Not that life is a popularity contest (follow us on Twitter btw), but when you hit up a sandwich shop like Jerry's with 100+ options, or food emporiums like Eataly with a dozen food counters, sometimes it's nice to just know what to order. We've found the most popular item at 20 great, local restaurants, to save you the trouble of asking your waitress, "So, what's good here?".
Jerry's Sandwiches (click here for address and info)
Wicker Park, Andersonville
Most-Ordered Item: Fried Chicken Sandwich
Of the 100+ sandwiches gracing Jerry's menu, the fried buttermilk-chicken is the top seller. It's served with pickles, lettuce, tomato, American cheese, and hot sauce on challah bread.
Little Goat (click here for address and info)
Most-Ordered Item: Machos Nachos
Obviously, the most popular thing on superstar Chef Stephanie Izard's dinner menu is... nachos. But not just any nachos; these guys are covered in tangy BBQ pork, beans, pickled peppers, cheddar, sour cream, and avocado.
Big Star (click here for address and info)
Most-Ordered Item: Taco De Pescado
Surpassing the pastor and pollo, Big Star's fish taco has battered tilapia fillet, cabbage, red onion, lime, and what Milwaukee Bucks forward Zaza Pachulia says whenever OJ is all, "Where should we get burritos, dude?" (chipotle mayo).
Fat Rice (click here for address and info)
Most-Ordered Item: Portuguese Chicken
Fat Rice moves more Portuguese chicken (AKA po kok gai: mussels, chorizo, olives, cabbage, mild coconut curry) than potstickers OR arroz gordo, which we mention because it was legitimately close. Like, within-a-few-orders-a-night close.
XOCO (click here for address and info)
Most-Ordered Item: Torta Ahogada
While Rick Bayless' Mexican sandwich shop has enough rotating specials to make this maybe not a fair fight, they sell enough golden pork carnitas with black beans, pickled onions, tomato broth, and a spicy árbol chile sauce to make us pretty confident that this would be the ordering standard either way.
Hopleaf (click here for address and info)
Most-Ordered Item: Mussels & Frites
Also the most-ordered menu item at Jean-Claude Van Damme's fry shop, this Andersonville favorite is cooked in Wittekerke white ale (yes, the beer) and served alongside frites and aioli.
Sunda (click here for address and info)
Most-Ordered Item: Crispy Brussels Sprout Salad
Maybe it's the chilis, maybe it's the fried shallots, maybe it's nuoc Cham. Either way, there's something about this salad that makes it a Chicago favorite. Oh, right, it's the minced shrimp.
Coalfire Pizza (click here for address and info)
Most-Ordered Item: 'Nduja Pizza
Nightly neck-and-neck with the margherita pizza, the 'Nduja nets you Calabrian pork sausage from Publican Quality Meats on top of the usual spread of tomato sauce, mozzarella, and basil.
Big & Little’s (click here for address and info)
River North, Lakeview
Most-Ordered Item: Raw Ahi Tuna Taco/ Samurai Whitefish Taco
There's a never-ending arms race between poke tacos with ahi tuna (ginger, chili paste), and whitefish tacos (beer-battered with jalapeños, lime, and two Asian sauces). Our suggestion? Get both.
Smoque BBQ (click here for address and info)
Most-Ordered Item: Smoked Brisket
After 14hrs in the smoker, the moist and tender brisket with a two-layer spice rub and house BBQ sauce finds its way into... more customer's stomachs than any other Smoque offering.
Davanti Enoteca (click here for address and info)
Most-Ordered Item: Focaccia di Recco
Focaccia di Recco translates to baked focaccia with fresh cow cheese and local honeycomb... which apparently a lot of people already know, because this guy won by a LANDSLIDE.
Eataly (click here for address and info)
Most-Ordered Item: Grande Salumi & Formaggi Platter
On a given day, Eataly will sell more than 200 of these platters, which feature an assortment of their best cheese and cured meats. Two. Hundred.
Cafe Ba-Ba-Reeba (click here for address and info)
Most-Ordered Item: Patatas Bravas
Sitting atop an endless tapas menu are these spicy potatoes, of which they sell 750 orders A WEEK. The house-fried potato wedges are tossed in a marinade of cayenne, paprika, pimenton, salt, pepper, and garlic, then served with sun-dried tomato aioli.
Lillie’s Q (click here for address and info)
Most-Ordered Item: Pulled Pork Sandwich
The pulled pork is touted (it's the first thing listed under "Q") for a reason. It's packed onto a brioche bun with your choice of six sauces, including Carolina, Hot Smoky, and Ivory -- an Alabama-style white sauce with mayo, vinegar, and pepper.
The Berghoff (click here for address and info)
Most-Ordered Item: Wiener Schnitzel
I mean, obviously, right? Their wiener schnitzel is a classic, breaded, pan-fried veal cutlet with an asparagus and pepper salad and German fried potatoes.
Dusek’s (click here for address and info)
Most-Ordered Item: Choucroute
Duck confit + House garlic sausage + Fresh bacon confit + Red potatoes + Sauerkraut + Caraway pickled apple = Hugely ordered item. All that + Having it available in latke-form for brunch? = Most-ordered item.
Purple Pig (click here for address and info)
Most-Ordered Item: Roasted Bone Marrow
If Purple Pig were a high school, the bone marrow would be the football player, the fried pig ears would be the tennis captain, and the pickled cherry peppers would be the dude who smokes under the bleachers and wears a leather jacket.
West Town Bakery & Diner (click here for address and info)
Most-Ordered Item: West Coast Burger
AGAIN with the burger thing. Geez. Diners flock to this guy, which's got two beef patties, American cheese, lettuce, tomato, onion, and special sauce on a Hawaiian bun with crispy Parmesan potatoes.
1. Big Star1531 N Damen Ave, Chicago
2. Jerry's Sandwiches5419 N Clark St, Chicago
3. Coalfire1321 W Grand Ave, Chicago
4. Fat Rice2957 W Diversey Ave, Chicago
5. Hopleaf5148 N Clark St, Chicago
6. XOCO449 N Clark, Chicago
7. Owen & Engine2700 N Western Ave, Chicago
8. Smoque BBQ3800 N Pulaski Rd, Chicago
9. Little Goat820 W Randolph St, Chicago
10. Davanti Enoteca1359 W Taylor St, Chicago
11. Lillie's Q1856 W North Ave, Chicago
12. Eataly43 E Ohio St, Chicago
13. Café Ba-Ba-Reeba2024 N Halsted St, Chicago
14. BIG & little's860 N Orleans St, Chicago
15. The Purple Pig500 N Michigan Ave, Chicago
16. West Town Bakery & Diner1916 W Chicago Ave, Chicago
17. Sunda110 W Illinois St, Chicago
18. The Berghoff Restaurant17 W Adams St, Chicago
19. Dusek's1227 W 18th St, Chicago
20. Kanela Breakfast Club3231 N Clark St, Chicago
A lot of things about Wicker Park's Big Star will make you feel like you're in Texas. First, there's the taco-centric menu that features a dozen taco varieties and necessary sides like guacamole and queso. Then there's the drink selection, which is heavy on whiskey, tequila, and craft beer. The massive outdoor patio begs for you to order a margarita and drink the day away, especially during the summer when the seasonal music series is in full swing.
If you want amazing comfort food like Lobster Po Boys, a crazy long selection of craft beer try 150+ and karaoke all available at your fingertips, Jerry's in Wicker Park is the place for you.
This thin-crust pizzeria in West Town (with a larger location in Lakeview) takes its name from the 800-degree coal-fired oven that cooks its perfectly blistered pizzas. Every pie comes out of the oven with a charred crust and a myriad of topping like pepperoni, whipped ricotta, stracciatella, and sausage. Coalfire is a quintessential family-style joint where the pizzas are meant to be shared and devoured.
This perpetual hot spot in Logan Square specializes in the cuisine of Macau, which translates to a mix of European and Asian comfort foods. The signature dish is arroz gordo, aka fat rice, a paella-meets-bibimbap bowl of layered rice packed rich with clams, prawns, sausage, chicken, eggs, olives, and chilis. Everything about Fat Rice is conducive to sharing, from the appetizers and entrees to the communal tables.
This Andersonville beer bar is known for its rotating selection of draft beers primarily from the Midwest and Belgium. More than just a bar that serves food, Hopleaf has an outstanding menu of Belgian-inspired food like mussels from Prince Edward Island, charcuterie, and steak frites. The place is casual and laid-back, just like a neighborhood bar should be.
Conveniently next door to Top Chef master Rick Bayless' upscale Mexican joints Frontera Grill and Topolobampo, XOCO (derived from Mexican slang for "little sister") is a quick-service cafe with communal tables and a central wood burning oven. The aromas of Bayless' take on classic made-to-order south of the border street fare is sure to draw crowds from all over.
The term "gastropub" is thrown around loosely in the business of restaurant writing, but Owen & Engine truly fits the bill. The upscale British pub in Logan Square has a Bib Gourmand from the Michelin guide, so it might be better than many that are actually in England. The menu includes snacks and small plates like Scotch eggs and beef carpaccio, plus a selection of entrées that includes one of the best burgers in town. The extensive draft list is constantly changing but features IPAs, Belgian ale, stout, and more.
This Texas-style barbecue joint in Irving Park kicked off the smoked meat movement on the North Side in the mid-aughts, and it's been delivering great brisket, pulled pork, St. Louis ribs, and Rudy Mikeska sausage ever since. Smoque still has lines out the door because it's a must-stop on any eating tour of Chicago. FYI: it's BYOB so bring a frosty six-pack to fend off the inevitable meat sweats.
Right across the street from its upscale sister Girl & The Goat, Stephanie Izard's Little Goat is an all-day upscale diner that serves insanely creative takes on classic American comfort food. Split between a sit-down restaurant and a bakery, Little Goat is the place to go for over-the-top breakfast (breakfast spaghetti, banana peanut butter waffles), exceptional burgers (you can choose between a beef, goat, and veggie patty), and crazy desserts (smoked pork & toffee crunch milkshakes, Cheez-It sundaes). If you can't sit and stay -- or handle the long weekend waits -- then hit the "Grab and Goat" take-away area.
Davanti's Italian menu's loaded with sharable snacks, including mini Mason jars ("vasi") filled with everything from chicken liver pate to ricotta w/ honeycomb; mascarpone polenta topped with a "ragu of the day" (braised pork cheeks, etc); and Ligurian-style focaccia w/fresh cow's cheese.
LQ's a patio-abetted 60-seat temple of slow-n-low BBQ, decked with butcher's hooks outfitted with Edison bulbs, tables made from reclaimed barn boards, and seriously delicious barbecue-style smoked, fired-up meat. We think that Lillie's serves up the best BBQ in Chicago, and locals agree.
Eataly Chicago is the newest hub from Mario Batali. Head to any of his food shops for authentic grub, or take some classes!
This tapas joint is satiating Chicago with their small plates, like bacon wrapped dates (warrants a second date, for sure), goat cheese in a tomato sauce w/ garlic toast, and pitchers (after pitcher) of sangria. Call ahead to make a reservation and thank us later.
BIG & little's is Chicago's one-stop wonder for fish 'n chips. There are also po'boys, truffle fries, burgers, and.... need we keep going? Just get there.
All-swine-everything is the name of the game at this River North staple from James Beard award-winning chef Jimmy Bannos Jr. The Mediterranean menu features meats, cheeses, and adventurous tapas-like plates like fried pig's ear, pork liver pate, and housemade sausage served with a poached lobster tail. The lively space is dominated by an L-shaped bar and high-top communal tables, complemented by a few tables-for-two along the wall. The Purple Pig attracts a mixed crowd of suits and skinny jeans, especially for post-work drinks. Note: it doesn't take reservations.
With its graffiti walls and funky atmosphere, this joint features all-week booze, and menu items from carrot cake waffles drizzled with cream cheese icing and pineapple-caramel sauce, to grass-fed steak benedict with crispy onions and enough Cabernet hollandaise to have you needing a cab to get home.
Toeing the line between swanky hotspot and sophisticated dining destination, this Asian fusion concept from Rockit Ranch Productions is a worthy choice for an undeniably hip meal out in River North. The menu offers some seriously interesting eats (duck breast kimchi, oxtail pot stickers) and includes sushi, sashimi, and plenty of wok dishes. The beer list is heavy on the Asian pours, and there are sake and speciality cocktails as well. Sunda's decor feels just as sleek as the menu with polished black bamboo and high wooden tables.
The owners of Chicago's first post-Prohibition liquor license in 1933, The Berghoff has been bringing German food and drink to the Windy City for more than a century. The Loop institution opened before the Prohibition -- in 1898 -- but it really began as a brewery a couple of years before that. Now, it's known for its house brews (best when sampled in a flight of five), reubens, and old-world schnitzel entrees. Not surprising given its German roots, The Berghoff is a major player in Chicago's annual Oktoberfest celebrations.
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.
After opening its first location in Lakeview in 2010, this breakfast-and-lunch spot expanded with a few locations across Chicago. The sort of Greek, mostly American menu splits its breakfast selections into sweet and savory categories -- next-level waffles and French toast make up the former, Benedicts and cheesy scrambles make up the latter. Lunch is all about sandwiches and salads, proving that it's hard to go wrong with a menu that includes a burger, Greek salad, and a reuben. Since most of Kanela's ingredients are organic and locally sourced, no matter how cheesy, meaty, or sugary you go, you'll still feel kind of healthy.