5 Unique Food Stops in Chicago
Aug 19, 2020 12:34 PM EDT | By Eric Hamilton
With more than 7,000 restaurants in Chicago, it's tough to just select the five best places to try. But there is no getting away from it - Chicago is one of the best cities in America to try local food, from original dining experiences to engaging waiting staff.
So with this in mind, here are five unique food stops in Chicago that you cannot afford to miss out on.
This just had to be on this list. If you're from Chicago, you probably could have guessed it for yourself. If you aren't from Chicago, or you are but you've been living under a rock this entire time, you've been missing out.
Alinea has three Michelin stars and has consistently made an appearance on the World's 50 Best Restaurants' Dinner list. You're greeted with various themes, both in the dining room and on the plate. There are three seasonal menus to choose from, but they change every four months so there's always something new to try.
Alinea can be found in Lincoln Park. It is a bit pricey at $300 per pairing but the quality of the meal, along with the experience, is something you cannot afford to miss out on.
2. Little Bucharest Bistro
Fancy something a bit different? Then you've got to check out this Romanian restaurant in Chicago. It blends its Eastern European heritage with the flair and friendly nature of the Windy City. Even the owner is incredibly welcoming - it's like you've been invited into his home. He may even bless you with holy water!
It's a real gem of the Chicago restaurant scene. The food is delicious, with the stuffed cabbage rolls a particular highlight for vegetarians, while the flaming cheese and the steak dishes are second to none.
Great service and excellent food - what more could you ask for?
3. EL Ideas
Prepare your eyes as soon as you step inside this establishment. The ensemble will grab your attention from every angle. Oh, and it's all set in an industrial park - but don't let that fool you for a second.
El Ideas gives an open-view of the chefs and everything that goes on in the kitchen. Sit back, relax and watch as the chefs prepare all the delicious meals right in front of you. It's like they are inviting you into their space and joining the team. If anything, it's like being part of one festive Chicago party.
Fancy some baklava, fries and ice cream? You've come to the right place. Chef Foss makes even the strangest concoctions seem mouth-watering and must-try. It's next-level wizardry.
There's also a surprise menu that contains 15 courses should you feel a bit adventurous. Make sure you bring your own bottle to enjoy too.
Frontier is a bit crazy. You can either reserve a table or book a private room before sitting down to eat an entire animal. That's right, all of it, including the head. Chef Jupiter describes it as Southern comfort food. That said, the restaurant still caters to vegetarians with vegetarian entrees and side dishes, so anyone is welcome to dine here.
If you thought that was a bit crazy, just wait until you hear the foods they offer. They range from classic free-range pig to more exotic chicken-stuffed alligator. You can then take the meal outside into the beer garden for a more relaxed vibe.
There's more - you won't know what animal will grace your table until you arrive.
Make sure you come with a larger party as it's not likely you'll be able to take down a goat all by yourself.
5. Au Cheval
We can't talk about unique Chicago restaurants without mentioning a burger joint. It's usually quite the wait to get inside (they don't take reservations and then line outside is normally long), but when you finally take a bite, you'll realize it was all worth it.
The burger isn't quite what your grandmother used to make. It's more of an umami burger, melted cheese, pickles, bacon, eggs and Dijonnaise. On the other hand, you can try a fried bologna sandwich, which centre-piece is chicken liver, or opt for some honey fried chicken that satisfies all your cravings.
They also have things like potato hash served duck heart gravy, certainly making it one of the most unique Chicago restaurants around. Complete the experience with a wide range of beers and cocktails.
They also have a menu for those of you that are gluten or dairy-free.
Now, these may be the top five unique food stops in Chicago, but it's worth including at some honorable mentions that only just missed the cut.
The Purple Pig
This unique Chicago restaurant features, pretty much, everything you can think of that relates to a pig, along with some Mediterranean-style plates. From Greek caviar to olives stuffed with chorizo, there's plenty to get excited about.
Ruxbin is located at Noble Square and is known for its Asian-style cuisine. It's earned a 4.7 rating on Zagat and serves up in a communal setting. Experience dishes like jackfruit carnitas and soak up the, shall we say, "repurposed" furnishings that set this food stop apart from all the others.
Publican Quality Meats
This restaurant pays homage to oysters, pork and beer to create an awesome sandwich. It's a butcher come deli come coffee bar all into one and attracts crowds looking for something fresh and original.
Another honorable mention must be made to Fat Rice, another Asian-style restaurant that is known for its arroz gordo and massive Macanse dish consisting of salted duck, chorizo, sofrito and jasmine rice, topped with a range of other savory meats. There's also an option for vegetarians. As for the bakery (yep, there's a bakery there too), it's shaped like a big and serves buns fused with Mai Tai.
Fun offers more than just a great meal. It's home to some of the most talented staff in the city, from the chefs to the waiters to provide an experience that will last for a lifetime.
Will you pay for $106 for a burger made at Gordon Ramsay's?