Food & Drink

The most-ordered menu item at 20 popular Chicago restaurants

Published On 03/28/2014 Published On 03/28/2014
Most popular restaurant menu order
Sean Cooley
Galdones Photography
Eduoard Pierre
Fat Rice
Xoco
Hopleaf
Rockit Ranch Productions
Coalfire
lthforum
Flickr/ Jay Pascual
Owen & Engine
Davanti Enoteca
eataly
Cafe Ba-Ba-Reeba
Lillie's Q
The Berghoff
Flicker/ Edsel Little
West Town Bakery & Diner
Kanela
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1. Big Star 1531 N Damen Ave, Chicago, IL 60622 (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.

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2. Jerry's Sandwiches 5419 N Clark St, Chicago, IL 60640 (Wicker Park)

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.

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3. Coalfire 1321 W Grand Ave, Chicago, IL 60642 (West Town)

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.

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4. Fat Rice 2957 W Diversey Ave, Chicago, IL 60647 (Logan Square)

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.

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5. Hopleaf 5148 N Clark St, Chicago, IL 60640 (Uptown)

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.

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6. XOCO 449 N Clark, Chicago, IL 60654 (River North)

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.

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7. Owen & Engine 2700 N Western Ave, Chicago, IL 60647 (Logan Square)

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.

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8. Smoque BBQ 3800 N Pulaski Rd, Chicago, IL 60641 (Irving Park)

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.

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9. Little Goat 820 W Randolph St, Chicago, IL 60607

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.

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10. Davanti Enoteca 1359 W Taylor St, Chicago, IL 60607 (Little Tuscany)

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.

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11. Lillie's Q 1856 W North Ave, Chicago, IL 60622 (Wicker Park)

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.

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12. Eataly 43 E Ohio St, Chicago, IL 60611 (River North)

Eataly Chicago is the newest hub from Mario Batali. Head to any of his food shops for authentic grub, or take some classes!

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13. Café Ba-Ba-Reeba 2024 N Halsted St, Chicago, IL 60614 (Lincoln Park)

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.

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14. BIG & little's 860 N Orleans St, Chicago, IL 60610 (Near North Side)

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.

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15. The Purple Pig 500 N Michigan Ave, Chicago, IL 60611 (River North)

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.

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16. West Town Bakery & Diner 1916 W Chicago Ave, Chicago, IL 60622 (West Town)

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.

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17. Sunda 110 W Illinois St, Chicago, IL 60654 (River North)

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.

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18. The Berghoff Restaurant 17 W Adams St, Chicago, IL 60603

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.

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19. 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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20. Kanela Breakfast Club 3231 N Clark St, Chicago, IL 60657 (Lakeview)

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.

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