Food & Drink

Chow Down: Taste Testing Chicago’s Top 12 Local Eats!

Chicago is a city renowned for its diverse culinary scene. From deep-dish pizza to hot dogs, there's no shortage of delicious food options to choose from.

However, it can be challenging to navigate the vast array of restaurants and find the hidden gems that locals rave about.

That's where this blog post comes in. As a local, I've had the pleasure of exploring the city's restaurant scene and discovering some of the best local restaurants that Chicago has to offer.

Whether you're a foodie looking for the latest culinary trends or simply seeking a delicious meal, these restaurants are sure to satisfy.

From cozy neighborhood bistros to upscale fine-dining establishments, the restaurants on this list offer a range of dining experiences to suit all tastes and budgets.

Each restaurant has its own unique atmosphere, menu, and flavor profile, making it a must-visit destination for anyone looking to explore the best of Chicago's culinary scene.

So, whether you're a long-time local or a visitor to the city, be sure to check out these top-rated restaurants and indulge in some of the best food that Chicago has to offer.

1. Girl & The Goat

Girl & The Goat
809 W Randolph St, Chicago, IL 60607 (Google Maps)

Girl & The Goat is a hot spot for foodies looking for innovative small plates. The restaurant serves up light, elegant, elevated American fusion food.

The menu features unique dishes cooked to perfection with bold flavors that work beautifully together.

The atmosphere is modern and electric, perfect for any size party. The service is impeccable and attentive without hovering.

Girl & The Goat is definitely worth the visit for anyone looking for a top-notch dining experience.

2. Monteverde Restaurant & Pastificio

Monteverde Restaurant & Pastificio
1020 W Madison St, Chicago, IL 60607 (Google Maps)

Monteverde Restaurant & Pastificio offers a unique and modern take on traditional Italian cuisine.

The restaurant serves high-quality ingredients and delicious appetizers, pastas, and mains.

The staff is attentive and friendly, and the owner ensures that everything is up to par. The restaurant has a stylish atmosphere that is both calming and energetic.

Monteverde is a must-visit for anyone looking for an exceptional Italian dining experience.

3. The Purple Pig Restaurant

The Purple Pig Restaurant
444 Michigan Ave, Chicago, IL 60611 (Google Maps)

The Purple Pig Restaurant is a must-visit for foodies looking for a fancy and creative dining experience. This iconic gastropub is famous for its pork-based dishes and offers a chic and airy setting with an open kitchen.

The menu features an extensive wine and whiskey selection, and the dishes are beautifully presented and delicious.

The restaurant can get crowded, so it's best to make a reservation beforehand. The service is excellent, and the staff is friendly and knowledgeable about the menu.

The Purple Pig Restaurant is perfect for a special occasion or a night out with friends.

4. Wildberry Pancakes & Cafe

Wildberry Pancakes & Cafe
130 E Randolph St, Chicago, IL 60601 (Google Maps)

Wildberry Pancakes & Cafe is a popular breakfast and lunch spot with delicious food options.

Although they don't take reservations, the wait is worth it for their signature dishes like the Los Altos Benedict and Oreo pancake.

The portions are huge and the staff is friendly and efficient. They also have an espresso bar with a variety of coffee options.

The restaurant is located near Millennium park and offers both indoor and outdoor seating.

5. Owen & Engine

Owen & Engine
2700 N Western Ave, Chicago, IL 60647 (Google Maps)

Owen & Engine is a stylish British pub that serves creative pub food and has a big selection of beers. The restaurant has a cozy atmosphere, with leather, wood, and wallpaper decor, and a fireplace that adds to the ambiance.

The menu features dishes like bone marrow, scallop escargot, and beef Wellington, all of which are well-executed and presented.

The burger is a standout item, on par with Au Cheval but without the long wait. The service is superb, making for a great dining experience overall.

While it can get busy, reservations are accepted and recommended to avoid waiting. Owen & Engine is a must-visit spot for anyone looking for delicious food, great drinks, and a romantic ambiance.

6. avec Restaurant

Avec Restaurant
615 W Randolph St, Chicago, IL 60661 (Google Maps)

Avec Restaurant offers an inventive Mediterranean menu in a cozy, minimalist space with communal seating.

The food is truly impressive with unique flavors that are hard to find elsewhere. The chorizo dates and focaccia are highly recommended.

The service is wonderful and the wine list prices are reasonable.

The atmosphere is intimate and modern, making for a great dining experience. It's a must-visit spot for foodies looking for something special.

7. The Dearborn

The Dearborn
145 N Dearborn St, Chicago, IL 60602 (Google Maps)

The Dearborn is a stylish American tavern that serves seasonal fare. It offers a wide range of menu items, including unique appetizers and delicious drinks.

The service is prompt and personable, with courteous staff who are dedicated to providing an impeccable experience.

The restaurant has a warm and cozy atmosphere, making it a great place to enjoy a meal with friends or family.

The prices are reasonable, and the portions are good. If you're looking for a chic place to eat in the city, The Dearborn is definitely worth a visit.

8. Alinea

1723 N Halsted St, Chicago, IL 60614 (Google Maps)

Alinea is a must-visit restaurant for any foodie looking for a transcendent culinary experience.

The restaurant offers a highly creative New American tasting menu, featuring phenomenal dishes that are beautifully presented.

Although pricey, the level of service, quality of ingredients and overall experience justifies every penny. The staff is attentive and fun to talk to, adding to the immersive experience.

The dessert is a standout, both visually stunning and delicious. Alinea is not just a restaurant, it's an adventure for the senses.

9. Smyth

177 N Ada St #101, Chicago, IL 60607 (Google Maps)

Smyth is a rustic-chic restaurant that offers inventive New American cuisine and wine pairings.

The attention to detail is evident in the beautifully presented dishes, which showcase fresh seafood and creative desserts.

The service is attentive and knowledgeable, making for a pleasant dining experience.

While some dishes may fall short of expectations, the overall quality of the food and atmosphere make Smyth a solid recommendation for those seeking upscale dining.

10. Viaggio Restaurant Chicago

Viaggio Restaurant Chicago
1027 W Madison St, Chicago, IL 60607 (Google Maps)

Viaggio Restaurant Chicago offers upscale Italian-American cuisine in a stylish and relaxed atmosphere. The attentive service and flavorful food are the essence of this restaurant.

They have a great selection of traditional Italian pasta dishes, and the clams, meatballs, and truffle gnocchi are must-tries.

The bar is well-suited for a romantic date night or a night out with friends. The prices are fair for the quality of food and service.

Be sure to make a reservation or go during non-peak times, as the restaurant can get crowded. All in all, Viaggio Restaurant Chicago is an excellent choice for those seeking a memorable dining experience.

11. Virtue Restaurant

Virtue Restaurant
1462 E 53rd St, Chicago, IL 60615 (Google Maps)

Virtue Restaurant offers delicious Southern-style dishes with generous portions. The menu is imaginative and well-presented, and the food is seasoned to perfection.

The staff is friendly and attentive, and the service is outstanding. The atmosphere is modern and chic, with an open kitchen and a funky vibe.

The restaurant is popular, so reservations are recommended. Prices are on the higher side, but the quality of the food and service make it worth the cost.

Virtue Restaurant is a must-visit for anyone looking for exceptional Southern cuisine.

12. Tanta Chicago

Tanta Chicago
118 W Grand Ave, Chicago, IL 60654 (Google Maps)

Tanta Chicago offers inventive Peruvian cuisine in a stylish and contemporary setting. This South American restaurant is known for its delicious ceviche, authentic Lomo Saltado, and unique fusion dishes.

The wait staff is attentive and knowledgeable, helping customers make informed decisions about the menu.

The restaurant can get busy, so reservations are recommended. Prices are a bit on the higher side, but the quality of the food and experience is worth it.

For a one-of-a-kind dining experience, Tanta Chicago is a must-visit for foodies and those looking for something different.