Chicago has a busy restaurant scene featuring a combination of high-end restaurants and inexpensive local staples like hot dogs and pizza. Chicago has come a long way from the days when it was known as the “Hog Butcher for the World.” We chose at random 5 of the best places to eat in Chicago, but remember there are many, many more to choose from.
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Romantic enough for a date night and inventive enough to surprise even the most jaded of palates, this time-tested and Michelin-starred favorite in Lincoln Park promises good food in a good atmosphere. Crafted by visionary Lee Wolen, Boka serves a contemporary menu (heirloom carrots with pistachio crumbles, bulgur, and smoked goat cheese, for example) available à la carte or as a seven-course tasting. Make sure to order cocktails and dessert — both are downright indulgent.
This Texas-style barbecue joint in Irving Park kicked off the smoked meat movement on the North Side in the mid-aughts, and it’s been delivering great brisket, pulled pork, St. Louis ribs, and Rudy Mikeska sausage ever since. Smoque still has lines out the door because it’s a must-stop on any eating tour of Chicago. FYI: it’s BYOB so bring a frosty six-pack to fend off the inevitable meat sweats.
Pequod’s should be on everyone’s bucket list for deep-dish pizza in Chicago. The Lincoln Park mainstay specializes in cast-iron pan pizza with a caramelized cheese-topped crust. The lacy and blackened edges are a Pequod’s signature, and the crust is crunchy and dense, while the cheese is sharp and tangy. The Clybourn Ave restaurant is open until 2am, so it’s got your late-night pizza needs covered.
Parson’s Chicken & Fish in Logan Square knows a thing or two about deep-frying — the menu features chicken, fish, hush puppies, and cheese curds in all their breaded and battered goodness. Not everything is deep-fried though; there’s a small raw bar selection and small plates to share. The spot is upscale for a quick-serve spot, and its large outdoor patio is one of the top summer hang spots in Chicago.
The spiritual successor to Hot Doug’s is often on the summer festival circuit. But stop by to their Fullerton location for their full arsenal. Their “Chompers Gourmet Alligator Sausage” is smoked alligator sausage, caramelized onions and sweet chili sauce.