Chicago restaurants are state of the art and boast some of the best offerings in the world whether you're looking for something fancy or a simple hot dog and fries. Local favourites are always going to include the pizza joints and hot dog stands, with each offering a unique Chicago twist on the traditional flavours and styles. Chicago's restaurant scene features international fare as well as some offerings that are a little odd yet incredibly good. Be sure to try the best restaurants in Chicago that are not tourist traps—and that the locals can't stop talking about.

    1

    Café Ba-Ba-Reeba

    Enjoy authentic Spanish fare

    Café Ba-Ba-Reeba is a Spanish small-plates restaurant that offers authentic tapas with bite-sized pintxos and 6 different styles of sangria to try. Every dish on the menu can trace its roots back to Spain, as can some of the equipment used to prepare them—the restaurant's wood-burning oven was specially ordered and flown in from Madrid. The drink selection at Café Ba-Ba-Reeba is fairly expansive. Not only are there 6 different kinds of sangria on offer here, but you can get them to go as well. The wine list is also quite varied, and like everything else in the restaurant, the wines come straight from Spain. Enjoy a taste of Spain just a few steps southwest from Oz Park.

    Location: 2024 N Halsted St, Chicago, IL 60614, USA

    Open: Monday–Thursday from 4 pm to 9 pm, Friday from 11.30 am to 10 pm, Saturday from 10 am to 10 pm, Sunday from 10 am to 9 pm

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    2

    Pequod's Pizza

    Try local deep-dish pizza

    Pequod's Pizza offers some of the best deep-dish pizza in town, thanks to their famous technique that creates a savoury caramelised crust. The caramelised crust effect is created by cooking the pizza in a pan that's been sprinkled with cheese. As it cooks, the cheese fuses itself with the crust and the heat creates a delicious caramelization effect. This restaurant also has an impressive drink menu featuring domestic and imported beers alongside several different wines. A spirits selection is also available, including whisky, tequila, and gin. You'll find it all on the southern edge of West Depaul, just a short walk east from the North Branch Chicago River.

    Location: 2207 N Clybourn Ave, Chicago, IL 60614, USA

    Open: Monday–Saturday from 11 am to 2 am, Sunday from 11 am to midnight

    Phone: +1 773-327-1512

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    3

    Little Goat

    Go for brunch

    Little Goat offers New American fare ranging from sweet to savoury and is one of the best places in the city to find brunch. The restaurant is particularly popular with the locals since they serve breakfast all day, but you'll also find lunch items like burgers. In addition to their standard offerings, you'll also find an attached bakery where you can get fresh bread, bagels, and sweet treats, and you'll even find a goat-milk latte on offer here. Try it for yourself in Fulton Market, just a short walk west of the highway.

    Location: 820 W Randolph St, Chicago, IL 60607, USA

    Open: Wednesday–Sunday from 8 am to 3 pm (closed Monday–Tuesday)

    Phone: +1 312-888-3455

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    4

    Coalfire Pizza

    Savour a thin-crust pizza

    Coalfire Pizza is a thin-crust-pizza joint, which makes it unique for Chicago, and it offers delicious pizzas cooked in rustic, coal-burning ovens. Because of their clean-burning coal ovens, every one of their pizzas comes out a bit charred and bubbly, which is perfect for foodies who love a little singe to their pizza. To accompany your pizza, you can also select from a comprehensive drink menu offering local beers, wine, and craft cocktails that feature mixtures you may not be able to find anywhere else. Check it out by visiting Coalfire, just a few blocks south of Eckhart Park.

    Location: 1321 W Grand Ave, Chicago, IL 60642, USA

    Open: Tuesday–Thursday from 4 pm to 10 pm, Friday from 11.30 am to 11 pm, Saturday from noon to 11 pm, Sunday from noon to 9 pm (closed on Mondays)

    Phone: +1 312-226-2625

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    5

    The Purple Pig

    Enjoy small plates with a Mediterranean twist

    The Purple Pig is stylized like a wine bar and offers a large menu of small-plate items that combine Mediterranean flair with a taste of the Midwest. You'll find plenty of Greek-style chicken and taramasalata, but pork and pig's ear—one of their top items—are available as well. The atmosphere at this restaurant is notably cosy, as it's fairly small compared to many restaurants in the West Loop and facilitates a more intimate experience than most alternatives. You can try it for yourself on the south end of the Magnificent Mile, just north of the DuSable Bridge.

    Location: 444 Michigan Ave, Chicago, IL 60611, USA

    Open: Sunday–Thursday from 11 am to 9 pm, Friday–Saturday from 11.30 am to 10 pm

    Phone: +1 312-464-1744

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    6

    Lula Cafe

    Taste seasonal freshness

    Lula Cafe is a farm-to-table restaurant that changes their offerings seasonally to ensure they're using fresh, quality ingredients. Every Monday night, the café hosts a farm dinner with pre-selected courses and ingredients from local farms. The food itself is difficult to classify into a singular style, as the chefs are self-taught and are encouraged to cook against categorization. What you can be sure of, however, is that the offerings fit well in a bistro and are popular with brunch diners. Try it yourself just steps away from Logan Square Park.

    Location: 2537 N Kedzie Blvd, Chicago, IL 60647, USA

    Open: Thursday–Sunday from 9 am to 1 pm and 5 pm to 7 pm (closed Monday–Wednesday)

    Phone: +1 773-489-9554

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    7

    Davanti Enoteca

    Visit a small-plate Italian wine bar

    Davanti Enoteca provides a relaxing dining experience where you can enjoy small plates of Italian fare and choose from a long list of wines. The restaurant features a lounge area in addition to the main dining room, and it also offers a private party room that you can book for up to 40 guests. The food at Davanti Enoteca primarily consists of small dishes like escarole and burrata, but you'll also find handmade pizzas that you can observe being made from the main dining room. You'll find this restaurant in Western Springs, just down the road from Spring Rock Park.

    Location: 800 Hillgrove Ave, Western Springs, IL 60558, USA

    Open: Monday–Thursday from 11.30 am to 9 pm, Friday from 11.30 am to 10 pm, Saturday from 11 am to 10 pm, Sunday from 11 am to 9 pm

    Phone: +1 708-783-1060

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    8

    Au Cheval

    Try a signature egg dish or bite into the best burger in Chicago

    Au Cheval is an upscale diner and bar with a vintage vibe and a penchant for eggs, but it's also known for its signature burger. In addition to the burgers and array of egg dishes, you'll also find chilaquiles, another local brunch favourite, traditional sandwiches, and fare like roasted bone marrow and chopped chicken liver. Wash down your meal with your choice of draft beer or a classic cocktail, as the diner features a full bar as well. You can try it all yourself on the east side of Fulton Market, but be sure to book in advance. Reservations tend to pile up quickly.

    Location: 800 W Randolph St, Chicago, IL 60607, USA

    Open: Daily from noon to 9 pm

    Phone: +1 312-929-4580

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    9

    Dove's Luncheonette

    Experience an odd yet satisfying combination

    Dove's Luncheonette is an old-fashioned diner that serves a unique mix of classic American fare with clear Mexican influences and some Tex-Mex style. For example, you can get Southern fried chicken mixed in with a Mexican-inspired gravy for a unique taste you won't be able to find anywhere else. The atmosphere of this restaurant is unique as well. You'll find a 1960s diner-style setup and ambient music that plays as much saxophone as it does harmonica. You can experience it all for yourself just north of Wicker Park.

    Location: 1545 N Damen Ave., Chicago, IL 60622, USA

    Open: Monday–Thursday from 8 am to 10 pm, Friday from 8 am to 11 pm, Saturday from 9 am to 11 pm, Sunday from 9 am to 10 pm

    Phone: +1 773-645-4060

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    10

    Portillo's

    Enjoy a Chicago classic

    Portillo's is a Chicago classic that offers traditional American fare like burgers, hot dogs, sandwiches, and more that can be paired with crinkle-cut fries. The Chicago dog is especially popular since they utilise an extra-soft poppy seed bun that lets you enjoy your hot dog without it being overpowered by heavy bread. You'll also find offerings like croissant sandwiches and pasta. You'll find a few Portillo's locations around the Chicago area, and each offers the famous chocolate cake shake that you won't want to miss out on. You'll find Portillo's all around the city, so you can enjoy a quick and delicious Chicago-style meal wherever your adventures take you.

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    photo by Ken Lund (CC BY-SA 2.0) modified

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