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North America Restaurants

9 places to eat in Chicago

orecchiette at Nico Osteria Chicago

As well as being the home of the deep dish pizza, Chicago was voted the best food city in America. We were really impressed when we visited over New Year just how many great places to eat there were.

Here are 9 places that we loved eating at – to suit every budget.

The Original Pancake House

Who doesn’t like pancakes for breakfast? The Original Pancake House has a few locations in Chicago and one of them just happened to be opposite our hotel. The building is adorable on the outside but has a bit of a diner feel inside.

Original Pancake House Chicago

I ordered my pancakes with eggs and bacon. The pancakes were fluffy, the eggs were creamy and the bacon was delicious! The coffee was surprisingly good too.

Scrambled eggs and bacon with pancakes from the Original Pancake House Chicago

My husband loves French Toast so that’s what he ordered. It came with a blueberry compote. I tried some and it was good but I’m more of a savoury person when it comes to breakfast.

Waffles at The Original Pancake House

As well as the food, I had two cups of coffee and my husband had orange juice. The bill was around $36 without adding a tip. This is about 40% less than what we pay when we’re in New York!

Nico Osteria

We stayed at the Thomas Chicago and Nico Osteria is their hotel restaurant. It comes highly recommended in travel guides as well as when we were researching online where to eat. Although it’s in the hotel, it doesn’t feel like a hotel restaurant at all. There’s even a separate entrance from the street so you don’t have to enter through the hotel.

Nico Osteria Chicago

sWe sat at their counter so we could watch the chefs at work. When we had checked in, we were recommended to try the brussels sprout bruschetta. I was not expecting great things but it was amazing! Crispy brussel sprouts with a bit of honey and hazelnuts – DELICIOUS. We also had the meatballs as a starter and they too were very good.

Brussel sprout bruschetta at Nico Osteria

For mains I ordered the orecchiette and my husband ordered the cacio e pepe, which he felt needed more cheese. I really enjoyed my pasta and had no complaints. The restaurant has a great ambience, service was good and we enjoyed the food.

orecchiette at Nico Osteria Chicago

Au Cheval

Apparently Au Cheval has the best burger in Chicago. Having not eaten any other burgers whilst in Chicago, I can’t verify that claim however it was certainly the best burger I’ve ever eaten! And I’ve eaten a lot of burgers…

We started first with some chicken wings because, why not? They were really good – crispy on the outside, juicy inside.

Chicken wings from Au Cheval Chicago

Then onto the star of the show – the cheeseburger with a fried egg. Oh my! My husband opted not to have the egg, as it’s not his kind of thing, but I love a runny egg with my burger. The chips too were among the best we’ve ever had. Be warned though. Au Cheval is so popular that there is always a wait. We went during the week and had to wait half an hour but apparently on weekends the wait is around 3 hours!

Au Cheval cheeseburger

Duck Duck Goat

Duck Duck Goat is one of three restaurants owned by the renowned Chicago-born chef Stephanie Izard. This was probably my favourite meal of our holiday! Not only the was the food (which is Chinese) really, really delicious, the restaurant itself is awesome too. It’s designed to be a bit like a house with different rooms to eat in. I loved it! You definitely have to book in advance as it’s really popular.

Gyoza from Duck Duck Goat Chicago

Lou Malnati’s

We couldn’t go to Chicago and not try a deep dish pizza. My husband did his research and we chose Lou Malnati’s, their River North branch. There was a bit of a wait – around 20 minutes or so, and as their deep dish takes 40 minutes to make, you can order it whilst you wait so you have less time to wait at the table.

Sausage deep dish pizza at Lou Malnati's Chicago

We opted for the deep dish sausage and it was delicious. I could only manage one slice as it’s so filling but my husband pretty much polished off the rest. For only $24 it’s a good budget option. And just look at that cheese!

Lou Malnati's deep dish pizza

We also had a deep dish pizza at Gino East and definitely preferred Lou Malnati’s.

Bavette’s Steakhouse & Bar

Whenever we’re in the US, we always have to go out for a steak. Bavette’s Steakhouse is in the River North area of Chicago and has a real Speakeasy feel to it.

We started with a drink at their bar and then moved on to dinner. The lighting is really low so no photos I’m afraid! Check out their website though to get a feel for the atmosphere. The steak was really good too and cooked perfectly for me.

We also went to Gibson’s on our last night and I must say their steak was better, however I preferred the decor and ambience at Bavette’s.

The Dearborn

The Dearborn is situated in The Loop area of Chicago, close to theatres such as The Oriental and shops and museums. It’s an American-inspired tavern and is a great place to grab a bite for lunch.

We chose to share two salads and some chicken wings, washed down with some South African sparkling wine (which I was delighted to see on the menu!).

Salad at The Dearborn Chicago

The salads were light, fresh and tasty. Just what I needed after deep dish pizza and Italian beef sandwiches! The chicken wings were really good too although the side sauce was far too spicy for us! We really enjoyed our meal and the restaurant itself is really nice too.

Lao Sze Chuan in Chinatown

It’s become a bit of a tradition that we head into Chinatown in whatever city we’re in on New Year’s day to have lunch. Chicago’s Chinatown is quite small but packed full of restaurants. We chose Lao Sze Chuan – partly because its window were full of press clippings about their food and partly because the host was dressed like Elvis! They specialise in Szechuan cuisine with traditional Chinese dishes too.

We started with some pork potstickers, which were sublime. Honestly, they were so delicious! We then had the duck pancakes, which weren’t crispy duck like we’re used to but were very tasty none the less.

Peking Duck pancakes

We then had some vegetable noodles, which were simple but very yummy. I added a bit of chilli oil to mine for a bit of a kick. They also served us some cabbage with chilli oil which was absolutely addictive!

Chinese vegetable noodles at Lao Sze Chuan Chicago

Lao Sze Chuan has a few locations around Chicago if you don’t fancy heading to Chinatown (which is a bit out of the way). There’s one on Michigan Avenue, for example.

Al’s Italian Beef

We came across Al’s Italian Beef on an episode of Man vs Food so of course we had to go try it! The sandwich is filled with oven-roasted tender beef and sweet peppers and then dipped in gravy. I’m not much of a sandwich person but I really enjoyed it! Plus I loved looking at all the photos of celebrities that had visited, which adorned the walls – including Adam Richman, of course.

For around $12 you can get a sandwich, fries and a drink!

Al's Italian Beef sandwich Chicago

So here are 9 places (well 10 if you include Gibson’s Steakhouse) that we enjoyed eating at in Chicago!

9 Places to eat at in Chicago

Kirsty Marrins

Reader, writer, occasional runner, travel lover.



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