Fun Places to Eat in Chicago: A Guide to the Best

white and brown city buildings during daytime

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If you’re looking for fun places to eat in Chicago, you’re in luck. The city is known for its diverse and vibrant food scene, with something for everyone. From quirky and unique dining experiences to classic Chicago-style deep-dish pizza, there’s no shortage of delicious options.

Fun Places to Eat in Chicago: A Guide to the Best

Whether you’re in the mood for something quirky or upscale, Chicago has plenty of fun places to eat that are sure to satisfy your cravings.

Iconic Chicago Eateries

If you’re looking for a taste of Chicago, you can’t miss out on these iconic eateries. From deep-dish pizza to Chicago-style hot dogs, these spots are a must-visit for any foodie.

Deep Dish Pizza Spots

Chicago is famous for its deep-dish pizza, and for good reason. These spots serve up some of the best pies in town:

  • Lou Malnati’s: With locations all over the city, Lou Malnati’s is a Chicago staple. Their deep-dish pizza is a must-try, with a buttery crust and plenty of cheese and toppings.
  • Giordano’s: Another classic Chicago pizza joint, Giordano’s is known for its stuffed pizza. The pizza is so thick and filling that one slice is often enough to satisfy even the hungriest of diners.
  • Pequod’s Pizza: If you’re looking for a unique take on deep-dish pizza, check out Pequod’s. Their pizza has a caramelized crust that adds a delicious sweetness to every bite.

Ethnic Cuisine in Chicago

If you’re looking for a taste of the world, Chicago is the place to be. With a diverse population, you can find a wide range of ethnic cuisines here. Here are a few neighborhoods and restaurants to check out:

Chinatown Dining

Chicago’s Chinatown is a vibrant neighborhood that’s home to some of the best Chinese food in the city. Here are a few restaurants to try:

  • MingHin Cuisine: This popular restaurant is known for its dim sum. They have a huge selection of steamed and fried dumplings, as well as other traditional Chinese dishes.
  • Cai: If you’re looking for something a little more upscale, check out Cai. This restaurant serves modern Chinese cuisine in a sleek, contemporary setting.
  • Lao Sze Chuan: This restaurant is famous for its spicy Szechuan cuisine. If you’re a fan of heat, you won’t be disappointed.

Little Italy Favorites

Chicago’s Little Italy neighborhood is home to some of the best Italian food in the city. Here are a few restaurants to check out:

  • Tuscany: This cozy restaurant serves classic Italian dishes like lasagna, spaghetti carbonara, and chicken parmesan. They also have an extensive wine list.
  • Rosebud: This popular chain has several locations throughout the city, but the Little Italy restaurant is the original. They serve classic Italian-American dishes like meatballs and spaghetti, as well as steaks and seafood.
cooked tacos

Mexican Food in Pilsen

Pilsen is a predominantly Mexican neighborhood that’s home to some of the best Mexican food in the city. Here are a few restaurants to try:

  • Carnitas Uruapan: This casual restaurant is known for its carnitas, which are slow-cooked pork that’s crispy on the outside and tender on the inside. They also serve other traditional Mexican dishes like tacos and tamales.
  • Nuevo Leon: This family-owned restaurant has been serving Mexican cuisine for over 40 years. They’re known for their homemade tortillas and mole sauce.
  • La Casa Del Pueblo: This grocery store has a small restaurant inside that serves delicious Mexican food. They’re known for their tacos al pastor, which are made with marinated pork that’s cooked on a spit.

Upscale Dining

If you’re looking for a fancy dining experience in Chicago, you won’t be disappointed. The city is home to some of the best upscale restaurants in the world, with Michelin star ratings and stunning rooftop views.

Want a Michelin-Starred Restaurant?

Chicago has a total of 25 Michelin-starred restaurants, making it one of the top cities for fine dining in the world. Here are a few of the most notable ones:

  • Alinea: This three-star restaurant is one of the most famous in the city. The 15-course tasting menu is a culinary journey that combines flavors from around the world.
  • Oriole: This two-star restaurant is known for its contemporary American cuisine. The tasting menu changes frequently to reflect the seasons and the chef’s inspiration.
  • Next: This two-star restaurant offers a unique dining experience with a constantly changing theme. Past themes have included Paris 1906, The Hunt, and Hollywood.

Rooftop Dining

Chicago’s skyline is one of the most iconic in the world, and there’s no better way to enjoy it than from a rooftop restaurant. Here are a few of the best options:

  • Cindy’s: Located on the rooftop of the Chicago Athletic Association Hotel, Cindy’s offers stunning views of Millennium Park and Lake Michigan. The menu is a mix of classic American dishes and creative cocktails.
  • The J. Parker: This rooftop bar and restaurant is located on top of the Hotel Lincoln in Lincoln Park. The views of the city skyline are breathtaking, and the menu features small plates and craft cocktails.
  • The Terrace at Trump: This upscale restaurant is located on the 16th floor of the Trump International Hotel and Tower. The views of the Chicago River and the Magnificent Mile are unparalleled, and the menu features classic American cuisine with a modern twist.

Whether you’re celebrating a special occasion or just want to treat yourself to a fancy meal, Chicago’s upscale dining scene has something for everyone.

Unique Dining Experiences

Chicago is known for its food scene, and there are plenty of unique dining experiences to be had in the city. From themed restaurants to waterfront dining, there’s something for everyone. Here are some of the best unique dining experiences in Chicago.

Themed Restaurants

If you’re looking for a dining experience that’s a little out of the ordinary, Chicago has plenty of themed restaurants to choose from. Here are a few of the most popular:

RestaurantThemeDescription
The Wormhole80sThis coffee shop is a blast from the past, with a menu that includes items like the “Ecto Cooler” and “The McFly.”
The Rainforest CafeJungleThis restaurant is designed to look like a tropical rainforest, complete with animatronic animals and a thunderstorm every 30 minutes.

Waterfront Dining

Chicago is located on Lake Michigan, and there are plenty of restaurants that take advantage of the city’s waterfront location. Here are a few of the best:

RestaurantLocationDescription
The Signature RoomJohn Hancock CenterLocated on the 95th floor of the John Hancock Center, this restaurant offers stunning views of the city and Lake Michigan.
River RoastRiver NorthThis restaurant is located right on the Chicago River and offers a menu filled with roasted meats and seafood.
Shore ClubNorth Avenue BeachThis beachfront restaurant offers a menu of fresh seafood and cocktails, as well as stunning views of Lake Michigan.

Whether you’re looking for a themed dining experience or a meal with a view, Chicago has plenty of unique options to choose from.

Late Night Eats

Chicago is a city that never sleeps, and that means you can get a great meal at any time of the day or night. Whether you’re craving a hearty burger, a slice of pizza, or something a little more exotic, there’s always somewhere to satisfy your hunger. Here are some of the best late-night eats in Chicago.

Gretel

Location: 2833 W Armitage Ave Chicago

Gretel is a Logan Square restaurant that’s open until midnight on weekdays and 1 a.m. on weekends. The food is a mix of German and Scandinavian cuisine, with dishes like schnitzel, spaetzle, and gravlax on the menu. The atmosphere is cozy and intimate, with wood-paneled walls and dim lighting. The cocktails are also excellent, with creative twists on classic drinks like the Old Fashioned.

The Owl

Location: 2521 N Milwaukee Ave Chicago

The Owl is a 4 a.m. bar and restaurant in Logan Square that’s been a favorite of Chicagoans for years. The menu is simple but satisfying, with classic bar food like burgers, fries, and wings. The drinks are also excellent, with a wide selection of beers on tap and creative cocktails like the Spicy Margarita. The atmosphere is laid-back and welcoming, with a mix of locals and tourists hanging out until the early hours of the morning.

Furious Spoon

Location: 2410 N Milwaukee Ave Chicago

Furious Spoon is a ramen restaurant with locations all over Chicago, including one in Wicker Park that’s open until 2 am on weekends. The menu is simple but delicious, with a variety of ramen bowls to choose from, including vegetarian options. The atmosphere is casual and fun, with a hip-hop soundtrack and graffiti-covered walls. The cocktails are also worth trying, with creative twists on classic drinks like the Moscow Mule.

The Chicago Diner

Location: 2333 N Milwaukee Ave Chicago

The Chicago Diner is a vegetarian and vegan restaurant that’s been a staple of the city since 1983. The Logan Square location is open until midnight on weekdays and 1 am on weekends, making it a great spot for a late-night meal. The menu is extensive, with everything from burgers and sandwiches to salads and smoothies. The atmosphere is cozy and welcoming, with a retro diner vibe that’s perfect for a late-night hangout.

The Wiener’s Circle

Location: 2622 N Clark St Chicago

The Wiener’s Circle is a late-night hot dog stand in Lincoln Park that’s been around since 1983. The menu is simple but satisfying, with classic Chicago-style hot dogs, burgers, and fries. The real draw, though, is the atmosphere, which is loud, raucous, and often profane. The staff is known for their insults and banter, which can be both hilarious and offensive. If you’re looking for a true Chicago experience, The Wiener’s Circle is a must-visit.

Field of Flowers North Farm
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Family-Friendly Restaurants

Chicago is a great place to take your family out for a meal. There are a variety of restaurants that cater to families with children of all ages. Here are some of the best family-friendly restaurants in Chicago.

Wildberry Pancakes & Cafe

Location: 130 E Randolph St Chicago

Wildberry Pancakes & Cafe is a great place to take your family for breakfast or brunch. This restaurant is located across from the iconic Millennium Park and offers a variety of delicious pancakes, waffles, and other breakfast items. They also have a kids’ menu with options like chocolate chip pancakes and French toast sticks.

Do-Rite Donuts & Chicken

Location: 233 E Erie St Chicago

Do-Rite Donuts & Chicken is a casual restaurant that serves up some of the best-fried chicken and donuts in Chicago. They have a kids’ menu with options like chicken tenders and grilled cheese sandwiches. Plus, their donuts are a hit with kids and adults alike.

The Polo Inn Bridgeport U.S.A.

Location: 3322 S Morgan St Chicago

The Polo Inn Bridgeport U.S.A. is a family-owned restaurant that has been serving up classic American dishes for over 60 years. They have a kids’ menu with options like mac and cheese and chicken tenders. Plus, their friendly staff will make you and your family feel right at home.

Revival Food Hall

Location: 125 S Clark St Chicago

Revival Food Hall is a great place to take your family if you’re looking for a variety of options. This food hall features a little bit of everything from some of Chicago’s best restaurants. They have options like tacos, pizza, sushi, and more. Plus, there’s plenty of seating so you can enjoy your meal with your family.

Overall, Chicago has plenty of family-friendly restaurants that will make your dining experience enjoyable for both you and your children.

woman in white crew neck t-shirt eating apple

Hot Dogs

Chicago is known for its hot dogs, and for good reason. The city has a long history of unique and delicious hot dog stands, each with their own take on the classic Chicago-style dog. Here are a few of the best places to grab a hot dog in the Windy City:

Gene & Jude’s Red Hot Stand

Location: 2720 N River Rd River Grove

Located in the suburbs, Gene & Jude’s Red Hot Stand is a must-visit for hot dog enthusiasts. The stand has been around since 1946 and is known for its simple, no-frills approach to the classic Chicago-style dog. Don’t ask for ketchup here – they don’t have it.

Instead, enjoy your hot dog topped with mustard, relish, onions, and sport peppers. Don’t forget to order a side of their famous fries, which are served on top of the hot dog for a truly unique experience.

Portillo’s

Location: 3343 W. Addison Street Chicago

Portillo’s is a Chicago institution and a popular spot for locals and tourists alike. Their hot dogs are made with Vienna Beef and topped with mustard, relish, onions, tomatoes, pickles, and sport peppers. They also offer a variety of specialty hot dogs, such as the Jumbo Chili Cheese Dog and the Bacon Chili Cheese Dog. Be sure to save room for one of their famous chocolate cake shakes!

Tip: Be sure to join their app and get a free dessert with your birthday dinner.

Superdawg

Location: 6363 N Milwaukee Ave Chicago

Superdawg is a classic drive-in hot dog stand that has been around since 1948. The stand is known for its signature “Superdawg,” which is a hot dog topped with mustard, piccalilli, a dill pickle spear, chopped onions, and a hot pepper. The stand is also known for its unique decor, which includes two giant hot dogs on the roof.

Fatso’s Last Stand

Location: 2258 W Chicago Ave Chicago

Fatso’s Last Stand is a popular spot in Ukrainian Village for late-night eats. Their hot dogs are made with Vienna Beef and topped with a variety of creative toppings, such as giardiniera, bacon, and mac and cheese. They also offer vegetarian and vegan options, including a vegan hot dog topped with vegan chili and vegan cheese.

Whether you’re a Chicago native or just visiting, be sure to check out one of these hot dog stands for a true taste of the city.

burger with vegetable on brown wooden tray

Best Burgers

Chicago is famous for its deep-dish pizza, but it’s also home to some of the best burgers in the country. Whether you’re in the mood for a classic cheeseburger or something more creative, Chicago has got you covered. Here are some of the best places to grab a burger in the Windy City.

Au Cheval

Location: 800 W Randolph St Chicago

Au Cheval is a must-visit for any burger lover. This West Loop spot has been named the best burger in America by numerous publications, and for good reason. The burger is made with two thin patties, American cheese, dijonaise, and house-made pickles, all served on a toasted bun. It’s simple, but it’s executed perfectly. Be prepared to wait, though – Au Cheval is always packed.

The Loyalist

Location: 177 N Ada St Ste 001 Chicago

The Loyalist is a cozy basement bar in the West Loop that serves up one of the best burgers in the city. The Loyalist Original Cheeseburger is a double patty burger topped with American cheese, lettuce, onion, and a special sauce. It’s juicy, flavorful, and incredibly satisfying. The Loyalist also has a great cocktail menu, so be sure to grab a drink while you’re there.

Kuma’s Corner

Location: 852 W Fulton Market Chicago

Kuma’s Corner is a heavy metal-themed burger joint with several locations throughout the city. The burgers are named after metal bands and are piled high with toppings. The Slayer, for example, is a burger topped with chili, cherry peppers, andouille sausage, andouille aioli, and jack cheese. The burgers are big and messy, but oh so delicious.

Edzo’s Burger Shop

Location: 1571 Sherman Ave Evanston

Edzo’s Burger Shop is a casual spot with locations in Evanston and Lincoln Park. The burgers are made with fresh, never frozen beef and are smashed on the griddle for maximum flavor. The menu is simple, with classic burgers, cheeseburgers, and a few specialty burgers. The truffle aioli burger is a standout – it’s topped with truffle aioli, gruyere cheese, and crispy onions.

Small Cheval

Location: 1732 N Milwaukee Ave Chicago

Small Cheval is the more casual offshoot of Au Cheval, located in Wicker Park and Old Town. The burger is similar to the one at Au Cheval – two thin patties, American cheese, dijonaise, and pickles – but it’s served on a sesame seed bun instead of a toasted bun. The fries are also a standout – they’re crispy and perfectly seasoned.

Chicago has no shortage of great burgers, but these five spots are some of the best in the city. Whether you’re a die-hard burger fan or just looking for a tasty meal, you can’t go wrong with any of these options.

red and white ferris wheel under blue sky during daytime

Navy Pier Nibbles

If you’re looking for a fun place to eat in Chicago, Navy Pier is a must-visit destination. This iconic landmark offers a variety of dining options that cater to different tastes and budgets.

Savor the Flavors

One of the best things about Navy Pier is that it offers a diverse selection of cuisines. Whether you’re in the mood for American, Italian, Mexican, or Asian food, you’re sure to find something that satisfies your cravings.

For a taste of Chicago’s deep-dish pizza, head to Giordano’s, which is known for its delicious stuffed pizza. If you’re looking for something more upscale, Riva Crab House offers fresh seafood dishes and stunning views of Lake Michigan.

Grab-and-Go

If you’re short on time or want to eat on the go, Navy Pier has plenty of options for quick bites. From classic Chicago-style hot dogs at America’s Dog to sweet treats at Garrett Popcorn Shops, there’s something for everyone.

Iconic Eats

No visit to Navy Pier is complete without trying some of its iconic eats. The famous Navy Pier Funnel Cake is a must-try, with its crispy fried dough and a generous dusting of powdered sugar.

For a unique twist on a classic dish, head to Lirica, which offers Latin-inspired cuisine with a modern twist. Don’t miss their signature dish, the paella, which is bursting with flavor and served in a traditional cast-iron pan.

Overall, Navy Pier is a great place to grab a bite to eat while enjoying the sights and sounds of Chicago. With so many options to choose from, you’re sure to find something that satisfies your taste buds.

green and white wooden house

Great Outdoor Patio

When it comes to dining in Chicago, nothing beats the experience of eating outdoors on a beautiful day. Granted, this is only during the summer months, but only the people in the Midwest know how to make the most of downtown Chicago.

Luckily, the city is full of great restaurants with outdoor patios that offer stunning views and delicious food. Here are some of the best outdoor patios in Chicago that you should definitely check out:

Piccolo Sogno

Location: 464 N Halsted St, Chicago

Piccolo Sogno, located in River West/West Town, is a charming Italian restaurant with a beautiful outdoor patio. The patio is surrounded by ivy-covered walls, creating a lush and romantic atmosphere that is perfect for a date night or a special occasion. The menu features classic Italian dishes like pasta, pizza, and seafood, all made with fresh and high-quality ingredients.

Las Fuentes

Location: 2558 N Halsted St Chicago

Las Fuentes is a popular Mexican restaurant with a secret weapon: a beautiful private patio that is perfect for private events, including weddings. The patio is located near the restaurant’s main entrance and is surrounded by lush greenery, creating a peaceful and relaxing atmosphere. The menu features traditional Mexican dishes like tacos, burritos, and enchiladas, as well as a wide selection of margaritas and other cocktails.

Porter Kitchen & Deck

Location: 150 N Riverside Plz Chicago

Porter Kitchen & Deck is a riverside spot with two outdoor seating areas, including a waterfront patio and an elevated deck with city views. The patio is the perfect place to enjoy a delicious meal and a refreshing drink while taking in the stunning views of the Chicago River. The menu features American comfort food like burgers, sandwiches, and salads, as well as a variety of craft beers and cocktails.

Bambola

Location: 1402 W Randolph St Chicago

Bambola is a recently opened spot in the West Loop that is quickly becoming a favorite among locals. The restaurant features an intimate, sun-drenched patio that is the perfect place to enjoy the new happy hour menu.

The patio is surrounded by greenery and features comfortable seating and a relaxed atmosphere. The menu features modern Italian dishes like pasta, pizza, and seafood, as well as a selection of craft cocktails and wines.

No matter what type of cuisine you’re in the mood for, Chicago has plenty of great outdoor patios to choose from. Whether you’re looking for a romantic date night spot or a casual place to grab a drink with friends, these restaurants are sure to impress.

Final Thoughts

Chicago is a city that has it all, from world-class museums to stunning architecture, and of course, fantastic food. Whether you’re a local or a visitor, there’s no shortage of fun and exciting places to eat in the Windy City.

From the quirky and unusual to the sophisticated and stylish, Chicago’s dining scene has something for everyone. Whether you’re in the mood for pizza, steak, seafood, or something more exotic, you’re sure to find a restaurant that fits the bill.

One thing to keep in mind when exploring the city’s dining options is that many of the most popular restaurants can get quite busy, especially on weekends or during peak tourist season. It’s always a good idea to make a reservation in advance, or consider visiting during off-peak hours if you want to avoid the crowds.

Another tip for dining out in Chicago is to be prepared for a wide range of prices. While there are plenty of affordable options available, some of the city’s most famous restaurants can be quite expensive. If you’re on a budget, consider exploring some of the city’s lesser-known neighborhoods, where you’re more likely to find affordable eats.

Overall, Chicago is a food lover’s paradise, with an incredible range of dining options to suit every taste and budget. Whether you’re looking for a fun night out with friends or a romantic dinner for two with great food, you’re sure to find a restaurant that fits the bill. So why not start exploring the city’s culinary scene today?

Frequently Asked Questions

What are some popular restaurants in Chicago that don’t require reservations?

Chicago has plenty of popular restaurants that don’t require reservations. Some of the best include Lou Malnati’s Pizzeria, Portillo’s, and The Purple Pig. These restaurants are known for their delicious food and casual atmosphere, making them perfect for a spontaneous night out.

What are some of the hottest new restaurants in Chicago?

Chicago is always buzzing with new restaurants to try. Some of the hottest new spots include Aviary, Kumiko, and Pacific Standard Time. These restaurants offer unique menus and trendy atmospheres that are sure to impress.

What are some of the best restaurants to try during Restaurant Week in Chicago?

Chicago Restaurant Week is a great opportunity to try some of the city’s best restaurants at a discounted price. Some of the top picks include Girl & the Goat, The Capital Grille, and RPM Steak. These restaurants offer delicious prix-fixe menus that showcase their signature dishes.

What are some fun kid-themed restaurants in the Chicago suburbs?

If you’re looking for a fun dining experience for the whole family, check out Rainforest Cafe, Medieval Times, or Chuck E. Cheese’s. These restaurants offer interactive experiences that kids will love, from animatronic animals to jousting knights.

What are some interactive restaurants to try in Chicago?

Chicago has no shortage of interactive dining experiences. Check out The Melting Pot for a fondue feast, or Korean BBQ restaurant Gogi for a DIY grilling experience. For a truly unique meal, head to Alinea, where the chefs create stunning dishes right in front of your eyes.

What are some cool and fun restaurants to check out in the Chicago suburbs?

If you’re willing to venture outside the city, there are plenty of cool and fun restaurants to check out in the suburbs. Some top picks include The Lucky Monk in South Barrington, which offers craft beer and delicious burgers, and The Bavarian Lodge in Lisle, which serves up authentic German cuisine and a wide selection of beers.

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