Foodie Finds: The 7 Best Places to Eat In Chicago

by Tabitha McKown /
Tabitha McKown's picture
Jun 16, 2008 / 8 comments

Chicago is a city of neighborhoods, and many visitors make the mistake of limiting their dining options to the well-known restaurant chains in the Loop. The real foodie action lies in these out-of-the-way neighborhoods, so hop on your bike/in a cab or on a train and follow your stomach to these outstanding and unusual neighborhood destinations.  Please note, this is part one of a multi-part series. We Love living and eating in Chicago!


Foodie Finds: 7 best places to eat in Chicago


1. The Hopleaf

5148 N Clark St

(773) 334-9851

The Hopleaf, located in the Andersonville neighborhood, is probably the best beer bar in Chicago, and one of the top five in the country. The extensive draft selection focuses on hard-to-find Belgian beers and complex American microbrews. The food here is also authentic Belgian, and the mussels are not to be missed. No reservations.

Hopleaf on Urbanspoon


2.  Hot Doug's October, 2014 - NOW CLOSED (alas!)

3324 N. California


Sure, there may be a line all the way around the block every day, but a meal at Hot Doug's in the Avondale neighborhood is worth the wait. Doug has a constantly changing menu of delicious and often bizarre sausages, including those made of duck, bison, alligator, and rattlesnake. Seriously, a rattlesnake hot dog. For the less adventurous, Hot Doug's also does the standard Chicago dog extremely well. Cash only, and be prepared to chat with the owner, Doug, who runs the register every day.


3. Lula Cafe

2537 N Kedzie

(773) 489-9554

Located in Logan Square, Lula Cafe has one of the most interesting menus in town. The menu is divided between smaller, very inexpensive plates and more ambitious entrees that are worth the splurge. The focus here is on fresh, organic ingredients, and the varied menu changes every day. The atmosphere is both comfortable and hip, and I've never had anything less than a great experience. Folks from all walks of life show up to Lula; you can get a great meal for anywhere between $10 and $50. No reservations, and this place can get crowded, so arrive early to sit at the bar.

Lula Cafe on Urbanspoon


4. Kuma's Corner

2900 W Belmont Ave

(773) 604-8769

This is a heavy metal bar that serves almost exclusively hamburgers. However, you should totally go. Located in Logan Square, this is the most fun place on the list, bar none. Don't be scared- the service is amazing, the beer list is very sophisticated, and you adjust to the blasting metal very, very quickly. The menu is focused on burgers, and Kuma's offers about twenty different kinds, each named after a heavy metal band. For non-beef eaters, try the buffalo chicken sandwich (the "Hatebeak"). For non-meat eaters, go someplace else.

Lula Cafe on Urbanspoon


5.  Ras Dashen

5846 N Broadway St

(773) 506-9601

There's a block on Broadway up in the Edgewater neighborhood that has a handful of very strong Ethiopian restaurants, and for our money, this is the best of them. If you've never had Ethiopian food, you'll likely be pleasantly surprised at the varied menu and the communal atmosphere. The service can be spotty, but the food and atmosphere are always excellent. You'll never look at huge pancakes covered with meat the same way again. Be prepared to eat with your hands. Reservations recommended.

Ras Dashen Ethiopian Restaurant on Urbanspoon


6.  Sol de Mexico

3018 N Cicero Ave

(773) 282-4119

You'll need access to a car to make it out to the Cragin neighborhood on the west side, but it's worth the trouble. Chicago has one of the best array of Mexican restaurants in the country, and a particular speciality of the city is Mexican fine dining, which is difficult to find in most other parts of the U.S. This is no taco stand- Sol de Mexico offers flights of mole, for heaven's sake. They'll treat you right while you're there- generous portions and pours, lots of helpful interaction with the owner and staff, and for a fine dining establishment, they go out of their way to be family-friendly. This is a type of cuisine that most Americans are not familiar with, so it's an incredibly worthwhile use of a night out. Entrees can be on the pricey side, although little on the menu exceeds $20.

Sol de Mexico on Urbanspoon


7.  Victory's Banner

2100 W. Roscoe Street

(773) 665-0227

Victory's Banner in Roscoe Village is one of the most unusual breakfast spots in town. It's focused entirely on vegetarian items, and the waffles and french toast are among the city's best. Best of all is the atmosphere- Victory's Banner strives to provide a peaceful, relaxed atmosphere, complete with confusing videos of old people lifting heavy things. Yes, it has something to do with spiritual enlightenment, but the waffles are enlightenment enough for me.


Satisfaction Promise at Victory's Banner

Satisfaction Promise at Victory's Banner


Victory's Banner on Urbanspoon



List of more Best Places To Eat

What are your favorite places to eat in Chicago? Please share!



Tabitha McKown is the Chicago Editor for 




Comments (8)

  • Ed Forteau

    16 years 1 month ago

    Looks like we're going to have to make a trip to Chicago.  There are a couple of places on your list I'd like to visit twice (on the same day).  Okay, there are more than a couple, and I'd like to eat at them more than twice.  Thanks for this great list!

    Ed Forteau Publisher,

  • Dr. Jessie Voigts

    16 years 1 month ago

    You've got great taste - I love hot doug's (he cracks me up). can't wait to try the rest! Thanks, Tab!


    Jessie Voigts


  • Brian Westbye

    16 years 1 month ago

    Kinzie Chophouse! A fabulous steak house right across from the Merchandise Mart. Great atmosphere, welcoming wine list, seriously good grub. Very much a Chicago experience. 

    Kitsch'n on Roscoe. Girthy breakfasts to walk off on the way to Wrigley, and all the macro-swill you can quaff after the game. Pull up a chair under the Billy Dee Williams Colt 45 clock. Works every time.

    Ditka's. If only for the cigar bar. I haven't eaten here, but I've enjoyed a great smoke and a few Dewar's while sucking up the uniquely Iron Mike atmosphere.

  • Tabitha McKown

    16 years 1 week ago

    Brian - gotta agree with you about Kitsch'n on Roscoe. DELICIOUS. If you enjoy a good pour of vino, cross the street to VOLO, owned by the same folks as Kitsch'n. The cabana's in the back are a great place to chill in the summer!


    Tabitha McKown

    Chicago Editor,

  • monacake

    15 years 3 months ago

    i've heard/read about a few of these places, but even with the preponderance of info about chicago eateries out there, you've opened my eyes to some new ones.

  • Beth Whitman

    14 years 10 months ago

    Can't wait to get back to Chicago to try Victory's Banner. And I LOVE breakfast out so this looks perfect for me!

  • Dr. Jessie Voigts

    14 years 10 months ago

    beth - this is one of my VERY favorite places. it is SO cool - and the food is extraordinary!


    Jessie Voigts, PhD


  • Brande Roderick (not verified)

    14 years 10 months ago

    That's really good list. The list shows that you have really looked and searched for the best places to eat in Chicago and not merely write about these eateries on the basis of what you have heard from other sources.
    Thanks, I am trying to make my own list of the best Chicago food delivery services just so that I can order my favorite food when i want to.

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