Michael Gebert/Thrillist
Michael Gebert/Thrillist
Michael Gebert/Thrillist
Michael Gebert/Thrillist
Michael Gebert/Thrillist
Mike Gebert/Thrillist
Michael Gebert/Thrillist
Michael Gebert/Thrillist
Michael Gebert/Thrillist
Michael Gebert/Thrillist
Michael Gebert/Thrillist
Michael Gebert/Thrillist
Michael Gebert/Thrillist
Michael Gebert/Thrillist
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1. Blackwood BBQ 305 W Lake St, Chicago, IL 60606 (Loop)

Blackwood BBQ is like a cross between Chipotle and a smoked-meat palace, offering you the chance to customize your barbecue experience in the form of sandwiches, platters, and salads, all dressed with a wide variety of regional sauces, from the Alabama-style white sauce and spicy Kansas City blend to the signature hot and sweet Chicago sauce simmered with Old Style lager.

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2. Sumi Robata Bar 702 N Wells St, Chicago, IL 60654 (Near North Side)

This 14-seat robata bar is doling out charcoal-grilled Wagyu ribeye, king crab, and beef sliders with miso mustard. Chicago is home to some great izakayas, but we think that Sumi Robata Bar is by far the best around. Make sure to pair your delicious food with one of their sakes, Japanese beers, or cocktails.

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3. SideDoor 100 E Ontario St, Chicago, IL 60611 (River North)

This River North gastropub does a damn fine job when it comes to meat, whether it's their prime rib, roasted meat boards, or hearty sandwiches. They also have a number of craft beers and specialty 'tails.

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4. Manny's Deli 1141 S Jefferson St, Chicago, IL 60607 (South Loop)

For over 70 years, and coming up on four generations, Manny's has been family owned and operated by the Raskin's. The Jewish-style deli is a local favorite, an area name, and even a lunch spot for tourists. Stop in for home-cooked treats like pastrami, corned beef, matzoh ball soup, short ribs, brisket, and meatloaf.

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5. La Fournette 1547 N Wells St, Chicago, IL 60610 (Old Town)

This wondrous bakery offers a wide selection of authentic breads and pastries from Alsace (that's in France, FYI), including treats such as kouglof, an open-faced tarte flambee broiled with bacon, beer breads, beignets, and macarons. Wash it all down with some Intelligentsia coffee. Open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

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6. Del Seoul 2568 N Clark St, Chicago, IL 60614 (Lincoln Park)

Inspired by the Korean taco craze that's become a food truck staple across the land, DS is bringing that street ethos to a takeout-focused brick 'n mortar joint covered in food cart-esque sheet metal and three flat-screens touting the menu, so finally TVs'll actually help you stuff your face in front of them.

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7. mfk. 432 W Diversey Pkwy, Chicago, IL 60614 (Lakeview)

This seafood-focused restaurant transports you to a coastal Spanish fishing village with its simple, rustic dishes. Small plates range from light Cantabrian salt-cured anchovies served atop butter bread, to hearty, deep-fried manchego and speck-stuffed croquettes with a roast garlic aioli for dipping. And with the kitchen open to midnight on Friday and Saturday, you can treat yourself to a true Spanish-style dinner.

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8. The Tamale Spaceship 1341 N Damen Ave, Chicago, IL 60622 (Wicker Park)

The people of the Tamale Spaceship truck have set up this spot to serve all the essentials -- tacos, tamales, guacamole, and even soup & salad.

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9. En Hakkore 1840 N Damen Ave, Chicago, IL 60647 (Bucktown)

En Hakkore puts forward budget-friendly Korean cuisine with a twist: think tacos, paninis, and sushi. Their eclectic decor features communal tables, chandeliers made from repurposed materials, and antique books on the walls.

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10. Dusek's 1227 W 18th St, Chicago, IL 60608 (Pilsen)

Helmed by Longman & Eagle's Jared Wentworth, this Michelin-starred restaurant in Pilsen serves upscale American pub food. Dusek's takes everything you love and makes it better, whether that's cooking French fries in beef fat or topping a juicy hamburger with bacon marmalade and serving it on a house-baked pretzel bun. There are more than two dozen beers on tap -- some are from Chicago, others are from abroad -- and daily beer specials. The late-night menu serves the aforementioned burger and fries until 1am every night.

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11. Cellar Door Provisions 3025 W Diversey Ave, Chicago, IL 60647 (Logan Square)

The limited hours at this spot (only 8am-3pm Wednesday to Sunday) shouldn't stop you from visiting. Dine on fresh pastries, quiche, and coffee for breakfast -- and then stay for lunch to try an open face sandwich or delectable salad.

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12. Ba Le Bakery 5016 N Broadway St, Chicago, IL 60640 (Uptown)

Family-owned and serving up traditional preparations of classic Vietnamese eats, Ba Le is your go-to for noodle salads, banh mi, and more.

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13. Honey Butter Fried Chicken 3361 N Elston Ave, Chicago, IL 60618 (Avondale)

This Avondale quick-serve is a fried chicken lover's mecca that's doing great things for fast-casual dining and antibiotic-free, cage-free, humanely-raised chicken. The menu includes stellar sandwiches complemented with toppings like jalapeño mayo, Thai green curry, and the namesake honey butter; plus two, four, and eight-piece fried chicken plates served with corn muffins. There are quintessential Southern sides (we see you, pimento mac & cheese), plus dump cake for dessert. A balanced meal indeed.

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14. Sauce and Bread Kitchen 6340 N Clark St, Chicago, IL 60660 (Edgewater)

Sauce and Bread Kitchen's a locally focused Edgewater eatery from the Co-op Sauce & Crumb folks, slinging breakfast and lunch options Thursday-Sunday posted on their ever-changing chalkboard menu, while also hosting the monthly Stew Supper Club. Their sauce profits benefits local youth art programs, so let's get saucy.

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15. Grandma J's Local Kitchen 1552 N Kedzie Ave, Chicago, IL 60651 (Humboldt Park)

This cozy spot is great for brunch or lunch. The menu is covered with the names of farmers markets and locations, and they have board games and other forms of entertainment -- including the occasional burlesque show.

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16. La Choza Mexican Grill 7022 N Clark St, Chicago, IL 60626 (Rogers Park)

This spot has authentic mexican, and is super carry-out or delivery (!!) friendly. But if you choose to sit in, the colorful decor and welcoming staff at this family restaurant are among the best in the area.

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17. Café Orchid 1746 W Addison St, Chicago, IL 60613 (North Center)

Regardless of whether or not you've had Turkish food before, this spot is worth a trip. The family-run cafe is bursting with flavor in dishes that make great lunch options. Check out the various shawarmas and kebabs for authentic flavor.

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18. Johnny Brown Bag 5406 N Clark St, Chicago, IL 60640 (Andersonville)

A casual venue serving Italian delights like a trio of sausages (boar, Italian, turkey) over garlic rapini, pea-studded arancini dipped in tomato sauce, and some fried tomato-basil panzerotti. Milanese-style breaded steak sammies and an 8x8 mix-and-match lineup of pastas and sauces are also game. Cannolis for dessert, always.

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19. Salam Restaurant 4636 N Kedzie Ave, Chicago, IL 60625 (Albany Park)

The most reliable spot on a strip of Middle Eastern restaurants, Salam does a steady business in tender chicken taouk, smoky house-made baba ghanoush, shawarma, falafel, and other standards -- accompanied by service that might best be described as slouchy but friendly.

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20. Rainbow Cuisine 4825 N Western Ave, Chicago, IL 60625 (Lincoln Square)

Rainbow Cuisine has some truly authentic and delicious Thai dishes, like boat noodles or nam tod (grilled beef salad), but the nam khao tod, a comfy mix of crispy fried rice, bright peppers and lime juice, and chunks of store-bought Thai ham, is something you just have to try.

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21. Pleasant House Pub 2119 S Halsted St, Chicago, IL 60608 (Pilsen)

Pilsen’s Pleasant House Pub serves up pints and pies in an English pub setting. The menu is divided into pub snacks, pub plates, sides, salads, and flaky, savory “Royal” pies, which you can “crown” with mashed potatoes and gravy. Choose to eat this decidedly British fare in either the indoor or outdoor area, and if you have any room left, jump on the sticky toffee pudding for dessert. Stocked with a full bar of cocktails and craft beers, Pleasant House Pub will have you gabbing in your foolish English accent after one too many.

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22. Conte Di Savoia 1438 W Taylor St, Chicago, IL 60607

Founded in 1948 in the heart of Little Italy, this prominent Italian eatery has earned plenty of acclaim in numerous publications for its old-school sammies and other Italian fare.

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23. TÊTE Charcuterie 1114 W Randolph St, Chicago, IL 60607 (West Loop)

TÊTE has that something extra -- actually, multiple somethings extra. There's a dedication to making sure all the selections -- peppery coppa, rich fromage de tête, silky duck rillette -- are all given the proper attention. There're also international encased meats from French boudin blanc to Moroccan merguez that'll push you further toward your meat coma, plus dishes like Peking duck with white miso and rutabaga mostarda that don't seem to really fit the concept, but are too tasty for anyone to get upset.

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24. Three Chefs Restaurant 8125 S Halsted St, Chicago, IL 60620

This Auburn Gresham joint serves some of the best food in the city, including some awesome chicken & waffles.

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25. Yusho 2853 N Kedzie Ave, Chicago, IL 60618 (Logan Square)

Because apparently not everything in Japan gets lost in translation, former Charlie Trotter's exec chef Matthias Merges drew on the energy and community he discovered in the country's street food scene when conceiving Yusho. His architect wife channeled his vision into an eclectic space with a bar made from century-old wood beams and a skylit back room projecting anime. Crunch on salmon and chicken skins while you sip a boozy soda or one of the formidable offerings of Japanese and domestic beers. Then share a bowl of mentaiko carbonara, a seaside leaning take on the Italian pasta with spicy cod roe and bucatini from sister restaurant A10.

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