Famous Restaurants in Chicago: A Foodie’s In-Depth Guide

Scoping out the famous Willis Tower views, retail therapy along Millennium Mile, and a spellbinding Skyline Lake Tour. There’s no way not to keep busy in the Windy City. After a long day of sightseeing and a smiling Bean selfie, you surely deserve a five-star dinner.

Follow along to discover the best famous restaurants in Chicago.

Fellow foodies can attest that in recent years the Second City’s food scene has exploded to include everything from award-winning eateries recognized by the James Beard Foundation to a celery salt-topped Chicago-style hot dog.

Much like the Windy City herself, restaurants in Chicago deliver equal measures of glamor, grit, and undeniable flavor.

From fine dining to hot dog stands, travelers congregate in Chicago to feast on everything from Lou’s deep-dish pizza to luscious short rib.

Inject your Chi-town adventure with some Prohibition-era history when you sip on a filthy martini at the Green Mill, or class things up with the exquisite creations from Stephanie Izard’s West Loop dining room.

Already drooling? Read on to devour the best of Chicago’s famous restaurants.

Chicago Famous Restaurants

The Berghoff

Nursing a heartbreak or just a bad day? Soothe your sorrows with a plate of comforting food from the Berghoff’s legendary kitchen. For over 120 years, this colossal downtown German restaurant has topped every list of best classic restaurants in Chi-town. Family and immigrant-owned, the Berghoff began as a simple beer shop.

However, thanks to Prohibition-era laws, Herman Berghoff decided to pivot to food. Fast forward over a century, and Chicagoans are still devouring their hand-carved sandwiches, schnitzel, potato pancakes, and bratwurst.

Missed your chance to chow down on a Hot Corned Beef sandwich or a pile of Pierogies? Never fear, as the Berghoff now has a location at O’Hare International Airport.

Exterior brick building with a neon sign that says The Berghoff Restaurant
Photo Credit: The Berghoff Restaurant via Facebook

The Green Mill

A love letter to a bygone era, channel your inner gangster when you make a date at the Green Mill Green. Feel like you’re the bee’s knees when you sip your gin and tonic in the very same booth as Al Capone and his men.

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Located directly west of the short end of the bar, they preferred this seating arrangement as it afforded them views of both the back and front of the establishment. With live music offerings seven days a week and Poetry Slam Sundays, you are always guaranteed some A+ entertainment.

While the Green Mill doesn’t serve food, they make a mean martini, and there are plenty of top-notch restaurants within walking distance. Please note that the Green Mill is a cash-only, 21-and-over establishment.

Als #1 Italian Beef

What started as a humble bookie joint in 1938 is now widely regarded as a ‘can’t miss’ foodie Chicago institution. The original concept was born from Anthony Ferreri adopting the Italian American style of thinly slicing a beef roast to serve more people.

Als #1 Italian Beef now owns and operates multiple locations throughout the city, and has garnered over 150 culinary awards from places like the Travel Channel, the Food Network, and the TODAY show.

For a traditional experience, hightail it to the Taylor Street location and indulge in the classic sandwich of heavily seasoned roast beef doused in gravy, topped with sweet hot peppers, and served on crusty French bread.

Peppers mixed with shredded steak on a bun with french fries surrounding itGirl & the Goat

Sultry mood lighting and a dramatic open kitchen concept make Top Chef’s famous Stephanie Izard’s Girl & the Goat and dreamy dinner locale. Make your reservation for this beloved West Loop eatery well ahead of time, as Izard’s inventive cuisine and global flavors have garnered quite a following.

Pique your hunger with their unique take on an Old Fashioned, before ordering a smattering of seasonally inspired plates to share. Fulfill your veggie quota with a serving of their famous fish sauce sauteed green beans before munching away on pan-roasted halibut or sticky glazed pork shank served with grilled pineapple, tamarind, and papaya-mango salad.

Honor the restaurant’s namesake with a sampling from their ‘goat’ section such as the fatty goat belly topped with pecan quinoa crunch and strawberries.

The Walnut Room

The Walnut Room may be a go-to during Christmastime, but we love sneaking away to this Chicago staple for a heartwarming mid-day lunch of meatloaf or their iconic chicken pot pie. Located in the famous Macy’s on State Street, the Walnut Room earned notoriety as the first restaurant ever to open in a department store.

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Refuel after stocking up on sweaters and souvenirs at Macy’s, when you dine amongst the stunning Circassian wood paneling and Austrian chandeliers. Admire the spacious and elegantly appointed 17,000 square-foot dining room, as you snack on a classic wedge salad or their beloved short rib.

A true stick-to-your-ribs meal, this slow-cooked tender beef is accompanied by buttery whipped potatoes, carrots, and toasted herb bread crumbs.

man and woman dressed nicely holding wine glasses sitting at dinner in front of twinkle lightsAlinea

A modern, minimalist ambiance, plus an avalanche of fine dining accolades make this Lincoln Park establishment a true gem of the Chicago food scene. Universally lauded for their creative dishes that border on art.

Alinea has earned a coveted three-star Michelin rating in addition to James Beard Awards for Outstanding Restaurant in the U.S., Outstanding Service in the U.S., and Outstanding Chef in the U.S.

The restaurant offers an exceptional multi-course tasting menu experience. Indulge in your amuse bouche with the perfect wine list pairing, or experiment with one of their a la carte cocktail creations.

Gene & Georgetti

White tablecloths, sparkling chandeliers, and red velvet seats. For some classic steakhouse ambiance with just a hint of nostalgia, Gene & Georgetti is the answer. Heed your craving for beef and potatoes, when you swing by River North for supper at Chicago’s original steakhouse.

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Slinging Rib Eye and Sirloin since 1941, this Windy City icon doesn’t mess around when it comes to meat. All of their steaks are wet-aged for at least three weeks and then broiled at 1400 degrees to seal in flavor.

Devour your NY Strip or Filet Mignon with a spicy Horseradish crema or Gorgonzola crust. Don’t forget about their sides, as their creamed spinach or Brussels sprouts served with bacon and green apple will leave you coming back for seconds.

Steak on a cutting board with roasted asparagus and potatoes surrounding it
Photo Credit: Gene & Georgetti Chicago via Facebook

Calumet Fisheries

A ramshackle fish shack with a James Beard Foundation Award? While this may seem unusual, Calumet Fisheries unassuming front is home to the South Side’s most swoon-worthy house-smoked fish.

Venture over to E 95th Street to take part in the time-honored tradition of a fresh fish lunch served by the Kotlick-Toll family. A strictly take-out business, you can enjoy your fried fish or smoked trout in your car outside or plan for a picnic at the nearby beach park of the same name.

Famous Italian Restaurants in Chicago

The Village

Mangia! Spoil your sweetie with a date night straight out of Lady and the Tramp, when you revel in the old-world charm and vintage ambiance of the Village. Chicago’s oldest Italian restaurant, this marinara-slinging eatery has been serving up Northern specialties since 1927.

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Dangling string lights, Tuscany-inspired murals, and glowing lanterns come together to recreate the romantic atmosphere of an authentic trattoria. Feast on fried calamari and creamy fettuccine alfredo, all washed down with a classic Chianti.

Bar with italian style pillars supporting a brightly lit red ceiling decoration in a restaurant with red leather booths
Photo Credit: Italian Village- Chicago via Facebook

Mart Anthony’s Italian Restaurant

Something about spaghetti al fresco just hits different. Heed your desire for lasagna, tortellini, and rigatoni, when you dine at Mart Anthony’s Italian Restaurant. True carb addicts will be in heaven as they munch their way through a menu of old-school family recipes that have been handed down over five generations.

A true hidden Chi-town gem, guests can choose to sip their Cabernet on the outdoor patio or dig into their Chicken Parmigiana under the wistful gaze of Frank Sinatra photo. Be sure to save some room for dessert, as nothing beats their homemade Tiramisu or Cheesecake.

Piccolo Sogno

A refreshing Aperol Spritz paired with a perfectly crisp pizza from a wood-burning oven. Is there anything more divine? Inject your Windy City stay with a little European flair when you savor the fresh, seasonal flavors of rustic Italian cuisine at Piccolo Sogno.

Piccolo Sogno, which means ‘little dream’ in Italian, fully delivers on your Under the Tuscan Sun fantasy. Peruse their bountiful wine list, which contains over 400 selections. Then dig into a Burrata or Polpo antipasti. We recommend ordering a smattering of pizzas to sample. Try their incredible black truffle-topped Funghi pie.

Red creamy sauced pasta with basil and parmesan cheese sprinkled on topFamous Chicago Pizza Restaurants

It would be positively criminal to sojourn to the Second City and not sample a slice (or two) of deep-dish pizza. Get a mouthful of marina, garlic, and mozzarella when you devour any of the best pizza meals in Chicago:

Famous Chicago Hot Dog Restaurants

Put down the ketchup! Cram your face full of all-beef frankfurters at any of the best Chi-style dog restaurants. Feel free to customize your weiner. Just know that a true Chicago hot dog needs to be ‘dragged through the garden.’

Ready to devour your creation of sweet pickle relish, pickled peppers, and celery salt? Try them all. Then report on your favorite famous Chicago hot dog restaurant.

hot dog for Hot Dog Fest in Chicago, IL, USA
Credit: https://www.facebook.com/chicagohistory/photos/gm.1065480890317912/10162091269615503

A history of grizzly crime mixed with a dash of stunning Frank Lloyd architecture and a healthy pinch of multicultural influences has made Chi-town a hotbed of epicurean excellence since the 19th century.

While many visitors may come to the Windy City to marvel at the Art Institute or catch a White Sox game, this metropolis aims to charm through the stomach.

Satisfy your tastebuds with the Bavarian offerings of the Berghoff. Or swear you’ve been transported to the Italian countryside when you sample the Chicken Picatta and Mortadella of the Village.

Earn your stripes in the great deep-dish pizza debate when you demolish slices from both Pizano’s and Lous. Or splurge on a tasting experience at Alinea.

From rustic seafood shacks featuring fried shrimp to chandelier-outfitted department store establishments, famous Chicago restaurants offer an exceptional way to experience the Second City.

Tell us, Did We Miss Any of the Most Famous Restaurants Chicago, IL?

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Written by Isis Maya Nissman

A New York native, Isis-Maya spent most of her professional life working in TV production until a vacation whisked her away to Central...

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