While I’m not the type of traveler to splurge on souvenirs or fancy hotel rooms, I will spend a pretty penny on food. A good portion of my travel budget is dedicated to dining at hole-in-the-wall hidden gems, raved about restaurants, and decadent desserts.
When I visit big cities such as Chicago, the world is my oyster. (Nice food pun, huh?) With so many famous Chicago restaurants to try, I do my best to plan, research, and make reservations ahead of my trip.
8 Famous Chicago Restaurants You Have to Try
1. Twin Anchors Restaurant & Tavern
Location: 1655 N. Sedgwick St. Chicago, IL 60614
Housed in the historic Old Town building dating back to 1881, Twin Anchors Restaurant & Tavern opened its doors in 1932. Known for its Chicago-style ribs and interesting history, this tavern has long been a hot spot for locals, tourists, and celebrities alike.
As a matter of fact, Frank Sinatra once frequented the tavern and made it his quintessential stop each time he visited Chicago.
Aside from the famous ribs, popular menu items include the Rib & Chicken combo, New York Strip, and Filet Mignon. Of course, you have to order a classic cocktail, too. After all, it was a former speakeasy!
2. The Berghoff Restaurant
Location: 17 W Adams St. Chicago, IL 60604
After setting up a stand at the World’s Fair in 1893 and receiving rave reviews, Herman Berghoff opened the Berghoff Restaurant in 1898. When the Prohibition hit, Berghoff’s pivoted and became known for their traditional German cuisine. Once the ban on alcohol was lifted, Herman Berghoff raced to receive the first liquor license in Chicago, positioning the Berghoff Restaurant among the most famous Chicago restaurants in history.
Aside from the restaurant’s intriguing history, the food still lures tourists and locals alike inside. From bratwurst to schnitzel and stroganoff, you’ll find a wide assortment of traditional dishes here.
If you don’t have time for a full sit-down meal, visit The Berghoff Cafe open Monday through Friday from 11:00 am to 2:00 pm.
3. Green Door Tavern
Location: 678 North Orleans, Chicago, IL 60654
While the Green Door Tavern has been a restaurant since 1921, its building dates all the way back to 1872. Back in the days of the Prohibition, a “green door” indicated the presence of a speakeasy. Almost one hundred years later, aspects of the original restaurant and bar are incorporated into the existing establishment.
While the menu has changed several times over the past few decades, the allure of the tavern along with its notoriety hasn’t wavered. Popular menu items include fish and chips along with their scrumptious burgers.
Since the Green Door was a former speakeasy, make it a point to grab a pint or cocktail while you’re there.
4. Girl & the Goat
Location: 809 W Randolph St, Chicago, IL 60607
When you think of famous Chicago restaurants, historic spots come to mind. However, Girl & the Goat doesn’t have decades of history behind its story. Yet, its reservation list is booked up for months at a time.
The brainchild of Top Chef winner, Stephanie Izard, Girl & the Goat serves a family-style menu featuring global flavors, bold tastes, and creative pairings. The menu is categorized by Meat, Fish, and Vegetables with 10 shared plates in each. Come hungry and ready for a culinary adventure.
Inside the restaurant, you’ll have your choice of seating, from the lounge to the bar to tabletops next to the kitchen. Although the restaurant accepts walk-ins, reservations are highly recommended.
5. Gene & Georgetti
Location: 500 N Franklin St, Chicago, IL 60654
Founded in 1941, Gene & Georgetti is Chicago’s oldest steakhouse. The restaurant has been in the same family since its inception and has loyal customers who have been visiting the steakhouse for more than 50 years.
On top of excellent Italian specialties and steaks, diners experience quintessential Italian hospitality at Gene & Georgetti’s. From welcoming waitresses to exceptional service, you’ll love every aspect of your meal there.
In addition to steak, some of top more popular menu items include Beef En Brochette, Chicken Vesuvio, and Veal Scaloppine.
Location: 619 West Randolph, Chicago, IL 60661
Boasting a sleek and modern interior, Blackbird is captained by Executive Chef, Paul Kahan. Kahan was the winner of the James Beard Award for Outstanding Chef in 2013 and Best Chef of the Midwest in 2004, positioning Blackbird among the most famous Chicago restaurants.
Blackbird’s menu showcases Midwestern cuisine with a creative twist. All menu items feature local, farm-fresh ingredients for a simple, yet eye-opening plate. Menus include dishes such as Pork Belly, Roasted Rohan Duck, and Dry Aged Beef Tartare.
The restaurant does accept walk-ins, but dinner reservations are recommended.
7. Kuma's Corner
Location: 2900 W Belmont Ave, Chicago, IL 60618
If you’re searching for a hefty burger using the freshest ingredients around, make your way to Kuma's Corner. With several locations in the greater Chicago area, you’re never too far from the best burgers you’ve ever had in your life. But make sure you come hungry! These burgers are anything but puny.
As you browse Kuma's menu, you’ll notice each burger is named after a heavy metal band such as Black Sabbath, Iron Maiden, and Led Zeppelin. For rock and roll fans who love a fantastic burger and local beer, this is heaven.
Of course, if you’re not that into burgers, Kuma's has other menu items including sandwiches, salads, and mac and cheese.
8. Big Star
Location: 1531 N Damen Ave, Chicago IL 60622
In the mood for tacos, whiskey, and a good ol’ honky tonk? There’s no need to go all the way to Texas for that. Visit Big Star in Chicago instead!
Big Star offers two locations in Wicker Park and Wrigleyville with menu items including specialty tacos, salads, and more. In addition, the taqueria boasts a house-selected single barrel bourbon program for those who like to indulge.
You’ll want to arrive early with plenty of time on your hands. The restaurant does not accept reservations and always has a line out the door due to its popularity!
Famous Deep Dish Pizza Restaurants in Chicago
It’s no secret that some of Chicago’s most iconic restaurants are deep dish pizza spots. When in Chicago, you have to grab a pie at the top pizza restaurants including:
Iconic Chicago Hot Dog Restaurants
Whatever you do, do not ask for ketchup on a hot dog in Chicago. It’s forbidden.
A Chicago-style hot dog is another food staple while visiting the city. Make it a point to try a dog or two at these top spots:
Chicago: A Foodie’s Dream Come True
Whether you seek out famous Chicago restaurants for their history, notoriety, or Instagram-worthy dishes and decor, you’re guaranteed a life-altering meal.
What are your favorite Chicago restaurants? Share your thoughts below.