Foodie Finds: The 7 Best Places to Eat In Chicago
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!
1. The Hopleaf
5148 N Clark St
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.
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
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.
4. Kuma's Corner
2900 W Belmont Ave
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.
5. Ras Dashen
5846 N Broadway St
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.
6. Sol de Mexico
3018 N Cicero Ave
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.
7. Victory's Banner
2100 W. Roscoe Street
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
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 WanderingEducators.com.