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Top 3 hip restaurants in Chicago for foodies?

My boyfriend has a work trip in Chicago, and I'll be joining him for the weekend in March! We're both huge foodies, and we really want to dig into the food scene. We're staying in River North, and open to exploring different neighborhoods. We've also budgeted for this, so bring it on! And we will try anything once, so open to an adventurous menu. What are the top 3 hip places for local Chicago foodies that we must try?

8 Answers

top answer by

I can't narrow it down to 3, but here are a bunch. They are all different price ranges, atmospheres and cuisines. Maybe look at the menus for all those and see what you feel like!

Blackbird Restaurant, North PondSpiaggiaAlinea and  Next (if you can get in) - they are all high end.

Avec doesn't take reservations.

Ruxbin Kitchen doesn't take reservations, either. Check out their menu for this month to see if you want to do the wait.

Au Cheval is a fancy diner (known for burgers) - good atmosphere, but if you dont care about burgers, skip it or just go for a drink.

The Publican is very meat heavy, if you're into that - they are also well-known for their brunch, so maybe you could squeeze it in that way.

Longman & Eagle

Aviary (for drinks)

Any restaurant by Rick Bayless

Fat Rice has up to 2 hr waits (no reservations and further from river north).

Girl & the Goat is very hard to get a reservation unless it's months in advance, but you could go and wait for a couple hrs and have a drink at Au Cheval across the street.

check out Eataly Chicago to walk around and snack/drink.

Hope this helps!

Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Blackbird Restaurant (restaurant)
  2. Spiaggia (restaurant)
  3. Alinea (restaurant)
  4. Next (restaurant)
  5. Avec (restaurant)
  6. Ruxbin Kitchen (restaurant)
  7. Au Cheval (restaurant)
  8. The Publican (restaurant)
  9. Aviary (restaurant)
  10. Fat Rice (restaurant)
  11. Girl & the Goat (restaurant)
  12. Eataly Chicago (attraction)
  13. North Pond (restaurant)
  14. Longman & Eagle (restaurant)
14 thankscomments (6)

answered by
Jillian from Los Angeles

You are about to enter foodie heaven.

I lived in Chicago for 8 years, and visit regularly. The below places top my list as quietly hip, food focused, and attract locals. 

No. 1: Longman & Eagle. For brunch. Can you say 'the best fried chicken and waffles you've ever had' five times in a row fast? I can't, but what I can do is eat this dish really fast. This place received a Michelin star in the first year being open, and their motto is Eat, Sleep, Whiskey. I really don't need to say more, but I will. 

Farm to table, locally sourced, plain greatness. Earn some cool points and tell your boyfriend about the PBR Breakfast, where they actually serve you a cold can of PBR with your eggs for only a dollar extra. Outside of the fried chicken, go with the market omelet. I don't know how they get that fluff in their eggs, or salad so fresh.

Oh, and they don't take reservations, so you'll just have to wait and get a drink or bar snacks at Off Site Bar attached on the side. If you're there on Saturday, they have a pop up sausage menu, and for Sundays, a pop up donut shop. Right? 

No. 2: Ada Street. For dinner. Located on an industrial looking street somewhere in between Old Town and Bucktown, you'd hardly know it's a restaurant from the outside. You'll enter through a heavy wood door into a dim candlelit entrance and brick wall interior. Once you check in, the hostess will take you down a hallway displaying their vinyl collection that opens to the dining area and bar. Request to sit at the two corner bar seats closest to the outside patio.

To drink. They have some of the best mixologists who don't disappoint. I usually tell them the type of alcohol and level of sweetness and they concoct something amazing from there. If you're not feeling adventurous, try the Love Her Madly (gin), Lincoln & Rose (bourbon), and Speaking in Tongues (vodka). 

To eat. Portions are small to medium, so I would recommend sharing multiple dishes to get a taste of them all. For starters, get the black eyed peas (because it's hip to order those, right?), fries if you're in the mood, and the steak tartare. Wait, let me say this again. You should order the steak tartare. From there, add in some brussels sprouts, goat cheese & apples, and the cavatelli duck. And to finish, get the chocolate with olive oil and sea salt for dessert. 

No. 3: Big Star. Tacos. Located in trendy Bucktown, this place has it all: tacos, tequila, and perfectly cubed ice cubes. It's another spot you'll only find vinyl playing, and the bartenders most likely have beards. But in a good, hip way. 

Food. Order the Taco al Pastor and the Taco de Pescado. Throw in the Taco de Panza because why not. And yes, get some guacamole and chips and if you like margaritas, the classic is great. 

They only take cash, and they don't take reservations. You will probably wait an hour, unless you get takeout off to the side. But it's worth it. The good news is the area is super fun, and you won't have a problem keeping busy close by!

Bonus No. 4: Momotaro. Some of the freshest fish I've ever had.. and yes, in Chicago. Amazing service and worth the splurge.

Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Longman & Eagle (restaurant)
  2. Ada Street (restaurant)
  3. Old Town (attraction)
  4. Bucktown (neighborhood)
  5. Big Star (restaurant)
  6. Momotaro (restaurant)
8 thankscomments (3)

answered by
Brew from Manhattan Beach

Monica's list is very strong.  I would add the Girl & the Goat to the list along with GT Fish & Oyster.  Not "hip", but if you are looking for a steak, Joe's Seafood, Prime Steak & Stone Crab is amazing.

Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Girl & the Goat (restaurant)
  2. GT Fish & Oyster (restaurant)
  3. Joe's Seafood, Prime Steak & Stone Crab (restaurant)
5 thankscomments (4)

answered by
Tommy from Chicago

Tanta Chicago Peruvian 

El Ideas best unknown gourmet in Chicago

Katsu 2651 W Peterson Ave, Chicago, IL 60659 Best Sushi in the World

Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Tanta Chicago (attraction)
  2. El Ideas (restaurant)
  3. Katsu (restaurant)
2 thankscomments (1)

answered by
Lisa from Santa Monica

Try Big Star in Wicker Park and walk along Division St!

Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Big Star (restaurant)
  2. Division St (attraction)
2 thankscomments (1)

answered by
Kevin from Waukegan

Mentioned in this answer:

  1. The Signature Room at the 95th (restaurant)
  2. Frontera Grill & Topolobampo (restaurant)
  3. Deca Restaurant (restaurant)
2 thankscomments (1)

answered by
Rebecca from California

Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Girl & the Goat (restaurant)
  2. Frontera Grill & Topolobampo (restaurant)
  3. Alinea (restaurant)
  4. Tanta Chicago (attraction)
  5. Eataly Chicago (attraction)
2 thankscomments (1)

answered by
Beth from Chicago

I always love Le Colonial Chicago- French Vietnamese and in the heart of the Rush/Division area. If you are looking for out of the way - more neighborhood place - try Rose Angelis - Italian. For ribs - Twin Anchors Restaurant. A total institution. In Bucktown area - try Big Star for mexican!

Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Le Colonial Chicago (restaurant)
  2. Rose Angelis (restaurant)
  3. Twin Anchors Restaurant (restaurant)
  4. Big Star (restaurant)
1 thanks

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