loop
4.6
Food
3.9
Decor
4.2
Service

“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.”

What to order: PQM makes some of the best sandwiches in town, like the Return of the Gyro and the Parm #2. Ribollita soup makes for a great combo. 

31. Yoshi's Cafe

CafeLakeview
4.6
Food
4.2
Decor
4.5
Service

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.

What to order: Yoshi’s is rightly renowned for its tuna tartare, foie gras-duck liver mousse and oven-roasted whole Japanese kabocha pumpkin filled with vegetables, tofu and mushrooms. 

32. Acadia

AmericanSouth Loop
4.6
Food
4.5
Decor
4.5
Service

“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.

What to order: The Stonington lobster roll and Acadia burger are can’t-miss hits off the bar menu, while the main dining room features seasonal hits like celery root risotto, Indiana duck ham and scallops with parsley root and salsify. 

33. Morton's The Steakhouse

SteakhouseRiver North
4.6
Food
4.4
Decor
4.5
Service

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.”

What to order: Oysters Rockefeller, baked escargots, five onion soup and the porterhouse steak make for an incredible meal at this iconic destination.

Note: Ranking and scores refer to all locations.

34. Longman & Eagle

AmericanLogan Square
4.6
Food
4.2
Decor
4.3
Service

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.”

What to order: Duck-in-a-jar, seared Berkshire pork tenderloin and fried chicken roulade are all revelatory hits off the always-exciting menu. 

35. Arami

JapaneseEast Village
4.6
Food
4.2
Decor
4.3
Service

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.

What to order: Be sure and try the seared hotate, Arami ramen and hamachi meguro ebi.

36. The Capital Grille

Streeterville
4.6
Food
4.5
Decor
4.6
Service

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.

What to order: It's meat and potatoes at its absolute finest when you pair au gratin potatoes with a Delmonico steak.

37. Spiaggia

ItalianMagnificent Mile
4.6
Food
4.7
Decor
4.6
Service

“The epitome of fine Italian dining”, Tony Mantuano’s “premier” Mag Mile destination is in “a world of its own” with “sophisticated”, “top-end” tasting menus and “amazing” wine proffered by an “impeccable” staff; “quietly fancy people” fill its “elegant” surroundings, complete with “gorgeous views”, and even if the bill is equally “wow”-inducing, fans say just “mortgage the house and go” for a meal you “will never forget.”

What to order: Along with the always-incredible tasting menu items, Spiaggia sensations include the masterful gnocchi, tagliatelle and manzo.

38. Mexique

MexicanNoble Square
4.6
Food
4.2
Decor
4.5
Service

“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.

What to order: The corn tamal with seafood mousse and trio of sopes (served with escargots, chimichurri butter, Merguez lamb sausage, jalapaño sweet plantain and young coconut) perfectly exemplify Mexique’s penchant for fusion.

39. Girl & The Goat

AmericanWest Loop
4.6
Food
4.4
Decor
4.5
Service

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.”

What to order: Of the smash-hit menu items found at Girl & the Goat, some standouts include Izard’s sautéed green beans, wood-oven-roasted pig face and goat empanadas. 

40. Mr. Beef On Orleans

Sandwich ShopRiver North
4.6
Food
3.0
Decor
3.9
Service

“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).

What to order: Without question, the Italian beef sandwich is requisite. If you’re really feeling indulgent, opt for the Italian beef sausage combo.

41. GT Fish & Oyster

SeafoodRiver North
4.6
Food
4.5
Decor
4.5
Service

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.”

What to order: Oysters are essential, best enjoyed as part of a shellfish tower or as po’ boy sliders with kimchi and peanuts. The clam chowder and shrimp bruschetta are great options as well.

42. Spacca Napoli Pizzeria

PizzaRavenswood
4.6
Food
3.8
Decor
4.1
Service

“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.”

What to order: For some of the best thin-crust pizza in town, order any of Spacca Napoli’s Neapolitan pizzas, like the bianca al filetto with fior di latte, San Marzano tomatoes, salt and basil.

43. Hugo's Frog Bar & Fish House

SeafoodGold Coast
4.6
Food
4.3
Decor
4.5
Service

“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.

What to order: The crabmeat avocado and sizzling-hot escargots are great ways to start off a meal at Hugo’s, and if you’re feeling adventurous, try the sautéed frog legs with garlic butter. 

44. Ruth's Chris Steak House

SteakhouseRiver North
4.6
Food
4.4
Decor
4.5
Service

“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.

What to order: Try a little surf and a little turf with Ruth's Chris' crispy lobster tail, veal osso buco ravioli and the T-bone steak. Be sure and bring a large appetite. 

45. Mercat a la Planxa

SpanishSouth Loop
4.6
Food
4.4
Decor
4.3
Service

“Exquisite”, “high-end” Catalan small plates, “excellent wines” and an atmosphere full of “buzz” evoke “memories of Barcelona” at Jose Garces’ “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.”

What to order: Shareable plates that are sure to be a hit for the table include datiles con almendras, pimentos de padron and paella Valenciana. 

46. The Purple Pig

AmericanRiver North
4.6
Food
4.2
Decor
4.2
Service

“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.

What to order: You could throw a dart at the menu and still end up with a delicious meal. Pig’s ears, octopus à la plancha and eggplant caponata are a few crowd-pleasing fixtures.

47. Kai Zan

JapaneseHumboldt Park
4.6
Food
4.1
Decor
4.5
Service

“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.”

What to order: Uni shooters, tako yaki and sunomono are among some of the best hits off the menu. Kai Zan is also rightfully renowned for its ever-changing omakases. 

48. Ricobene's

ItalianArmour Square
4.6
Food
3.7
Decor
4.2
Service

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.”

What to order: The breaded steak sandwich is life-changing.

49. Tapas Valencia

SpanishSouth Loop
4.6
Food
4.5
Decor
4.5
Service

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.

What to order: Marinated artichokes with sherry vinaigrette, chicken breast casserole with vegetables and beef tenderloin-filled empanadas. 

50. a tavola

ItalianUkrainian Village
4.6
Food
4.1
Decor
4.5
Service

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.

What to order: Signature standouts off the concise Italian menu include the gnocchi, veal saltimbocca and bistecca florentina.

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