The best restaurants in Chicago

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The best restaurants in Chicago

37 Best Restaurants in Chicago This 2024

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Johnnie's beefPhotograph: Michael Jarecki

There's no shortage of fantastic food in this city, but these Chicago restaurants make our list of top eats.

Tuesday July 2 2024

Photograph: Michael Jarecki

Jeffy MaiZach Long

July 2024: On our latest roundup of the city's best eateries, we're welcoming West Town restaurant, cafe and marketplace Nettare. Also joining it are two old favorites that have recently reopened—Calumet Fisheries and Khmai. Many of the city's best chefs and restaurants are in Time Out Market Chicago as well, and you can scroll through the full vendor lineup at the bottom of this page.

The best restaurants in Chicago come in all shapes and sizes, from pizza joints and Michelin-starred heavyweights to some of the best cheap eats Chicago has to offer. The cuisines are just as varied, with every corner of the globe represented through Korean, Mexican, Italian, Mediterranean and Japanese fare. Whether you're a lifelong resident or simply visiting for the weekend, stuffing your face at one of these restaurants is easily among the best things to do in Chicago. This belt-busting food scene shows no signs of slowing down, so we cut to the chase and ranked our essentials—the absolute best restaurants in town.

Our editors scour the city for great dishes, excellent value and insider info. We hope to provide an authentic snapshot of Chicago's ever-evolving dining experiences by updating this list constantly with the best new restaurants in the city as well as decades-old stalwarts that keep us coming back for more. It could be a mega-hyped destination restaurant or a remarkable hole in the wall: If it’s on the list, we think it’s terrific, and we bet you will, too. Many of the city's best chefs and restaurants are in Time Out Market Chicago as well, and you can scroll through the full vendor lineup at the bottom of this page.

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Time Out Market Chicago

We've rounded up the best chefs in the city to join us at Time Out Market Chicago, a culinary and cultural destination in the heart of Fulton Market.

Best restaurants in Chicago

What is it? A two-Michelin-starred fine dining experience from chef-owner Noah Sandoval.

Why we love it: Chicago is home to a number of upscale tasting menus but few are able to match Oriole’s deft execution. Upon arrival, guests are escorted into a freight elevator and given a drink before the door opens to reveal the dining room. Though there’s no telling what Sandoval has in store each evening, you can look forward to a minimalist style of cooking that puts the spotlight squarely on the premium ingredients. Acclaimed mixologist Julia Momose and beverage director Emily Rosenfeld complement the food with inventive cocktails and an Old World-inspired wine list. Mai Editor, Time Out Chicago

What is it? An eight-seat sushi counter run by bold and ambitious chef Otto Phan.

Why we love it: Phan left Austin, Texas to come to Chicago with the goal of creating the city’s best sushi. He fulfills those aspirations every night at his nondescript Logan Square restaurant, which is also one of the most expensive experiences in town. Those who are able to secure a seat are treated to a front-row view of the chef slicing raw fish and serving it on extra large rice grains that have been seasoned with aged red vinegar. You’ll pay a pretty penny but Kyoten’s omakase provides some of the finest bites money can buy, made with luxurious products flown in from Japan. Mai Editor, Time Out Chicago

What is it? A family-owned Mexican spot in Archer Heights that's the G.O.A.T. when it comes to goat meat.

Why we love it: Thick handmade tortillas, salsas made to order, bright-pink agua fresca—you can get all of that to go. Their only purpose, however, is to accompany the restaurant’s signature platters of chopped goat meat. Unlike other birrierias, this goat doesn’t touch a consommé until it’s plated, when some of the tomato-based broth is spooned over it. At that point, a good dousing of hot sauce, and maybe a squeeze of lime and some onions, is all you need for the city’s best tacos.

What is it? An old-school Italian beef and ice stand over in Elmwood Park.

Why we love it: Just like with deep dish pizza and Chicago-style hot dogs, locals will never agree on the best Italian beef maker. The closest to a consensus is Johnnie’s, a legendary spot that necessitates a pilgrimage to the suburbs. You’ll have plenty of time to decide on what to order as you wait in line behind regulars, but we suggest getting the beef—dipped and with hot peppers. Order a lemon Italian ice to cool your mouth off afterwards. Mai Editor, Time Out Chicago

What is it? Top Chef alum Sarah Grueneberg's pasta playground in the West Loop.

Why we love it: Italian food is meant to be shared, and at Monteverde, that's never an issue. Fill your table with a smogasboard of small plates, handmade pastas and shareable mains (read: they're freakin' huge). You absolutely mustn't skip the burrata e ham starter—which comes with warm English muffin-like rounds called tigelle—nor the spaghetti al pomodoro, a simple but soul-affirming dish that stars Grueneberg's spot-on roasted tomato sauce.

What is it? A modern Filipino-American bakery and fine dining restaurant from husband-and-wife team Tim Flores and Genie Kwon (Oriole), Kasama boasts both a Michelin-starred tasting menu and a selection of casual daytime dishes that'll have you saying “I'll take one of each.”

Why we love it: Believe any and all of the hype on this one: Kasama really is as good as they say it is. Come by in the morning for brunch fare like a longanisa-topped breakfast sandwich or a full Filipino breakfast (longanisa/tocino, fried egg, garlic fried rice and pickled papaya) and some of Chicago's best pastries. At night, book a coveted seating for the restaurant's 13-course tasting menu, a Filipino-inspired journey that swings from dishes like nilaga with A5 wagyu to a perfect little croissant served with a sprinkling of freshly shaved black truffles.

Time Out tip: If you don't have your heart set on dining indoors, skip the inevitable weekend line and order online for pickup—we promise your meal will taste just as good. 

What is it? Chef Erick Williams's love letter to the Southern experience of cooking through passed-down recipes and reimagined expressions.

Why we love it: You can practically feel the soul oozing from the menu at this Hyde Park restaurant. It's because Williams cooks with his heart, whether he's plating fried green tomatoes with tender shrimp and creamy rémoulade or he's fixing his famous collards, which arrive studded with hunks of smoked turkey meat. Second only to the food is the ambiance, which is sexy without trying too hard—perfect for a cozy date night.

What is it? The king of thin-crust pizza done Chicago-style.

Why we love it: Serving pies since 1949 (although this location opened in ’65), Vito and Nick’s is a Chicago tradition. The cracker-thin, tavern-style crust is loaded up with rich red sauce, gooey mozzarella and fennel-flecked sausage chunks; test the limits with a few more toppings—we like mushroom, pepper, onion and black olives on ours. For the complete experience, stop by to sip an ice-cold Old Style in the dining room while catching a glimpse of the Bears or Sox game on TV.

What is it? John Shields and Karen Urie Shields’s two-for-one special in the West Loop: a fine-dining destination upstairs and the city's best burger in the sultry basement.

Why we love it: You can choose your own adventure at this double feature—and neither option will lead you astray. Cozy up on the couch with the Loyalist's famed Dirty Burger, a messy medley of cheesy, oniony goodness that's now available for takeout and delivery. Or splurge for Smyth's multi-course tasting menus, a three Michelin-starred exploration of Smyth County, Virginia. 

What is it? The noodle palace from Joe Frillman that recently moved into a new, larger home in Logan Square.

Why we love it: There's something about tucking into a bowl of handmade pasta that feels like a big, warm hug. That's why we ring Daisies when we've had a long day. The menu is built around a roster of rotating pasta dishes that change with the season to highlight super-fresh ingredients like lentils, stinging nettle and green garlic. Each bite tastes a bit more special when you hear about Frillman Farms, which is owned and operated by Frillman's younger brother, Tim, and provides produce to the kitchen (as well as many other top eateries across the country). The new space is also now open durinig the day, offering coffee and delightful pastries from Leigh Omilinsky.

What is it? A no-fuss, late-night siren song that slings some of the tastiest burgers in town.

Why we love it: What Chicagoan hasn't found themselves at Red Hot Ranch in the wee hours of the morning in search of sustenance? For less than $7, one of the city's best cheeseburgers is yours—with thick-cut fries to boot! Thin, griddled patties shine with a little help from melty cheddar, LTO and special sauce. It's simple but undeniably decadent. Still hungry? Toss in a half-order of fried shrimp, which arrive golden in hue and accompanied by cocktail sauce for dipping. Then, sit back and let the food coma commence.

What is it? Translating to "my namesake" in Spanish, Mi Tocaya is a term of endearment that chef Diana Dávila has bestowed upon her neighborhood Mexican restaurant in Logan Square.

Why we love it: Dávila recreates childhood memories through her food, offering guests a lineup of soul-warming dishes like a carne asada burrito and fish in mole blanco. The guac, which is dusted with chile ash, is still on the menu, and a slate of cocktails rounds out the mix (the negroni is a unique twist on the classic).

What is it? An upscale Korean restaurant from talented chef Dave Park and his partner Jennifer Tran.

Why we love it: Jeong is the fanciest Korean experience in Chicago, bar none. Park, who previously ran celebrated food court stall Hanbun in the suburbs, uses modern preparations to elevate traditional flavors. His tasting menu showcases gorgeous and inventive plates, like a disc of salmon tartare topped with doenjang yuzu gastrique, crunchy rice pearls and dollops of crème fraiche. Mai Editor, Time Out Chicago

What is it? Chicago’s quintessential cash-only seafood smokehouse, located just north of the Indiana border.

Why we love it: Remember the bridge-jumping scene in Blues Brothers? It happened right next to Calumet Fisheries. The best way to get there is to drive—mostly because your car will double as your table when you leave with your bounty. One of the state's few remaining smokehouses, Calumet smokes all of its own seafood in-house using only natural wood. You can taste the difference when you sample the salmon, catfish and sturgeon—all of which are available by the pound. That shouldn't stop you from tacking on an order of crispy shrimp and cocktail sauce, the perfect grab-and-dunk appetizer for eating on the go.

What is it? A rite of passage for local and visiting chowhounds alike, Lem's is an institution-status barbecue house that deals in meaty things and fried chicken.

Why we love it: Chicago may not be known as a barbecue destination in its own right, but Lem's single-handedly puts the South Side on the map with its unique aquarium-style smoker, which weighs in at 64 square feet. Regulars love the rib tips and hot links—and luckily, the combo meal gets you a taste of both. It's takeout only at Lem's, so plan on dining in your car or taking this saucy feast home.

What is it? Chicago's answer to Katz's Delicatessen, where cooks in paper hats serve gigantic sandwiches, bowls of matzo ball soup and cafeteria classics like meatloaf and pepper steak.

Why we love it: Whether you're showing up for breakfast, lunch of dinner, the Jewish deli fare at Manny's is gonna fill you up. Bring an appetite and order a generous bagel and lox, the signature corned beef or simply ask the folks behind the counter what's good today.

Time Out tip: Love Manny's meats, cheeses and bagels? You can order them in bulk and stock your home deli with everything you need to make the perfect bagel and lox.

What is it? An upscale, modern Indian experience led by chef Sujan Surkar.

Why we love it: No restaurant in Chicago presents Indian flavors like Indienne. Surkar blends refined techniques with South Asian recipes to create memorable plates, such as a poached egg bathed in curry studded with peas, sweet corn and crispy onions. There are vegan, vegetarian, non-vegetarian and pescatarian tasting menus—all of which are reasonably priced. Mai Editor, Time Out Chicago

What is it? The fine-dining beacon that started Boka Restaurant Group, one of Chicago's finest culinary collectives.

Why we love it: In its 20-plus years on Halsted Street, Boka has racked up a trophy case worth of awards, including one long-standing Michelin star and a handful of Jean Banchet Awards. But we prefer to let chef-partner Lee Wolen’s impeccable techniques—on everything from dry-aged duck and roasted chicken to ricotta gnudi—do the talking. It'd be a shame to skip dessert from pastry chef Kim Mok, who whips up dreamy, sugar-filled confections with serious range—from chocolate pavlova to mochi brownie.

What is it? A sultry, vaguely French-inspired steakhouse from Hogsalt Hospitality.

Why we love it: In a city inundated with chophouses, Brendan Sodikoff manages to keep things fresh and exciting. Even if you're not a huge fan of beef (which is top notch, BTW), the menu offers fantastic alternatives like divine fried chicken and shortrib stroganoff. A slice of chocolate cream pie provides the perfect ending to one of the most romantic and chic experiences in Chicago. Mai Editor, Time Out Chicago

What is it? An elevated Latin concept.

Why we love it: Chef Norman Fenton reinvigorates fine dining in Chicago, showcasing ancient Latin American ingredients through modern technique and whimsy. The dishes are captivating, like a ravioli stuffed with puréed huitlacoche laze in truffle beurre blanc and garnished with fried corn silk. For a more laid-back experience, book a seat at the late-night chef's counter for the eight-course taco omakase, featuring offerings like Alaskan king crab and wagyu tacos.

What is it? A unanimously beloved neighborhood darling that's been doing the whole farm-to-table thing long before it was a thing.

Why we love it: There’s a reason Lula has been a Chicago staple for more than two decades. Chef-owner Jason Hammel and his team present dishes made with the freshest seasonal ingredients, and it shows—from pastries to turkey sandwiches to roast chicken, everything you'll eat here tastes like it's been thoroughly iterated and perfected.

Time Out tip: Lula serves brunch every day, so if you're free on a Thursday or Friday morning, your Classic Lula Breakfast Burrito awaits.

What is it? An all-day restaurant, bar and boutique market in West Town.

Why we love it: Drop by during the day for a selection of wine, beer and spirits, as well as coffee and pastries. When dinnertime rolls around, grab a seat in the 45-seat dining room, which was formerly a courtyard and is equipped with three large skylights, or the five-seat chef’s counter. The shareable plates take inspiration from Italian and Mediterranean flavors, with an emphasis on Midwestern ingredients. That means creative, ever-changing offerings like pierogies with giardiniera; beef belly with charred kohlrabi; and rhubarb tres leches cake. Mai Editor, Time Out Chicago

What is it? A taqueria attached to a corner store.

Why we love it: Focusing on tacos de fritangas, a specialty of Mexico City, La Chaparrita offers tortillas filled with a variety of muscles and organs that have been fried in a circular metal pan. The must-try is the crispy tripe taco, and don’t forget to wash it down with a cup of cold horchata. Mai Editor, Time Out Chicago

What is it? A vaguely “contemporary American” restaurant from acclaimed chef Erling Wu-Bower.

Why we love it: The menu draws on all sorts of influences, making it tough to categorize the cuisine at Maxwells Trading. What’s easy to understand, though, is why we’re smitten with it—suzuki tartare announces its arrival with intoxicating aromas; brûléed sweet potato bathes in a northern Thai-style curry; and a steak salad is delicious in its simplicity. You may have to plan ahead to snag a table, but it’s well worth the effort.

What is it? A Filipino restaurant that evolved from a food hall stall.

Why we love it: Chef-owner Joseph Fontelera launched Boonie’s as a pandemic project inside Revival Food Hall before relocating to a brick-and-mortar storefront in 2023. Honoring his forebears, the concise menu nails all of the staples, from lumpia Shanghai and sizzling sisig to chicken inasal. It’s heartfelt comfort that's both bold and brimming with umami flavors.

Time Out tip: Splurge on the garlic rice. You’ll be glad you did. Mai Editor, Time Out Chicago

What is it? Known to many as QXY, this Chinatown mainstay is the dumpling authority of Chicago.

Why we love it: When it comes to dumplings, we're of the mindset that more is always better. It's why we flock to QXY for the seemingly endless menu that details dozens of fillings that are sorted by protein—from pork and pickled cabbage to scallop and lotus root. If you can dream it, they probably have it. Place your order with the whole household in mind—that way, you can try a few different flavors in one sitting.

What is it?: An Argentinian-influenced steakhouse that pays homage to the country’s beloved asados.

Why we love it: The smells coming from the kitchen’s 12-foot custom-built hearth are intoxicating and serve as a love letter to Argentina. Chef John Manion’s selection of flame-kissed veggies, meats and seafood are unrivaled, boasting premium cuts from sources like Creekstone Farms in Kansas and Michigan’s Vander Farmers. For an authentic South American experience, try the parrillada platter. It’s loaded with sweetbreads, morcilla, chorizo, steak, bone marrow and much more.

Time Out tip: If you want to get up close to the fiery action, book a seat at the chef’s counter. Manion also offers grilling classes. Mai Editor, Time Out Chicago

What is it? An Indian spot that specializes in the cooking of Kerala.

Why we love it: Husband-wife owners Margarat Pak and Vinod Kalathil take diners on a culinary journey to the southwest Indian state of Kerala at their Avondale restaurant. Dedicating themselves to preserving the true flavors of the region, the couple deliver comforting recipes that won’t be found anywhere else in town, like pork chop peralan and kadala curry with roasted coconut gravy. Thattu was previously a James Beard semi-finalist for Best New Restaurant during its stint inside Politan Row food hall.

Time Out tip: Come during lunch for a terrific Kerala fried chicken sandwich dressed with spicy pickles and curry leaf aioli. Mai Editor, Time Out Chicago

What is it? New Orleans chef Zachary Engel's (Shaya) raved-about—and Michelin-starred—entry to Chicago's dining scene: a Middle Eastern eatery in the heart of Lincoln Park.

Why we love it: When we heard that Engel was packing up his bags and moving to Chicago, the anticipation was palpable. And so far, the James Beard Award winner hasn't let us down. Instead of an a la carte menu, guests choose their own four-course adventure. The kitchen orchestrates a parade of hummus, fire-roasted veggies and proteins, balloon-shaped pita and addictive sides. 

What is it? One of the few places in the city for Cambodian cuisine. 

Why we love it: Local restaurant vet Mona Sang and her mom Sarom Sieng have relocated their beloved Cambodian restaurant to a new space on Loyola's campus. Together, the two are introducing Chicagoans to the bold and funky flavors of Southeast Asia through dishes like lemongrass-marinated beef skewers, short ribs served with fish sauce and Cambodian hot pot loaded with meats, seafood and veggies.

Time Out tip: It’s reservations only so make sure to book ahead. Mai Editor, Time Out Chicago

What is it? Chef Thai Dang and co-owner Danielle Dang's love letter to Vietnamese cooking, showcasing rich flavors and overlooked dishes.

Why we love it: No matter how familiar you may be with Vietnamese cuisine, there's a good chance that something on HaiSous's menu will surprise you. Stick to standards like crispy wings covered in caramelized fish sauce or branch out by trying an octopus salad with eggplant confit. If you prefer a guided dining experience, order one of the tasting menus served family-style.

What is it? A dream realized for home-cook-turned-chef Mike Satinover.

Why we love it: After years of doing pop-ups, Satinover (best known as ramen_lord on Reddit) took the plunge and opened his own noodle shop in Logan Square. Armed with knowledge and experience gained from time spent studying abroad in Japan, he presents a tight menu of ramen and sides. We slurped the namesake Akahoshi Miso ramen—a soulful bowl of rich broth teeming with homemade Sapporo-style noodles, bean sprouts, green onions, bamboo shoots and chashu—until there was nothing left, but Satinover’s monthly specials (spicy miso on our visit) deserve a spot at your table, too.

Time Out tip: The restaurant accepts walk-ins each night starting at 5pm. But if you don’t feel like waiting an hour (or more), reservations go live at noon on Mondays. Mai Editor, Time Out Chicago

What is it? A deli and sandwich shop from a father-son duo.

Why we love it: The menu rotates constantly, so your go-to sandwich may be here today and gone tomorrow, but that just means there’s always an opportunity to discover a new favorite. One offering that never leaves the lineup is the Dante, a riff on the Italian sub that’s loaded with six layers of house-cured meats.

Time Out tip: Get some ‘nduja to take home. The spicy, spreadable salami from Italy’s Calabria region is the signature specialty. Mai Editor, Time Out Chicago

What is it? A tasty homage to the streetside eateries of Mexico City, Taqueria Chingón brings pozole, ceviche and tortilla-wrapped meats to Bucktown.

Why we love it: The tacos al pastor are a must, with tender bits of pork finding their match in creamy avocado salsa, sweet pineapple and flecks of cilantro. Vegetarians aren't left out of the fun: There's a veg-based version of the dish that subs in portobello mushrooms and celery root to create a spot-on rendition that's anything but boring. And if you're feeling extra hungry, the churros are an irresisitible dessert.

What is it? An Asian fusion spot that serves an eclectic selection of street-food-inspired bites.

Why we love it: The core of the menu is Korean, but influences from other Asian cuisines are littered throughout. You’ll sit down to options such as jumbo everything wings, pork-shoulder-stuffed cabbage and udon noodles with marinated cod roe and kimchi. The ballyhooed Mott Burger is also as good as advertised—an East-meets-West creation packing double patties, sweet potato shoestrings, miso butter onions, American cheese, dill pickles, pickled jalapenos and hoisin aioli.

Time Out tip: If you want to eat the burger at a table, it’s only offered in the dining room before 7pm. Otherwise, it’s available all night long at the bar. Mai Editor, Time Out Chicago

What is it? A Peruvian standout sporting a fabulous rooftop during the summer months.

Why we love it: Tanta celebrates the cooking of South America with a menu that touches on all of the greatest hits. There are ceviches and tiraditos aplenty, in addition to Nikkei bites, which are a fusion of Peruvian and Japanese flavors. But you also can't go wrong with the heartier items like the pollo a la brasa and the chaufa aeropuerto—fried rice studded with char siu pork and veggies. Mai Editor, Time Out Chicago

What is it? A modern Korean barbecue restaurant.

Why we love it: Most of Chicago’s beloved Korean barbecue joints are no-frills, mom-and-pop operations. But Perilla bucks that trend and feels like it was imported straight from L.A. While the meats are the star of the show (the L.A.-style galbi and marinated A5 wagyu never disappoint), don’t overlook other standouts like the silken tofu stew and Korean fried chicken wings. Mai Editor, Time Out Chicago

Local chefs, restaurants and concepts we love so much that we welcomed them into Time Out Market

Growing up in Tigray, Ethiopia with 10 other siblings, chef Tigist Reda learned at a young age how to cook for large groups. Her passion for entertaining turned professional in 2007 when she opened Demera to showcase the bold and vibrant flavors of her home country. Prepare to get hands-on as you scoop up dishes like doro wot—spicy and fragrant chicken stew—with the spongy sour flatbread known as injera. It’s the perfect communal dining experience, but we won’t blame you for not wanting to share.


The classic diner gets a dose of ‘80s- and ‘90s-inspired nostalgia at JoJo’s Shake Bar, where visitors can sip decadent milkshakes beneath photos of Biggie Smalls, Bill Murray and other heroes from the era. You can opt for a customized flavor or try a milk bar (essentially a milkshake in popsicle form), but we also suggest one of the shop’s signature Biggie Shakes if you’re feeling adventurous: Topped with a cornucopia of cookies, candy and marshmallows, they’re a delightful sugar rush and a blast from the past all at once. 


Been there, done that? Think again, my friend.

Get into a relationship with our newsletter. Discover the best of the city, first.

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Been there, done that? Think again, my friend.

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