As a bustling city filled with towering skyscrapers and historic landmarks, Chicago offers a plethora of dining options to suit every taste bud. However, for foodies and culinary enthusiasts, downtown Chicago is the ultimate destination for discovering some of the city’s most delectable and diverse cuisine.
From world-renowned deep-dish pizza to farm-to-table fine dining experiences, downtown Chicago has it all. Here’s a guide to some of Chicago’s best restaurants and cafes that you simply must try on your next visit.
Deep-Dish Pizza: Lou Malnati’s and Giordano’s
When it comes to Chicago-style deep-dish pizza, two names consistently come to mind: Lou Malnati’s and Giordano’s. Both restaurants are revered by locals and tourists, as they serve up piping hot pies filled with layers upon layers of cheese, meats, and tangy tomato sauce.
Lou Malnati’s, which has been around since 1971, is known for its buttery, flaky crust and its famous sausage pie. Giordano’s, on the other hand, boasts a crust that’s crisp yet chewy, and its specialty is the stuffed pizza – a deep-dish creation filled with cheese, sauce, and your choice of toppings.
Farm-to-Table: The Publican and GreenRiver
For those who prefer farm-to-table cuisine, look no further than The Publican and GreenRiver. The Publican, located in the Fulton Market District, sources organic and sustainable ingredients from local farmers and purveyors. The menu features pork-centric dishes, fresh seafood, and abundant vegetable dishes, all of which are meant to be shared family-style.
GreenRiver, meanwhile, offers an elegant dining experience with its Michelin-starred dishes that highlight local ingredients. The restaurant features a stunning rooftop garden where herbs, flowers, and vegetables are grown for use in the kitchen. Don’t miss the grilled quail, the foie gras mousse, or any of the seasonal pasta dishes.
Italian: Siena Tavern and Quartino Ristorante
Chicago’s Italian food scene is impressive, and two standout spots in downtown are Siena Tavern and Quartino Ristorante. Siena Tavern, located in River North, offers a sleek and modern atmosphere, with a menu that features inventive twists on classic Italian dishes. Don’t miss the truffle risotto balls or the pesto pasta with handmade linguine.
Quartino Ristorante, located in the bustling Near North Side, is known for its small plates, which are perfect for sharing. The menu features a range of Italian dishes, from homemade meatballs to wood-fired pizzas to fresh seafood dishes. Plus, their extensive wine list includes over 250 options from Italy and around the world.
Mexican: Frontera Grill and Xoco
Rick Bayless is one of Chicago’s most prominent chefs, and his restaurants Frontera Grill and Xoco both serve up some of the most authentic and flavorful Mexican cuisine in the city. Frontera Grill, located in River North, has been around for over 30 years and features dishes inspired by different regions of Mexico. Don’t miss the mole sauce or the cochinita pibil – slow-roasted pork that’s marinated in orange and achiote.
Xoco, also located in River North, offers a more casual dining experience with its menu of street-style Mexican food. The must-try dish here is the churros, which are made fresh when you order and are served with rich, velvety chocolate for dipping.
With so many options to choose from, it’s easy to see why downtown Chicago is a food lover’s paradise. Whether you’re in the mood for deep-dish pizza, farm-to-table cuisine, or authentic Mexican fare, these restaurants and cafes are sure to satisfy your cravings and leave you wanting more.