Chicago Restaurant Spotlight

Estimated reading time: 3 minutes

It’s time to explore the distinct global flavors that have found their home in the Windy City.

After you’ve tried the iconic pickle-and-mustard-topped Chicago dog at a Cubs game and delved into a classic deep-dish pizza, it’s time to explore the Windy City’s distinct global flavors. If Chinese-Portuguese fusion, Oaxacan Mexican, or Danish dishes pique your interest, then Chicago is the perfect dining destination for you. Additionally, restaurants featuring sustainably sourced and locally grown ingredients allow you to taste the agricultural heritage of the Midwest. Bon Appétit crowned Chicago as the Restaurant City of the Year in 2017 and called it “America’s most exciting city to eat in right now.” These 7 restaurants will take your taste buds around the world and are sure to charm Chicagoans and visitors alike.

The Warbler

Fly over to The Warbler for a bite of modern American cuisine with Asian influences. A vegetarian-friendly menu includes homemade pastas, tasty nachos, and savory flatbreads. The outdoor patio and modern Zen décor creates a laid-back atmosphere in which you can sip bird-themed cocktails, such as a Kookaburra or Purple Martin. After a delectable dinner, you can continue the avian theme by getting a bird’s-eye view of Chicago with an evening helicopter flight. Whether you are traveling with a flock or your lovebird, everyone is sure to find something to enjoy at The Warbler.

Café Marie-Jeanne

Savor classic French cuisine for brunch, lunch, or dinner at Café Marie-Jeanne. When you walk in, make sure to check the chalkboard for the day’s specials, which are crafted using seasonal mushrooms, greens, and other locally sourced produce. Indulge in dishes that range from sweet to salty with buttery pastries and smoked, cured, and pickled fish. Don’t forget to pair your meal with a glass of European wine from the café’s curated collection. This neighborhood gem is a great place to fuel up before a comprehensive day of sightseeing—or an ideal place to rest your feet afterward. Take your time to relax and eat at this cozy café and wine bar.

Fat Rice

Fat Rice blends southern Chinese and Portuguese cuisines to bring the saucy flavors of Macau, China to the Windy City. Be sure to reserve your table in advance because Zagat lists Fat Rice as one of Chicago’s “hard-to-get-into spots,” and you don’t want to miss out on this culinary experience. The restaurant takes its name from its signature arroz gordo, which is a homestyle layered rice composition usually served on special occasions. Be sure to bring friends because Fat Rice’s interpretation of this classic includes curried thighs, char siu pork, linguiça sausage, prawns, steamed clams, tea eggs, and chicken-fat-fried croutons on just one of its layers. Open for brunch, lunch, and dinner, you can sample a variety of small plates with big flavors at Fat Rice. After your meal, continue the cultural exchange with a walking tour of Chicago’s well-established Chinatown.

Daisies

With sustainably sourced and locally grown ingredients, Daisies supplies a mouth-watering array of homemade pastas and a hearty helping of vegetables. Intricate watercolors of fruits and vegetables painted by the chef’s sister enliven the dining area and complement the exposed brick walls behind the bar. A rotating menu emphasizes freshness and seasonality, keeping patrons coming back to try out the latest flavors like chicken-fried rutabaga or fried mushrooms and cheese curds with buttermilk tarragon dipping sauce. Small plates allow you to sample and share all the pastas during a romantic evening with your significant other that you can follow up with some couples photographs. Come for Sunday brunch or dinner on the outdoor patio and sit beneath the string lights and hanging planters for a delightful dining experience.

HaiSous

Delve into a delicious display of authentically prepared Vietnamese food at HaiSous. Come for dinner or a weekend brunch and be sure to admire the modern industrial décor, including light fixtures imported from Vietnam and a bamboo ceiling. At HaiSous, the mussels cooked in coconut broth and fried chicken wings with caramelized fish sauce steal the limelight and are sure to make your taste buds dance. A meal here pairs perfectly with a show at the historic Thalia Hall located just a few blocks away.

Topolobampo

A creation of acclaimed American chef and restaurateur Rick Bayless, Topolobampo serves gourmet cuisine inspired by the Oaxacan region of Mexico. Known for mole, chocolate, and cheese, Oaxacan food is a delectable departure from your typical Tex-Mex. For dinner at Topolobampo, choose from a 3-, 5-, or 7-course tasting menu and get ready for a culinary adventure through Oaxaca. Continue your evening with a short trip to the 360 Chicago observatory for gorgeous panoramic views of the city accompanied by a glass of sparkling wine. Due to high demand, Toplobampo recommends reserving your table 8–10 weeks in advance, so don’t delay.

Elske

Elske means love in Danish, and you’ll find that feeling in every dish that chef couple Anna and David Posey serve in their Nordic-inspired restaurant. Minimalist décor and soft lighting combine with friendly service to make Elske a welcoming and relaxing dining destination. This eatery takes the open-kitchen concept seriously and not only lets you watch the chefs at work—they also serve your meal. Enjoy an 8-course tasting menu or order a la carte for a contemporary dining experience you won’t soon forget. Fall in love with the sophisticated flavors of Elske before seeing the Blackhawks or Bulls at the nearby United Center, and make sure to save room for dessert like the smoked walnut pudding tart with chocolate and chicory.

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