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17 Must-Try Places to Eat in Chicago (Part 1)

Visiting Chicago for the first time or just looking to try a new spot? Then you’ve come to the right place! I’m someone who loves providing recommendations, and introducing people to different places or experiences (that they end up loving, of course!). Most people already know that Chicago is a melting pot, fusing a multitude of cultures, cuisines and everything in between. Whatever you’re in the mood for, the city has a place for you.

From fancy options to quick bites, below are 17 spots throughout Chicago worth hittin up if you find yourself spending a weekend in the city:


Fast-Casual

Portillos

Several locations throughout the Chicagoland area

The quintessential Chicago meal. Get an Italian beef, cheese fries and slice of chocolate cake. Warning: Do NOT forget the chocolate cake.


Hidden Gems

Lawrence's Fish & Shrimp

2120 Canal St. Chicago, IL

IYKYK. But if you don't, now you do, so thank me later. Lawrence Fisheries has been serving up delicious, fried, made-to-order shrimp to Chicagoans since the 50s.


Mario’s Italian Lemonade

1068 W Taylor St,, Chicago, IL

When I think of Taylor St., this is the first place that comes to mind. If you’re a fan of Italian ice, this place is not to be missed.

Best Pizza

Giordano’s

Several locations throughout the Chicagoland area

Best Chicago-style pizza in the city. I don’t want to debate this, so don’t come for me. *wink*


Home Run Inn

4254 W. 31st St. Chicago, IL - Original Pizzeria

Honorable mention and a family fav. Treat yoself and get the garlic butter crust.


Greek

Lyra

905 W Fulton Market, Chicago, IL

This place just opened in January 2022. Transport yourself to the Mediterranean for a date night or a girl’s night out. The ambiance is givin fancy. See the highlights here.

Italian

Pizzeria Portofino

317 N Clark St, Chicago, IL

I don’t know about you, but I prefer my pizza and pasta fresh with a view. This place is located directly on the Chicago riverfront, but oozes Italian Riviera vibes.


Southern Flavors

Luella’s Southern Kitchen

4609 N Lincoln Ave, Chicago, IL

Snag your southern favs here—from collard greens and smoked brisket mac, to fried chicken and salmon croquettes. I’ve exclusively been to Luella’s for dinner, but they have a brunch menu as well.


Low Country

1132 S. Wabash Ave. Chicago, IL

Crab legs, shrimp, mussels, crawfish, lobster tails—just throw it in the bag! Build your very own seafood boil bag with flavors from the South. Make sure you get the cornbread on the side.


Spanish

Cafe Ba-Ba-Reeba!

2024 N Halsted St, Chicago, IL

My favorite tapas restaurant in the city! I’ve been here dozens of times and even checked out their smaller sister restaurant, Lil Ba-Ba-Reeba!


Turn-Up Brunch

80 Proof Chi

1500 N. Wells St, Chicago, IL

This place is always a great time! It offers a buffet-style brunch with bottomless mimosas and a DJ that knows how to read the crowd.


Fremont

15 W. Illinois St, Chicago, IL

Oh, Fremont! I have nothing but fond memories of the debauchery that’s gone on here. From the windooooows to the donut wall. Perfect spot to take out-of-town guests.


Ice Cream

Original Rainbow Cone

9233 S. Western Ave, Chicago, IL - Original creamery

This spot has a special place in my heart, and is on the Top 5 list for me. It’s not summertime Chi unless I have a rainbow cone.

Burgers

Au Cheval

800 W. Randolph St, Chicago, IL

People will literally wait for 2+ hours just to experience this place. Mainly because they don’t take reservations. I will never turn down a burger with thick-cut bacon and an egg.


Black-owned

Virtue

1462 E. 53rd St, Chicago, IL

This spot offers American Southern cuisine with an upscale feel. The menu is small, but everything is great. I love the short rib entree and the cornbread with honey butter.

Black owned restaurant Chicago

Batter & Berries

2748 N. Lincoln Ave, Chicago, IL Another beloved breakfast/brunch spot that’s famous for its French toast flight (including a specialty French toast option that changes weekly)! I love that this place frequently changes its menu as well, offering a variety of different chef specials.


Asian

Nobu

854 W. Randolph St, Chicago, IL

While they have a few locations across the US, the rooftop vibes at Nobu Chi are unmatched. If you’re craving sushi with a view, look no further. The Black Cod Miso and Wagyu Dumplings are a hit! See the vibe here.


Chicago has so many places to try, with new spots popping up all the time. This list is by no means comprehensive—so, be on the lookout for part 2!


Happy eating!



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