As an international city, Chicago can’t help but have a culturally-rich culinary scene influenced by citizens that hale from around the world. No matter where your taste buds want to travel, Chicago restaurants deliver with authenticity. Here are a six favorites that, if you close your eyes while chewing, will make you swear you've been transported to a foreign land.
Try one on your next visit, or go even bigger by building out your own neighborhood food tour.
Irazu Costa Rican Dining
1865 N. Milwaukee Avenue
As you approach this laid back Bucktown eatery, you can smell the flavor wafting down the street. This is a perfect spot for a chill night out (they are a BYOB, so bring your favorite craft beer) or some delightfully transportable takeout. The hearty Costa Rican dinners come piled with sides such as Gallo Pinto, sweet or garlic plantains, and features perfectly seasoned seafood, beef or pork selections. For lighter appetites, try the Chorizo Burrito or the Pepito sandwich with rib eye steak or chicken, sautéed onions, cheese beens and Lizano sauce.
Don’t miss: The shake made with oatmeal and cinnamon.
720 N. State Street
Who couldn’t go for a Hawaiian-influenced taste experience, in a sexy space, right off Chicago’s Mag Mile? Chef Roy Yamaguchi, a James Beard Award winner, is all about using fresh ingredients in delights like the Heirloom Tomato Salad with Macadamia Pesto, Housemade Ricotta and Shiso or the Lakanilau Roll with Wagyu beef, Snow Crab and Tempura Asparagus. When available, take advantage of the seasonal, three-course Prix Fixe menu for $39.95.
: Aloha Hour (nightly through 7:00 p.m. and again from 9:00 p.m. until close) that features specialty cocktails and tasty treats from the Bar Bites menu like Truffle Bacon Mac & Cheese and Tempura-Crusted Ahi Roll.
2540 W. Armitage Avenue
The vibrantly-colored original 90 Miles location in hip Logan Square
was made for a fun, casual date night or catch-up gossip fest with friends. Customer favorites such as the Puerco Rostizado (marinated and slow roasted pork with bacon, guava, ham, malta and prunes served with black beans and rice) or the Rabo Encendido (oxtail in red sauce) will melt in your mouth. Options like the goat cheese empanadas or the portobello mushroom with marinated grilled vegetables in house seasoning will keep vegetarian diners smiling widely. For those craving mojitos or sangria, bring your own rum to add to the house made pitchers of drink mixes.
Don’t miss: Grooving to live Jazz on Wednesdays or live Flamenco and Paella (call for availability and reservations) both at the Armitage location.
1154 W. Taylor Street
Dining at RoSals Italian Cucina is like being invited to family dinner at your grandmotherly neighbor’s house. The warm Little Italy
space is “old school” romantic; and you can taste the love and care that goes into the food. Like the restaurants in Italy, this is a place for great wine and conversation… as food this good takes time to prepare. They do the classics (and beyond) deliciously: their Caprese salad with fresh herbs and creamy mozzarella di bufala starts your dining experience perfectly, their lasagna is rich and full of flavor, and the spaghetti is next-level.
Don’t miss: Their seasonal menus featuring goodness like Shrimp Alla Trapanese with asparagus, tomatoes and broccoli, in a tomato cream sauce over linguine or the Salmon Bianco in a Vesuvio sauce with potatoes and vegetables over Penne.
6445 S. Cicero Avenue
This little gem by Midway airport never ceases to surprise. Specializing in Mexican and Asian fusion, they offer creative takes on standards found in both cultures, such as the creamy Avocado Rolls in crunchy wonton wrappers with aioli dipping sauce or the Korean BBQ Steak Burrito with rice, cheese, Sriracha sauce, and cilantro.
Don’t Miss: The Shrimp Tacos and Pineapple Lemonade
118 W. Grand Avenue
Tanta is a stylish restaurant with an impressive rooftop that prides itself in bringing the flavors of Peru to Chicago. The commitment to service extends from the dining room to the kitchen, where they use local products and vendors that are all about sustainable farming and fishing. This results in must try dishes like traditional Lomo Saltado (traditional beef tenderloin stir-fry, red onions, tomatoes, cilantro, garlic-soy sauce, rustic potatoes, rice) and pulpo (“street food” skewers with octopus, chimichurri, crispy garlic, olive sauce).
661 N. LaSalle Street, Chicago, IL
5460 Park Place, Rosemont, IL
1824 Abriter Court, Naperville, IL
Have a taste for some Brazillian hospitality? Fogo De Chão will transport you straight to South America via the unlimited, perfectally seasoned, fire roasted beef, chicken, pork, and lamb. The founders of Fogo De Chão had formal churrasqueiro training, which inspires the cooking and service of the meat on skewars. For those who like it light, there are seafood selections, and the market salad bar is chock full of delicious options for diners who may not eat meat (or may crave more sides with dinner). Take advantage of the Brazillian focus and expertise to enjoy a Caipirinha, Brazil's national cocktail or a cold, smooth and refreshing Xingu beer.
Don't miss: The Brown Sugar and Black Pepper Bacon.
Photos: Roy's, Irazu, Roy's, 90 Miles, Rosal's, Dos Ricco's, Tanta
The views and opinions expressed herein are those of the individual authors and commenters and do not reflect the views of Choose Chicago.