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Chicago's Top 10 : Places to Eat

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Unless stated, all restaurants accept credit cards, recommend reservations, and are open for lunch and dinner.



  1. Charlie Trotter’s

    One of Chicago’s top gourmet eateries, and one of the nation’s best, Charlie Trotter’s serves the exquisite and rarefied fare of its eponymous chef. The menu changes daily but expect creations such as venison loin with semolina cake, braised kale, and Niçoise olive boudin. Reservations must be made many weeks in advance though a last-minute call often turns up a table due to cancellations .

  2. Ambria

    With its Art Nouveau detailing, cozy leather banquettes, and dark woods, Ambria is among the city’s most romantic dining options. And the dining experience matches the style here as chef Gabino Soltelino prepares contemporary French meals with a sophisticated understatement. Service is formal and the sommelier is one of the best in Chicago .

  3. Gibson’s Steakhouse

    Boisterous and convivial, Gibson’s exudes a good time. A regular crowd of politicians, sports figures, and conventioneers packs the place nightly. The steakhouse fare is in every way a match to the atmosphere – big and bold. Huge lobster tails vie for attention with large slabs of beef. A reservation is critical, but for a more casual, walk-in experience try the burgers next door at Hugo’s Frog Bar.

    • 1028 N. Rush St.

    • 312 266 8999

    Gibson’s Steakhouse
  4. Blackbird

    Foodies and the fashion set both agree on Blackbird, an eatery that sports minimalist decor and shoves the tables so close together that eavesdropping becomes part of the experience. Chef Paul Kahan generates the buzz, preparing sophisticated American dishes with French leanings. Menus change seasonally but reservations are perennially a must.

    • 619 W. Randolph St.

    • 312 715 0708

    • Lunch 11.30am–2pm Mon–Fri, closed Sun

    Blackbird
  5. North Pond Café

    Hidden from the road in leafy Lincoln Park, North Pond is a treasure – once you find it. Lodged in an Arts-and-Crafts-style building, the café offers a seasonal menu with an emphasis on produce sourced in the Midwest. Though dinner is the star, lunches of sandwiches, soups, and salads are equally creative and well presented .

  6. Spring

    Spring brings the sort of fine cooking you’d expect only to find downtown out to Northside’s bohemian Wicker Park. Occupying a former bathhouse, the sunken feng-shui-inspired interior makes for a chic gourmet experience. The menu features seafood prepared with Asian and French influences and a light approach.

    • 2039 W. North Ave.

    • 1 773 395 7100

    • Dinner only, closed Mon

  7. Mia Francesca

    The hearty, rustic fare of Rome and its surrounding regions distinguishes Mia Francesca from the Italian pack. Large portions and reasonable prices help draw legions of fans to this Wrigleyville rave. A former candy shop, the storefront eatery is casual but stylish with paper-topped tables and black-and-white photos of rural life on the walls. Lines form early and often .

  8. Frontera Grill

    Signature restaurant of chef Rick Bayless, Frontera Grill is credited with bringing authentic regional Mexican food – rather than Tex-Mex taco fare – stateside. Chili-roasted salsas and rich moles accompany grilled meats and delicious seafood. Since reservations are only available for parties of more than six, seats in the colorful, folk art-filled room go early as smaller groups try to avoid disappointment .

  9. Pizzeria Uno

    Uno’s has been baking deep dish pizza since 1943 – about as long as Chicagoans have debated whose pie is best. Its version comes several inches deep, filled with cheese and toppings of your choice, truly a meal in one slice. The smallish Victorian brownstone strains under demand, sending the overflow down the street to its spin-off Pizzeria Due. Uno’s individual pizza served at lunchtime is a bargain.

    • 29 E. Ohio St.

    • 312 321 1000

    • $

  10. Lou Mitchell’s

    A classic diner in the Loop where the waitresses call you “Honey” and the coffee is bottomless, Lou Mitchell’s has been around since 1923. Its trek-worthy meal is breakfast, highlighted by double-yolk eggs and homemade hash browns served in a skillet. Tables turn quickly and the staff doles out free donuts and candy to those waiting on line with good cheer.

    • 565 W. Jackson Blvd

    • 312 939 3111

    • No credit cards

    • No dinner

    Lou Mitchell’s
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