I’ll be the first to tell you that the food in Chicago is well worth braving the cold. But there’s much more to the Windy City than just deep-dish pizza. From international food markets to endless Insta-worthy brunch spots, you can taste Chicago’s diversity and innovation within the food culture.
Though it may seem like there is a restaurant at every corner, the best are often well-hidden from tourists and even locals. Here’s where to find Chicago’s trendiest places for in-the-know eaters:
(Note: I am gluten free, and all of the places below are extremely accommodating by using corn tortillas, tamari soy sauce, etc. Always a plus!)
Broken English (Old Town and the Loop)
Occasion: Tacos, tequila, and chill
I don’t know what’s more addicting about this place: the tacos full of flavor or the vibrant Mexican-inspired murals. Locally, owned by Adolfo Garcia and Phil Stefani, Broken English mixes traditional Mexican with a Chicago twist. My friends from Mexico and I went to the newest opening in Old Town, and to say we were impressed would be an understatement.
Because honestly, who doesn’t want to sip margs, eat tacos, and stare in awe at a badass Frida mural?
The French Market (The West Loop)
Occasion: When you’re up for a food coma.
In case I didn’t already make my love for The French Market clear enough already, I’m going to reiterate myself. This place is a foodie goldmine, located underground in the West Loop. From Vietnamese Pho to Nutella-banana crepes, you can truly get a taste of everything here. The walkways are highlighted with draped lights and the aroma of freshly-baked goods and produce.
It’s easy to pick a few different things to try here. I usually never leave this place without putting myself into a massive food coma.
Union Sushi (River North)
Occasion: Birthday dinner or night out with the girls
This is one of the most creative and freshest places for sushi, and I’m always surprised more people haven’t heard of it. Located at the underpass of L in River North, Union Sushi takes on an industrial, yet chic vibe. Each roll is carefully crafted with unique ingredients, such as black rice, soy paper, and collard greens. Even if fish or sushi isn’t your thing, there’s still a ton of noodle and barbeque dishes to chose from. Union is perfect for a special occasion or just a night on the town.
3 Arts Café (Gold Coast)
Occasion: When you’re willing to spend $5 on coffee for a solid Instagram
From the outside, the unmarked Restoration Hardware building may seem like a private social club full of Gold Coast’s elites. On the inside is a museum of home décor and a secluded garden café as the centerpiece. 3 Arts Café is one of the most gorgeous restaurants I’ve ever seen in Chicago, if not in the world! It’s no surprise why this place is blowing up on Instagram in the last year.
Prices seem to match the décor; so don’t be surprised when you see a $30 entrée or $8 green juice. However, many customers just come for a cup of coffee with a friend or even working on the computer. It’s worth it to see the beauty inside!
(Tip: Make a reservation ahead of time and ask to be seated next to the fountain!)
Revival Hall (The Loop)
Occasion: On the go or during lunch hour
I am disappointed I didn’t find this place when I was actually living in Chicago. With a modern and minimalist atmosphere, Revival Hall is a collection of several food vendors and cafes, such as Black Dog Gelato,Brown Bag Seafood, and Graze Kitchenette. It’s a convenient spot for a quick lunch in the Loop, or also for a trendy place to work on your laptop. There’s even a small bookstore and coffee shops, selling records and novels by local authors.
Beatrix (River North, Streeterville)
Ever find yourself torn with where to go from Brunch in the city? The easy answer is Beatrix. Nothing beats Beatrix’s avocado and quinoa brunch dishes, and fresh-squeezed juices and cocktails complimented by the rustic and chic decor. For the quality ingredients and the portion sizes, I’d say the prices are reasonable. I highly recommend the Spicy chicken tinga for lunch and quinoa cakes with poached eggs.
No matter where I am in the world, I always find myself back hungry in Chicago.
Have any recommendations to add? Comment below!