Food & Drink

Chow Down on Chicago’s Top 19 Appetizer Hotspots!

Chicago is a city known for its diverse culinary scene. From deep-dish pizza to hot dogs, Chicago has something for everyone. However, one aspect of dining that often goes overlooked is appetizers.

Appetizers are the perfect way to start a meal and can often be the highlight of the dining experience. Whether you are looking for something light and refreshing or something rich and indulgent, Chicago has a plethora of options to choose from.

Many restaurants in Chicago have made appetizers their specialty. These restaurants often have a wide selection of small plates that are perfect for sharing.

These plates allow diners to try a variety of different flavors and textures without committing to a full-sized entree. Whether you are a foodie or just looking for a quick bite, appetizers are a great way to explore the city's culinary offerings.

Chicago's appetizer scene is not limited to just traditional American cuisine. Many restaurants offer international flavors and ingredients.

From Mediterranean-inspired dips to Asian-inspired dumplings, the city's diverse population has influenced the appetizer offerings. These international flavors add a unique twist to traditional dishes and provide a new perspective on classic flavors.

Overall, Chicago's appetizer scene is not to be missed. Whether you are a local or just visiting, exploring the city's appetizer offerings is a must-do.

With so many options to choose from, there is something for every palate and preference. So, the next time you are out to eat, don't overlook the appetizers, they just might be the highlight of your meal.

1. Quartino Ristorante

Quartino Ristorante
626 N State St, Chicago, IL 60654 (Google Maps)

Looking for a great place for appetizers in the heart of the city, look no further than Quartino Ristorante.

With a wide range of small plates and cocktails to choose from, this bustling Italian eatery offers a great atmosphere and delicious food.

Whether you're in the mood for calamari, Caesar salad, or mushroom truffle risotto, Quartino has something for everyone.

And with a great wine selection and friendly service, it's the perfect spot for a night out with friends or a romantic date. Don't miss out on this gem of a restaurant!

2. Gilt Bar

Gilt Bar
230 W Kinzie St, Chicago, IL 60654 (Google Maps)

Gilt Bar is a dark and sophisticated spot for appetizers in the heart of the city.

The burrata and steak tare tar appetizers are delicious, served with homemade sourdough bread that pairs perfectly with the food.

The thick cut bacon and bone marrow appetizers are also worth trying. The atmosphere is relaxing, making it a perfect spot for drinks or dinner.

The service is exceptional and prompt. The cocktails are crafted to perfection. A must-visit restaurant for appetizers and drinks.

3. Eddie V's Prime Seafood

Eddie V's Prime Seafood
521 N Rush St, Chicago, IL 60611 (Google Maps)

Eddie V's Prime Seafood is an elegant and upscale restaurant that offers a variety of appetizers to choose from.

The restaurant has a seafood and steak menu, and a cocktail lounge featuring live jazz. The ambiance is refined and sophisticated, making it perfect for special occasions.

The staff is friendly and attentive, ensuring a pleasant dining experience. The restaurant is a bit pricey, but the food and service are excellent, making it worth the cost.

The oysters and calamari are recommended appetizers to try. Eddie V's Prime Seafood is a great place to enjoy a luxurious dining experience.

4. Cherry Circle Room

Cherry Circle Room
12 S Michigan Ave, Chicago, IL 60603 (Google Maps)

Cherry Circle Room is a modern American restaurant and cocktail bar.

The ambiance is elegant and inviting, with beautiful wooden features. The waitstaff is attentive and knowledgeable about the menu.

The appetizer menu is extensive, with grilled octopus and east coast and west coast oysters being some of the standout dishes.

The food is reasonably priced and of high quality. The restaurant is a great place to enjoy dinner or brunch, and the cocktail menu is worth exploring.

5. Acanto

18 S Michigan Ave, Chicago, IL 60603 (Google Maps)

Acanto is an excellent place for appetizers. They serve high-end Italian cuisine with a superb cocktail and wine list.

The mushroom pizza and green beans are fantastic, and the salads, main courses, and desserts are all amazing.

The atmosphere and decor are beautiful, and the service is attentive and well-paced.

If you're looking for a casual Italian dining experience with a big wine list, Acanto is the place to go.

6. Cabra

200 N Green St, Chicago, IL 60607 (Google Maps)

Cabra is a trendy rooftop restaurant and cocktail bar serving up delicious Peruvian appetizers.

The menu offers a variety of options including empanadas, ceviche, and octopus. The drinks are carefully made and the staff is friendly.

The atmosphere is chic and the views of the city are stunning. It's a bit on the pricier side, but worth it for a special occasion.

Highly recommended for those looking for a unique dining experience.

7. Cindy's Rooftop

Cindy's Rooftop
12 S Michigan Ave, Chicago, IL 60603 (Google Maps)

Cindy's Rooftop is a must-visit spot for those looking for delicious appetizers and stunning views in a chic atmosphere.

The food is cooked to perfection and every dish is a delight for the taste buds. The service is attentive and friendly, making for an enjoyable dining experience.

The rooftop terrace provides breathtaking views of the city, perfect for photos or a romantic night out.

The prices are a bit high but worth the value for the quality of food and ambiance. Whether it's a date night or a night out with friends, Cindy's Rooftop is definitely worth a visit.

8. Prosecco

710 N Wells St, Chicago, IL 60654 (Google Maps)

Prosecco is an upscale Italian restaurant that serves classic, high-end Italian dishes. The romantic, art-filled dining room reminds one of Venice.

The appetizers are the highlights of the menu, with dishes like the calabrese and tartufate being popular choices. The service is excellent, and the wine selection complements the dishes perfectly.

The atmosphere is perfect for a date night or special occasion. The only downside is the time limit on the table, which can make the dining experience feel rushed.

Despite this, Prosecco is still a must-visit for those looking for delicious Italian appetizers in an elegant setting.

9. Kerryman Irish Bar & Restaurant

Kerryman Irish Bar & Restaurant
661 N Clark St, Chicago, IL 60654 (Google Maps)

Kerryman Irish Bar & Restaurant is a great spot for appetizers and drinks. The staff is fantastic and friendly.

The pretzel with assorted dips and angus sliders are highly recommended. The bar food is excellent, especially the fish and chips.

The atmosphere is lively and perfect for after-work drinks or a casual night out. The menu offers a unique Irish spin on traditional brunch options.

The interior is boldly colored and gorgeous. The service is top-notch, making it a great place to visit for a delicious meal and a good time.

10. Bar Sotano

Bar Sotano
In the alley behind Frontera Grill, 443 N Clark St, Chicago, IL 60654 (Google Maps)

Bar Sotano is a cool and intimate Mexican mezcal bar that serves creative small plates. The staff is knowledgeable and provides great service.

The cocktails are amazing and pair well with the modern Mexican dishes. The Wagyu beef is a must-try.

The outdoor patio is cozy and perfect for a relaxing evening. Reservations are recommended as seating is limited.

The bar has great COVID protocols in place and the staff follows them diligently. Bar Sotano is definitely worth a visit for a unique and delicious dining experience.

11. The Grillroom Chophouse & Wine Bar

The Grillroom Chophouse & Wine Bar
33 W Monroe St, Chicago, IL 60603 (Google Maps)

The Grillroom Chophouse & Wine Bar is a modern steakhouse with a warm ambiance. They serve all-natural steaks, salads, seafood, pasta, and wine.

The seafood gumbo is a must-try appetizer, with a dark roux that gives it a smooth texture and a nutty aroma.

The salmon and filet mignon entrees are cooked to perfection and come with generous sides like string beans and brussel sprouts with crispy smoked bacon bits.

Their cocktails and wine selection are refreshing, and the attentive servers make the dining experience memorable. Prices are competitive for the neighborhood, and portions are generous. Check out The Grillroom Chophouse & Wine Bar for a delicious meal.

12. Porter Kitchen & Deck

Porter Kitchen & Deck
150 N Riverside Plaza, Chicago, IL 60606 (Google Maps)

Porter Kitchen & Deck is a riverfront eatery offering New American cuisine and craft cocktails.

The appetizers, such as the shrimp and hummus/pita, are delicious and freshly made.

The brick chicken and fried chicken sandwich entrees are also recommended. The ambience is great and the service is attentive.

It's perfect for a date, business meal, or drinks with friends. However, the prices are on the expensive side.

13. Bar Mar by Jose Andres

Bar Mar By Jose Andres
120 N Upper Wacker Dr, Chicago, IL 60606 (Google Maps)

Bar Mar by Jose Andres is a must-visit place for appetizers. The food is superb, with fresh and quality ingredients.

The menu is varied and comes in small, delicate pieces. The cocktails are creative and artfully done. The atmosphere is beautiful with an indoor-outdoor seating option.

The staff is friendly and hospitable, making the experience even better. The prices are surprisingly approachable, making it an excellent spot to meet with friends.

The seafood is impeccable, and the balance of flavors is fantastic. The only critique is the service, which could be better for the high price tag.

14. Taureaux Tavern

Taureaux Tavern
155 W Van Buren St, Chicago, IL 60605 (Google Maps)

Taureaux Tavern is an upscale French eatery that's perfect for appetizers.

The restaurant boasts a large bar with TVs and an impressive bottle display. The menu features classic French fare and their fries are a must-try.

The wait staff is friendly and helpful, and the atmosphere is lively and chic.

Highly recommended for anyone looking for a sophisticated spot to enjoy appetizers and drinks.

15. The VIG Chicago

The Vig Chicago
1527 N Wells St, Chicago, IL 60610 (Google Maps)

The VIG Chicago is a hip, warehouse-style spot that offers gastropub eats and craft beer. The atmosphere is lively, with sports-themed art and plenty of TVs to watch the game.

The menu features a variety of appetizers, including corn fritters, wings, and Cacio de Pepe nugs.

The staff is friendly and knowledgeable, making recommendations on what to order. The drinks are tasty and strong, with a good selection of cocktails and beer.

The prices are reasonable, making it a great spot to grab a bite and hang out with friends.

16. Recess

838 W Kinzie St, Chicago, IL 60642 (Google Maps)

Recess is a lively restaurant and bar that offers a vast patio and board games.

They serve elevated American fare and have a decent selection of cocktails.

The loaded tater tots and chicken rolls are super tasty and worth trying.

The atmosphere is vibrant and the staff is friendly. It's a great spot for outdoor drinks in the city.

17. Roanoke Restaurant

Roanoke Restaurant
135 W Madison St, Chicago, IL 60602 (Google Maps)

Roanoke Restaurant is a sophisticated lounge that offers craft cocktails, beers, and wine on tap along with comfort food.

Their appetizers are a must-try, with options like Miso Sesame wings and Avocado Shrimp. The ambiance is inviting and the staff is friendly, making it a great spot for a relaxing brunch or pre-theatre dinner.

Prices are a bit on the higher side, but the quality of the food and drinks justifies the cost.

If you're looking for a refined place to enjoy some delicious appetizers and drinks, Roanoke Restaurant is worth checking out.

18. Bandit

841 W Randolph St, Chicago, IL 60607 (Google Maps)

Bandit is a great place to grab some appetizers with friends. The atmosphere is lively and the staff is friendly.

They have a spacious outdoor dining area, perfect for enjoying the weather.

The food is delicious and the portions are shareable. The cocktails are creative and well-made.

The music is great and adds to the overall vibe of the place. It's definitely worth checking out if you're in the area.

19. Miller's Pub

Miller's Pub
134 S Wabash Ave, Chicago, IL 60603 (Google Maps)

Miller's Pub is a classic Chicago joint, established in 1935, that serves traditional American food and craft brews.

The warm and cozy interior is decorated with portraits of old-time patrons. The appetizers are highly recommended, with the spinach artichoke dip being a standout.

The service is friendly and attentive, making for a solid dining experience. The place can get busy, so be prepared for a wait.

If you're in the area and looking for a good bite to eat, Miller's Pub is worth checking out.