Dining out is one of the best parts of any travel experience. While you're at it, why not kill two birds with one stone and go to a place with some history? Here are some of my favorite historic restaurants in Chicago.
While one of the previous owners of Daley's Restaurant had the name "Emmanuel," Chicago's oldest restaurant has nothing to do with Chicago mayors. It pre-dates them by far, going back to the World's Columbian Exposition, which took place not far from here at 63rd and Cottage Grove. In addition to the diner-style cooking they have always offered, Daley Restaurant has soul food on the menu, too.
A couple miles northwest of Daley's Restaurant in Kenwood, you will find one of my favorites: Valois (above). Their motto is "see your food" because this is the real-deal cafeteria. Before school lunches tainted our idea of cafeteria food, cafeterias sold home-cooked meals. This is the case with Valois, which has been around for about a century and is known to be a favorite of President Obama. Pancakes, the reuben sandwich, and the Greek salad are all phenomenal.
Superdawg Drive-In (pictured above) keeps alive the spirit of the 1950s. The two blinking hot dog signs on the top of this drive-in are the 8-foot-high cartoon hot-dog versions of Superdawg's founders. High school sweethearts Maurie and Laurie opened up the location in the late 1940s. Today they still serve up a fresh Chicago hot dog with all the good fixins.
From the outside, the building of the Italian Village Restaurants don't necessarily scream "historic" with its stuccoed façade, but step inside and you find historic charm among the very flashly area of the Loop. You will find semi-private booths tucked away under a ceiling lit with tiny faux stars. And naturally, the food is Italian, ranging from classic old-world dishes to more innovative ones.
A block south you will find the German-style food of the Berghoff Restaurant (pictured at top). Beautiful stained glass and wood paneled pictures hang in the windows, and step in and you'll be surrounded by the historic wood interior. While the cuisine has been updated from the days when this was more a saloon, this Chicago institution maintains its charm.
Valois by Connie Ma via flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0);