Food & Drink

The Best Restaurants and Bars in Chicago Right Now

Published On 05/27/2015 Published On 05/27/2015
ANJALI PINTO
Clayton Hauck/Lost Lake
Slippery Slope
Rockit Ranch Productions
Parachute
Furious Spoon
Kailley Lindman/Thrillist
Sean Cooley/Thrillist
Kari Skaflen/HOGSALT
mfk.
Sean Cooley/Thrillist
Kailley Lindman/Thrillist
Sink|Swim
Kailley Lindman/Thrillist
Anthony Tahlier Photography
Flickr/Bing
Anjali Pinto
Flickr/Joselito Tagarao
Presidio
Kailley Lindman/Thrillist
Sean Cooley/Thrillist
HOGSALT/KARI SKAFLEN
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1. Lost Lake 3154 W Diversey Ave, Chicago, IL 60647 (Logan Square)

Chicago Tiki mogul Paul McGee (of Three Dots and a Dash) is behind Lost Lake, a temple to all things Polynesian in Logan Square. The cocktail bar serves rum-soaked classics and originals, including daily daiquiri specials and group punches, in tiki mugs and volcano bowls. Decorated like the original Don's Beachcomber Cafe, Lost Lake is decked out with banana leaf wallpaper and thatched bamboo but doesn't have the kitschy vibe of many tiki bars.

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2. Slippery Slope 2357 N Milwaukee Ave, Chicago, IL 60647 (Logan Square)

Skee-ball, tamales, and and an expansive, crimson-lit dance floor await at this two-story club made to replace what Bonny's once was. The beer is cheap, the wine is boxed, and we promise this will probably be one of the only times you'll hear "Mother-In-Law" (a tamale-chili combo) and not be filled with dread.

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3. Duck Inn 2701 S Eleanor, Chicago, IL 60608 (Bridgeport Sox)

The name of this spot might conjure up images of a cute bed and breakfast, but in reality, The Duck Inn is a stylish restaurant decked in bare brick and orange accents that specializes in -- you guessed it -- duck. They aren't playing around here: The seasoned rotisserie duck, four-course chef's tasting menu, and creative dishes like potted foie gras and scallop and clam stew earned it a Michelin Bib Gourmand in 2016.

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4. Parachute 3500 N Elston Ave, Chicago, IL 60618 (Avondale)

From Chefs Johnny Clark and Beverly Kim, Parachute takes a soulful American approach to Korean cuisine. The husband-and-wife team cranks out innovative dishes like boudin noir with kohlrabi, apples, and seedy salad; dolsot bibimbap whose ever-changing toppings range from tuna and n’duja to short rib and foie gras; and salt & pepper ribs with a yuzu-chili pepper glaze. The family-style Avondale restaurant is drawing diners en masse, and the 40-seat dining room has a lofty list of reservation hopefuls vying for a table in the intimate space. Start with an order (probably two though, to be safe) of the addictive baked potato bing bread, made with bacon, scallions, and sour cream butter.

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5. Furious Spoon 1571 N Milwaukee Ave, Chicago, IL 60622 (Wicker Park)

Shin Thompson's small-but-mighty Furious Spoon in Wicker Park stands well above the rest of Chicago's ramen shops for its bowls of handmade noodle soups. The menu features a few kinds of ramen with suggested toppings, like the house apple chili sauce. The signature Furious Ramen, a soul-warming blend of tonkotsu broth and spicy miso, pairs well with a Surly Furious Beer. The restaurant is sleek and narrow with a minimalist, artsy vibe that fits in perfectly with the trendy neighborhood.

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6. Bohemian House 11 W Illinois St, Chicago, IL 60654 (River North)

This River North spot is an ode to Bohemian culture in all its manifestations, with rustic-meets-glam décor and eclectic fare that’s rooted in Central Europe. The menu, created and executed by Chef Jimmy Papadopoulos, features small plates like salt and vinegar chips and knackwurst in a blanket, large plates like spatzel and skirt steak, and unforgettable sweets like caramelized plum kolacky and an inventive take on coffee and donuts with hazelnut brittle.

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7. 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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8. Au Cheval 800 W Randolph, Chicago, IL 60607 (West Loop)

This upscale West Loop restaurant is known for its European flair and sophisticated American diner-style eats. Au Cheval usually has a wait out the door at peak dinner hours because it's home to iconic signature items like the fried house-made bologna sandwich and the so-called single burger, which actually comes with two thin patties and is topped with American cheese, house Dijonnaise, pickles, and if you know what's good for you, the optional bacon and fried egg add-ons. The brasserie-like space includes an open kitchen and a bar where local, domestic, and international beers are all on tap.

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9. 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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10. 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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11. Dinosaur Bar-B-Que 923 W Weed St, Chicago, IL 60642 (Lincoln Park)

This New York-based franchise produces of some of the finest barbecue North of the Mason-Dixon line. Its Chicago spot is a massive, two-level storefront in Lincoln Park with special only-in-Chicago menu items like the Pork 3-Way.

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12. Sink | Swim 3213 W Armitage Ave, Chicago, IL 60647 (Logan Square)

From the good people that brought you the gin-focused Scofflaw and the dance-ready Slippery Slope, nautical-themed Sink|Swim proves its seafood game is on point with affordable yet refreshingly inspired offerings like a shrimp toast tea sandwich and monkfish liver torchon. As for the digs? Charming, with whitewashed walls, teal tufted seats, and framed ocean-themed paintings hung along the perimeter.

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13. Formento's 925 W Randolph St, Chicago, IL 60607 (West Loop)

Executive Chef Stephen Wambach heads up this bright and expansive Italian restaurant. His menu keeps things classic, offering quality dishes like a four-cheese tortellini and a prosciutto-wrapped veal filet. The white tablecloths add to the traditional feel of the space, and collect crumbs from Formento's must-try chocolate layer cake. No, really, try it -- it comes with chocolate pudding frosting and hazelnut praline.

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14. Seven Lions 130 S. Michigan Ave, Chicago, IL 60603 (Loop)

Elegant yet approachable, this new American clubhouse concept from Master Sommelier Alpana Singh (The Boarding House) is exactly what its Michigan Ave space called for. Chef Chris Curren’s menu is equal parts accessible and inspired, with starters ranging from fried chicken skins and pickles paired with sriracha mustard to Brussels sprout and burrata toast. Entrées run the gamut from comforting short ribs to perfectly flaky black cod with acorn squash, ricotta gnocchi, and Maitake mushrooms. And don't worry, there's alcohol, starting with Singh’s curated list of all-American wines.

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15. Parson's Chicken & Fish 2952 W Armitage Ave, Chicago, IL 60647 (Logan Square)

Parson's Chicken & Fish in Logan Square knows a thing or two about deep-frying -- the menu features chicken, fish, hush puppies, and cheese curds in all their breaded and battered goodness. Not everything is deep-fried though; there's a small raw bar selection and small plates to share. The spot is upscale for a quick-serve spot, and its large outdoor patio is one of the top summer hang spots in Chicago.

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16. Intro 2300 N Lincoln Park W, Chicago, IL 60614 (Lincoln Park)

Intro has a roster of "chefs-in-residence" that rotates every few months, bringing a completely new menu, focus, and experience to the table each rotation.

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17. Dove's Luncheonette 1545 N Damen Ave, Chicago, IL 60622 (Wicker Park)

One Off Hospitality's 41-seat counter service restaurant pushes Southern-inspired Mexican cuisine like chicken fried chicken smothered in chorizo verde gravy, smoked brisket taco Norteño, and chili con carne, along with craft cocktails and tequila galore.

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18. Presidio 1749 N Damen Ave, Chicago, IL 60647 (Bucktown)

This cocktail-focused lounge in the old Bluebird space keeps things California breezy with exposed brick walls, plush couches and chairs, and a West Coast-leaning beverage program. Pick your poison from a selection of CA wines, beers, and cocktails inspired by Bay Area classics such as the Tommy’s Margarita and Pisco Punch. The food menu (crafted by Chef Shaun Connolly) is similarly influenced, with California-grown ingredients like sunchokes, kumquats, and Meyer lemon adding interesting touches to dishes like scallops, wild salmon, and olive oil cake.

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19. Charlatan 1329 W Chicago Ave, Chicago, IL 60642 (West Town)

The guys behind Three Aces unleashed this spot in West Town. While Charlatan may lack the raucous vibe of its sister restaurant, it doesn't lack the fantastic cuisine: American farm-to-table and Italian influences produce standouts like Slagel Farm beef carpaccio, skate wing, house-made pastas, and pig’s head for two.

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20. The Garage 116 N Aberdeen St, Chicago, IL 60607 (West Loop)

If you're the type of luncher who's up for whatever, The Garage is your temple of worship. The food truck hub rotates it's menu daily, hosting dishes from fellow trucks or even guest chefs from around Restaurant Row, so you may find a chicken fried burger one day and then a crab tostada the next.

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21. California Clipper 1002 N California Ave, Chicago, IL 60622 (Humboldt Park)

California Clipper, an iconic Humboldt Park hideaway, is still as charming today as it was in the 30s. Though more recently revived by Hogsalt’s Brendan Sodikoff, California Clipper’s dim, red lighting and old-school jukebox help the decades old dive retain its vintage reputation. As well does the beverage list, which is over 20 pages long, designed with the30s in mind, and features staff favorites, punches, long drinks, shaved ice, and ice cream drinks, as well as beer, wine, and other spirits. Enjoy a bowl of punch over conversation, or grab a can of beer to and listen to the live music, multiple nights a week.