Chicago is one of America’s most acclaimed food cities and nominated for four out of five ‘best chef’ accolades in the prestigious James Beard awards again this year.
You’ll find no shortage of places to get your fill when you visit this city. Rather, it’s difficult to decide where to dine first.
We can help. Read this list of the best dinner places in Chicago when you’re looking for something a little different.
This multi-award-winning Michelin 3-star restaurant is a top choice for dinner in Chicago if you like to dine on the latest, greatest fare.
The menu features a multi-course tasting experience that uses science to bring flavor to the fore, created by acclaimed chef, Grant Achatz. Some of the most outstanding eats here include the mysteriously-named Scallop Corn Butter, Shio Kombu Nori, and Pork Belly Curry Banana.
It’s the perfect place to impress when you’re planning a romantic dinner.
2. Frontera Grill
Go beyond tacos at this acclaimed Mexican restaurant that’s been offering the same outstanding service for the last 30 years.
Chef Rick Bayless is a previous recipient of the James Beard Outstanding Chef Award and is also recognized for his humanitarian efforts. So, it’s worth supporting this North Clark Street establishment.
His sauces and salsas are so popular that you can even buy them in supermarkets nowadays, but nothing beats the real thing. Pop to experience a modern spin on traditional ingredients that will leave your taste buds reeling.
Some of the best dinner ideas at this restaurant include:
- Rich, complex moles
- Chewy, handmade tortillas
- Enfrijoladas with chorizo, fresh cheese, and black bean sauce
- Outstanding queso fundidos
- Taco trios with all the trimmings for sharing
You’ll never look at Mexican food the same way again.
When Next arrived on the Chicago food scene, it wasted no time scooping the Best New Restaurant accolade from James Beard, and it hasn’t stopped delivering excellence since then.
Dave Beran also won the Best Chef accolade in the Great Lakes area shortly afterward, and his successor, Jenner Tomaska followed suit, so you know you’re in good hands when you eat here.
The ever-changing menu at Next takes inspiration from the season, so you need to visit regularly to enjoy everything that’s on offer here.
Some of the best themed dinner menus featured at Next include World’s Fair, Tokyo, Hollywood, and World’s Best.
You need to book and pay in advance online to earn your spot at one of these sought-after tables.
4. The Publican
Let the good times roll at this Midwestern eatery, which operates under the banner of Paul Kahan, one of Chicago’s best-known chefs.
Despite its many accolades, The Publican maintains a casual vibe that immerses you at once in the joy of food and drink.
Pork rinds are the signature dish in this beer-hall-styled venue, but you can’t go wrong with any of the eats on offer. Other stand-out dishes include Serrano ham, prawns, and farm chicken.
Do you like your meals hot? A liberal sprinkling of Zhoug hot sauce will do the trick.
The Publican prides itself on taking some of America’s most popular meals to the next level with imaginative ingredients and the freshest produce available.
5. The Berghoff
The Berghof hasn’t missed a beat since it opened its doors in 1898, making it one of Chicago’s oldest dining establishments. Old-world decor and German fare add novelty to this downtown restaurant housed in a 45,000 square foot historic building.
The Berghoff reopened in 2021 after undergoing an intense 15-month refurbishment, and it’s back with a big, big, bang.
You simply must pop into this iconic Chicago restaurant to find out what the fuss is all about. You can start by trying the Reuben sandwich, Wiener schnitzel, or Spatzleknodel.
6. Best Dinner Places in Chicago on the Waterfront
It’s hard to pinpoint only a few top eateries in this bustling part of town. From fun dining to enjoying a dinner party yacht rental, you’ll find no shortage of things to eat and enjoy at Chicago’s Navy Pier.
It’s the perfect place to plan dinner for special occasion outings or a meal just for the two of you, with more than one standout establishment to its name.
Perched on the edge of the pier, the nation’s largest rooftop venue boasts staggering views over the harbor. Here, seafood is the order of the day (or night), with oysters, spicy tuna, and shrimp tempura among the delicacies up for grabs.
Other delights include salads, burgers, pork chops, and rib-eye steaks, all prepared by talented chefs for your enjoyment.
Dinner on the Water
If views overlooking the pier aren’t enough for you, you can take things to the next level by booking one of Chicago’s famous dinner cruises.
You can have it all when you book a private meal on board one of these vessels, from simple, elegant meals for two, to a fun dinner with friends.
No restaurant in town offers better views of the skyline than these luxurious floating diners. Some of the top ones include the Spirit of Chicago, Adeline’s Sea Moose, and Odyssey.
Harry Caray’s Tavern
This multi-faceted venue boasts a bit of everything, from classic American eats served outdoors, to hearty dinners in the leather-clad diner.
Fried pickle chips, mac-and-cheese burgers, and chicken pot pie are some of the down-home delights on offer, here.
The list of best dinner places in Chicago goes on, with more coming to the fore every year. Thanks to a rich and varied culture, talented chefs, and a thriving foodie scene, Chicago is the place to be when you’re planning a special night out.
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