Chicago's Most Chicago Restaurants BY: STAFF | 3.5.2014

Has it been open for generations? Does it only accept cash? From 8 finalists, we find the most Chicago restaurant in Chicago.

Making Mofongo at Nellie’s in Chicago
The owners of Nellie's in Chicago show us how to make mofongo, a classic Puerto Rican mashed and fried plantain dish.
Bronzeville Dining Destinations
To many Chicagoans, the neighborhoods south of Roosevelt Road seem to be a culinary wasteland. To Jimalita Tillman, Chicago native and executive director of the Harold Washington Cultural Center and Performing Arts Theatre (4701 S. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr Dr.), fine-dining opportunities definitely exist on the South Side—if you give them a chance.
Last-Minute Lifehack: DIY Slotted Spoon
Easter-egg dyeing only happens once a year—so it’s no surprise if you find yourself short a few necessary tools. Here’s how we improvised an impromptu slotted spoon to dip eggs in spring colors without leaving a mark. (That’s what happens to us whenever we use tongs alone.)
Fresh Picks: Convenient But Not Conventional
People, plants, then profits. That’s the hierarchy of concerns for Irv Cernauskas and Shelly Herman, whose eco-conscious grocery service, Fresh Picks, delivers roughly 20,000 pounds of local and organic produce weekly to homes across Chicagoland. Though they fill out their selection with out-of-state organic purchases, many of Fresh Picks’ suppliers are local. In 2012, Shelly said, they purchased more than $750,000 worth of produce directly from small area farms. For instance, on their website, customers can currently order sweet scarlet or gold turnips from Harmony Valley Farm in Viroqua, Wisconsin, and russet or yukon gold potatoes from Igl Farms in Antigo, Wisconsin.
Savory Sweets at Katherine Anne Confections
Flecks of sea salt scattered over buttery caramel. Balsamic vinegar drizzled over berries and ice cream. Chili-pepper-infused chocolate. Opposites attract—or so goes the saying. But opposites don't really attract. They just work well together by balancing out each other's extremes and emphasizing unique characteristics by means of contrast. This concept holds especially true when it comes to savory desserts, a foodie trend that has swept America in recent years.
Get Your Goat: A Taste of Traditional Goat Stew at Birrieria Reyes de Ocotlan
In Ocotlán in Jalisco, Mexico, the temperature rarely dips below 40 degrees. That's mild by Chicago standards; however, when the Reyes family immigrated 2,000 miles from Ocotlán to Chicago, they brought with them a recipe that would prove thoroughly compatible with the colder weather. That recipe is birria—a savory stew made by simmering goat meat for hours with herbs and spices. On a cold day in mid-March, I made a trek across town to the family's Pilsen restaurant, Birrieria Reyes de Ocotlan, to taste it myself.
What Wines You'll Be Drinking: The Impending Rise of South African Wine
Wine can be a fickle business. Although French champagne may never fall out of favor, other varietals and styles do surge in popularity from time to time. "What I see on the horizon is the emergence of South Africa," said Steve Patun, the manager and wine buyer of Fine Wine Brokers in Chicago. He believes that there are three main reasons for this imminent rise.
Joe Meno on Where a Writer Eats
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Five Spots for Food and Drink Post-Pitchfork Music Festival
After exiting the gates at Union Park this weekend, the first thing on your mind will likely be finding a place to sit down. These five destinations offer a place to rest your feet, have a drink, eat deep-fried bacon, and maybe even break into a bank vault—if that’s your thing. If not, there’s always dancing.
B’Gabs Goodies in Woodlawn: One of Chicago’s Most Chicago Restaurants
How do you find Chicago's most Chicago restaurant? You begin by taking the world's best decision-making device: the bracket. Then you combine it with Chicago's best device to represent its messy, opinionated landscape: the ward map. Some have called this pursuit "patently absurd." We humbly disagree. By taking our logic above (bracket + ward map) and extrapolating it into a larger, totally airtight algorithm, our computers have found a winner for the title of Chicago's most Chicago restaurant. See the finalists and read more about the search here. Below is one of the finalists.
Where to Find Chicago’s Best Gifts for Foodies
In a city quickly overtaking NYC as the country’s premier food town, here’s where to find many Chicago originals.
Chicago Activities That Make Great Gifts for Women
Chicago activities to gift any woman, whether she’s into looking good, eating well, or doing something unusual.
Five Orchards for Autumn Apple Picking Near Chicago
The Pastrami Sandwich at Dillman's in River North
I knew, growing up, that pastrami should be thick-cut. This, even though I lived far from anywhere you’d want to eat a pastrami sandwich. Northern Virginia doesn’t have many delis, at least not the type that would carefully brine, boil, and smoke their own meats. I can count the pastrami sandwiches I’ve eaten in my lifetime on one hand.
How Longman & Eagle's Chef Cooks With Pumpkin
From nontraditional spice blends to exotic oils, Chef Jared Wentworth of Chicago's Michelin-starred restaurant Longman & Ealge finds original uses for fall's most famous fruit.
A Travel Guide to Eataly
Although the nation of Eataly only gained statehood a week ago, it’s already become a popular destination for tourists. Here are our tips and tricks for enjoying your visit to Chicago’s only independent food kingdom.
Chowing Down Before Race Day: A Nutritionist's Guide to Marathon Training
Registered dietitian Jenny Maloney teaches us how to eat during marathon training and gives some suggestions for carbo-loading right before race day.
Chicago's Best Hangouts For A Blind Date
Going on a blind date? Check out Chicago's best spots for blind dates!
Best Grilled Cheese Sandwiches in Chicago
Check out Chicago's best spots for grilled cheese sandwiches!
The Best Chicago Restaurants With A View
Check out the best Chicago restaurants with gorgeous views.
The Best Restaurants for a Girls Night Out
This post features great restaurants in Chicago to have a Girl’s Night Out!
9 of the Best Bottomless Brunches in Chicago
There’s no shortage of great brunch spots in Chicago, but if you’re looking to celebrate with the best all-you-can-drink deals, look no further than these 9 Best Bottomless Brunches in Chicago!
The Top Chicago Brewery and Tap Rooms
Chicago's Top Brewery and Tap Rooms.
Top 10 Chicago Places for Holiday Treats & Eats
Chocolate at the Pen If you’re looking for a way to sweeten your holidays, why not experience the ultimate indulgence – a room full of chocolate decadence in The Lobby at the Peninsula Chicago. Friday and Saturday nights from 8pm to midnight, you and your lucky companions can revel in chocolate treats including petite desserts, handcrafted sweets a
The Best Pasta Dishes in Chicago
As the temperature in Chicago drops, there is nothing better than a pasta dinner at a cozy restaurant. With dozens of Chicago eateries dishing up pasta, it can be hard to pick a place to eat. After years of dining at Chicago's restaurants, I have created a round up of some of the most outstanding pasta dishes in the city. Cacio e Pepe at Balena Th
The Top Juice Bars in Chicago
Raise your hand if you sat at your desk the whole week after Halloween eating Reese's peanut butter cups (the pumpkin shaped ones)! Ok, maybe that's just us but dang, we are in need of a fall detox. Chicago is a town of Italian sausages, deep dish pizza and...well lots of chunky monkey foods but as we are a town of contradiction, we got juice bars popping up left and right.
The Five Best Pizza Places in Chicago
If you love pizza as much as we do, there is really only one destination to consider. The place that made deep dish pizza world famous, spawned plenty of wannabe emulators in other cities, and daily makes pizza lovers out of the many tourists who visit. The Windy City of Chicago. With literally hundreds of pizza places to choose from in this pizza mecca, how in the world do you know where to start? Begin with the aforementioned deep dish pizza, then proceed to sample as many varieties as you can manage and you are on the way to becoming a true Chicago pizza expert.
Top 8 Places for Great Mole in Chicago
Mole is a sauce often served at Mexican restaurants all over the world.  Most believe that mole sauces must contain chocolate, however they do not.  Checkout these eight spots across Chicago and the Suburbs showcasing housemade mole of all types.
Tasting Menu: Michael Ciapciak of Bang Bang Pie Shop
For Michael Ciapciak, it’s all about Logan Square.
Bar Scene: Chicago Coffee Picks from Mikky Wright of Ugly Mug Cafe
When Mikky Wright moved from java-drenched Seattle to Chicago in the late 1990s, he felt a bit like he’d slipped into coffee purgatory.
Tasting Menu: Cleetus Friedman of Fountainhead
Cleetus Friedman, executive chef of Chicago restaurant Fountainhead (1970 W. Montrose Ave.), knows it is not easy feeding kids. This is especially true since one of his kids will eat whatever and the other won’t eat anything but grilled cheese.
Six Summertime Desserts from Around the World
From left to right: a Korean red-bean ice bar, Korean Samanco, and Japanese mochi ice cream
Tasting Menu: Chicago Restaurant Picks from Jeni Britton Bauer of Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams
Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams founder Jeni Britton Bauer runs her thriving ice-cream business from Columbus, Ohio. But she’s an Illinois native (originally from Peoria), and Chicago holds a soft spot in her heart. Her grandfather grew up in the same neighborhood as Jeni’s Lakeview scoop shop.
Turkey Poo Doesn’t Belong on Pizza, and Other Thoughts on Toppings
For four days in July, the Groupon Guide got taken over. Not by the tiny, glowing aliens that live inside our showerheads, but by summer campers from nonprofit writing and tutoring center 826CHI. Partnered with Groupon employees, the 22 budding scribes became Groupon Guide reporters for the day, scribbling down their thoughts on everything from the song of the summer to Lady Gaga’s out-there outfits.
Ginger Beer Isn’t Actually Beer
I might never be able to walk into a bar and order another dark and stormy. It just won’t be the same.
Flavorful Heirloom-Tomato Dishes Found at Four Chicago Restaurants
At Dusek's: heirloom tomato and stone-fruit salad with montenebro, crisp watermelon, baby arugula, and a brown butter-pine nut vinaigrette
Tasting Menu: Chicago Restaurant Picks from Taxim Chef David Schneider
“Sometimes the ingredient of love is missing when I eat out at restaurants,” said David Schneider, owner and chef of Chicago restaurant Taxim (1558 N. Milwaukee Ave.) in Wicker Park. People may not notice the absence of love in their dish, but Schneider does. It’s a longing that dates back to his childhood, when he spent three months each year in Greece with family who made their own dinner by catching fish and foraging for herbs and other ingredients.
A Tamale That Shucks the Cornhusk
To most people, a tamale is one thing: a steamy bundle of corn masa wrapped in a cornhusk. But Jorge Miranda, chef at the Chicago Mexican restaurant Chilapan, knows better. “You can make a tamale out of almost anything,” he said.
Okra Is In Season at These Five Chicago Restaurants
Okra may be in season right now, but it doesn’t mean everyone wants to eat it. The veggie often gets a bad rap for its slimy coating, which emerges when it’s cooked. But according to Chef David of Taxim restaurant in Chicago's Wicker Park, the veggie is actually quite versatile—and nearly slime-less—when cooked properly. He himself cooks with it every day.
Bar Scene: Chicago Bar Picks from Letherbee Founder and Distiller Brenton Engel
The guy behind Chicago’s Letherbee Distillers spends a lot of his time tinkering with spirits, which he makes with the help of an extra-small team in a tiny space in Ravenswood. When he’s not tinkering, you can often find him drink-ering at one of these five spots around the city.
Tasting Menu: Chicago Restaurant Picks from Chez Moi Chef Dominique Tougne
Stepping aboard airplanes that soar between Chicago and France is a regular custom for Dominique Tougne, the Alsace-born chef behind Chicago French restaurant Chez Moi (2100 N. Halsted St.). If the chef had his way, he’d probably pack suitcases of French cheese and wine before each return flight, the better to stock his bistro with. Customs laws prevent him from doing so; however, no law can stop him from bringing a bit of the French dining scene back to Chicago inside his brain.
Bar Scene: Chicago Bar Picks from Goose Island Brewmaster Nick Barron
The London-trained brewmaster's recommendations for his favorite Chicago bars.
Bar Scene: Chicago Bar Picks from GT Fish & Oyster Bartender Danielle Lewis
When she’s not shaking vinegar-spiked whiskey cocktails at GT Fish & Oyster (531 N. Wells St.), bartender Danielle Lewis often heads to one of these three spots for a tipple. One is a classic Bridgeport staple, one is inside a re-established Chicago landmark, and one is a super-chic hotel bar. We think Lewis has good taste. Check out her picks below.
Tasting Menu: Chef Carol Wallack of Sola Restaurant
Though she makes her home in Chicago far from the big blue, Chef Carol Wallack can’t escape the pull of the Pacific Ocean. She keeps a second home in Maui so she can scratch her surfing itch, and even the menu at her Chicago restaurant Sola (3868 N. Lincoln Ave.) is truly an expression of her love of the islands and its cuisine.
Tasting Menu: Chicago Restaurant Picks from Chef Brian Greene of Bow & Stern
Oysters have taken over Brian Greene’s life.
Nine Things You Never Knew About Terry Hope Romero
This June, vegan chef Terry Hope Romero releases her seventh cookbook, Salad Samurai. It is a compilation of 100 whole-meal salads for every season that are hearty enough to sate even the barbecue-loving crowd. I recently spoke with Romero about her ideal salad recipe to serve dads on Father’s Day. Below, Romero shares some little-known salad-based facts about herself, including her favorite breakfast salad, and what she feeds people who hate salad (hint: it’s salad).
Edible Seaweed Would Prefer to be Called Sea Vegetables
From fictional pirate stories to real-life sunken ships, it’s common knowledge that there’s hidden treasure in the ocean. But what if, instead of silver or gold, the treasure was a brownish, mottled green?
Five Questions with an Edible-Seaweed Harvester
Not all seaweed salad has to come from Japan. Mendocino, California–based Rising Tide Sea Vegetables is one of a growing number of companies that harvest edible seaweed in US waters, making it possible to buy kombu and sea lettuce that’s as local as a farmer’s market’s kale.
Tasting Menu: Chicago Restaurant Picks from Epic Chef Matthew Pollock
Matthew Pollock, the chef behind Esquire-rated restaurant Epic (112 W. Hubbard St.), has deep ties to Chicago—he’s a South Sider by birth, and he actually enjoys the taste of Malört.
Chef Matthew Pollock of Epic on Pizza, Elk, and Malort
Matthew Pollock, the chef behind Esquire-rated restaurant Epic (112 W. Hubbard St.),  has deep ties to Chicago—he’s a South Sider by birth, and he actually enjoys the taste of Malört.