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The Non-Snobby Chicago Dining Guide

This isn’t a guide to the fanciest food in town. We aren’t trying to be like the Michelin Guide. We’re normal people, who just like really, really good food. What follows is what we believe is the best food in Chicago – we ignore factors like the pedigree of the chef and the price level. Our sole criterion is how good it tastes.

1. Frontera Grill

Cheers to the always dapper Paul Sauter

Shoutout to the always dapper Paul Sauter

Address: 445 N Clark St, Chicago, IL 60654
Phone: (312) 661-1434
Mon: Closed
Tue: 11:30 am – 2:30 pm & 5:30 pm – 10:00 pm
Wed – Thu: 11:30 am – 2:30 pm & 5:00 pm – 10:00 pm
Fri: 11:30 am – 2:30 pm & 5:00 pm – 11:00 pm
Sat: 10:30 am – 2:00 pm & 5:00 pm – 11:00 pm
Sun: Closed
Menu
Yelp: (4 stars 1700+ reviews)
Website

Rick Bayless and his wife, Deann Groen Bayless, had just returned from an extended stay in Mexico, where they had been researching their first book. They wanted a restaurant that tasted and felt like their travels. So they hung colorful Mexican folk art on the walls, turned up the Mariachi music and packed the menu with the foods that reminded them of their travels:  tangy tomatillos, rich black beans, fiery chiles. And that’s how it’s been ever since.

  • Beautiful decor – lots of folk art & costumes
  • Queso filled quesdillas slay more than Beyonce

2. Sapori Trattoria

Cheers to the incredible Dave McManus

Cheers to the incredible Dave McManus

Address: 2701 N Halsted St, Chicago, IL 60614
Phone:(312) 967-9358
Mon – Thu: 4:30 pm – 10:00 pm
Fri: 4:30 pm – 11:00 pm
Sat: 4:00 pm – 11:00 pm
Sun: 3:00 pm – 10:00 pm
Dinner Menu
Wine Menu
Dessert Menu
Bar Menu
Yelp: (4 stars 1500+ reviews)
Website

Sapori Trattoria was founded in 2001 by Chef Anthony Barbanente. Although a Chicago native, Chef Anthony lived a significant part of his life in Southern Italy on his grandfather’s farm. In Italy he learned the Italian way “l’ambiente Italiano”–how Italians lived and enjoyed life. He also had the great blessing of growing up in a restaurant family where his father was a chef.

  • Chicago Magazine voted Sapori’s homemade pumpkin ravioli as the “Best in Chicago”
  • Zagat included Sapori as one of the top 1000 restaurants in the US
  • Opentable listed Sapori as one of the Top 50 Italian restaurants in the US

3. 90 Miles Cuban Café

Cheers to the always dapper Jacob Austin Berman

Cheers to the always dapper Jacob Austin Berman & charming Kate Lo

Address: 2540 W Armitage Ave, Chicago, IL 60647
Phone: (773) 227-2822
Mon – Thu: 10:00 am – 10:00 pm
Fri – Sat: 10:00 am – 11:00 pm
Sun: 10:00 am – 10:00 pm
Menu
Yelp: (4 stars 1300+ reviews)
Website

Their full service restaurant on Armitage provides an experience like none other; from their stunning daily feature to the weekly live flamenco shows you can drop into Cuba without leaving the city

  • BYOB! They even provide mixers
  • Excellent outdoor patio dining

4. XOCO

Address: 449 N Clark St, Chicago, IL 60654
Phone: (312) 661-1434
Mon: Closed
Tue– Thu: 8:00 am – 9:00 pm
Fri: 8:00 am – 10:00 pm
Sun: Closed
Menu
Yelp: (4 stars 3000+ reviews)
Website

Xoco—pronounced “SHO-ko”—is the Aztec word for “little sister.” But there’s nothing little about Xoco’s bold Mexican marketplace flavors. Open early and closing late, this quick-service café from Rick and Deann Bayless proffers contemporary expressions of Mexico’s most beloved street food and snacks: flaky empanadas, hot-from-the-fryer churros, frothy Mexican hot chocolate, crusty tortas and meal-in-a-bowl caldos.

  • Best New Restaurant by Time Out Chicago 2010
  • 3-star Green Certification by Green Restaurant Association

5. Spacca Napoli

Big ups to the lovely Kate May

Big ups to the lovely Kate May

Address: 1769 W Sunnyside Ave, Chicago, IL 60640
Phone: (773) 878-2420
Mon – Tue: 5:00 pm – 9:00 pm
Wed – Thu: 11:30 am – 9:00 pm
Fri – Sat: 11:30 am – 10:00 pm
Sun: 12:00 pm – 9:00 pm
Menu
Yelp: (4 stars 1000+ reviews)
Website

For a decade, Spacca Napoli has made pizza faithful to the authentic Neapolitan style. Dough is tended daily as a blend of love and craft and baked in an oven built by third and fourth- generation artisans from Napoli. Ingredients are carefully sourced from trusted vendors, many of which are unavailable anywhere else in Chicago. Wines and music are selected to create just the right experience and mood.

6. Girl & the Goat

Cheers to the super cool Anne Latham

Cheers to the super cool Anne Latham

Address: 809 W Randolph St, Chicago, IL 60607
Phone: (312) 492-6262
Mon – Thu: 4:30 pm – 11:00 pm
Fri – Sat: 4:30 pm – 12:00 am
Sun: 4:30 pm – 11:00 pm
Menu
Yelp: (4 stars 5500+ reviews)
Website

  • They offer a selection of wines from around the world with a focus on small producers, a rotating list of craft beers with a celebration of local Chicago breweries and a list of fun cocktails created by our bartenders
  • Huge potions, great food, expertly prepared – you won’t go home hungry

7. Kuma’s Corner

Shoutout to the stunning @dayday12_

Shoutout to the stunning @dayday12_

Address: 2900 W Belmont Ave, Chicago, IL 60618
Phone: (773) 604-8769
Mon – Wed: 11:30 am – 12:00 am
Thu – Sat: 11:30 am – 1:00 am
Sun: 12:00 pm – 12:00 am
Menu
Yelp: (4 stars 4700+ reviews)
Website

  • They are big on supporting the local community
  • So no big brand beers – instead enjoy local brews and small label whiskeys
  • Heavy Metal fans love this place

8. Little Goat Diner

Shoutout to the ever so elegant Emily Wasserman

Shoutout to the ever so elegant Emily Wasserman

Address: 820 W Randolph St, Chicago, IL 60607
Phone: (312) 888-3455
Mon – Thu: 7:00 am – 10:00 pm
Fri – Sat: 7:00 am – 12:00 am
Sun: 7:00 am – 10:00 pm
Menu
Yelp (4 stars 2600+ reviews)
Website

  • Another great restaurant from Chicago’s Fliest Chef – Stephanie Izard
  • This one is at a lower price point making it great for a casual bite
  • Their silk pie is out of this world good

9. Ghareeb Nawaz

Shoutout to the brilliant Nicole ErhardtShoutout to the brilliant Nicole Erhardt

Address: 2032 W Devon Ave, Chicago, IL 60659
Phone: (773) 761-5300
Open 24 hours (7 days in a week)
Menu
Yelp: (4 stars 500+ reviews)
Website

  • The best bang for your buck in Chi-town: $3.99 Veg Thali is excellent
  • Their palak paneer is off the chain, and their naan is HUUUGE
  • Fresh Briyani daily – amazeballs

10. Irazu

Cheers to the talented Mario Rubalcaba

Cheers to the talented Mario Rubalcaba

Address: 1865 N Milwaukee Ave, Chicago, IL 60647
Phone: (773) 252-5687
Mon – Sat: 11:30 am – 9:30 pm
Sun: Closed
Menu
Yelp: (4 stars 1500+ reviews)
Website

Irazu is one of our favorite spots in Chicago – and it has one of the city’s most impressive collection of vegetarian options

  • The vegetarian sandwiches are delicious
  • Potato Tacos are to die for
  • They are famous for their MASSIVE vegetarian burrito

11. Lula Café

Cheers to @bkbeatsandeats

Cheers to @bkbeatsandeats

Address: 2537 N Kedzie Blvd, Chicago, IL 60647
Phone: (773) 489-9554
Mon: 9:00 am – 10:00 pm
Tue: Closed
Wed – Thu: 9:00 am – 10:00 pm
Fri – Sat: 9:00 am – 11:00 pm
Sun: 9:00 am – 10:00 pm
Menu
Yelp: (4 stars 1400+ reviews)
Website

  • Featured on NPR’s “This American Life,” in The New York Times, Food and Wine, Bon Appetit
  • Named an LTH Forum Great Neighborhood Restaurant, a Michelin Bib Gourmande, Jean Banchet Best Neighborhood Restaurant, and part of the “Eater Essential 38
  • The plum caramel cake and beet bruschetta are our favorite items

12. Lou Malnati’s Pizzeria

Cheers to the ever so kind Paige Porter

Cheers to the ever so kind Paige Porter

Address: 1520 N Damen Ave, Chicago, IL 60622
Phone: (773) 395-2400
Mon – Thu: 4:00 pm – 10:00 pm
Fri – Sat: 11:00 am – 11:00 pm
Sun: 11:00 am – 9:00 pm
Menu
Yelp: (4 stars 200+ reviews)
Website

This is the pizza that made chicago deep dish famous. You’re not really from Chicago if you haven’t been to Lou Malnati’s.

Lou Malnati got his start in the 1940’s working in Chicago’s first deep dish pizzeria. He took his pizza expertise to Lincolnwood, a northern suburb of Chicago, where he and his wife Jean opened the first Lou Malnati’s Pizzeria on March 17, 1971. Lou was known for his fun-loving character as well as making Chicago’s best pizza. Loyal patrons lined the streets on opening day for a taste of his delicious deep dish creations. Lou always thought it was funny that an Italian should open a pizzeria in a Jewish neighborhood on an Irish holiday. But that was Lou’s style; he loved all types of people and didn’t care much about what people thought.

13. The Pasta Bowl

Address: 2434 N Clark St, Chicago, IL 60614
Phone: (773) 525-2695
Mon – Sat: 11:00 am – 11:00 pm
Sun: 12:00 pm – 11:00 pm
Menu
Yelp: (4 stars 600+ reviews)
Website

  • Servings are HUGE
  • People either love it or feel meh about it – if you’re a pasta snob and enjoy critically aclaimed pasta the flavors here might feel a little to simple – but if you’re looking for comfort food pasta that’s hot, creamy and plentiful – this is your spot

14. Monteverde

Suzanne Ko: Really loved my dessert at @monteverdechi: Affogato Brownie Sundae | espresso, marshmallow fluff, candies hazelnuts, scoops of hazelnut/chocolate stracciatella/vanilla bean ice cream

Suzanne Ko: Really loved my dessert at @monteverdechi: Affogato Brownie Sundae | espresso, marshmallow fluff, candies hazelnuts, scoops of hazelnut/chocolate stracciatella/vanilla bean ice cream

Address: 1020 W Madison St, Chicago, IL 60607
Phone: (312) 888-3041
Mon: Closed
Tue – Sat: 5:00 pm – 11:00 pm
Sun: 4:00 pm – 9:00 pm
Menu
Yelp: (4 stars 100+ reviews)
Website

A fabulous rising star of the Chicago dining scene.

Originally from Houston, Chef Sarah Grueneberg moved to Chicago in 2005 to join the team at the award-winning Spiaggia under the leadership of Tony Mantuano. Beginning as a line cook, she quickly rose the ranks to Chef di Cucina in 2008 and then Executive Chef in 2010. During her tenure as Executive Chef, Spiaggia was awarded one Michelin Star for three consecutive years. She started Monteverde in 2015 and has since been absolutely crushin’ it.

  • Named one of Food & Wine’s “America’s Best Restaurants”
  • Top 50 finalist in Bon Appetit’s “Best New Restaurants” list
  • GQ’s “12 Best New Restaurants”
  • “Worth the Wait” award winner in Chicago Tribune Dining Awards
  • Named one of Chicago Magazine’s 15 Best New Restaurants

15. Cozy Noodles & Rice

Cheers to the charming Taylor Wood

Cheers to the charming Taylor Wood

Address: 3456 N Sheffield Ave, Chicago, IL 60657
Phone: (773) 327-0100
Mon – Thu: 11:00 am – 10:00 pm
Fri – Sat: 11:00 am – 10:30 pm
Sun: 11:00 am – 10:00 pm
Menu
Yelp: (4 stars 800+ reviews)
Website

  • We’re fans of almost everything here except the crispy noodles (like crispy pad thai, etc)

16. India House Restaurant

Cheers to JR Diez

Cheers to JR Diez

Paneer Makhani here is AMAZING!!!!

Paneer Makhani here is AMAZING!!!!

Address: 59 W Grand Ave, Chicago, IL 60654
Phone: (312) 645-9500
Mon – Thu: 11:00 am – 2:30 pm & 5:30 pm – 10:00 pm
Fri: 11:00 am – 2:30 pm & 5:30 pm – 11:00 pm
Sat: 11:30 am – 3:00 pm & 5:30 pm – 11:00 pm
Sun: 11:30 am – 3:00 pm & 5:00 pm – 10:00 pm
Menu
Yelp: (4 stars 1000+ reviews)
Website

  • Their paneer makhani is the best we’ve had anywhere in the US
  • Overall solid spot – our favorite place for Indian in the city

17. La Sirena Clandestina

Shoutout to @roeroeroe

Shoutout to @roeroeroe

Address: 954 W Fulton Market, Chicago, IL 60607
Phone: (312) 226-5300
Mon: 11:00 am – 10:00 pm
Tue – Fri: 11:00 am – 11:00 pm
Sat: 4:00 pm – 11:00 pm
Sun: 4:00 pm – 10:00 pm
Menu
Yelp: (4 stars 300+ reviews)
Website

  • Great Latin fare and great ambiance
  • We’d recommend starting with the spicy cauliflower and/or the kale salad

18. La Scarola

Cheers to Mick in the Kitch & all her lovely friends!

Cheers to Mick in the Kitch & all her lovely friends!

138

Shoutout to the booize foodie Channing Foster

Address: 721 W Grand Ave, Chicago, IL 60610
Phone: (312) 243-1740
Mon – Fri: 5:00 pm – 11:00 pm
Sat: 4:00 pm – 11:00 pm
Sun: 4:00 pm – 10:00 pm
Menu
Yelp: (4 stars 800+ reviews)
Website

  • A Chicago Institution – the type of spots celebs stop by at for the food
  • Great staff, great good, overall no complaints – we’re huge fans

19. Chicago Pizza And Oven Grinder Company

Cheers to the lovely Alyssa Verano

Cheers to the lovely Alyssa Verano

Big ups to Eric Cribbs

Big ups to Eric Cribbs

Address: 2121 N Clark St, Chicago, IL 60614
Phone: (773) 248-2570
Mon – Thu: 4:00 pm – 11:00 pm
Fri: 4:00 pm – 12:00 am
Sat: 11:30 am – 12:00 am
Sun: 11:30 am – 11:00 pm
Menu
Yelp: (4 stars 1200+ reviews)
Website

Forget pizza by the slice, this is pizza by the pound (or half pound for the faint of heart).

  • Come early / non-primetime – otherwise you’ll likely face a hefty wait
  • Even if you have to wait – it’s worth it – the pizza is great, the cheese is divinely gooey

20. Taco Joint

Address: 1969 N Halsted St, Chicago, IL 60614
Phone: (312) 951-2457
Mon – Wed: 11:00 am – 10:00 pm
Thu: 11:00 am – 11:00 pm
Fri – Sat: 11:00 am – 12:00 am
Sun: 11:00 am – 10:00 pm
Menu
Yelp: (4 stars 700+ reviews)
Website

  • Churro doughnut holes for the win
  • Great spot for mexican with a twist

21. Parachute

Address: 3500 N Elston Ave, Chicago, IL 60618
Phone: (773) 654-1460
Mon: Closed
Tue – Thu: 5:00 pm – 10:00 pm
Fri – Sat: 5:00 pm – 11:00 pm
Sun: Closed
Menu
Yelp: (4 stars 200+ reviews)
Website

  • Great Korean American / globally inspired fare
  • Fun, delicious and unique options like Tandoori Carrots
  • Our only gripe is that they don’t accommodate substitutions

22. Pequod’s Pizzeria

Address: 2207 N Clybourn Ave, Chicago, IL 60614
Phone: (773) 327-1512
Mon – Sat: 11:00 am – 2:00 am
Sun: 11:00 am – 12:00 am
Menu
Yelp: (4 stars 3100+ reviews)
Website

A favorite pizza joint of many in Chicago, us included, Pequod’s serves up some excellent deep dish and thin crust pizza.

23. Cafe Ba-Ba-Reeba!

Shoutout to the superfly Lisa Pacura Miller

Shoutout to the superfly Lisa Pacura Miller

and the charming Puja Thakker

and the charming Puja Thakker

Address: 2024 N Halsted St, Chicago, IL 60614
Phone: (773) 935-5000
Mon – Thu: 4:00 pm – 10:00 pm
Fri: 11:30 am – 12:00 am
Sat: 9:00 am – 12:00 am
Sun: 9:00 am – 10:00 pm
Menu
Yelp: (4 stars 2600+ reviews)
Website

  • Great tapas, great sangria
  • Their baked goat cheese – no words for how good it is
  • Caramelized banana is a great dessert choice

24. Piccolo Sogno

Cheers to the adventurous Jenna Golden

Cheers to the adventurous Jenna Golden

and to one of Chicago's cutest couples

and to one of Chicago’s cutest couples

Address: 464 N Halsted St, Chicago, IL 60642
Phone: (312) 421-0077
Mon – Thu: 11:30 am – 2:30 pm & 5:30 pm – 10:30 pm
Fri: 11:30 am – 2:30 pm & 5:30 pm – 11:00 pm
Sat: 5:30 pm – 11:00 pm
Sun: 5:00 pm – 10:00 pm
Menu
Yelp: (4 stars 800+ reviews)
Website

Piccolo Sogno features a menu of fresh, seasonal rustic Italian cuisine with an impressive all-Italian wine list. The menu offers a wide selection of regional Italian dishes–from homemade pastas and hand-tossed pizzas prepared in the restaurant’s wood-burning oven as well as homemade gelato and sorbet.

  • So romantic you might get proposed to

25. Quartino

Cheers to the stunning Christie Wu

Cheers to the stunning Christie Wu

Address: 626 N State St, Chicago, IL 60654
Phone: (312) 698-5000
Mon – Fri: 11:30 am – 2:00 am
Sat: 11:30 am – 3:00 am
Sun: 11:30 – 1:00 am
Menu
Yelp: (4 stars 3100+ reviews)
Website

Chef and partner, John Coletta, has developed a menu featuring Italy’s regional specialties including Neapolitan thin-crust pizza, house-made pasta, and seasonal dishes.

  • One of the best Italian spots in Chicago, hands down.
  • Great pizza, pasta, tons of vegetarian and gluten free options – something for everyone
  • Beet salad, quattro stagioni pizza and zeppole is our go to order

26. Demera Ethiopian Restaurant

Cheers Christian Conti

Cheers Christian Conti

Address: 4801 N Broadway St, Chicago, IL 60640
Phone: (773) 334-8787
Mon – Thu: 11:30 am – 10:00 pm
Fri – Sat: 11:30 am – 11:00 pm
Sun: 10:00 am – 10:00 pm
Menu
Yelp: (4 stars 700+ reviews)
Website

  • Authentic, fresh Ethiopian food
  • They roast their own Ethiopian coffee beans

27. Big Jones

Address: 5347 N Clark St, Chicago, IL 60640
Phone: (773) 275-5725
Mon – Thu: 11:00 am – 9:00 pm
Fri: 11:00 am – 10:00 pm
Sat: 9:00 am – 10:00 pm
Sun: 9:00 am – 9:00 pm
Menu
Yelp: (4 stars 1100+ reviews)
Website

  • Skillet cornbread so good it will make you weep
  • Grilled Griddle Cakes minus the eggs are our favorite

28. Boka

Cheers to Chopped Champ Chef Emily Chapman

Cheers to Chopped Champ Chef Emily Chapman

Address: 1729 N Halsted St, Chicago, IL 60614
Phone: (312) 337-6070
Mon – Thu: 5:00 pm – 10:00 pm
Fri – Sat: 5:00 pm – 11:00 pm
Sun: 5:00 pm – 10:00 pm
Menu
Yelp: (4 stars 900+ reviews)
Website

Since his time at Boka, Chef/partner Lee Wolen garnered a Michelin Star in 2015 and 2016, “3 Stars” and “Chef of the Year” by the Chicago Tribune, and “Chef of the Year” and “Restaurant of the Year” at the Jean Banchet Awards.

29. Alinea

Address: 1723 N Halsted St, Chicago, IL 60614
Phone: (312) 867-0110
Mon – Tue: Closed
Wed – Thu: 5:00 pm – 6:30 pm & 8:00 pm – 9:30 pm
Fri: 8:00 pm – 9:30 pm
Sat: 5:00 pm – 6:30 pm & 8:00 pm – 9:30 pm
Sun: 5:00 pm – 6:30 pm
Menu
Yelp: (4 stars 1400+ reviews)
Website

One of Chicago’s best known, award winning restaurants.  We can’t help but like them – their execution of everything is always perfect, your meal here will be the highlight of your month, potentially your year – but it is, of course, pricey.

30. Sepia

Address: 123 N Jefferson St, Chicago, IL 60661
Phone: (312) 441-1920
Mon – Thu: 11:30 am – 2:00 pm& 5:30 pm – 9:30 pm
Fri: 11:30 pm – 2:00 pm & 5:30 pm – 10:30 pm
Sat: 5:30 pm – 10:30 pm
Sun: 5:00 pm – 9:00 pm
Menu
Yelp: (4 stars 800+ reviews)
Website

  • Great for dates – upscale, tasty and fantastic service
  • Try their chocolate shortbread cookie cake with marshmallow for dessert

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