Best Restaurants in Chicago According to Locals

After my last post on my favorite places to eat in Chicago, I decided to ask other locals to share their top places to eat as well. I got tons of responses, but can you blame them? Chicago is a city full of incredible and unique restaurants.

I narrowed it down to some of the highest-rated spots in the city and created this perfect food guide for your first (or 50th) visit to the city. If you’d like to see my personal recommendations (trust me they’re fantastic), check out that post HERE. The following Chicago restaurants are the top 18 that locals rave about.

American Restaurants in Chicago


Girl & the GoatThis place is the best-rated restaurant on in Chicago. Multiple locals mentioned it as their favorite in the city. I was actually so intrigued by it that I made a reservation immediately to see what all the fuss was about. And I’ll just say it deserves all the fuss. The food is great and their menu has something for everyone!

When I asked another local what I should try there she responded with, “Everything! All their vegetables (green beans, broccoli, cauliflower, shishito peppers) are great! Fried Oyster’s, Pig Face, Weekly Bread selections. They also switch up the menu’s entrees every so often, but most stuff is meant to share.” Highly recommend a reservation.

Au ChevalThis burger place is a favorite among many Chicagoans (just check out yelp). However, the wait is long and they don’t take reservations. If you have the time then I do recommend waiting! If you’re on a quick trip, then head over to Small Cheval, the quicker version of Au Cheval that I mentioned in my last post.

Gather In the words of a local,Brunch and dinner are great! I’ve never been disappointed. They have a cute outdoor area in the back of the restaurant with strung lights, greenery, and heat lamps. Definitely a nice ambiance!” I’ve actually visited Gather myself and quickly became a fan. Their cocktails are also fairly priced and well made.

Lula CafeA great place for brunch or dinner. They also have several vegetarian options including a Six Course Vegetarian Tasting Menu for dinner!

Luella’s Southern KitchenEverything from catfish tacos to chicken and waffles, their menu is full of southern goodness.

Honey Butter Fried Chicken I’ve actually been here and can confirm that their chicken is amazing and that their honey butter stuff is unique and oh so tasty. They offer quick service and indoor and outdoor seating.

The PublicanA place focused on seafood and pork with communal tables and incredibly good reviews. Also, must note, their brunch looks delightful.

Asian Restaurants in Chicago


Kai ZanThis place seems so interesting. I’m not a sushi fan, but Jorge definitely is and I think he’ll love it here. It’s not just another sushi bar, they also serve Omakase style meals where customers get unique creations based on their individual taste preferences. How cool is that? And it’s BYOB!

Tank Noodle Locals love it here! I know because I’ve gotten this recommendation from several of them. Tank Noodle has a wide selection of Vietnamese dishes and it’s also BYOB.

Chicago BBQ


Green Street Smoked MeatsPicture a huge warehouse, a bar, and plenty of seating — filled with house-smoked Texas-style BBQ and lots of loyal Chicago fans.

BellyQI’ve actually been here and was pleasantly surprised by Asian BBQ. New incredible flavors were introduced to me that day. I need to go back! They also have tabletop grill options for a different kind of experience.

Italian Restaurants in Chicago

source: siena tavern

Siena TavernPizza, homemade pasta, and a mozzarella bar, what more do you need? They also serve American food. A local said the lobster rolls here are to die for.

Osteria Via StatoA classic Italian restaurant with vegetarian options and a happy hour! Located in a great spot to explore the city on foot.

La ScarolaSeveral locals mentioned this place, so I think I’ll be stopping here myself soon. It’s a small restaurant with tons of framed photos as decor, almost looks like it’s straight out of Italy.

Latin American Restaurants in Chicago

source: 90milescubancafe

Tango SurIt’s an Argentinian steakhouse that offers an array of dishes influenced not just by Argentina but also other cultures, and it’s BYOB!

90 Miles Cuban CafeEvery time we see this place it is crowded. That’s definitely a good sign. They have several locations to choose from on the north side of the city.

Vegan Restaurants in Chicago

source: manafoodbar

The Chicago DinerThis diner has been meat-free since ’83! They have such a great selection of vegetarian dishes (I’ve tried several). Definitely order their milkshakes if you happen to visit.

Mana Food BarAnother excellent spot for vegetarians and beyond. They also serve cocktails and have an outdoor patio during the summertime. 

If you’re looking for more Chicago restaurants to try, remember to check out my recommendations for more top spots HERE.

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  • Reply Lisa Zagone February 26, 2022 at 2:29 pm

    I am coming to Chicago in March for the first time and I can’t wait to use your lists to get around to see and taste my way. Thanks for the tips!

    • Reply Lily March 5, 2022 at 1:05 am

      Thanks for reading, Lisa! Hope you enjoy the city 🙂

  • Reply Jenn November 30, 2021 at 8:41 pm

    Girl & The Goat is AMAZING! I have family in Chicago and fell in love with the place. Imagine my elation when they opened a new location directly across the street from my home in Los Angeles earlier this year. Pure culinary genius!

    • Reply Lily December 2, 2021 at 11:15 am

      I had no idea they opened one in LA! How awesome is that?!

  • Reply A Local's Guide: Where to Eat in Chicago - This Darling World July 5, 2017 at 12:56 pm

    […] also been asking other Chicago local’s what their fave places are. You can find that list HERE. For now, check out my recommendations below. I’d love to know your thoughts if you do try […]

  • Reply Céline CLudik July 1, 2017 at 10:39 am

    I visited Chicago 7 years ago and I love this city ! You have found really different food types : all look super tasty ! I would like to taste the italian food at the restaurant La Scarola 🙂 I definitely need to go back and visit these restaurants !

  • Reply Nina Tekwani July 1, 2017 at 8:42 am

    I love this list. Chicago has soooo many restaurant options that I sometimes don’t know where to go!

  • Reply Hanan June 30, 2017 at 8:23 pm

    I’ve been to nearly all of these places and I can confirm excellence 🙂

    • Reply This Darling World June 30, 2017 at 8:29 pm

      Yay! Glad to hear!! There are so many I want to try, I’ve only been to a few of these.

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