Food & Drink

Chow Down in Chi-Town: 19 Funky Eateries to Try in Chicago

Chicago is a city that is well-known for its food scene. With so many unique and diverse neighborhoods, it's no wonder that there are countless restaurants that offer a unique dining experience.

From hole-in-the-wall eateries to upscale fine dining establishments, Chicago has it all.

One of the things that makes Chicago's restaurant scene so special is the variety of cuisines available. Whether you're in the mood for traditional deep-dish pizza or want to try something new like Korean barbecue or Ethiopian cuisine, you'll find it here.

Many of the city's best restaurants also offer fusion cuisine that blends different cultural flavors together in unexpected ways.

Chicago also has a reputation for being a hub for innovative chefs and restaurateurs. Many of the city's best restaurants are run by chefs who are passionate about creating unique dining experiences that go beyond simply serving delicious food.

These chefs often incorporate unique presentation and decor elements into their restaurants, creating an immersive atmosphere that transports diners to another world.

In this blog post, we'll be exploring some of the best unique restaurants that Chicago has to offer. From hidden gems to popular hotspots, we'll be showcasing the restaurants that are pushing the boundaries of what it means to dine out in the Windy City.

So whether you're a local looking for something new or a visitor hoping to experience the best of Chicago's food scene, you're sure to find something that piques your interest in this list of the best unique restaurants in Chicago.

1. Girl & The Goat

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

Girl & The Goat is a hot spot restaurant serving up innovative small plates from a dramatic open kitchen. It offers nose-to-tail foodie eats and a modern, electric atmosphere.

The menu features unique and flavorful dishes, such as the signature roasted pig face and goat empanadas.

The service is top-notch, and the staff is attentive and helpful in guiding guests through the meal.

The communal seating adds to the whole experience of sharing dishes and eating together. Girl & The Goat is definitely worth the visit for anyone looking for a unique dining experience.

2. Au Cheval

Au Cheval
800 W Randolph St, Chicago, IL 60607 (Google Maps)

Au Cheval is an upscale American diner that serves some of the best burgers in town. The open kitchen offers a diverse menu ranging from bologna to foie gras.

The staff is friendly and attentive, even during busy hours. The atmosphere is cozy and welcoming, with a diner-style ambiance.

Although there may be a wait for a table, the food is well worth it. The restaurant has a large selection of draft beers and classic cocktails to accompany your meal.

Highly recommended for burger enthusiasts and those looking for a unique dining experience.

3. Boka

1729 N Halsted St, Chicago, IL 60614 (Google Maps)

Boka is a fine dining restaurant that offers creative American cuisine in a stylish and modern setting.

The restaurant has a lounge and a candelit back garden patio which creates a great atmosphere. Boka has consistently received a Michelin Star for its high-quality food and exceptional service.

The restaurant has an extensive wine list and serves delicious cocktails. The presentation of the food is unique and the flavors are incredible.

The staff is attentive and knowledgeable about the menu. Boka is a must-visit restaurant for anyone looking for a memorable dining experience.

4. avec Restaurant

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

Avec Restaurant is a Mediterranean gem that offers an intimate dining experience with its cozy and minimalist space.

The open kitchen allows diners to witness the magic of cooking with care. The menu features inventive small and large plates with unique flavors that are hard to come by.

The pork belly and charred cabbage are must-tries, and the vegetarian options are exceptional. The service is friendly and attentive, and the atmosphere is perfect for a romantic dinner or a night out with friends.

The reasonable prices make it accessible to anyone looking for a wonderful dining experience. Avec Restaurant is a hidden gem that should not be missed.

5. Roka Akor – Chicago

Roka Akor - Chicago
456 N Clark St, Chicago, IL 60654 (Google Maps)

Roka Akor – Chicago is a contemporary Japanese steakhouse and sushi restaurant that offers a unique dining experience for its customers.

With an open kitchen concept, customers can watch as their food is prepared by expert chefs. The food is expertly crafted and bursting with flavor.

The sushi is a must-try, and the steak is cooked to perfection. The service is excellent, and the staff is highly knowledgeable and attentive, making the experience notably pleasant.

Roka Akor – Chicago is a must-visit for anyone looking for an upscale Japanese restaurant with a contemporary setting.

6. Alinea

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

Alinea is a New American fine dining restaurant that offers a unique and exciting culinary experience.

Chef Grant Achatz is known for his creative and flavorful dishes that are sure to impress even the most discerning foodie. The service is impeccable, with attentive staff who cater to every need.

The wine pairing is a must-try, even for those who are not wine enthusiasts.

The dessert is the highlight of the meal, with beautiful and delicious creations that are sure to leave a lasting impression. Alinea is not just a restaurant, it's an experience that you won't forget.

7. Oriole

661 W Walnut St, Chicago, IL 60661 (Google Maps)

Oriole is a unique restaurant that offers an outstanding dining experience.

Their extended New American tasting menu is expertly prepared and bursting with flavor. The kitchen staff's passion for their craft is evident in every dish.

The restaurant's stylish space and intimate atmosphere make it perfect for romantic dates or special occasions. However, the small portions may not be suitable for those looking for a hearty meal.

The wine pairings are exceptional and add to the overall experience. Oriole is a must-visit for anyone looking for a singular dining experience.

8. Tanta Chicago

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

Tanta Chicago is a unique restaurant that offers a tapas-style menu with a Japanese-Peruvian fusion twist.

The food is flavorful, fresh, and caters to all dietary requirements. The ceviche and brisket empanadas are must-tries.

The staff is friendly and accommodating, making it an enjoyable dining experience. Make sure to make a reservation and bring a friend to share the plentiful servings.

The restaurant has a stylish Peru-inspired interior and serves a great pisco sour cocktail.

9. Virtue Restaurant

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

Virtue Restaurant is a funky-chic Southern restaurant that serves up delicious, imaginative dishes.

The menu is unique, so be sure to ask your server for recommendations. The food is beautifully presented and bursting with flavor.

The staff is friendly and knowledgeable, and the atmosphere is relaxed and comfortable. Reservations are recommended as the restaurant can get busy.

Parking is available nearby. If you're looking for an exciting dining experience with fantastic food, Virtue Restaurant is definitely worth a visit.

10. EL ideas

El Ideas
2419 W 14th St, Chicago, IL 60608 (Google Maps)

EL ideas is a unique restaurant that offers a fine dining experience in a fun and comfortable atmosphere.

The BYOB policy keeps costs down, and the food is executed perfectly without any unnecessary drama. The dishes are brought to the table with minimal backstory, allowing the flavors to speak for themselves.

The interactive open kitchen design allows guests to watch the chefs in action and ask questions. The menu changes frequently, and the chef is accommodating to dietary restrictions.

The staff is friendly and attentive, creating a warm and welcoming atmosphere. The multi-course meal is a culinary journey worth taking, with each dish telling a story and leaving a lasting impression.

11. Provare Chicago

Provare Chicago
1421 W Chicago Ave, Chicago, IL 60642 (Google Maps)

Provare Chicago is a unique fusion restaurant that offers a limited but well-executed menu. The atmosphere is warm and inviting, with great music and attentive staff.

The food is the star of the show here, with dishes like the pesto Alfredo with salmon, the Hennessy shrimp scampi, and the pasta seafood trio being standout favorites.

The sides, like the chef's take on elote corn and Brussels sprouts, are just as delicious. The drinks are also worth mentioning, with the Madison & Pulaski and the MLK being popular choices.

Provare Chicago is a must-try for foodies and those looking for a great dining experience.

12. Cherry Circle Room

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

Cherry Circle Room is a unique American restaurant that offers a mid-century cultural experience.

The restaurant's branded equipment adds to the ambiance, and the wine selection is impressive. The menu is small, but the food is delicious and reasonably priced.

The service is prompt, and the waiting staff is friendly. The restaurant is located in a beautiful building, but it can be hard to find.

The only downside is that the restrooms are located downstairs. Despite this, Cherry Circle Room is a must-visit for anyone looking for a fine dining experience.

13. Il Porcellino

Il Porcellino
59 W Hubbard St #2, Chicago, IL 60654 (Google Maps)

Il Porcellino is a lively Italian restaurant and bar that offers housemade pastas, Italian specials, and wine in wicker-wrapped bottles.

The ambiance is casual-chic and vibrant, making it an ideal spot for a night out. The food is delicious, with standout dishes like the lasagna and orecchiette.

The service is polite and respectful, although it can be slow at times. The prices are reasonable, given the amount and quality of food served.

The restaurant is spacious and can accommodate both small and large groups. All in all, Il Porcellino is a must-visit for anyone looking for a unique and enjoyable dining experience.

14. Ever Restaurant

Ever Restaurant
1340 W Fulton St, Chicago, IL 60607 (Google Maps)

Ever Restaurant is a true masterpiece in the world of fine dining. From the exquisite dishes to the impeccable service, every aspect of the experience is crafted with precision and care.

The Japanese influences in the menu add a unique touch to the already impressive culinary creations.

The restaurant's nondescript building belies the stunning interior, and the comfortable seating allows for a relaxed dining experience.

The wine pairings are expertly curated, and the staff is attentive and knowledgeable. Ever Restaurant is a must-visit for anyone looking for a refined and unforgettable dining experience.

15. Next Restaurant

Next Restaurant
953 W Fulton Market, Chicago, IL 60607 (Google Maps)

Next Restaurant is a high-end fine dining establishment known for its inventive themed tasting menus. The restaurant offers a unique culinary experience that is sure to impress even the most discerning foodie.

The dishes are well thought out and perfectly prepared, with interesting flavors and beautiful presentation.

The service is top-notch, with knowledgeable staff who are attentive to every detail.

While the prices are high, the experience is well worth the splurge for a special occasion or to treat oneself to a once-in-a-lifetime meal.

16. Dear Margaret

Dear Margaret
2965 N Lincoln Ave, Chicago, IL 60657 (Google Maps)

Dear Margaret is a unique restaurant that offers a cozy and warm vibe with delicious food.

The menu is curated with fresh and locally sourced ingredients that are creatively balanced in each plate. The waitstaff is knowledgeable about the menu, and the wine selection is impeccable.

The duck confit salad is a must-try dish, and the bone marrow and foie gras are exceptional. The service is exceptional, creating a memorable dining experience.

However, the portions are small and pricey, making it a luxury dining destination. Nevertheless, Dear Margaret is a noteworthy restaurant that is worth a visit.

17. Polombia

Urban Space, 15 W Washington St, Chicago, IL 60602 (Google Maps)

Polombia is a unique restaurant that offers a fusion of Polish and Colombian cuisine. The owners, who have been chefs for over a decade, have taken traditional dishes to the next level with their great seasoning and flavors.

The La Zapiekanka and Pickled Beet Cabbage slaw are both delicious, but the main dish of mojo chicken, pineapple, and other ingredients on a baguette is a must-try.

Even those without a sweet tooth will enjoy the desserts. The restaurant is located in a cool marketplace with other food and drink options nearby.

The unpretentious surroundings add to the charm of the place. Highly recommended for a different dining experience.

18. Elske

1350 W Randolph St, Chicago, IL 60607 (Google Maps)

Elske is a unique restaurant that offers a contemporary cuisine with surprising tastes and aftertastes. The tasting menu and a la carte dishes are delicious, and the service is top-notch. The outdoor area is a nice place to be when the weather is good.

The atmosphere can be a bit too loud, but the simple elegance of the ambiance is impressive. The station chefs bring out the dishes they make, which is awesome because they can explain it well.

The concise drink menu and wine recommendations are great. The indoor dining environment is comfortable, and the vibe is impressive.

The dishes let the ingredients speak for themselves, and the staff are knowledgeable and give room to breathe. Elske is a relaxed New American fine-dining spot that offers creative American fare with Danish influences.

19. Drawing Room

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

Drawing Room is a unique restaurant that exudes an old-world charm with its 19th-century decor.

The ambiance is cozy and comfortable, with plenty of seating options, including couches and chairs next to the fireplace.

The menu offers well-prepared food and drinks, albeit a bit pricey. The staff is friendly and accommodating.

If you're looking for a place to dine, work, or relax, Drawing Room is worth a visit.