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Dine Like a Local: Must-Visit Tourist Restaurants in Chicago

Chicago river and bridge in Chicago, Illinois, USA

With over 20 Michelin-star restaurants, it’s no secret that Chicago is a foodie city. The City of Broad Shoulders has impressed critics like Anthony Bourdain for decades. 

However, it’s not just the award-winning eateries that keep people coming back for more. From hole-in-the-wall Cuban joints to a well-decorated Filipino bakery, visitors will find seemingly endless dining spots in the Windy City. This guide will walk you through the best restaurants in Chicago for tourists.

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Classic Chicago Eats

While Chicago is home to cuisine from around the world, some restaurants serve comfort food meals straight from the city’s working-class history:

1. Pequod’s Pizza

  • Address: 2207 N Clybourn Ave.
  • Average Price: $20 per person
  • Signature Dish: Deep-dish pizza

Pequod’s Pizza has recently gained national recognition by securing the #1 slot on Yelp’s Top 100 Pizza Spots in the United States. While the authenticity of its ‘Chicago-style’ pizza is a topic of debate among locals, its unique caramelized crust has become a national sensation. 

Diners may even recognize Pequod’s from its appearances on the hit TV show The Bear. Whether dining as a couple or a group, the casual atmosphere makes it perfect for all types of hungry visitors. 

Note: There is a second location in the Morton Grove suburb. 

Pequod's Pizza
Thomas Hawk / Flickr

2. Lou Mitchell’s

  • Address: 565 W Jackson Blvd.
  • Average Price: $22 per person
  • Signature Dish: Fries with Greek Feta and Cheddar Cheese

A Chicago staple since 1923, Lou Mitchell’s has been feeding hungry locals and travelers since the creation of the iconic Route 66. Situated just steps away from the start of the Americana highway, Lou Mitchell’s offers visitors a good, hearty American breakfast. 

Known for serving breakfast all day, Lou Mitchell’s has hosted celebrities and even presidents like Jimmy Carter and George W. Bush. Its central location right off the Union Station train line makes it the perfect start to any day exploring Chicago’s Loop and Magnificent Mile. 

Lou Mitchell's
Laura LaRose / Flickr 

3. Superdawg Drive-In

  • Address: 6363 N Milwaukee Ave.
  • Average Price: $10 per person
  • Signature Dish: Superdawg

Opened by two high-school sweethearts in 1948, Superdawg Drive-In is known for its welcoming vibes, retro feel, and one-of-a-kind Chicago-style hot dogs. Originally a drive-in, Superdawg has since expanded to include a full dining room (which you want in a Chicago snowstorm!). 

The Drive-In has maintained its old-school charm throughout the years. The original two giant wieners atop the restaurant continue to greet visitors decades later. 

Superdawg Drive-In
jpellgen (@1105_jp) / Flickr

Ethnic Enclaves

For hundreds of years, immigrants have found a home in Chicago. As a result, there is a beautiful blend of restaurants serving global cuisine scattered throughout the city:

4. Athena Greek Restaurant

  • Address: 212 S Halsted St. #1
  • Average Price: $30
  • Signature Dish: Grilled octopus

Chicago is home to a thriving Greek community that catalysts in Greektown. Athena Greek Restaurant opened in 1997 and continues to serve traditional cuisine, including gyros, moussaka, and the Greek-American favorite, flaming hot cheese, saganaki. 

The space’s highlight is its gorgeous patio. In summer, the glass roof is pulled back, and diners can enjoy city views and fresh air. The space also includes fountains and gardens that seemingly transport you to a Greek village.  

Athena Greek Restaurant
Jazz Guy / Flickr

5. 90 Miles Cuban Cafe

  • Address: 2540 W Armitage Ave. or 3101 N Clybourn Ave.
  • Average Price: $25
  • Signature Dish: Cuban sandwich

Featured multiple times on the Food Network, 90 Miles Cuban Cafe is another staple Chicago institution. With locations in Logan Square and Roscoe Village, getting a taste of Cuba is closer than ever. 

The Logan Square location on Armitage is significantly larger, but both offer an energetic dining space filled with traditional Cuban flair and outdoor patio spaces. Great for both breakfast and lunch, 90 Miles is the place to fill your belly with delicious Latin food and café con leche. 

90 Miles
Mauro Leon / Unsplash

6. Sultan’s Market

  • Address: Four locations
  • Average Price: $20
  • Signature Dish: Falafel

With four locations throughout the city, Sultan’s Market is a beloved local hotspot for classic Middle Eastern food. Since 1995, the owner, May Ramli, wanted to create a space familiar to those who didn’t grow up eating at restaurants.

Sultan’s Market has since curated a space that welcomes everyone to enjoy the taste of traditional home-cooked meals. While popular items like falafel always remain on the menu, Ramli is constantly playing with and expanding the menu to mimic the beautiful fluidity of flavors in the Middle East. 

Sultan's Market
Anton / Unsplash

Family-Friendly Fun

For those bringing the kids along, these local joins will welcome you and the strollers with open arms:

7. Crosby’s Kitchen

  • Address: 3455 N Southport Ave.
  • Average Price: $30
  • Signature Dish: Wood-roasted chicken and biscuits

Crosby’s Kitchen is a genuinely nice restaurant, still great for bringing the kids along. It offers Midwestern staples that make pleasing the kids easy as pie.  

It’s a charming environment with outdoor patio space right along the bustling shopping street of Southport. Diners will find themselves surrounded by families, dog owners, hipsters, and everything in between in this Lakeview hub. 

Crosby's Kitchen
Anokarina / Flickr

8. Dimo’s Pizza

  • Address: Four locations
  • Average Price: $15
  • Signature Dish: The Mac

For those with picky (or just plain weird) eaters, Dimo’s Pizza offers unusual pizza toppings. With items like mac and cheese slices, fried chicken and waffles pizza, and Chicago dog pizza, your little ones are sure to find an out-of-the-ordinary item fit for a kid and the kid at heart.

Dimo’s menu also includes a wide variety of options for both vegetarians and vegans. There are four locations throughout the Windy City, so you’re never too far away from a slice. All locations have a cozy dining area and include additional menu items like salads and sandwiches. 

Dimo's Pizza
Stephanie / Flickr

Gourmet Dining

If you’re looking to try Chicago’s famous award-winning restaurants, these two won’t disappoint: 

9. Alinea

  • Address:1723 N Halsted St.
  • Average Price: $100+
  • Signature Dish: Rotating menu

When folks think “fine dining in Chicago,” Alinea is the first restaurant that comes to mind. Named the Best Restaurant in the World by Elite Traveler and the Best Restaurant in North America by The World’s 50 Best Restaurants, it’s obvious why Aliena deserves high praise on this list. 

There are three dining experiences within Aliena: the Kitchen Table, The Gallery, and The Salon. Each experience within this Lincoln Park gem covers a wide variety of budgets, but still expect to pay a pretty penny no matter which you choose.

Aliena’s creative modernist cuisine is something truly unique that has earned them 3 Michelin stars. From 13-course tasting menus to experimental desserts, Aliena is a once-in-a-lifetime destination. 

Alinea
Delightin Dee / Unsplash

10. Kasama

  • Address: 1001 N Winchester Ave.
  • Average Price: $25 | $185 for tasting menu
  • Signature Dish: Adobo

Relatively new to the Chicago restaurant scene, Kasama quickly gained popularity after its 2023 Michelin star win and its cameo on season two of The Bear. The new hotspot is both a bakery, an upscale lunch and dinner spot, and the world’s first Filipino restaurant to earn a Michelin star. 

The space is modern and chic yet still welcoming to all types of diners. The owners, Tim and Genie Flores, have worked tirelessly to break down barriers and introduce a new crowd to  Filipino cuisine.  

Kasama
Mae Mu / Unsplash

Practical Tips for Tourist Diners

When planning a visit to these popular Chicago restaurants, it’s important to follow a few tips and tricks to ensure your dining experience is as pleasant as possible. Here are some tips to consider:

  • Reservations: Securing a table in Chicago can be challenging. At spots like Aliena, it’s a good idea to book well in advance.
  • Best Times to Dine: Try enjoying an early dinner or late lunch to avoid long wait times. Visiting during the week will be less busy than Friday and Saturday nights.
  • Bring an allergy card: If you have dietary restrictions, inform the restaurant ahead of time. Most restaurants are willing to accommodate guests with advance notice. If English is not your first language, download an allergy card that you can hand to your server that outlines all your restrictions in clear English.

Conclusion

As you can see, Chicagoans love their food. Each iconic institution is a must-visit for anyone making a pilgrimage to this great city. From deep-dish pizza to a 13-course tasting menu, Chicago restaurants are waiting for you. 

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Author

  • Cait Kontalis

    Cait, a Chicago-based Greek-American, globe-trots with degrees in Communications and Nonprofit Management. Her expertise spans ski trips, Greece travel, Central Europe exploration, and outdoor adventures.

    View all posts https://www.tiktok.com/@caitkontalis

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