Along with Chicago’s many beaches and tons of interesting things to do—plus the fact it’s relatively cheap to live here and generally fairly easy to get around without a car—our city’s diverse, affordable, and appetizing eating scene is one of the main things that makes this a terrific place to live.
I first came up with the concept for the Iconic Chicago Restaurants Map a couple years ago as a love letter to the hospitality industry, and to highlight the fact that all parts of town are worth visiting. The idea was to pick a top eatery in each of the city’s 77 officially designated community areas, along with a few runners-up: delicious destinations that reflect the local culture.
I was shooting for longtime (20-plus years), non-expensive (entrees costing $20 or less), and overall excellent eating spots, bending the rules where necessary. For example, in communities with few independent restaurants I was willing to include newer spots, and I wanted to showcase a mix of eateries that mirrors Chicago’s ethnic and culinary diversity.
After posting requests on Twitter and Facebook for input on each community, I got enthusiastic recommendations from hundreds of people, ranging from anonymous foodies to aldermen. Thanks to all of you who responded.
In my 30-plus years in Chicago, I’ve lived in many parts of town, from Woodlawn to Bridgeport to Humboldt Park to Rogers Park, and my jobs as a bike messenger, urban planner, and reporter have taken me to every corner of the city. So I had lots of opinions of my own.
But I’m not a restaurant expert by trade, so I ran a rough draft of my list by a number of distinguished food writers and other journalists, dining industry veterans, and seasoned civilian restaurant explorers, including Michael Alarcon, Ines Bellina, Monica Eng, Michael Gebert, Cheryl V. Jackson, Jeremy Joyce, James Porter, Anjulie Rao, Titus Ruscitti, and sommelier and food historian Richard Tan. Their feedback was a huge help.
Reader food critic Mike Sula offered some particularly helpful wisdom: No matter how carefully I tried to select the top eateries, not everyone would be happy with my choices. “Like any list, I’m sure it will piss some people off.”
I’d made good progress by March 2020 when COVID-19 hit Chicago. It seemed unwise, and maybe inappropriate, to publish a restaurant map when it wasn’t clear how many of these establishments would survive the crisis, so I back-burnered the project. But this spring after vaccinations became widespread and relatively safe indoor dining was possible again, it appeared to be a good time to finish the job.
Obviously the pandemic has been an extremely stressful time for restaurant workers and owners, with exposure risks, constantly shifting safety protocols, reduced revenue, and layoffs. Even now, labor shortages are a major challenge, and with Delta variant hospitalizations on the rise among the unvaccinated, there are fears of yet another lockdown. But hopefully this map will bring more business to some of Chicago’s undersung eateries, doing a little bit to help them weather the storm.
I’ve identified worthwhile independent restaurants in 75 of the 77 community areas. But the tiny, triangular Burnside neighborhood on the southeast side lacks brick-and-mortar eateries. According to Eighth Ward staffer Alvin Rider, that’s due to the area mostly being zoned for residential and industrial uses. However, a branch of Huddle House, a Waffle House competitor, is slated to open this September just east of Burnside at 95th and Stony Island in Calumet Heights.
The far south side community area Riverdale, which includes the Altgeld Gardens housing project, also lacks restaurants. But neighborhood advocate Fatimah Harris says getting one is low on her priority list. “We are a food and transportation desert. Our only grocery store, Rosebud Farms, closed a few years ago. What we’re really promoting is fresh food, health, and wellness.” One such initiative in the area is a monthly pop-up with a fresh produce truck. The situation in Riverdale is a reality check for those of us who can take for granted easy access to supermarkets, let alone restaurants.
The Iconic Chicago Restaurants Map exists in a couple different formats. Along with a map beautifully illustrated by Steve Shanabruch showing the locations of the 75 top picks, I’ve created a Google Map that also includes up to four runners-up in each community. View the Google Map at tinyurl.com/IconicChicagoRestaurantsMap.
Below is the list of featured restaurants with brief descriptions. Top picks are in bold, followed by the runners-up, in alphabetical order. While five eateries per community area was about all I could fit on the Google Map without cluttering it up, in some cases there were a few more key local eating spots I hated to leave on the cutting-room floor, so those are listed below the runners-up as “LEFTOVERS.”
1. Rogers Park
Caribbean American Baking Company (Caribbean)
Longtime Howard Street bakery known for its beef pies, white coco bread, and spice buns, plus jerk chicken and pork dinners.
Buffalo Joe’s (Buffalo wings, fast food)
Noon Hour Grill (Korean diner)
Taqueria El Chorrito (Mexican)
Taste of Peru (Peruvian)
Denden Restaurant (Eritrean)
Tamales Lo Mejor de Guerrero (Mexican)
2. West Ridge (West Rogers Park)
Khan Barbecue (Pakistani)
Bustling Devon Street eatery specializing in roasted and grilled meats like tandoori chicken, lamb shish kebab, and chicken boti, plus biryani rice dishes.
Ghareeb Nawaz (late-night Pakistani)
Hema’s Kitchen (Indian)
Sukhadia’s Sweets and Snacks (Indian)
Tel Aviv Kosher Pizza (kosher pizza)
Annapurna (Indian vegetarian)
The Fish Keg (fried fish)
Gullivers (pizza with antiques)
Wolfy’s (hot dogs)
Pho 777 (Vietnamese)
Argyle Street restaurant offering classic dishes like the eponymous beef noodle soup and banh xeo, Vietnamese pancake, in a colorful, friendly setting.
Hopleaf (Belgian, mussels and frites)
Palace Gate (Ghanaian)
Sun Wah BBQ (Chinese)
Spacca Napoli (Neapolitan pizza)
Demera Restaurant (Ethiopian)
Gigio’s Pizza (NYC-style pizza)
Golden House Restaurant (diner)
Jake’s Pup in the Ruf (hot dogs, broasted chicken)
Tweet (brunch at an LGBTQ+-friendly bar)
4. Lincoln Square
Thai eatery serving authentic items like homemade Issan sausage, tom yam beef ball and tendon soup, and stir-fried Chinese broccoli with preserved fish.
Coffee Slasticarna Drina (Bosnian)
Lutz Cafe and Pastry Shop (German)
Nhu Lan Bakery (Vietnamese subs)
San Soo Gab San (Korean BBQ)
Cafe Selmarie (cafe)
Dancen (Korean bar with buldak, “fire chicken”)
Gene’s Sausage Shop’s rooftop cafe (German)
Jibek Jolu (cuisine of Kyrgyzstan)
5. North Center
Laschet’s Inn (German)
Old-school tavern decorated with kitschy Deutschland artifacts, offering hearty dishes like sauerbraten, schnitzels, and meatballs in a lemon sauce with capers.
Cho Sun Ok (Korean BBQ)
El Llano (Colombian)
House of Wah Sun (Chinese-American)
Sticky Rice (northern Thai)
Orange Garden (Chinese-American)
Resi’s Bierstube (bar with German food)
Taqueria El Asadero (Mexican)
Chicago Diner (vegetarian)
Vegetarian cafe on the Boystown strip with the slogan “Meat Free Since ‘83,” known for veggie Reubens, vegan biscuits and gravy, and a celebrated Monte Cristo.
Anne Sather (Swedish, cinnamon rolls)
The Bagel (Jewish deli)
La Crêperie (French)
Redhot Ranch (fast food)
Cafe Orchid (Turkish)
Diner Grill (24-hour diner, The Slinger)
Duke of Perth (Scottish pub)
Golden Apple (24-hour diner)
Rice’N Bread (Korean diner, formerly Hamburger King)
7. Lincoln Park
Pequod’s Pizza (pan pizza)
Old-school joint beloved for pan pizza with a “carmelized” crust, with crisp pepperoni slices that form tiny cups.
Athenian Room (Greek)
R.J. Grunt’s (1970’s-style, salad bar)
Twin Anchors (ribs)
Wiener’s Circle (hot dogs and verbal abuse)
Aloha Eats (Hawaiian plate lunches)
Bourgeois Pig (cafe)
Potbelly’s original location (subs)
Pat’s Pizza (thin-crust pizza)
Red Lion Pub (English)
8. Near North Side
Billy Goat Tavern (cheeseburgers)
Dive bar located downstairs from the Tribune Tower serving cheap, tasty burgers, famous for the Cubs curse, the SNL “cheezborger” skit, and as a journalist hangout.
Goose Island Shrimp House (fried seafood)
The Green Door (Chicago’s oldest tavern)
Mr. Beef (Italian beef)
Sayat Nova (Armenian)
Cafe Iberico (Spanish)
Club Lago (Italian)
Mr. J’s (fast food)
Pizano’s Pizza and Pasta (thin-crust pizza)
XOCO (Mexican, tortas, soups, churros, and hot chocolate)
9. Edison Park
The Curragh (Irish Pub)
Tavern in one of Chicago’s most heavily Irish-American neighborhoods offering authentic fare like boxty potato pancakes, shepherd’s pie, and Irish lamb stew.
Chicken Inn (broasted chicken)
Nick’s Drive-In (homemade gyros)
Snappy Dog (fast food, homemade mozzarella sticks)
Tony’s Italian Deli & Subs (Italian subs)
Nonno Pino’s (Italian)
10. Norwood Park
Superdawg Drive-In (hot dogs)
In business since 1948, famous for midcentury modern design, super-enthusiastic text on the food packaging, and winking “Morrie and Florrie” wieners on the roof.
Amitabul Korean Buddhist Vegetarian Cuisine (self-explanatory)
Norwood Restaurant (diner)
Phil’s Pizza D’Oro (pizza)
Red Apple Buffet (Polish)
11. Jefferson Park
Cozy eatery with a chalet ambience, known for substantial soups, pierogi, and the ridiculously hearty placek po wegiersku, a Hungarian-style pancake stuffed with goulash.
Burger Bull (burgers)
Café Antigua (Guatemalan)
Gale Street Inn (ribs)
12. Forest Glenn
Mother Clucker’s (fried chicken, po boys)
A good place to get anything deep-friend, including shrimp, catfish, and crab cake po boys, and broasted (pressure-fried) chicken.
Chocolate Shop Ice Cream (ice cream parlor with funky decor)
Edgebrook Coffee Shop (diner)
East of Edens (fast food)
Villa Rosa (pizza)
13. North Park
Homey, affordable restaurant with sushi prepared by former Hotel Nikko chef Roberto Pino, complimentary vegetable side dishes, and four private tatami rooms.
Booill Restaurant (Korean)
Bryn Mawr Breakfast Club (brunch)
Charcoal Delights (fast food)
Tre Kroner (Scandinavian)
Merla’s Place (Filipino)
14. Albany Park
Noon O Kabob (Iranian)
Crowd-pleasing eatery known for generous kabob-and-rice plates, also offering ghormeh sabzi, a lamb stew with greens, beans, and dried Persian lime.
El Cuscatleto Pupuseria (Salvadoran)
Lawrence Fish Market (no-frills sushi)
Marie’s Pizza and Liquors (pizza in a weird retro setting)
Semiramis Lebanese (Lebanese)
Chicago Kalbi (Korean BBQ)
Golden Crust Pizza and Tap (pizza)
Great Sea (Chinese, crispy lollipop wings, lo mein)
Ssyal Ginseng House (Korean ginseng chicken soup)
15. Portage Park
Hagen’s Fish Market (seafood)
In business since 1946, offering a wide range of fried and smoked fish, plus cleaning and smoking services for your catch.
La Peña (Ecuadorian)
Sandy’s Bakery and Deli (Serbian)
Roma’s Italian Beef and Sausage (fast food)
Chicago by Night (Bulgarian, international)
16. Irving Park
Neighborhood eatery featuring Peruvian classics like rotisserie chicken, lomo saltado (sauteed beef over rice with fries), ceviche, and anticuchos, grilled skewered veal heart.
Little Bucharest (Romanian)
Shokran Morrocan Restaurant (Morrocan)
Smoque BBQ (barbecue)
Susie’s Drive-Thru (cheese fries and shakes)
Brasa Roja (Colombian rotisserie chicken)
Cafe Beograd (Croatian)
Chicago Taco Authority (nouveau tacos)
La Villa (Italian)
Forno Rosso Pizzeria Napolitano (Neapolitan pizza)
On Harlem Avenue’s Italian strip, known for wood-fired pizza with a charred crust, only the third Chicagoland pizzeria certified by the Associazione Verace Pizza Napoletana.
Jibaritos on Harlem (Puerto Rican)
Cafe Prague (Czech)
Frank’s Pizzeria (pizza)
Luke’s on Harlem (fast food)
Mr. D’s Shish-Kabobs (fast food)
Minimalist joint known for elegantly simple steak and shish-kabob sandwiches garnished with onion and tomato, plus fresh-cut fries.
Ristorante Agostino (Italian)
Olivia’s Taste (Polish)
El Taconazo La Fiesta (Mexican)
La Esquinita (Mexican)
19. Belmont Cragin
Esquina Del Sabor Catracho (Honduran)
A standout in a neighborhood with diverse Latino restaurant options, featuring baliadas (a taco-like street food made with flour tortillas) and hearty breakfasts.
Las Delicias De Puerto Rico (Puerto Rican)
Olocuilta Pupuseria (Salvadoran)
Tacos y Tamales Magos (Mexican)
Taqueria El Katcheton (Mexican)
Buenos Aires Deli (Argentinean)
Rica Arepa (Venezuelan)
Lively spot for stuffed corn cakes, empanadas, fried plantains, fresh juices, and over-the-top Venezuelan-style hamburgers, with an appealing patio.
Cozy Corner (diner)
El Azteca (Mexican)
Hermosa (Cambodian-inspired sandwich shop)
Ponce Restaurant (Puerto Rican)
Joong Boo Market cafe (Korean lunch counter)
“Snack Corner” of the Korean supermarket selling affordable set lunches like bulgogi grilled beef, tofu stew, spicy baby octopus, stir-fried rice cakes, and fried chicken wings.
Chief O’Neill’s Pub & Restaurant (Irish)
Frank and Mary’s Tavern (comfort food)
Taqueria Traspasada (Mexican, black salsa and free noodle soup)
La Nonna (Italian-Argentinian)
La Zacatecana (Mexican, chiles rellenos)
Original Kuma’s Corner (heavy metal-themed burgers)
Small Bar (tavern with good food)
Taqueria Mazamitla (Mexican)
22. Logan Square
Lula Cafe (farm-to-table)
Patti Smith’s favorite Chicago cafe, offering a Moroccan tagine, an Indonesian peanut butter sandwich, and more at artist-friendly prices, plus fancier, more innovative dishes.
El Cubanito (Cuban sandwiches)
Irazu (Costa Rican, mushroom burritos, oatmeal shakes)
Margie’s Candies (ice cream)
90 Miles Cuban Cafe (Cuban)
Boiler Room (pizza in an industrial setting)
The Freeze (ice cream)
Miko’s Italian Ice (Italian ice, warmer months only)
Taqueria Moran (Mexican)
23. Humboldt Park
Jimmy’s Red Hots (hot dogs)
Opened in 1954 and open until 1 AM, slinging minimalist “depression dogs” (mustard, relish, onions, and sport peppers), plus Chicago-style tamales.
Mary’s Bar-B-Que (barbecue)
Pozoleria San Juan (Mexican)
Taco el Jalisciense (Mexican)
Tropical Taste (Dominican)
24. West Town
El Secreto del Sabor (Puerto Rican)
Longtime food truck in the Humboldt Park green space, selling Puerto Rican fare like roast pork with rice and pigeon peas and frituras de todas clases—“fritters of all kinds.”
La Pasadita (Mexican, celebrated steak burritos, black salsa)
Old Lviv (Ukrainian)
Uncle Mike’s Place (diner with Filipino breakfasts)
Bari Foods (Italian deli with subs)
Cafe Central (Puerto Rican)
Handlebar (pescatarian bar and grill)
Sultan’s Market (Middle Eastern)
Twisted Spoke (biker bar with good food)
MacArthur’s Restaurant (soul food)
Cafeteria serving meat-and-two meals with a corn muffin, such as ham hocks, fried catfish, and smothered chicken, with sides like greens, mac ‘n’ cheese, and red beans.
Amarind’s Thai Restaurant (Thai)
Ben’s Bar-Be-Cue (barbecue)
Sun Submarine (Gym Shoe sandwich)
Uncle Remus (saucy fried chicken)
26. West Garfield Park
Jerk Taco Man (jerk tacos)
Open late, selling giant jerk chicken and steak tacos dressed with onions, cilantro, and cheddar, now located at 4001 W. Jackson Blvd.
Taste Bud (fast food)
Wiley’s Chicken and Ribs (chicken and ribs)
LiFE restaurant (tacos, salads, loaded potatoes)
27. East Garfield Park
Inspiration Kitchens (comfort food)
Run by a nonprofit that does job training, currently serving lunch on Fridays, including gumbo, salads, smash burgers, chicken sandwiches, and basil lemonade.
Al’s Under the L (hot dogs)
Joe Willie’s Seafood and Bar (seafood)
28. Near West Side
Greek Islands (Greek)
Founded in 1971, one of the last old-school restaurants in Greektown, known for flaming saganaki cheese, plus grilled baby octopus, fish, and lamb chops.
Jim’s Original (late night, Maxwell Street Polish)
Manny’s Cafeteria and Delicatessen (Jewish deli, corned beef sandwiches)
Mario’s Italian Lemonade (Italian ice, warmer months only)
Rubi’s Maxwell Street (Mexican, corn mushroom and squash blossom quesadillas, Sunday daytime only)
Al’s Beef (Italian beef)
J.P. Graziano Grocery (Italian deli with sandwiches)
Lou Mitchell’s (brunch, skillets, free Milk Duds)
Moon’s Sandwich Shop (diner, “jump ball” scramble)
Tufano’s Vernon Park Tap (bar with Italian food)
29. North Lawndale
Dave’s Red Hots (hot dogs)
Opened in 1938, the city’s oldest hot dog stand, selling hot dogs dressed with mustard, square-cut pickle, and sport pepper, plus fresh-cut fries.
Green Tomato Cafe (sandwiches, coffee, smoothies)
Lou Malnati’s (pizza)
Sanchez Taco (Mexican)
30. South Lawndale (Little Village)
Taqueria El Milagro (Mexican)
Serving tacos and platters cafeteria-style, with offerings like pork in tomatillo sauce, chicken mole, and guisado de res, or Mexican beef stew, plus a unique cabbage salad.
Carniceria Aquacalientes cafe (Mexican in supermarket, gorditas)
La Casa de Samuel (Mexican, wild boar, alligator, rattlesnake)
La Chaparrita (Mexican)
Troha’s Chicken and Shrimp House (fried chicken and shrimp)
Nuevo León (Mexican)
Taqueria Los Gallos (Mexican, carne en su jugo)
31. Lower West Side (Pilsen, Heart of Italy)
Carnitas Uruapan (Mexican)
18th Street storefront that’s Chicago’s premier destination for carnitas, “little meats,” pork fried in pork fat.
5 Rabanitos (Mexican)
Taqueria Los Comales (Mexican)
Ignotz Ristorante (Italian)
La Casa Del Pueblo Taqueria (Mexican, cafeteria-style)
Cafe Jumping Bean (cafe)
Don Churro (churros)
Honky Tonk BBQ (barbecue with live music)
Pleasant House Pub (meat pies)
Steak ’n Egger (truck stop)
Oasis Cafe (Middle Eastern)
A hidden gem, hidden behind gems, in the back of Wabash Jewelers, possibly the best option for a cheap lunch downtown, including falafel, hummus, and kebabs.
The Berghoff (German)
Eleven City Diner (Jewish deli)
Heaven on Seven (New Orleans-style)
Walnut Room (comfort food, pot pie)
The Exchequer Pub (pizza and burgers)
Miller’s Pub (comfort food in a bar)
Nepal House (Nepalese and Indian)
Pierogi Heaven (pierogi)
33. Near South Side
Chef Luciano Kitchen & Chicken (chicken)
Around since 1982, a takeout counter offering grilled, jerked, Cajun, and curried chicken with vegetable sides, plus seafood and pastas.
AO Hawaiian Hideout (pan-Asian with tiki drinks and ambiance)
Flo & Santo’s (pizza and pierogi)
Del Campo’s Tacos (Mexican, on 12th Street beach)
The Spoke & Bird (bike-themed cafe)
34. Armour Square (includes Chinatown)
Chicago’s best destination for dim sum, arguably the most iconic restaurant out of a crowded field in Chinatown, draws a crowd during brunch hours.
Grand Palace (Chinese)
Lao Sze Chuan (Chinese)
Ricobene’s (breaded steak sandwiches)
Three Happiness (Chinese)
BBQ King House (Chinese)
Ken Kee Restaurant (Chinese)
Lawrence Fish and Shrimp (fried seafood)
Seven Treasures (late-night Chinese, noodle soup; BBQ pork, rice, and egg plates)
Triple Crown (Chinese with live seafood tanks)
Chicago’s longtime Senagalese restaurant, specializing in the namesake dish: marinated, grilled chicken or lamb in a sauce of onions and mustard, served over rice.
Eméché Cakery & Cafe (bakery and cafe)
Jamaican Jerk King (Jamaican)
Southtown Sub (fast food, Gym Shoe sandwich)
Some Like It Black / Thee Beauty Bar (tacos and cocktails)
Oakland’s only restaurant, opened in 1999 as a “creative arts bar” hosting jazz and poetry, recently changed its format to tacos and cocktails.
37. Fuller Park
Petey’s Restaurant (fast food)
One of the few eateries in Fuller Park, a narrow corridor along the Dan Ryan, across from the 47th Street Red Line station, a solid choice for gyros, hot dogs, burgers, and subs.
Nicky’s Gyros (fast food)
38. Grand Boulevard
Relocated from Bucktown to Bronzeville in 2015, a destination for Chicago-style aquarium-smoked ribs, rib tips, and hot links.
Chicago’s Home of Chicken and Waffles (chicken and waffles)
Cleo’s Southern Cuisine (Creole, wings)
Peach’s (soul food)
Two Fish Crab Shack (seafood)
Alice’s Bar-B-Que (barbecue)
The Original Pancake House (diner)
Known for giant oven-baked apple pancakes with a cinnamon sugar glaze, and the Dutch Baby, a German-style pancake served with fresh lemon, butter, and powdered sugar.
Gorée Cuisine (Senegalese)
De Rice Asian Cuisine (Chinese)
Italian Fiesta (pizza)
Norman’s Bistro (Creole, Caribbean)
40. Washington Park
Evelyn’s Food Love (soul food, New Orleans cuisine)
Only sit-down restaurant in the area, offering wings and waffles; po’ boys; shrimp and grits; and seafood etouffee. Closed during the pandemic; reopening planned for this fall.
41. Hyde Park
Valois Cafeteria (cafeteria)
Legendary steam-table restaurant serving everything from pancakes to prime rib for a cross-section of Hyde Parkers. A favorite of Barack Obama’s, featured in Slim’s Table.
Mellow Yellow (all-purpose, known for chili)
The Nile (Middle Eastern)
Rajun Cajun (Indian and soul food)
Snail Thai (Thai)
Medici On 57th (pizza, bakery, brunch)
Daley’s Restaurant (soul food)
Chicago’s oldest eatery, opened in 1892, offering diner fare with southern accents like salmon patties, smothered chicken, grits, greens, and cornbread dressing.
Jamaican Jerk Spice (Jamaican)
Parkway Hoagies (fast food)
Robust Coffee Lounge (cafe)
43. South Shore
Majani (vegan soul food)
One of the best several vegan options on the south side, featuring black-eyed pea fritters, “soul tacos,” an excellent BBQ roast sandwich, and much more.
Chef Sara’s Cafe (sandwiches, brunch)
Orbit Sub (Gym Shoe sandwich)
Surf’s Up (fried seafood, po’ boys)
The Slab Barb-B-Que (barbecue)
St. Restaurant #2 Country Kitchens (soul food)
Southern specialties served cafeteria-style, including smothered pork chops, fried catfish, succotash with okra, and delicious homemade strawberry lemonade.
Dat Donut (doughnuts)
Fisherman’s Island (fresh and cooked seafood)
Uncle John’s BBQ (barbecue)
West Indies Bakery (Jamaican bakery)
45. Avalon Park
Stony Sub (fast food)
Open 24 hours, a good place to try Chicago’s indigenous Gym Shoe sandwich (spelled “Jim Shoe” here): corned beef, roast beef, gyro meat, and lots of condiments.
Jerk Palace Hub (Jamaican)
Kenny’s Ribs and Chicken (barbecue, fried chicken)
That’s a Burger (turkey burgers)
46. South Chicago
Loncar’s Liquors (fried chicken)
Old-school bar known for fried chicken and fish dinners, plus sandwiches and a Wednesday hardshell taco night.
Cocula Restaurant (Mexican)
El Guero Supermercado cafe (lunch counter in Mexican supermarket)
Roma’s (diner with Italian dishes)
Southside African (Nigerian)
48. Calumet Heights
Family Den (bar food)
Lounge with house music DJs, offering fried chicken and fish, plus beef, turkey, veggie, and salmon burgers.
Angelica’s Bakery (bakery)
Nipsey’s Restaurant and Lounge (bar food with soul, Cajun influences)
Plant Based Junkie (vegan “junk food”)
Thomas Restaurant (diner)
Old Fashioned Doughnuts (doughnuts)
One of Chicago’s best doughnut shops, famous for its apple fritters, run by Burritt Bulloch, who’s been working there nearly half a century.
79th Street Barbecue (barbecue)
A P Deli (corned beef sandwiches)
Park Island Jerk Chicken (Jamaican)
Taurus Flavors (subs, sweet steak sandwich)
Cal-Harbor Restaurant and Lounge (diner)
A classic greasy-spoon known for its breakfast skillets, including Gypsy, Greek, Jewish, and Mexican. Currently takeout-only.
Lexington Betty Smokehouse (barbecue at 111 Food Hall)
51. South Deering (Jeffery Manor, Trumbull Park)
Storied spot for fried and house-smoked seafood, including great smoked shrimp, next to the 95th Street Calumet River bridge Jake and Elwood jumped in The Blues Brothers.
Hiene’s Shrimp House (fried chicken and seafood, unique orange mustard-based hot sauce)
BJ’s Market and Bakery (soul food)
La Cabanita (Mexican)
L & G Family Restaurant (diner)
52. East Side
Birrierias Ocotlan (Mexican)
One of the city’s premier destinations for birria, a complexly seasoned Mexican goat dish served as a stew or taco filling.
Gorditas Loli’s (Mexican)
El Charro De San Francisco (Mexican)
La Cienega supermarket’s taqueria (Mexican)
Skyway Doghouse (hot dogs)
53. West Pullman
Maxwell Street Express (fast food)
Open 24 hours, one of the only restaurants in the area that’s not a national chain, serving Polishes, hot dogs, and bone-in pork chop sandwiches, plus tacos.
Manny’s Tacos and Burritos (Mexican)
Steve’s Lounge (fish fries and barbecue)
In business since 1957, a tavern and banquet hall renowned for its Friday fish fries, which fillets its own fish and makes its own sausages.
Club 81 Too (bar food, Friday fish fry)
Doreen’s Pizzeria (ultra-thin-crust pizza)
Gorditas Adrian’s (Mexican)
Pudgy’s Pizza (pizza)
56. Garfield Ridge
Nicky’s Hot Dogs (fast food)
A leading purveyor of the Big Baby, the Chicago-style double cheeseburger with grilled onions, pickles, ketchup, and mustard on a sesame seed bun.
Lindy’s Chili and Gertie’s Ice Cream (chili and ice cream)
Pticek & Son Bakery (Polish bakery)
Sammy’s Kitchen (diner)
Weber’s Bakery (old-school bakery)
57. Archer Heights
Birrieria Zaragoza (Mexican)
Cited by the Reader’s Mike Sula as his answer to the question “What’s your favorite restaurant?” May be the top spot for birria, the slow-cooked goat dish from Jalisco.
De Colores Ice Cream (ice cream and Mexican sandwiches)
Machete’s Big Quesadillas (Mexican)
Peke’s Pozole (Mexican)
Polish Highlanders Club (Polish)
58. Brighton Park
Tio Luis Tacos (Mexican)
Known for its excellent tacos, especially carne asada and al pastor, also makes a memorable caldo de res beef soup.
Carnitas Don Rafa (Mexican)
El Rey Del Taco & Burritos (Mexican)
Guapo Taco Tacos de Canasta (Mexican, fried “basket” tacos)
Frank’s Chicago Shrimp House (fried seafood)
59. McKinley Park
Huck Finn Donuts (diner, doughnuts)
The local outpost of the memorably-named small local chain, a full-service diner with dandy doughnuts.
Gorditas La Tia Susy (Mexican)
La Palapa (Mexican seafood)
New Archview Restaurant (tavern with diner food)
Nicky’s Carry Outs (fast food)
Pot Sticker House (Chinese)
Known for its crispy cigar-shaped pork pot stickers, stir-fried lamb with chiles, and other northern Chinese dishes, best accessed via the Chinese menu with English translations.
Gio’s Cafe and Deli (Italian, chicken parmesan and chicken Vesuvio sandwiches)
Phil’s Pizza (pizza, since 1960)
The Polo Inn (B & B with interesting American food)
Bridgeport Restaurant (diner)
Freddies (pizza and Italian sandwiches)
Morrie O’Mally’s Hot Dogs (hot dogs)
61. New City (Back of the Yards, Canaryville)
Stanley’s (Polish, bar food)
Opened in the 1920s to serve stockyards workers, with hot, homemade lunches like roast pork with dumplings, stuffed cabbage, and baked ham with raisin sauce.
Cafeteria Yesenia (Cuban sandwiches)
La Internacional Supermercado taqueria (standout Mexican in a supermarket)
Kiki D’s (goat tacos, fried chicken, ribs)
Sputnik Coffee Company (cafe)
62. West Elsdon
New China Tea (tiki-Chinese)
A tiki survivor on the southwest side, with solid renditions of Chinese-American dishes, including a pu-pu platter, tropical drinks, and low-key faux-Polynesian decor.
Gorditas Santiago (Mexican)
Los Mangos (Mexican ice cream)
Positano’s Pizza (pizza)
63. Gage Park
Mezquite Pollo Express (Mexican)
Offers a feast of butterflied chicken grilled over hardwood, served with rice, beans, tortillas, pickled onions, salsas, and a grilled pepper.
El Conde S.A. (Mexican, fried “basket” tacos)
Gorditas Aquascalientes (Mexican)
Manolo’s Tamales (Mexican)
Pizza Castle (thin-crust pizza)
Parisi’s Drive-In (fast food)
Opened in 1954, offering daily specials like a meatball sandwich, Polish sausage, or Italian steak sandwich for a mere $3.50, plus shakes, malts, and floats.
AV Anthony’s (pizza, burgers, ribs)
Mom and Dad’s Deli (sandwiches)
New Warsaw (Polish)
65. West Lawn
One of the best taquerias in town, known for excellent renditions of carne asada and al pastor, plus an unusual hard-fried mashed potato taco.
Carnitas Michoacan (Mexican)
Palermo’s Pizza (pizza)
Taqueria El Pastor (Mexican)
Tony’s Italian Beef (Italian beef)
66. Chicago Lawn (Marquette Park)
Garifuna Flava (Belizean)
Chicago’s only restaurant serving the cuisine of the Garifuna people of Belize and Honduras, featuring seafood stews, mashed plantains, and tostada-like garnaches.
Birrieria Lopez (Mexican)
Fat Johnnie’s Famous Red Hots (hot dogs)
Pozoleria Iguala (Mexican)
Taqueria Carnitas El Ojon (Mexican)
67. West Englewood
John’s Drive-In (diner)
One of the few independent restaurants in the area, a pancake house and sandwich shop with down-home specials like a plate of pork chops, eggs, and grits.
Fat Albert’s (hot dogs)
Kusanya Cafe (cafe)
A cozy nonprofit cafe that roasts its own coffee and hosts arts events, with punny menu items like the Lupe Tobasco [sic] breakfast sandwich and Bernie Mac and Cheese.
Taylormade Que (barbecue)
Sikia (restaurant of Washburn Culinary Institute)
The Soul Cafe (soul food)
69. Greater Grand Crossing
Lem’s Bar-B-Q (barbecue)
Located on 75th Street’s Black-owned restaurant row, perhaps the top example of Chicago-style aquarium smoker barbecue, known for rib tips, slabs, and hot links.
5 Loaves Eatery (brunch, fried chicken)
Brown Sugar Bakery (bakery)
Haire’s Gulf Shrimp (fried seafood)
Original Soul Vegetarian (vegan soul food)
Jerk Taco Man (jerk tacos)
Josephine’s Southern Cooking (soul food)
Vito and Nick’s (thin-crust pizza)
In business since 1945, often cited as Chicago’s best thin-crust pizza, cut in a grid with a bold sauce and bubbling, perfectly browned cheese.
Dan’s Soul Food (soul food)
Don’s Drive-in Restaurant (hot dogs)
Quesadilla Monarca (Mexican)
Starlight Restaurant (pancake house)
71. Auburn Gresham
Jamison’s Soul Food (soul food)
Drive-through restaurant known for its fried chicken, mac ‘n’ cheese, sweet potatoes, and greens, plus daily specials like smothered turkey wings and oxtail stew.
Afro Joe’s Coffee and Tea (cafe)
Cutie Pie’s Kitchen (soul food, jerk fries, loaded potatoes)
Maxwell’s Charcoal Grill (fast food)
Original Rainbow Cone (ice cream)
First opened in 1926, serving cones with a unique combination of chocolate, pistachio, strawberry, and “Palmer House” cherry-walnut ice cream, plus orange sherbet.
Calabria Imports (Italian deli)
Janson’s Drive-In (fast food)
Swanson’s Deli (sandwich shop, chicken salad)
Top Notch Beef Burgers (burgers)
Sean’s Rhino Bar (thin-crust pizza, sandwiches)
73. Washington Heights
Harold’s Chicken Shack #27 (fried chicken)
One of the most photogenic Harold’s stores serving fried chicken with fries, white bread, and hot or mild sauce, featured in Kanye West’s “Through the Wire” video at 2:08.
Dan’s Hot Dogs (hot dogs)
Poppin Dough (doughnuts, popcorn)
Uncle Joe’s Jerk (Jamaican)
74. Mount Greenwood
Fat Tommy’s (fast food)
Known for its dry-rubbed barbecued pork chop sandwich, plus the Ditka Dog, a deep-friend, bacon-wrapped Polish with cheese sauce, mustard, and grilled onions.
Joseph’s Bar & Restaurant (Italian)
Pop’s Beef (Italian beef)
Tata’s Chicago Pizzeria (pizza)
Wonderburger (burgers, curly fries)
75. Morgan Park
Home of the Hoagy (sweet steak)
A good place to sample the south side’s sweet steak sandwich, topped with cheese, grilled onions and peppers, tomatoes, sweet pickled peppers, and a unique red sauce.
DiCola’s Seafood (fish market, fried fish)
The Good Life Soul Food Cafe (soul food)
Lumes Pancake House (pancake house)
Nine One One BBQ shack (barbecue)
Located in the O’Hare Hilton and accessible from the Blue Line, a historic piano lounge and restaurant offering affordable sandwiches at lunchtime in a Parisian bordello setting.
Plush Pup (hot dogs)
Ethiopian Diamond (Ethiopian)
In business since 1996, possibly Chicago’s oldest Ethiopian restaurant, serving savory stews on spongy injera bread and tej honey wine in a welcoming atmosphere.
La Unica (Supermarket cafe with Cuban, Colombian, and Mexican food)
Middle East Bakery (Middle Eastern market with grill)
Moody’s Pub (burgers, great beer garden)
Svea Restaurant (Swedish diner)
Mas Alla del Sol (Mexican)
Ras Dashen (Ethiopian)