If you’re looking for a steakhouse where you don’t have to suffer through the suffocating sameness of a traditional “steakhouse,” you’re looking for Boeufhaus. Since opening in 2015 in an off-the-beaten-path section of town, this cool little spot located a stone’s throw from one of Chicago’s top indie music clubs doesn’t even consider itself a steakhouse. It’s small and intimate, with plenty of exposed brick and dark wood to make you feel like you’ve stumbled into a secret club. A secret meat club. Calling itself a “French-German inspired brasserie,” the clear star of the minimalist menu is the 55-day dry-aged ribeye, although the duck breast and pork chop are also not to be overlooked. Whatever you do, don’t skimp on the boeuf fat fries. Unless you want to miss out on your newest obsession.
Longman & Eagle
This hipster-friendly space located in Chicago’s ever-hip Logan Square neighborhood even features a six-room B&B/crash pad above the restaurant in case you forgot to book a room. But you’re here to eat, and eat you shall. The menu’s self-described “farm-to-table, nose-to-tail aesthetic” leans toward reasonably priced, slightly upscale yet still approachable dishes like roasted lamb shank and beef marrow bones. You can never go wrong with the wild boar sloppy Joe, and their burger is one of the most underrated in the city. They don’t take reservations and the joint is always hopping, so get there early on the weekends (between 5-6:30pm). Although if you show up later and do encounter a wait, there’s plenty of action to keep you entertained until your table is ready.
This effortlessly cool yet laid-back space located on a less-bustling stretch of Milwaukee Avenue is famous for its Whole Animal Experience, in which you choose your animal and they do the rest. With options ranging from farm-raised pig, wild boar, goat, lamb, and even alligator, the whole animal option is ideal for large groups (or when you’re looking to intimidate someone who owes you money). If you’re not starving, additional menu highlights from 2019 James Beard Award semifinalist chef Brian Jupiter include antelope cheesesteak, clam pasta, and the local classic: five cheese mac. Oh, and start the party with $1 oysters.
You can’t visit Chicago without indulging in at least one item from Chicago’s culinary holy trinity of deep-dish pizza, Chicago-style hot dogs, and Italian beef sandwiches. If you can only choose one, skip out on the more famous deep dish and tangle instead with the classic sandwich that helped define the city. And while Al’s Beef is now a chain, its original location on Taylor Street has been slinging Italian beef sandwiches to locals in the neighborhood since 1938 -- and hasn’t changed much over the last 80 years. It’s still cash only, there are no seats inside (although there are a few tables outside with seats), and you best stand back from the sandwich when you eat it (utilizing an Italian beef ingestion method called “The Italian Stance”) if you don’t want it to end up all over your shirt.
Parson’s Chicken & Fish
You can’t appreciate Chicago without experiencing the local rite of passage that is the outdoor patio, and there are few finer than the always-happening (and recently expanded) patio at the original Logan Square location of Parson’s Chicken & Fish. The Texas-styled space buzzes with activity anytime the temperature reaches anything close to outdoor drinking weather (which is admittedly a low bar in Chicago), when locals come out of the woodwork to play ping pong and eat quite excellent chicken. The grilled Amish chicken is simple and delicious, or enjoy yours fried or “demon-style” hot on a sandwich. The chicken & waffle is also not to be overlooked, nor is the underrated fish fry. Whatever you order, the local experience dictates it should be eaten on the patio.