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Chinatown Dining
Head to Chinatown for some of the city's best dumplings.

DNC Guide: Food & drink

Dive into our acclaimed dining scene

Chicago is proud to welcome visitors from around the world to our great city for the Democratic National Convention 2024. While you’re here, we invite you to come experience what makes Chicago a city like no other — and why we’ve been named the Best Big City in the U.S. for an unprecedented seven years in a row.

Our city’s award-winning dining scene is as diverse as the city itself. We’re home to the prestigious James Beard Awards ceremony (along with plenty of past winners), along with dozens of Michelin-awarded restaurants. Come get a bite of everything from classic Chicago eats to globally inspired cuisine in our international neighborhoods to once-in-a-lifetime dining experiences. Come taste all that our city has to offer.

We’ve created these Chicago guides with five specially curated activities to help DNC visitors experience different aspects of our great city. To delve deeper and make the most out of your time in Chicago, keep exploring with our guide at the link below.

Explore our dining guide to Chicago

1. Enjoy a bucket list meal

Virtue

With 69 Michelin-awarded restaurants and dozens of James Beard Award winners, Chicago’s acclaimed restaurant scene draws diners from all over the globe. The city’s star-studded list of award-winning establishments includes Alinea, considered one of the best restaurants in the world; Smyth, serving refined farm-to-table fare; and Esmé, which blends creative cuisine and contemporary art. 

The city is also home to many boundary-breaking spots, including Moody Tongue, the first-ever Michlin-starred brewery, and Kasama, the first Filipino restaurant with a Michelin star. In Hyde Park, Virtue has been awarded two years in a row by the James Beard Awards for their elevated takes on Southern cuisine. 

2. Travel the world with international cuisine

La Catedral Little Village
La Catedral Little Village

Embark on a global culinary journey, right here in Chicago. Within the city’s diverse neighborhoods lies a vibrant international food scene where you can taste flavors from all over the world. You can sample dim sum specialties from China, tandoori-roasted meats from India, traditional sweets like conchas and pan dulce from Mexico, — not to mention an array of local delicacies and only-in-Chicago dishes (hello, jibarito).

Pilsen is a Latino enclave known as the go-to spot for delicious Mexican fare, from authentic to innovative, that attracts diners from all over the city. Feast on classic Mexican staples at 5 Rabanitos and try elevated takes on globally inspired flavors at S.K.Y.

Established more than 100 years ago, Chicago’s Chinatown is your one-way ticket to authentic Asian cuisine that ranges from dumplings to dim sum to hot pot and beyond. Grab a traditional mooncake or baked pork bun at Chiu Quon, the neighborhood’s oldest bakery.

West Ridge is the city’s culinary “Little India”, with a dynamic mix of specialty grocery stores, beloved bakeries, and long-standing restaurants that have become local institutions. Stock up on hard-to-find ingredients at international markets like Patel Brothers.

Little Village, or “La Villita” as the locals call it, is home to some of the city’s most authentic Mexican cuisine. Mi Tierra, run by a father-daughter team, has been a neighborhood staple for three decades. 

3. Try iconic Chicago creations

Mandatory Photo Credit:
Abel Arciniega :: @tequilagraphics

You can’t leave Chicago without trying some of the city’s most iconic bites, including these original dishes born and perfected in Chicago

You can thank Chicago’s thriving Puerto Rican communities for the jibarito. This local creation is the stuff of sandwich legend, made with sliced and fried plantains. Head to Humboldt Park to try some of the best versions in the city, like at Papa’s Cache Sabroso.

The Italian beef sandwich, a Chicago original created by the city’s Italian immigrant community in the early 1900s that recently played a starring role on The Bear. Other classic Chicago creations include our famous deep dish pizza (Lou Malnati’s is a local favorite) and the Chicago-style hot dog, which can be found throughout the city. 

For a sweet (and photogenic) treat, The Original Rainbow Cone is a Chicago institution whose signature namesake treat is a cone stacked with slices of orange sherbet, pistachio, Palmer House (New York vanilla with cherries and walnuts), strawberry, and chocolate ice cream. 

4. Sip your way through our craft beer scene

ERIS Brewery and Cider House
ERIS Brewery and Cider House

A rising star in the world of craft beer, Chicago is home to some of the biggest names and most promising up-and-comers in the world of brewing. 

You can experience many of the city’s best craft breweries at our array of neighborhood taprooms and brewpubs where you can sample one-of-a-kind beers, housemade ciders, special-release brews, and more.

An epicenter of the local craft beer scene, Malt Row is an industrial area that has evolved into a must-visit location for any craft beer aficionado. Explore a diverse range of local breweries, including an experimental Spiteful Brewing, Old World-inspired Dovetail, nationally known Half Acre Beer Co., and female-owned KOVAL Distillery.

Another brewing hotspot is the Chicago Brewing District, where you’ll find one of the city’s biggest brewers (like Chicago icon Goose Island) along with a fresh crop of newcomers, like Forbidden Root, a botanical-inspired brewery, and District Brew Yards, an innovative multi-brewery incubator.

5. Soak in the sun with outdoor dining

There’s nothing like summertime in the city, when Chicago is overflowing with outdoor dining options, from secluded garden patios to bustling waterfront cafes to cocktail bars with skyline views and beyond.

Chicago is famous for its miles and miles of sandy coastline, where you’ll find tons of great beach bars and restaurants right on Lake Michigan’s sandy shores. Shore Club and Castaways both offer views of buzzing North Avenue Beach, while Pier 31 and The Dock offer relaxed atmospheres. 

If you can’t get enough of our waterfront dining, check out the buzzing restaurants and bars located along the Chicago Riverwalk, including alfresco wine bars and relaxed tiki huts. City Winery is a perennial favorite, with a retractable roof and unbeatable vistas. 

If you’re looking for drinks with a view, check out the city’s many rooftop bars offering delicious cocktails and unforgettable vantage points of Chicago’s epic skyline. LH Rooftop offers a one-of-a-kind view of the river and downtown skyline, while Cindy’s offers the perfect spot to look out over Millenium Park and “The Bean.”

Explore all Chicago DNC guides