Where to Eat in Chicago: 13 Spots for Any Occasion

Feeling hangry or snackish? Don’t worry, we got you covered. As Chicagoans, we know a thing or two about our various food options…this list includes some of the top spots for every type of cuisine, welcome to diversity! Whether you’re in the mood for Italian, Mexican, or Asian cuisine, we have a recommendation for where to eat in Chicago.

A view of Chicago loop with a restaurant with outdoor seating in the bottom foreground and the city skyline in the background. There are over 7,000 places to eat in Chicago.
With over 7,000 restaurants to choose from, allow us to share where we like to eat in Chicago. Photo credit: Benoit Debaix

So, without further ado, here are our top 13 picks for where to eat in Chicago for every occasion.

For a Casual Meal: Lou Malnati’s Pizzeria

This well-known Chicago restaurant is ideal for a fun night out with your friends and family. The deep dish pizza at Lou Malnati’s is delicious, and the menu provides a variety of selections. Gotta get the deep dish out of the way first right?

Lou’s Pizza dates back all the way to the 70’s, right when the first pizzeria opened up in Lincolnwood! Lou’s pizza is clearly a chosen Chicago favorite, hence why they’re always our go-to pizza at events and festivals like Taste of Chicago and Lollapalooza.

Close up of a pan of deep dish pizza and serving spatula
Never skip deep-dish from Lou Malnati’s when visiting Chicago. Photo credit: Sara B.

For a Romantic Evening: TAO Chicago

When we think of TAO, we think of posh, elegant, and extreme. Think wearing your favorite little black (or red) dress, or your suit and tie to dinner! If you’re a fan of Japanese sake, Tao’s is unmatchable. You get sharing-sized entrees, so this is a great spot for couples that like to try a bit from each other’s food.

Check out the Emperor’s lounge for happy hour cocktails, and don’t forget to snap a selfie at the Grand Staircase, your friends won’t believe you’re in Chicago! If you really like privacy while eating, ask for a Quan Yin room when making a reservation.

Local’s Tip: Need more date night ideas? Check out these 6 romantic spots for the best date night in Chicago!

For a Night Out on the Town: The Signature Room at the 95th

If you’re looking for a place to enjoy cocktails with friends, The Signature Room is the perfect spot. Located on the 95th floor of the John Hancock Center, this bar offers stunning views of the city.

This spot is ideal if you’re looking for a delicious meal in a classy setting, as it is definitely more of a high-class vibe.

Shot from the interior of the Signature Room in Chicago, with floor to ceiling windows looking out on the water. People sit at tables with white tablecloths and enjoy their food.
The Signature Room has some of the best views of Chicago. Photo credit: E. Nekervis

For Special Occasions: Alinea

Alinea is perfect for celebrating those once-in-a-lifetime moments. The contemporary American cuisine is inventive and delicious, and the service is impeccable.

The most popular dish at Alinea is their infamous 36-course meal. It is definitely not for the faint of heart, but if you’re looking to experience some of the most unique and delicious food that Chicago has to offer, this is the place to go.

Close up of a dish at Alinea, a restaurant in Chicago, with dozens of tiny bites
Think you could handle a 36-course meal? At Alinea in Chicago, you can give it a try! Photo credit: Kimberly Vardeman

For Something Trendy: The Duck Inn

The Duck Inn has a cool, rustic vibe and offers a unique menu that features southern-inspired cuisine. We love the shrimp and grits–they’re seriously delicious.

We highly suggest checking out the garden at The Duck Inn, it’s intimate and almost feels like your best friend’s polished patio!

The Duck Inn has been praised for some of the best awards you can give to restaurants including, Chef of the Year by The Chicago Tribune, & even Restaurant of the Year by USA Today.

Apart from this, you can expect excellent service and drinks as their bartenders have also been voted Bartender of the Year by The Chicago Tribune. That’s how you can be sure that you’ll have a wonderful dining experience.

close up of a man taking a marinated duck wing from a platter at The Duck Inn in Chicago.
Try some duck wings at The Duck Inn. Photo credit: Lou Stejskal

For Asian: Bonchon

Okay but if you haven’t tried the Korean chicken wings here are you really living? Also don’t skip out on the seasoned fries. Bonchon is a great option if you want to explore Chinatown and want somewhere a little bit more laid back, where you can stuff your face in peace.

For BYOB: Irazu

If you’re looking for a great spot to enjoy a glass of wine, Irazu is the perfect place for you. This BYOB restaurant offers a delicious menu of Latin American cuisine. We would highly recommend the empanadas, if you’ve ever traveled to South America, or have had South American cuisine, you know that multiple South American countries cook empanadas but they all vary slightly from culture to culture.

Irazu does a good job of serving up authentic Costa Rican empanadas, our favorite is the plantain and cheese empanadas! The flakiness of the crust is goldened to perfection and the contrast of the sweetness of the plantain against the saltiness of the cheese make these great appetizers!

close up of a dish of fried garlin plantains with a black bean sauce at Irazu, a Latin American restaurant in Chicago
For South American cuisine in Chicago, Irazu is the place to go. Photo credit: PpoHio

For Mexican: Cruz Blanca

There are four Rick Bayless restaurants in Chicago, and Cruz Blanca is one of them, located in Fulton Market, perfect for some happy hour margaritas!

The brewpub has a cool, rustic vibe and offers a unique experience that is perfect for those who want to explore Mexican food. We would highly recommend the barbacoa tacos for something authentic!

For Rooftop Vibes: Raised Bar

If you’re looking for a rooftop spot to enjoy cocktails with friends during Chicago’s summer months, Raised Rooftop Bar is the perfect place for you. This trendy bar offers stunning views of the city skyline. Perfect place for some drinks while enjoying the sunset!

bird's eye view of three colorful cocktails on a white counter
Sip on a carefully crafted cocktail while enjoying the Chicago skyline. Photo credit: Olena Sergienko

For Italian: Via Carducci

Via Carducci presents authentic Southern Italian flair and is a true Chicago Hidden gem! Perfect for when you are in the mood for an intimate cozy dinner and wine.

Not sure what to get? If you’re not vegetarian, go with the Rotini Santa Lucia, corkscrew pasta sauteed in red wine with onion, peas, mushrooms, and Italian sausage in a tomato cream sauce. Alternatively, pizza margherita is never a bad choice. Wood-fired to perfection and topped with fresh mozzarella, basil, extra virgin olive oil, & oregano, you truly can’t go wrong with that!

close up of a pizza margherita, light brown crust with tomato sauce, melty mozzarella, and topped with fresh basil leaves
They always say to judge an Italian restaurant based on a classic dish like pizza margherita! Photo credit: Amirali Mirhashemian

For Brunch: 3 Arts Cafe

If you’re looking for a delicious brunch spot in Chicago, we love 3 Arts Cafe. This cozy cafe offers a variety of breakfast items, as well as sandwiches, salads, and desserts. The service is also wonderful, and the atmosphere is warm and inviting, we’d recommend coming here on a Sunday with your girlfriends!

close up of a gourmet hamburger and fries with the beautiful courtyard of 3 Arts Cafe of Chicago in the background
Chow down on your brunch favorites at 3 Arts Cafe in Chicago. Photo credit: Lou Stejskal

For Post Night of Partying: The Original Maxwell Street

Fast food doesn’t usually come to mind when you think about where to eat in Chicago, but odds are you’ve probably been there: a night out in town of partying, dancing, and drinking, it’s 2 am and you’re starving but not feeling the Mickey D’s drive thru. We get you! Head to The Original Maxwell Street for a Polish hotdog or double cheeseburger, nothing gets better than a greasy, American burger native to Chicago.

a person holds a Chicago-style hotdog with a polish sausage and pickle spears in a bun with the Chicago skyline in the background
When in Chicago, you must try the original Polish hotdog. Photo credit: WordRidden

For Artsy Vibes: Frida Room

Frida Room is a Mexican-American restaurant located in the Pilsen neighborhood of Chicago. The restaurant is named after artist Frida Kahlo, and pays homage to her life and work. The menu features a variety of Mexican dishes, as well as cocktails and desserts.

The quality of the food and the attention to detail that’s gone into the decor is very impressive. The restaurant has a cozy atmosphere, and the staff is friendly and welcoming.

a large mural of the Mexican artist Frida Kahlo with butterfly wings
The Pilsen Street murals in Chicago are definitely worth a visit. Photo credit: wiredforlego

Hope you enjoyed our favorite city spots! There you have it folks, our ultimate list of where to eat in Chicago.