Chi-town, the Windy City - these are just two of nicknames for the third largest city in the United Sates. Another one is Chicago the City of Neighborhoods, which is what makes it a great food town. All these little pockets provide ethnic diversity and along with that comes good eats and cool bars. This isn't your deep dish pizza, hot dog guide, this is where to get banh mi in The Loop, dim sum in Chinatown, a cocktail in Bridgeport and many more suggestions for eating, drinking and shopping.
To help you navigate your stay, here are recommendations from local chefs, bartenders and sommeliers. To get the full Chicago guide, download the Find. Eat. Drink. mobile iPhone app.
Known for their blends, single origins and iced coffee. The Western Avenue location is also their roastery.
"I like that they source a lot of their beans directly from farmers and the coffee is great." - Chef Giuseppe Tentori of GT Fish & Oyster
738 North Western Avenue, Chicago, IL 60612 | T: 773.697.8472
2521 W Chicago Avenue, Chicago, IL 60622 | T: 733.384.7827
The Philadelphia-based artisanal roaster comes to the Windy City. Their coffee is served in many of the country's best restaurants and the co-founder Todd Carmichael now has his own television series on the Travel Channel, called Dangerous Grounds.
"Their coffee has a really good balance, great body and good acidity and it’s not overwhelming. They make really good iced coffee called Pure Black, served in a nice growler-style glass bottle with a pop top. The stuff is so caffeinated, just drink a couple of sips and put the bottle away for the next day." - Chef Chris Pandel of The Bristol, Balena
"This coffee shop seems to be the epicenter of the restaurant world during the day." - Chef Pat Sheerin of Trenchermen
955 West Randolph Street, Chicago, IL 60607 | www.lacolombe.com
The ingredients are farm-to-table fresh, the prices are right, and the food is inventive enough to get the best chefs in the city excited about eating here.
"Breakfast here is insane. They do a beautiful poached egg dish. It's like you could be at Michel Bras in France. It's the egg with some sort of vegetable curry that is really not too thick and underneath it, pickled baby carrots, fresh herbs and poached baby turnips. Incredible breakfast!" - Chef Paul Kahan of One Off Hospitality Group
"They have this peanut butter sandwich, The Tineka, that is really kind of an earthy crunchy, hippy-dippy sandwich, but it's delicious. Their brunch is the best in the city, by far." - Chef Chris Pandel of The Bristol, Balena
2537 North Kedzie Avenue, Chicago, IL 60647 | T: 773.489.9554 | lulacafe.com
"It's a different kind of farmers market than most of the rest of the ones that you find in Chicago. It’s independent of the nearly 40 ones that are sponsored by the city. It’s a juried market and you have to prove that you’re on the path to sustainability. You don’t have to be certified organic, but every year to be allowed back you have to take steps towards sustainability. There’s a lot more variety of heirloom vegetables and chefs demos and lots of times chefs will walk through the market with you and tell you what they do with unusual vegetables that you find here. There’s lots of really good street food and the distillery Koval has a booth here." - Chef Rick Bayless of Frontera Grill, Topolobampo, Xoco
"It's an amazing array of vegetables, dairy and meats from farms in the Midwest. They also have Bennison's bread, that is worth standing in line for, which you should expect to do." - Chef Pat Sheering of Trenchermen
May - Oct | Wed & Sat: 7am -1pm, South End of Lincoln Park
Nov - April | Sat: 8am -1pm, Peggy Notebaert Museum, 2430 North Cannon Drive
Don't be surprised if you see some of Chicago's finest chefs scouring the aisles for exotic ingredients at this Asian grocery store.
"There are so many unique and hard to find items including seaweed, rice cakes, and chili paste at this Korean grocery store. Korean blood sausage is not to be missed!" - Chef Bill Kim of Urbanbelly, Belly Shack, Belly Q
"They have a kimchi bar, it’s almost like a salad bar with different types of kimchi. They have tons of interesting ingredients and it’s really inexpensive." - Chef Stephanie Izard of Girl and the Goat
3333 North Kimball Avenue, Chicago, IL 60618 | T: 773.478.5566 | joongboomarket.com
The second location in North America from the Italian specialty food emporium. It's 63,000 square feet of pasta, pizza, an enoteca with a mozzarella bar, a fish restaurant, a butcher and lots of imported goodies.
"I’m Italian so this is obviously my first choice for a market to visit. I guarantee there's nothing else like it in the city." - Chef Rick Tramonto of Restaurant R'evolution, Seafood R'evolution
Run by the daughter of Le Vo, the Vietnamese founder of the restaurant group, who migrated from Vietnam after learning baking from the French. They serve banh mi sandwiches, soups, rice dishes, salads and Goi Cuon rolls.
"They have really nice Vietnamese sandwiches." - Chef Curtis Duffy of Grace
166 West Washington Street, Chicago, IL 60602 | T:312.346.3971
5014 North Broadway Street, Chicago, IL 60640 | T: 773.561.4424
Chef / owner Bill Kim mash up of Asian and Latin cuisines. He suggests you try the Boricua Sandwich with Korean BBQ Beef served on Plantain, Togarashi Spiced Fries with Curry Mayonnaise, Brussels Sprouts & Chorizo, Vanilla Soft Serve with Vietnamese Cinnamon Caramel, and Yuzu Lemonade.
"The Togarashi Spiced Fries with curry mayonnaise are pretty amazing. I would order some of those and the Brussels Sprouts that he does with kimchi and chorizo." - Chef Curtis Duffy of Grace
1912 North Western Avenue, Chicago, IL 60647 | T: 773.25.1414 | www.bellyshack.com
They started as a stand at the Green City market selling French pastries and have opened a store and expanded to breads, sandwiches and salads. On Fridays, come by for Pizza Night with beer, wine, snacks, antipasti, pizzas and desserts. Owners Sandra Holl worked as a baker at San Francisco's Tartine Bakery and Mathieu hails from Paris.
"This is a really wonderful bakery and they also have great pizzas. One night a week, they offer savory pizzas and you can come here after hours for them." - Chef Rick Bayless of Frontera Grill, Topolobampo, Xoco
"I come here for the best canele and croissants in the city." Chef Giuseppe Tentori of GT Fish & Oyster
1220 West Webster Avenue, Chicago, IL 60614
T: 773.883.1313 | www.floriole.com
Artisanal pie makers. Everyday they offer one chocolate, cream, fruit and savory pie option. They also have vegetarian biscuits made hourly and served with savory options like bacon, sausage, ham and grits or vegetables. The coffee they serve comes from Gas Light Roasters.
"First of all, I love the name, then they bake really good pies, both sweet and savory. The chicken pot pie is so delicious. I always recommend people do not overlook the savory stuff that they have here." - Chef Rick Bayless of Frontera Grill, Topolobampo, Xoco
2051 North California Avenue, Chicago, IL 60647 | T: 773.276.8888 | www.bangbangpie.com
Opened in 1875, it's a European-style apothecary with herbal medicines, as well as drug store items.
"For the cocktail geek. Tons of weird botanicals and ingredients." - Craig Schoettler of Aria (formerly of the Aviary)
4716 North Lincoln Avenue , Chicago, IL 60625 | T: 773.989.0900
17 East Monroe Street, Chicago, IL 60603 | T: 312.781.6900
Design objects and housewares items from the past and the present. They have limited-production and one-of-a-kind pieces, as well as vintage.
"He hand picks items from all over the world and from local artisans. He has beautiful serving utensils and bowls. He also has some vintage stuff, like super thin, fine ceramic bowls from Berlin. They’re exquisite. From little teeny to large and they're probably from the '30s or '40s. I like that he supports local designers. This is just a great place." - Chef Paul Kahan of One Off Hospitality Group
1052 West Fulton Market, Chicago, IL 60607 | T: 312.432.0100 | morlensinoway.com
Locally-crafted organic whiskey, liqueurs and specialty spirits.
"They do the most amazing variety of white whiskeys, which is such a beautiful sipping thing. They have a three year old, like a bourbon and made with different organic grains. They do everything in small batches and do a variety of liqueurs. The fellow’s grandfather was a distiller in Austria and they brought a still from Austria and set up this wonderful little jewel of a distillery in Ravenswood and you can come here and visit the place." - Chef Rick Bayless of Frontera Grill, Topolobampo, Xoco
5121 North Ravenswood Avenue, Chicago, IL 60640 | T: 312.878.7988 | www.koval-distillery.com
Locally-crafted vodka, gins, absinthe, aquavit and limited release infused spirits. "Try the No. 6 gin. It is really delicious." - Chef Rick Bayless of Frontera Grill, Topolobampo, Xoco
28913 North Herky Drive #308, Lake Bluff, IL 60044 | T: 847.574.2499 | northshoredistillery.com
Three Floyds beer and one of Pleasant House’s Royal Pies for $10.
"When I want to see my buds in the industry, I come here. Tony behind the bar makes a fantastic perfect Manhattan and there's always someone here to catch up with." - Chef Pat Sheering of Trenchermen
806 West Randolph, Chicago, IL 60607 | T: 312.600.9391 | www.lonewolftavern.com
Chef and owner Paul Kahan describes The Publican as "a modern American beer hall. It’s loud with giant, square communal tables surrounding standing tables where people wait and drink. Crazy good beer lists, artisanal hams, sausages, terrines, salumis, and charcuterie platters."
"For oysters and incredible pork rinds." - Chef Tony Mantuano of Spiaggia
"Part beer hall, part gastronomic adventure. Hay smoked ham chop. Fried sweetbread schnitzel." - Chef Matt Jennings of Townsman
837 West Fulton Market, Chicago, IL 60607
Macau cuisine which has influences from Portugal, China, India and Southeast Asia. Chef and co-owner Abraham Conlon serves a unique menu that includes hand-made noodle dishes, dumplings, piri piri chicken, curries and their signature Arroz Gordo (Fat Rice), which is a clay pot paella-type dish.
"Fat Rice is sort of Malaysian style food. It is super tiny with a very visionary owner and chef. They started off on a shoestring, but all the chefs love eating here." - Chef Rick Bayless of Frontera Grill, Topolobampo, Xoco
Step away from the Windy City right into Polynesia at this tropical tiki bar with a thatched roof bar, bamboo stools, iconic tiki mugs and island fare like Crab Rangoon, Luau Chips and Coconut Shrimp.
"This place is remarkable. There’s so much terrific custom glassware, outstanding garnishes, almost everything in a custom tiki mug, and lots of swizzle sticks. Paul McGee has a terrific feel for cocktails. His balance is impeccable." - Bartender Martin Cate of Smuggler's Cove
"This is a bit more of a modern take on tiki by Paul McGee and it is gorgeous. They use all the best and freshest ingredients. The bar is custom built, flecked with gold with a tiki on either side. They have all their own custom mugs and do really interesting drinks." - Bartender Blair Reynolds of Hale Pale
435 North Clark Street, Chicago, IL 60654 | T: 312.610.4220 | threedotschicago.com
Craft cocktail bar from Matthias Merges (of Yosho) with food from chef John Vermiglio. Drink a Clover Club and snack on steak tartare, mac n' cheese or lots of dips in jars. "It's all about being comfortable and making a great drink." - Chef Pat Sheerin of Trenchermen
3143 West Logan Boulevard, Chicago, IL 60647 | T: 773.661.2485 | billy-sunday.com
Liquor store meets neighborhood tavern meets beer speakeasy. Enter Maria's liquor store, head to the back towards the walk-in cooler door. Maria Marszewski bought it in the 1980s but left it untouched and now her sons, Ed and Mike, have transformed it into a hipster haven.
"I love that it is both a bar and liquor store. Head here for craft beer." - Chef Bill Kim of Urbanbelly, Belly Q, Belly Shack
Open until 2am, 3am on Saturdays
960 West 31st Street, Chicago, IL 60608 | T: 773.890.0588 | community-bar.com
Classic American diner food with breakfast served all day and night. They're open 24/7 and kids eat free on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday from 2pm until 10pm.
"I'm a big fan of the Hollywood Grill if I'm by myself and want to grab a quick diner breakfast." - Chef Pat Sheerin of Trenchermen
1601 West North Avenue, Chicago, IL 60622 | www.hollywood-grill.com
The focus here is strictly ramen, making fresh noodles daily and only offering four different types of ramen broth.
"I think it is one of our best ramen shops in the city." - Chef Pat Sheerin of Trencherman
Open until 2am on weekends
2141 South Archer Avenue, Chicago, IL 60616 | T: 312.374.3450 | www.ramenchicago.com
Serving Hong Kong style Chinese cuisine with hot pots, curries, and many noodle dishes.
"Chinatown has a lot of my favorite places. Come here for the spicy shrimp." - Chef Pat Sheerin of Trencherman
Open 24 hours on weekends
2101 South China Place, Chicago, IL 60616 | T: 312.842.2228 | mysweetstation.com
Cover Photo Credit: Dhilung Kirat [flickr]
Executive chef and owner of Frontera Grill, Topolobampo, Xoco in Chicago.
Executive chef and partner in One Off Hospitality Group in Chicago.
Executive chef and owner of Grace in Chicago.
Executive chef and partner in Girl and the Goat, Little Goat in Chicago.
Executive chef and co-owner of Urbanbelly, Belly Q, Belly Shack in Chicago.
Executive chef and owner of Trencherman in Chicago.
Executive chef and partner at GT Fish & Oyster in Chicago.
Co-executive chef and partner in Restaurant R'evolution in New Orleans, Seafood R'evolution in Ridgeland, MS (Formerly of Tru in Chicago).
Head bartender at Aria in Las Vegas (Formerly of the Aviary, Drumbar in Chicago).
Bartender and owner of Smuggler's Cove in San Francisco.
Bartender and owner of Hale Pale in Portland, OR.