Chicago is widely regarded as one of America’s best food cities. And true food lovers know that the deliciousness doesn’t stop in the Loop or River North! All throughout Chicagoland, you’ll find communities that are positively bursting with outstanding restaurants, bars, and cafes, serving up everything from classic comfort foods to experimental eats.
From the city to the suburbs, Chicagoland is a true foodie’s dream. While it would be impossible to list every great area in Chicagoland to grab a bite, here are five Chicagoland neighborhoods that food lovers may want to consider calling home:
Located just north of the city of Chicago, Evanston is well-known for being the home of Northwestern University. But this bustling suburban community offers dining options a cut above what you’ll find in most college towns.
In fact, earlier this year, Thrillist called Evanston one of the “best suburbs in America for food lovers,” thanks to its plethora of “true destination-worthy eats.”
Throughout Evanston’s tree-lined streets and busy downtown area, you’ll find all sorts of enticing eateries, ranging from the classic offerings of Edzo’s Burger Shop, Evanston Chicken Shack, or Bat 17, to the upscale eats at Found Kitchen & Social House, The Stained Glass, and The Barn Steakhouse.
And that’s not all. Evanston is also home to plenty of other spots sure to satisfy hungry college kids and serious foodies alike. For breakfast, it’s always worth popping in at LePeep, or picking up a donut or pastry from the iconic Bennison’s Bakery. For international dining, Evanston is home to restaurants that serve up flavors from all over the world, from the savory Jamaican dishes at Claire’s Korner, to the modern Venezuelan-inspired menu at La Cocinita.
Home to classic restaurants that have been delighting diners for years, as well as new openings that promise to be the city’s “next big thing,” the West Loop is widely regarded as one of the cornerstones of Chicago’s culinary scene. Long before it became a haven for foodies, the West Loop was still an important site for eaters all across Chicagoland. Generations ago, it was a key area for meatpacking, and home to the Fulton-Randolph market, one of Chicago’s most legendary wholesale marketplaces.
Today, adventurous eaters will find plenty to love about the West Loop! This active area is home to countless great restaurants. Au Cheval is a highly sought-after spot for elevated burgers, soups, and comfort food. Throughout the West Loop, you’ll also find a suite of restaurants from celebrity chef Stephanie Izard, including Girl & The Goat, Duck Duck Goat, Little Goat, and Cabra.
Carnivores are sure to enjoy the hearty offerings of Swift & Sons, a modern Chicago-style steakhouse, as well as The Publican and Publican Quality Meats, which present cutting edge pork and seafood dishes. For more veggie-focused fare, Bad Hunter serves up delicious, plant-based dishes in a light and airy space. And all that’s barely scratching the surface of the West Loop’s dining options, which also include famous ramen joints, innovative cocktail bars, and some seriously Insta-worthy dessert options.
Located south of the Loop, Pilsen is one of Chicago’s most eclectic neighborhoods. Wander through Pilsen, and you’ll find fascinating architecture wrapped in vibrant, eye-catching murals, serving to celebrate the past, present, and future of this close-knit Chicago community. You’ll also find plenty of unique restaurants, serving up dynamic flavors from all over the globe.
Looking to plan your culinary tour? Dusek’s Board & Beer should be high on your list. This comforting spot offers up cutting-edge cuisine in a vintage space inside Thalia Hall, which originally opened up as a gathering place for the community all the way back in 1892. For upscale cuisine in a more modern space, S.K.Y is the place to be.
Elsewhere around Pilsen? HaiSous Vietnamese Kitchen draws visitors from around the city with its innovative take on traditional Vietnamese dishes, ranging from saucy chicken wings to freshly made noodle bowls.
Pilsen is also home to plenty of restaurants serving their unique take on Mexican cooking. Pollo Express cooks up delicious spiced chicken, Birreria Reyes de Ocotlan is a go-to destination for hearty goat stew, Don Pedro offers up a delicious take on carnitas, and tacos rule the day at La Vaca, DeColores, and Taqueria Los Comales, among others.
For dessert? Grab a frosty paleta at La Michoacana Premium, or take home a homemade treat from Kristoffer’s Cafe & Bakery, known for its tres leches cake and chocoflan. Another big advantage about Pilsen? In addition to its own vibrant food scene, this neighborhood puts you close to Bridgeport, Chinatown, and Little Italy, which are all unique and incredible destinations for dining.
Wicker Park and Bucktown are among Chicago’s oldest neighborhoods, but they’re also communities that have continually grown and evolved with the times. As a result, these West Town neighborhoods are home to countless restaurants and bars that highlight all of the classic elements that make Chicago’s food scene great — while also offering a fun glimpse into the city’s foodie future.
To start, Wicker Park and Bucktown are must-visit destinations for serious brunch lovers, boasting a roster of amazing A.M. eateries like Dove’s Luncheonette, Bongo Room, Cafe Robey, Toast, and Kanela Breakfast Club, among others. If you’re looking for a jolt of java, try out The Wormhole, which serves up handcrafted coffee drinks in a retro setting, or Volumes Bookcafe, which lets you sip your espresso among the stacks.
Wicker Park and Bucktown are also a hotbed of nightlife, full of excellent options whether you’re looking for a quiet nightcap and an after hours bite, or ready to party until the early morning. Some local favorites include The Violet Hour, a classic Chicago speakeasy with an ever-changing cocktail menu, and Royal Palms, a destination equally known for its signature drinks and competitive shuffleboard league.
And from morning to night, it’s always worth exploring Wicker Park and Bucktown to see what tempts your taste buds. From warm and spicy ramen, to vegetarian comfort food, to fun street tacos, these neighborhoods have a little bit of everything. Plus, Wicker Park and Bucktown put you in a prime spot to hop over to Logan Square and Ukrainian Village, which are known for having some pretty incredible food scenes of their own.
Just last year, a great article in Forbes declared that “Naperville is having a foodie moment.” Since then, this southwestern suburb has only become even more of a destination for serious food fans.
For lovers of latin flavors, Naperville is a must-visit, thanks to a family of restaurants by Bien Trucha Group. This local restaurant group got its start with a tiny operation in Geneva — and now operates the upscale eateries Quiubo and Santo Cielo in the heart of downtown Naperville.
Downtown and beyond, you’ll find a wide variety of tasty restaurants to choose from all throughout the Naperville area. Sharko’s BBQ offers a loving, handcrafted approach to barbecue in two convenient Naperville locations. Dalicious Indian Restaurant serves an accessible, fun way to experience classic Indian flavors. Mesón Sabika presents upscale Spanish cooking in a historic mansion dating back to the 1840s. Fiamme offers a classic take on Neopolitan pizza, while La Sorella di Francesca presents northern Italian cooking, with flavors hailing from Rome. For dessert, Cookie Dough Creations dishes out edible cookie dough by the scoop, while Kilwins Chocolates & Ice Cream serves up homemade confections that go straight for the sweet tooth.
Looking to Live In the Heart of It All?
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