Add these eateries to your list of must-try dining experiences in Chicago. Our experts raved about these specific places, calling many of them the best at what they do. (To read our full-length Chicago interviews, click here.)
Chef Curtis Duffy of three Michelin-starred Grace gives this sushi restaurant a huge seal of approval: “Just to sit down and have the omakase is pretty amazing. If you … just let him cook for you, it’s pretty brilliant. I could sit there every single night and be happy.”
Honey Butter Fried Chicken
Chef Gale Gand of Tru named this as one of her top five restaurants that every Chicago visitor should try. She proclaims their fried chicken as the best in the city, and she specifically called out the “delicious . . . schmaltz smashed potatoes, roasted garlic grits, honey comb shaped cornbread served with honey butter.”
When it comes to favorite budget restaurants, Snappy’s is a go-to for Smoque BBQ‘s chef and partner Barry Sorkin: “Tiny little place—barely seating for six or seven people—but some of the best fried shrimp I’ve had.”
Don Pedro Carnitas
Master chef Rick Bayless of Frontera Grill, Topolobampo, Xoco, Tortas Frontera and Frontera Fresco knows a thing or two about Mexican food, so it’s a pretty big deal when he declares Don Pedro as the home to “some of the best carnitas in the world.”
Joong Boo Market
When chef Bill Kim of bellyQ, Urbanbelly and Belly Shack wants some good, traditional Korean food, he heads to the restaurant section of this Korean market. His favorites? Soondubu (순두부, or spicy tofu stew) and soondae (순대, or blood sausage).
Ask Mexique chef/owner Carlos Gaytan what dish in Chicago blew him away, and he’ll say the cebiches at Tanta.
Gene & Jude’s Red Hots
“It is hands down the best hot dog in Chicago,” exclaims chef and restaurateur Paul Kahan of avec, Blackbird, The Publican, Publican Quality Meats, Nico Osteria, Big Star and Dove’s Luncheonette.
Urbanbelly‘s Phat Rice (a combination of fried rice, ground chicken, pork belly and braised beef short ribs) is a favorite dish of chef/owner Mindy Segal of HotChocolate Craft food and drink.
The breaded steak sandwich here is, according to chef Tanya Baker of The Boarding House, “the best in the world.”
This Japanese-Korean BBQ restaurant has several big fans on Eats Abroad. Chef Takashi Yagihashi of Slurping Turtle loves the pork cheeks here, and he tries to visit once a month with his family: “They offer the highest quality Japanese style BBQ in Chicago. I like it because it reminds me of Japan. It’s a very interactive meal that you can enjoy as a family and share a variety of dishes. The flavor profile offered at Chicago Kalbi is more of a Japanese and Korean fusion, but the experience is still pretty authentic to Japan. The wife and husband owners are really friendly people so you feel at home when you’re there.”
Juno Sushi, 2638 N Lincoln Avenue (Lincoln Park); sushi, dinner only Tuesday-Sunday, closed Monday.
Honey Butter Fried Chicken, 3361 N Elston Avenue (Avondale); Southern, lunch and dinner Wednesday-Sunday, closed Monday-Tuesday.
Snappy’s Shrimp, 1901 W Irving Park Road (North Center); seafood, lunch and dinner daily.
Don Pedro Carnitas, 1113 W 18th Street (Pilsen); Mexican, breakfast and lunch daily, early dinner Monday-Saturday.
Joong Boo Market, 3333 N Kimball Avenue (Avondale); Korean, breakfast, lunch and dinner daily.
Tanta Chicago, 118 W Grand Avenue (River North); Peruvian, dinner only daily.
Gene & Jude’s Red Hots, 2720 River Road, River Grove, IL; Chicago-style hot dogs, lunch, dinner and late night daily.
Urbanbelly, 1400 W. Randolph Street (West Loop); Asian, lunch and dinner daily.
Ricobene’s, 252 W 26th Street (Bridgeport); Italian, lunch and dinner daily, late night Friday-Saturday.
Chicago Kalbi, 3752 W Lawrence Avenue (Albany Park); Korean and Japanese, dinner only Wednesday-Monday, closed Tuesday.
Have you tried these restaurants? Agree or disagree with our experts? Let us know!