Chicago is a city of big dreams, broad shoulders — and hearty appetites.

Thinking about Chicago's place in the food world, this city stands tall with a culinary legacy that continues to evolve. Neighborhoods are just as much a dining destination as downtown. Farm fresh means literally from the bounty of the Midwest. Ethnic eats are driven by family traditions, and also 4-star chef-driven. And steak is not something to be taken lightly.

So how to go about finding top Chicago restaurants to add to your bucket list? Especially with over 10,000 restaurants in Chicago to choose from? Find some picks below to whet your appetite — and inspire your Instagram. We've lined up some classics to go along with all the top new restaurants everyone is buzzing about for every meal in the day.


Pancake with berries, eggs and toast and waffles from Chicago restaurants

Modern Breakfast Picks

Cochon Volant
Loop: 100 W. Monroe Street
A "Proper French Breakfast" category covers several eggs benedict options, but who can resist the stacks of pancakes or a waffle named Monsieur Foster? 

River North: 519 N. Clark Street & Streeterville: 671 N. St. Clair
Take your breakfast essentials, use healthy wholesome ingredients, and give them a global spin — there you have the ingredients for a perfect morning start. Indulge in the Honey Butter Cinnamon Rolls or Angel Food Cake Muffins in the bakery display case to make it even better.

Dove's Luncheonette
Wicker Park/Bucktown: 1545 N. Damen Avenue
This slick diner has retro appeal and combines a soulful 60s soundtrack with Southern-inspired Mexican fare i.e. Breakfast Taco Norteño with Chayote Kimchi or Burnt Ends Hash with Queso Fresco.

Do-Rite Donuts
Loop: 50 W. Randolph Street & Streeterville: 233 E. Erie Street
This eat-on-the-go option features creative concoctions (Irish Stout Cake Donut with Whiskey Glaze was a St. Pat's smash hit) and celebrity collaborations alongside old favorites like Chocolate Glazed.

Classic Breakfast Options

Sweet Maple Café 
Established 1999

Little Italy/University Village: 1339 W. Taylor Street
Made-to-order old fashioned favorites are crowd pleasers, and crowds there are aplenty. Tough choices await once you get a table: Hot Cheddar Grits or Plain Ol' Grits, Cornmeal or Sweet Milk Biscuit, Bacon or Bone-in Ham.

Lula Café
Established 1999
Logan Square: 2537 N. Milwaukee Avenue
Their list of purveyors reads like a who's who in local farming, and the list of awards this neighborhood mainstay has won is even longer.

Janik's Café 
Established 2003
West Town: 2011 W. Division Street
Three words: breakfast all day. You can't beat the prices, or find friendlier service, than at this family-owned spot slingin' basics like Steak and Eggs and the Denver omelet. 



Noodle dish, fried foods and salad from Chicago restaurants

Lunch Newbies

Nico Osteria
Gold Coast: 1015 N. Rush Street
Watch all the action unfold in the open kitchen, but once lunch is served, dig in! From simple salads to stunning pastas to big ticket items like Salt Crusted Branzino, the authentic Italian menu lets the ingredients shine. Caffè Corretto is a must afterward to combat the afternoon food coma.

River Roast
River North: 315 N. LaSalle Street
Waterfront views, spacious dining rooms and a James Beard-award winning chef. This is tavern fare gone contemporary. Go with the roasts cut tableside: a wood-smoked whole chicken pairs perfectly with a side selection of market fresh "roots shoots and veggies".

Cherry Circle Room
Loop: 12 S. Michigan Avenue
Walking through the historic Chicago Athletic Association Hotel is an experiment in time travel. The Drawing Room, Milk Room and Game Room are enticing stops, but this handsome hideaway is worth seeking out. Particularly for the prettiest Tuna Niçoise Salad you ever did see. P.S. We suggest the alley entrance to conjure up plans for a secret rendezvous.

The Promontory
Hyde Park: 5311 S. Lake Park Ave. West
"Hearth to table" means just that — the aroma of wood burning in the open fire oven gives a rustic touch to the meats, vegetables and breads. The multi-purpose space also boasts a bar and music hall.

Lunch Staples

Home Run Inn
Established 1947
Multiple locations
The classic pizza pies have been a favorite for generations of South Siders, and with a new location that set up base in Lakeview, this Chicago chain now touts proximity to both city baseball stadiums.

Established 1992
West Loop: 161 N. Jefferson St.
Breakfast is always a winner here, but lunch is no slouch. Blackened Catfish and Jambalaya Cajun Stew are some of the top offerings, while a slew of vegan options also aim to please.

Coco Pazzo
Established 1992
River North: 300 W. Hubbard Street
It is only fitting that this Tuscan-inspired eatery exudes warmth and hospitality.

Established 2009
Bridgeport: 3267 N. Halsted Street
Local, sustainable and organic don't even begin to explain the deliciousness that is Avocado Fries served with Cilantro Chipotle Lime Aioli.



Meat and cheese boards, steak, and pasta dish from Chicago

Latest Dinner Spots

Oyster Bah
Lincoln Park: 1962 N. Halsted Street
Icy platters of fresh seafood take center stage here: oysters (there are several varieties coming in daily) are shucked to order while other staples like Fish and Chips and Lobster Rolls round out the offerings.

Swift & Sons
West Loop: 1000 W. Fulton Market
This premier new steakhouse also honors Chicago history with nods to the past in the decor, in its location and even in its name.

The Duck Inn
Bridgeport: 2701 S. Eleanor Street
Mid-century mod and one of the city's most esteemed — and Chicago proud — chefs. This neighborhood gem touts both style and substance.

Tried and True Dinner 

Gene & Georgetti's
Established 1941
River North: 500 N. Franklin Street 
This is tradition at its best, and when it comes to massive cuts of red meat broiled to simple perfection, they deliver. 

Established 1984
The Magnificent Mile: 980 N. Michigan Avenue
The only 4-star Italian restaurant in Chicago, Chef Tony Mantuano's Spiaggia is a venerable institution that not only expresses a deep devotion and understanding of its cuisine, but has also become synonymous with style and sophistication.

Cafe Ba-Ba-Reeba!
Established 1985
Lincoln Park: 2024 N. Halsted Street 
Chicago's first-ever tapas restaurant is still growing strong after 30 years. Fill up on tapas (the famous small dishes of Spain), pintxos (one-bite appetizers from Northern Spain) and paella (a traditional Valencian rice dish). The sangria is reason alone to drop in.

Phoenix Restaurant
Established 1996
Chinatown: 2131 S. Archer Avenue
The bustling of carts, the steam rising from the bamboo baskets, the chatter of fellow diners... this is dum sum time and Phoenix is one of the early pioneers.

Established 2003
Lincoln Park: 1729 N. Halsted Street
With four consecutive Michelin Stars, a Food & Wine Best New Chef and Pastry Chef already under its belt, Boka continues to evolve. 

Quartino Ristorante
Established 2005 
River North: 626 N. State Street
The energy at this Italian restaurant and wine bar is infectious and the food is downright heart-warming. Helmed by the perennially-cheerful Chef John Coletta, the kitchen bustles out rustic small plates, including artisanal spreads of formaggisalumi and spuntini.


Photo credits:  Boka (Jeff Kauck), Oyster Bah, Dove's Luncheonette (Sandy Noto), Beatix, Cochon Volant (Jessica Hirsch), Nico Osteria (Derek Richmond), Cherry Circle Room (Clayton Hauck), Nana, Cafe Ba Ba Reeba, Swift & Sons, Spiaggia (Huge Galdones)


Related Listings

Coco Pazzo
300 W. Hubbard St.
Chicago, IL 60654
(312) 836-0900

Cafe Ba-Ba-Reeba!
2024 N. Halsted St.
Chicago, IL 60614
(773) 935-5000

River Roast
315 N. LaSalle St.
Chicago, IL 60654
(312) 527-1417

Beatrix - River North
519 N. Clark St.
Chicago, IL 60654
(312) 284-1377

Wishbone Restaurant
1001 W. Washington Blvd.
Chicago, IL 60607
(312) 850-2663

The Duck Inn
2701 S. Eleanor St.
Chicago, IL 60608
(312) 943-7600

Janik's Cafe
2011 W. Division St.
Chicago, IL 60622
(773) 276-7930

Beatrix - Streeterville
671 N. St Clair St.
Chicago, IL 60611
(312) 642-0001

Home Run Inn Pizza
4254 W. 31st St.
Chicago, IL 60623
(773) 247-9696

Quartino Ristorante & Wine Bar
626 N. State St.
Chicago, IL 60654
(312) 698-5000

Related Articles



Gene & Georgetti
500 N. Franklin St.
Chicago, IL 60654
(312) 527-3718

BOKA Restaurant
1729 N. Halsted St.
Chicago, IL 60614
(312) 337-6070

3267 S. Halsted St.
Chicago, IL 60608
(312) 929-2486

Nico Osteria
1015 N. Rush St.
Chicago, IL 60660
(312) 994-7100

The Promontory
5311 S. Lake Park Ave. W
Chicago, IL 60615
(312) 801-2100

Cochon Volant
100 W. Monroe St.
Chicago, IL 60603
(312) 236-1234

Spiaggia Restaurant and Lounge
980 N. Michigan Ave.
Chicago, IL 60611
(312) 280-2750

Cherry Circle Room
12 S. Michigan Ave.
Chicago, IL 60603
(312) 792-3515

Oyster Bah
1962 N. Halsted St.
Chicago, IL 60614
(773) 248-3000