This is far from a complete list, but it's a combination of places that we go to frequently as well as places that it's nice to take visitors for a taste of Our Fair City. The one thing they all have in common is great food.
For more details about most of these restaurants, take a look at the Chicago Reader's Restaurant Finder.
20 W. Kinzie, 312-467-9525. Open for lunch and dinner. Closed Sunday
This is by far the best "steakhouse" in Chicago. It's the only steakhouse that serves high quality food and reasonable portion sizes without all the typical steakhouse stupidity (like parading the meat out in front of you, slapping it on the plate, and serving sides and desserts the size of a freakin' Buick). Everything I've eaten here is great, and the steaks they serve at dinner are beautiful cuts of meat cooked to perfection.
445 N. Clark, 312-661-1434.
Rick Bayless' restaurants serving delicious high-end Mexican food. It's somewhat pricey, but totally worth it. I highly recommend the ceviche trio.
157 E. Ohio, 312-644-9159.
Formerly amazing Armenian food tucked right off of Michigan Ave., unfortunately, Sayat Nova is quickly moving into the "OK" category of food.
1747 N. Damen, Chicago, 773-489-1747. Dinner weekdays,
brunch and dinner on weekends. Closed Monday
Amazingly delicious and creative desserts centering around--yep, you guessed it, chocolate. Their burger was the best I've had in Chicago yet (even better than Moody's!).
2925 N. Halsted St., 773-528-7200, closed Monday.
American cuisine made with local ingredients. Delicious food, great appetizers, but watch out for their HUGE martinis--they'll knock you out.
651 W. Peterson Ave., Chicago, 773-784-3383, closed Tuesday./
Amazing Sushi--huge pieces. The Tanmen soup is the best soup I've ever had anywhere.
6406 N Oakley Ave., 773-338-1627, Open 7 days for lunch
Unbelievable Indian food in a tiny little restaurant off of Devon. I have yet to find a dish here that I don't like. My favorite Indian restaurant ever. Just opened another one at 2411 N. Clark St.
4156 N. Kedzie, Chicago, 773-539-1909. Closed Monday.
Arun's will redefine your perception of Thai food. This is a fancy restaurant in the middle of a working class Chicago neighborhood, and the food is amazing. Place yourself in the chef's hands and you'll get a twelve course meal (not actually too much food, though) that will knock your socks off. I recommend the wine pairings if someone else is driving.
4661 N. Kedzie Ave., 773-279-8899, open 7 days.
Amazing Iranian food. Try the lamb.
2251 W. Lawrence Ave., 773-784-8777, open 7 days.
Real Roman-style cooking with the best thin-crust Italian pizza outside of Italy.
2610 N. Cannon Dr., Chicago, 773-477-5845, close Monday.
In the middle of the park, on the lagoon, serves American cuisine made with local and seasonal ingredients. Get a reservation, and plan on spending some $$$ for this upscale restaurant.
4328 W. Irving Park, Chicago, 773-725-1800, Open 7 days.
Surprisingly fresh and versatile pub grub and you won't come out smelling like smoke. Equally fantastic in both summer and winter. Occasional live music.
3592 N. Milwaukee, Chicago, 773-477-5845. Call to make sure it's open.
This neighborhood Thai restaurant has the best "typical" Thai food I've had in Chicago (see Arun on this page for "Atypical" Thai food). One warning: when they say hot, they mean it. I usually ask for medium hot at Thai restaurants, but here I ask for "just a little hot". They'll make it mild if you like, but remember, hot means hot.
4009 N. Elston Ave., Chicago, 773-478-0175, closed Sunday.
A neighborhood "joint" that serves a wide variety of Central American food that's surprisingly delicious, but definitely not healthy. Chilean food is their specialty, and their sandwiches (made on homemade bread) are delicious.
5253 N. Clark, 773-784-8616, Open for lunch and dinner.
Fantastic food--their vegetarian dishes are out of this world.
5148 N. Clark, 773-334-9851, Open for dinner.
The most incredible selection of Belgian ales (both draft and bottles) that you'll find in the U.S., and the food is great to boot. The mussels for two are not to be missed. One of my very favorites in Chicago.
6803 N. Sheridan Rd, 773-465-1299, closed Sunday.
A tiny little place right next to the White Hen about 2 blocks North of Loyola's campus. Best potstickers in the city.
5203 N. Clark St., 773-334-6377.
Delicious contemporary Korean.
3800 N. Clark, 773-929-3680.
Great light cafe fare. Famous for their hot chocolate, which I highly recommend.
5910 N. Broadway, 773-275-2696, Open 7 days for lunch and
Really dark atmosphere, fantastic burgers, and a wonderful brick beer garden. Second best burger in Chicago (See "Hot Chocolate" above).
1825 W. Irving Park Rd. 773-929-0100.
Yummy Thai food.
1450 Sherman Ave., Evanston, 847-869-0450.
804 Davis St., Evanston, 847-869-4343., open 7 days.
Addictively tasty Asian cuisine.
153 Green Bay Rd., Wilmette, 847-251-6000, open 7 days.
Great breakfast, amazing waffles and pancakes. Try the bacon waffle! Expect a line.
601 Dempster St., Evanston, 847-869-9740, open 7 days.
Functional asian food. Good place to go when you can't make up your mind.
1120 W Grand Ave., 312-666-0730.
The best American-Italian sandwiches in town. Try the Italian Hot.
565 W. Jackson Blvd., 312-939-3111, open 7 days.
A Chicago Institution. This is your breakfast.
800 W Adams (Greektown), 312-829-8820.>
Good Greek food.
2172 S Archer Ave., 312-326-5040, open 7 days.
Outstanding Chinese food, if a bit salty.
2238 S. Wentworth Ave, 312-225-8800.
A favorite Chinatown choice when going out with a bunch of friends for family. The food is great, and the Peking Duck is worth calling ahead for if you're the planning type.