6 Spots For Delicious Food In The Chicago Area
While many people might know it best for deep dish pizza and hot dogs, Chicago's food scene extends far beyond such staple items. With restaurants and vendors purveying cuisine from nearly every part of the world, the city's culinary offerings are as diverse as its people. In no particular order, here are some places in the Windy City to check out for mouth-watering eats.
At #1 is Lillie's Q, founded by Greenville, South Carolina native Charlie McKenna, who learned about the art of true Southern BBQ from his Grandma Lillie. McKenna opened his flagship location in the heart of Bucktown with a simple goal: to create a barbecue experience that's true to regional traditions, while being reimagined through unique and authentic flavors.
The menu boasts an array of dishes for barbecue lovers, from award-winning smoked pork to a selection of classic sides like fried pickles, mac n' cheese, boiled peanuts, and Grandma Lillie's famous banana pudding. Inside, the restaurant features meat hook Edison bulb light fixtures and reclaimed wooden tables, plus a full bar with over 40 American craft beers.
For #2 we find Pinstripes, a collection of venues across the US that combines made-from-scratch dining and face-to-face gaming. The restaurant serves classic Italian and American bistro cuisine, and features bowling lanes and bocce courts for team play. Begun in Northbrook, it has additional Chicago-area locations in Streeterville, Oak Brook, and South Barrington.
Dishes at Pinstripes include wood-fired pizzas, house-made pastas and sauces, and artisan sandwiches. A dessert menu has seasonal gelato and sorbet, Frangelico chocolate cake, and apple pear bread pudding. Diners can choose from many beverage options, including rotating local craft beers and handcrafted cocktails.
Next up, at #3 is Ina Mae Tavern & Packaged Goods. Located in Wicker Park, this establishment was opened in 2018 by Pioneer Tavern Group, which wished to pay tribute to the cuisine of its Executive Chef, New Orleans native Brian Jupiter. Inspired by his Louisiana roots, the restaurant serves such beloved Southern dishes as shrimp and grits, po' boys, and fried chicken and biscuits.
Among the other classic offerings are sides such as collared greens and potato salad, and small plates of hushpuppies and char-grilled oysters. Sweets include beignets and Louisiana sno-balls, while an extensive drink menu features beer, wine, cocktails, and boozy slushies. In addition to dining, customers can stay at Ina Mae's Beachwood Inn, a loft space located on the floor above the restaurant.
For #4 we come to Joong Boo Market, first opened in Chicago in January of 1992. It offers a wide-ranging variety of Asian groceries, including fresh produce, meats, and seafood, and maintains a houseware department for customers' kitchen needs. The company also has a second Chicago location called Hi-Mart, plus a store in Glenview with a mezzanine-level food court.
Joong Boo Market has a comprehensive grocery section comprising noodles, sauces, rice, seaweed, curry, and snacks from all over Asia. On top of shopping, customers can order from a quick-service, in-store restaurant known as the "Snack Corner," which offers authentic Korean cuisine. There's also Joong Boo Wang Mandoo, which serves homemade dumplings using a traditional recipe.
Showing up at #5 is Velvet Taco. Founded on the idea that tacos don't have to be associated with Tex-Mex cuisine, this establishment serves premium food in a unique fast-casual setting. Using only fresh ingredients, it makes its own tortillas, slow roasts its chicken and corn, and creates its dishes from scratch. The restaurant can be found across Texas and the Southeast, with Chicago locations in Lincoln Park and on the Gold Coast.
Aiming for a fresh take on the popular food item, the restaurant makes over twenty different taco varieties featuring multi-cultural flavors. Offerings include a variety of chicken, pork, beef, and fish tacos, as well as vegetarian options that use ingredients such as tofu and paneer. There are also sides such as nachos, tots and eggs, and red curry coconut queso, plus plenty of margaritas.
Finally, for #6 we get Boqueria, a Barcelona-style tapas bar with locations in New York City and Washington, DC, as well as in Chicago's West Loop Fulton Market District. The eatery seeks to bring a taste of Spain to the area, serving lunch, happy hour, dinner, and brunch. Diners can enjoy pitchers of seasonal sangria and a wide range of vegetable, seafood, and meat tapas.
Boqueria brings a taste of Spain and the energy of Barcelona’s renowned tapas bars to Chicago’s West Loop Fulton Market District; a lively area synonymous with great food.
Boqueria's menu also boasts main dishes such as pollo rustido, carne a la plancha, and paellas, and desserts including traditional favorites like churros and custard. For those looking to celebrate with a big group, the restaurant has three distinct areas that can accommodate parties. Additionally, the entire venue can be rented out for large-scale events.