This time when I went to Chicago, I had ample time on hand and got to hang out with the locals. So I really got to explore some of the places locals would dine at, as opposed to finding the closest place to eat, or eating at the café of whatever attraction you’re visiting. These choices are in no way absolute must dos, these are some of the places I had the chance to dine at amongst a whole bunch others and I’ve shortlisted the best places I grabbed a bite to eat.
I know I just said, these aren’t absolute must dos, but this is an exception and this is an absolute must do. It is owned by Chef Grant Achatz, who is one of the most famous chef’s in the world. The restaurant is located in the Fulton Market District and is just over a year old. It is a 1 Michelin Star restaurant. The seating in the restaurant offers tables, if that’s your preference or seating at the kitchen. We’d been seated at the kitchen and that in itself was a fantastic experience and really added colour to the night. The menu is a combination of shared style as well as individual meals depending on how many people in your group. I would recommend a bit of both.
For starters, we’d ordered the Aged Cheddar Rillettes, absolutely delicious. I can vouch for this dish and encourage you to try it if you’re stuck for choices. This is a shared option, whilst it can be an individual option depending on how hungry you are, I would say best to stick with this as a shared option. You then have the choice of either ordering another shared option or an individual option for starters. If you feel that’s your que for the entrée (mains) then so be it.
We ordered the steak to share for the entrée, medium rare and cooked to perfection. This is by far the best steak I’ve ever had, hands down. It is quite a big steak, too much for two people to finish, so if you have a large group who enjoy devouring a good steak, I think this is a good option. There are also other options you can choose from.
Whilst I decided to skip dessert as I was quite full, my brother ordered the foie gras candy bar. I’m not a big fan of foie gras and hence can’t recommend this, however if you’re a fan by all means try it. This restaurant is on the high end and it would be a place I recommend you go to if you are travelling with someone special or are celebrating a special occasion. It could also be a restaurant you go to on your last night in Chicago as you won’t have any more holiday related expenditure and can splurge just a little bit more before you head back home to reality. If you do decide to grab a bite here, it’s best that you reserve a table as they have very limited walk-in spaces available.
2.) Café Ba-Ba-Reeba
This is another great place to grab a bite at. We had brunch here and is more on the affordable end. As the name suggests, it’s a Spanish tapas style restaurant. Being a tapas style restaurant, most (if not all) the dishes are shareable plates. This is also one place in all of Chicago that I went to, who did really good coffee and isn’t a Starbucks chain!
We’d ordered a plate of the Sausage-Fried Paella Rice and the Roasted Chicken Empanada along with our coffees and in the case of my friend, her Mimosa too. The paella was very tasty and so was the chicken. This was actually my favourite brunch place to go to and had, had I had more time, I would have definitely tried to go again. The restaurant itself is located roughly a 30-minute drive from the Chicago Riverwalk area, however given Chicago is a very walkable city, if you’re up to it you can walk along Lake Michigan and make your way here. If you plan on walking, it’s roughly a 3mile (~5kms) walk, if you walk based on the directions by Google Maps, which will take you through the fastest route and through inside routes. But you most certainly have the option of walking along the lake and if you wish to do so, I would say accommodate a bit more walking time.
3.) Ramen San
If on a day, you’re absolutely tired and don’t wish to make your way out to dinner, Ramen San is your go-to on UberEATS or to order online or if you're close enough (given the restaurant is quite close to a number of hotels) just pop over. Specifically the Kimchi and Fried Chicken Ramen. It’s very spicy but it’s very delicious. My secret to diluting the spicyness is to order extra noodles. When the Ramen arrives, you pour the Kimchi into the noodle bowl with all the mixture and let it sit for a minute or two. You then take the extra noodles and pour it into the bowl. By this time the noodles at the bottom has sucked in the Kimchi and you can have the noodles at the top. You’ll get all the flavours and the taste and diluted spicy levels that you can actually handle
4.) Signature Lounge
Situated on the 96th floor of the John Hancock Centre, this is definitely a must do even if it is just for a drink. The Signature Lounge, which essentially is a bar with drinks and pub food available is probably the more affordable option out of the Signature Room and Lounge. The Signature Room is situated just a level below, the 95th floor and is a restaurant.
Whilst my friend and I went up to the Signature Lounge relatively late and didn’t have enough time to actually go else where to find some dinner, we found that the pub food was sufficient to fill our stomach. We ordered the pizza and that was enough to keep us full.
Last but not the least, Avec. Unfortunately, I was brunching there on the day I was flying out and I was feeling a bit down about my holiday coming to an end and hence I don’t actually have any photos of the place or the food. I quite liked their brunch menu, which again is a mix of shared versus individual platters. However people mostly go for the shared option. I highly recommend their Avec burger.
The seating inside is actually quite interesting. It isn’t a very big restaurant and hence, they’ve got a few long tables and what it is, is communal seating. Your other option is bar seating. We sat at the bar and I must say I’ve grown quite used to bar seating options.
What would be your top choices to grab a bite at and why? Leave them in the comments below!
Until next time,