A day in the city is incomplete without a great meal. Whether you’re visiting for a while or live within its neighborhoods, Chicago will have you craving its food day in and day out. Don’t miss these 12 most fascinating places to dine.
From one-of-a-kind menu items to interesting atmospheres, Chicago has a vast collection of unique restaurants. You won’t find eateries like these any place else in the world. Check them out:
During these uncertain times, please keep safety in mind and consider adding destinations to your bucket list to visit at a later date.
1. The Silver Palm - 768 N Milwaukee Avenue
This unique restaurant, which is set in an old train car, has been a popular eatery since it opened in 2003. Who can resist a meal in this one-of-a-kind atmosphere? It is known for the "Three Little Piggies" sandwich, but also serves salads, seafood, ribs, chicken, steak, burgers, and various sandwiches. There's also an impressive wine and beer list.
2. Frontier - 1072 N Milwaukee Avenue
Boasting an extensive collection of seasonal and traditional beers, specialty cocktails, and wine pairings, patrons of this restaurant enjoy unique shareable entrees (such as the one pictured) as well as other contemporary cuisine using wild game. Menu items include small plates, soups, salads, sandwiches, oysters, and breakfast items.
3. SafeHouse - 60 E Ontario Street
The original location of this spy-themed restaurant opened in 1966 in Milwaukee, but it wasn't long before another location popped up in Chicago. It is open daily for lunch and serves homemade food like cheese curds, burgers, salads, and other modern American entrees.
4. smalls. - 4009 N Albany Avenue
This BBQ and Asian fusion smoke shack serves comfort food like you'd never believe. Open for lunch and dinner during the week and brunch on weekends, you can eat in or order for delivery. Menu items include fresh brisket, ribs, pulled pork, fried chicken, and tofu.
5. Arbor - 2545 W Diversey Avenue
This incredible eatery has only existed since 2015, and it is open Monday through Friday for breakfast and lunch, as well as for dinner Thursday through Saturday. Reservations are preferred for the Midwestern Omakase dining experience, and guests can choose between three, five, or seven entrees from the garden-to-table tasting menu.
6. El Ideas - 2419 W 14th Street
This unique eatery has no markings to promote its location. It is a fine dining restaurant found in a back alley, though it is not meant to be pretentious. Patrons enjoy an intimate setting and can interact with chefs preparing meals, as there are no walls between them. It serves tasting menus which change regularly to include seasonal ingredients.
7. Next - 953 W Fulton Market
If you enjoy global cuisine, you must try this unique restaurant from the creators of Alinea. It has prix fixe menus that change periodically, and patrons must purchase tickets for themed dinners, such as Hollywood and Ancient Rome. Other potential meal themes include modern Chinese, steakhouse classics, and dishes from various other cultures.
8. Blackbird - 619 W Randolph Street
Run by an award-winning chef, this outrageous restaurant serves elegant Midwestern cuisine made from farm fresh ingredients. It is open for lunch and dinner on weekdays and just for dinner on weekends. Locals enjoy duck, lamb, beef, and vegetarian dishes.
9. Table, Donkey and Stick - 2728 W Armitage Avenue
Inspired by European cuisine, this restaurant serves French, Italian, Austrian, and German takes on classic dishes in a rustic atmosphere. It opens around 5:00 p.m. each night and stays open late. Enjoy a unique selection of beer and wine, as well as seasonal menus, which include crusty bread, pretzels, cheese plates, seafood, steak, duck, and other amazing meals.
10. Carnivale - 702 W Fulton Street
Serving Brazilian-inspired cuisine, this eatery is open for lunch and dinner, as well as late into the night for drinks. You can also enjoy brunch on Sundays in its festive, colorful locale. Patrons enjoy live entertainment and an energetic atmosphere while dining on salads, sandwiches, seafood, pork, and desserts.
11. The Bedford - 1612 W Division Street
Inspired by vintage supper clubs, this non-exclusive underground restaurant is one the most unique places in the city. You can enjoy a cocktail lounge in an old bank vault or dine in an intimate setting with music and friendly patrons all around. This eatery bills itself as affordable luxury and serves salads, oysters, chicken, ribs, seafood, and more.
12. Chicago Sweatlodge - 3500 N Cicero Avenue
Reminiscent of a Russian sweat lodge, this unforgettable restaurant includes several different saunas, lounges, pools, and pampering services. Guests pay $25 for a full day's admission, and it is open morning, noon, and into the night. The restaurant serves fresh, delicious dishes inspired by Eastern European and Mexican cuisine.
Which of these unique restaurants have you visited? Share your experiences and photos with us!