18 Women-Owned Restaurants to Support in Chicago
Celebrate Women's History Month, deliciously.
The restaurant world can admittedly be a bit of a boys club, with its tough guy, dog-eat-dog ethos and historically cutthroat kitchen environments. But that tired old reputation hasn’t stopped scores of women and gender-nonconforming go-getters from throwing their hats into the cis-male-domianted ring. That’s definitely the case here in Chicago, where non-dudes have been confidently assuming leadership roles in everything from fine-dining institutions and boundary-pushing cocktail bars to cozy bakeries and corner coffee shops for decades. This Women’s History Month, raise your glass to (or perhaps at) one of these 18 standout lady-run ventures.
All Together Now!
Every near westsider’s favorite natural wine bar continues to muscle its way through the pandemic thanks in large part to co-owner Erin Carlman’s hospitality prowess. Expect a host of farm-to-table meals alongside new and exciting hand-picked vintages, local craft beer, and other tasty grab-and-go goodies.
How to order: Available for instore browsing and carry-out plus online take-out and delivery via Tock and Toast.
Celebrity chef and partner Sarah Grueneberg teamed up with fellow partner-owner Meg Sahs to open this decorated West Loop trattoria back in 2015 and the pair has since garnered an impressive collection of accolades including a coveted James Beard Award for Best Chef: Great Lakes in 2017 and Restaurant of the Year at the 2018 Jean Banchet Awards. If that isn’t enticing enough, consider the grub: plump pillows of homemade egg yolk raviolo stuffed with roasted sweet potato and 'nduja salami, Mangalitsa pork meatballs awash in sultry pomodoro sauce, and blackened redfish piccata glistening with caper brown butter, all prepared with farm-fresh ingredients and exquisite technique.
How to order: Available for pick-up and delivery via Toast, Uber Eats, Grubhub, and DoorDash.
This Upon stalwart is revered citywide for ultra-talented chef-owner Tigist Reda’s brilliant and soulful take on Ethiopian cuisine. Stop in or order up to indulge in homey family-style staples like fiery beef siga wot, fragrant vegan kik alicha, and more.
How to order: Available for dine-in reservations via OpenTable or pick-up and delivery via Toast, Uber Eats, and Grubhub.
Mi Tocaya Antojería
Helmed by chef-owner Diana Dávila, this Mexican showstopper debuted in 2017 and has been enchanting Logan Square’s finest with its combination of updated classics and harder-to-find regional specialties inspired by chef Dávila’s ancestral region of San Luis Potosi. Start with a traditional chicken milanesa torta layered with all the fixings before diving into a piping hot plate of enchiladas potosinas loaded with chile-spiced masa, queso ranchero, salsa, local black beans fritos, cabbage, and refreshing salsa cruda.
How to order: Available for dine-in reservations via Resy or pick-up and delivery straight from the source and via Caviar.
Co-owner Danielle Dang’s Pilsen hotspot masterfully straddles the line between approachable and upscale, with a polished, modern aesthetic supporting a bevvy of cheffy Vietnamese standards. Expect impeccably crisp chicken wings smothered in caramelized fish sauce and chili alongside bright pan-roasted seafood, veggie-laden curries, and fragrant Bun Cha Hanoi swimming in charred pork broth atop a bed of silky rice noodles.
How to order: Available for Restaurant Week dine-in reservations via Tock or pick-up and delivery via Caviar, DoorDash, Tock, and Grubhub.
Ain't She Sweet Cafe
Decorated with work from local artists and emanating the smell of fresh-baked pastries, this sunny dual-location South Side hit is the brainchild of mother-daughter team Margot and Ayana Strotter. Inside both cafes temptations abound, from warm buttery croissants and smoothies teeming with ripe fruit to salads, soups, gooey paninis, and overstuffed chicken wraps seasoned with some of the finest housemade jerk sauce around.
How to order: Available for pick-up and delivery by calling 773-373 -3530 (Bronzeville) and 773-840-3309 (Beverly) or online via Grubhub (Bronzeville, Beverly)
The Jibarito Stop
Jibaritos—delectable fried plantain sandwiches cradling a melange of meaty, cheesy toppings—are a true Chicago original and Cely Rodriguez and Moraima Fuentes have been perfecting this born-and-bred Windy City artform since opening their first Jibarito Stop food truck in 2012. This festively-adorned brick-and-mortar operation rules the roost now but rest assured the jibaritos, not to mention the love they’re made with, remain exactly the same.
How to order: Available for pick-up and delivery via Google, Uber Eats, Grubhub, Caviar, Postmates, and DoorDash.
When Nicole Flevaris took the reins at this posh River North landmark alongside husband Andreas Tsakonas in late 2020, she became one of the only female steakhouse owners in Chicago—a shocking truth considering the classic chophouse has long been a staple of local cuisine. And while the 30-year-old date night no-brainer has undergone an interior refresh since the new owners took charge, don’t let that fool you into thinking the menu is anything but perfectly old-school. We’re talking crab cakes, beef tartare, surf n’ turf, monstrous seafood towers, bone-in short ribs, the works, plus a few Mediterranian additions inspired by Tsakonas’s Greek heritage.
How to order: Available for indoor and outdoor dining reservations plus pick-up and delivery via SpotOn, Caviar, Grubhub, DoorDash, and Uber Eats.
Named one of the neighborhood’s top draws by tastemaker Alexis Brown in Thrillist’s latest guide to the South Side, this African-influenced vegan spot from co-owner and chef Nasya Emmanuel turns heads with a clever lineup of meatless comforts served with a heaping side of love. Expect jerk tofu tacos overflowing with creamy guac and housemade garlic sauce, boldly seasoned faux-crab cake sandwiches smothered in vegan tartar sauce, and veggie gumbo boasting layers upon layers of smoky flavor.
How to order: Available for in-person pick-up and delivery via ChowNow, Uber Eats, Grubhub, Caviar, Postmates, and DoorDash.
Mindy’s Hot Chocolate, owner and executive chef Mindy Segal’s family-friendly Bucktown eatery, shut its doors during the early days of the pandemic only to reemerge shortly thereafter as the new and improved Mindy’s Bakery. The celebrated new project showcases Segal’s unprecedented doughy prowess via a series of handmade bagels and bialys, babka, za’atar challah, and seasonal pastries doled out to adoring crowds every Saturday and Sunday.
How to order: Available for pick-up and delivery straight from the source.
The name says it all at this treasured window-lined West Loop hideaway, where Vietnamese-American sisters Mary Nguyen Aregoni and Theresa Nguyen run a tight ship with help from their beloved mother, Mama Suu. Belly-warming Southeast Asian favorites like brothy pho littered with tender roast beef and rice noodles and sturdy, mayo-swathed banh mi sandwiches crammed full of sliced ham, pork, chicken pâté, fresh herbs, and crunchy veggies top the menu while creative craft cocktails and Vietnamese coffee keep the late night set buzzing.
How to order: Available for dine-in reservations via OpenTable plus pick-up and delivery via Toast, DoorDash, Postmates, Caviar, Uber Eats, and Grubhub.
From owner and executive chef Zoe Schor, this Ukie Village dining destination describes itself as “a female, Jewish, and LGBTQ-owned neighborhood restaurant serving fried chicken and all the essentials,” and we feel that’s about as accurate as can be. Come for the heavenly fried bird—also available in gluten-free and vegan versions, mind you—and stay for the charmingly dapper vibes, top shelf cocktail program, and consistently fantastic service.
How to order: Available for pick-up and delivery via Toast, Caviar, and DoorDash.
Co-owner Jo Kaucher is one of the forces behind this North Side vegetarian stalwart, a veritable mecca for the meat-averse since the original opened its humble Halstead Street doors back in 1983. Now with a second location in trendy Logan Square, the menu continues to expand from its core roundup of breakfast skillets, housemade veggie burgers, hearty salads, and protein-fueled dinner platters to encompass a range of vegan and gluten-free items including an award-winning vegan milkshake. Who says healthy(ish) eating has to be dull?
How to order: Available for pick-up and delivery straight from the source and via Caviar.
Top Chef champ and prolific restaurateur Stephanie Izard is arguably Chicago’s most famous culinary mastermind regardless of gender, so it’s no wonder not one but two of her many establishments made this list—and honestly, we wish we could include the whole shebang. This cheery modern diner stands out, however, thanks to its delightfully twisted menu of global fare as well as its tough-as-nails ability to weather the pandemic with innovative pivots like shipping meal kits and sweets nationwide in addition to local delivery and take-out efforts.
How to order: Available for dine-in reservations via OpenTable plus pick-up and delivery via DoorDash and Caviar.
With stately presences in both Chicago and New York as well as a laundry list of national nods, owner Rohini Dey’s swank River North emporium has undoubtedly made a lasting impact on American conceptions of contemporary fusion cuisine. Part Indian, part Latin, the concept straddles far-apart worlds with graceful poise, offering up thoughtful takes like Venezuelan arepas filled with duck vindaloo, tangy blackened tamarind ribs, and New York Strip brushed with piquant Goan-inspired chimichurri.
How to order: Available for dine-in reservations via OpenTable plus pick-up and delivery via Tock, DoorDash, Caviar, Uber Eats, and Grubhub.
From the expertly curated sake list and brilliant boozy concoctions (garnet milk punch, anyone?) to the delicate matcha shortbread cookies, tamago sandos bursting with velvety Kewpie mayo egg salad, and dreamy yakisoba bowls laced with Wavy Sun Noodles with Berkshire pork belly, 2020 Local Hero and award-winning drinks maven Julia Momose’s genius can be found buried within every magnificent detail of this Japanese-style West Loop cocktail den. She was also instrumental in legalizing to-go cocktails throughout Chicago last year, so obviously we stan.
How to order: Available for pick-up and delivery straight from the source and via Tock, Postmates, Grubhub, and DoorDash.
Brown Sugar Bakery
This James Beard Award-nominated South Side institution from owner Stephanie Hart is one-stop-shopping for anyone with half a sweet tooth. A dazzling procession of impeccable cakes lead the way, sold both whole and by the slice, followed by an equally irresistible trail of cupcakes, chocolates, and other confections. The diet starts tomorrow.
How to order: Available for instore browsing and take-away plus online pick-up and delivery via Google, ChowNow, Grubhub, and DoorDash.
Another Stephanie Izard original, this funky Peruvian-inflected rooftop oasis beckons hungry West Loopers from its sun-soaked rooftop perch above the hipster-chic Hoxton Hotel. Inside, upbeat shareables like ocean-fresh ceviche and arroz con pollo beneath a blanket of tart lime-spiked huacatay sauce rub elbows with a sparkling bill of tropical-leaning cocktails showcasing the best in Latin spirits.
How to order: Available for indoor and outdoor dining reservations via OpenTable plus pick-up and delivery via DoorDash and Caviar.