When people think Chicago cuisine, they often think pizza, and for good reason; authentic Chicago-style pizza is certainly some of the best in the country hands-down. However, as a bustling metropolitan center, and home to wide variety of ethnicities and cultures, Chicago has a little (or a lot) of just about every type of cuisine you might be seeking. We are here to make it a little easier for you to find the best restaurants to suit your needs, no matter what type of food you might be looking for in the Windy City.
As previously alluded to, Chicago-style pizza is pretty much a thing of legend, and just about any food enthusiast visiting the city is going to want to seek out the best Chicago pizza available. Great Lake, home of controversial chef/owner Nick Lessins, was voted by Chicago Magazine as the number one pizza restaurant in the city. With each ingredient meticulously selected from local farms, every pizza made to perfection by hand by Lessins, and a small storefront which is only open four days a week, great Lake is a truly unique establishment that anyone visiting Chicago should attempt to try at least once. Other notable pizza places to consider include Piece in Wicker Park, Spacca Napoli in Ravenswood, or for authentic Chicago deep dish, the ever-present Lou Malnati’s, the premier purveyor of Chicago’s signature pizza style, featuring multiple locations throughout the city.
If you want to really splurge on the finest Italian cuisine the city has to offer, you might consider Spiaggia in the Magnificent Mile neighborhood of Chicago. It is a must that you make reservations as Spiaggia is considered one of the most prestigious restaurants in the city, and be ready to spend anywhere from $100+ to well over $300 per person for a full-course meal. Anteprima in the Uptown neighborhood of the city is an excellent, far less expensive option serving up high quality farm-to-table ingredients wherever possible. You might also consider Piccolo Sogno in River West, or Francesca’s on Taylor in Little Italy.
For Maine-inspired, adventurous and unique contemporary American cuisine with an emphasis on fresh seafood, chef Ryan McCaskey’s Acadia is an excellent choice. Try dishes you won’t find anywhere else such as their Columbia River Sturgeon featuring white asparagus truffle puree, coffee, nutella, apricot osmanthus gel, and lemon confit, or their Stonington Lobster featuring pearl onion, golden beet, leeks, corn custard, sour cream pastry, and a delicious signature bisque. Alinea is another excellent option, serving up contemporary American fare that is utterly unique in both its preparation and presentation, to the point of being almost bizarre. Their menu at any given time will feature around 18 courses of intricate, aesthetically interesting, extremely strange dishes, all served in Alinea’s almost clinical environment. Their aesthetic seems to be one where the food itself creates the atmosphere, while the restaurant, although certainly modern and far from shabby, is intentionally free of much distraction in the decor. Alinea is certainly expensive (be prepared to spend over $200 for one meal), but it is likely to be one of the most unique dining experiences you have ever had in your life.
If you are looking for a high-class, fine dining Asian food experience, try Moto, offering up anywhere from 5 to 18 course meals depending on your budget. Moto is definitely not typical Asian fare, and despite the high price tag, if you can afford it, the Moto experience is well worth it. For an excellent lower-priced option, try Thai Pastry and Restaurant in uptown Chicago, a locals favorite for delicious Thai cuisine. For healthy, nutritious, and delicious Indian fare, Arya Bhavan is an excellent choice, while Jin Ju Restaurant and Bar is a great option if you have a hankering for Korean food. For sushi and Japanese cuisine, you can’t miss with Katsu in West Rogers Park, or Irami in the Ukrainian Village of Chicago.
There is so much more to Latin food than the usual “Mexican restaurant” you will find every few blocks in most cities. If you want a more unique Latin culinary experience, visit Ay Ay Picante Peruvian Seafood & Steak, a restaurant specializing in regional Peruvian cuisine. Other excellent options include Cuban-Mexican restaurant Café 28, or Folklore Argentine Grill for the best in Argentinian fare. It’s not everyday that you get to try authentic Costa Rican cuisine in the US, so you might want to take advantage of the opportunity and visit Irazu Costa Rican Restaurant, a locals favorite which has received oodles of rave reviews from satisfied patrons.
As the third most populous Metropolitan area in the US and a city which is just brimming with character and culture, it is not a surprise that Chicago’s culinary offerings are simply to-die-for. Whether you are looking to indulge in some of the best down-home deep-dish pizza in the world, enjoy an adventurous and mind-expanding progressive fine dining experience, or engage in any culinary pursuit in between, you will most definitely find what you are looking for in the Windy City.