If you’re visiting Chicago, planning to move here, or just live here and want to know of great places to dine, check out our top 5 favorites that you absolutely must try!
1. Slurping Turtle
I visited this restaurant when a foodie friend of mine was in town from New York and wanted to check out trendy dining in Chicago’s River North neighborhood. This Japanese restaurant was created by chef Takashi in an effort to bring a taste of his comfort food to the U.S. The service was great; the servers were extremely nice and spent a lot of time talking to us about the food and how it was prepared!
The atmosphere of Slurping Turtle is trendy, with its paper lantern lights above one long bar-style counter that spans the length of the middle of the restaurant so you can sit across from your dining mates. But if you’re looking for a more intimate dining experience, there are booths along the wall for added comfort.
My friend and I enjoyed a couple of dishes from their tapas menu. My favorite was the duck fat fried chicken, which comes with a slaw and an incredible spicy mayo sauce. Because they specialize in Ramen, we each had a bowl of Shoyu Wonton Ramen, which comes with chicken wontons and marinated egg.
For dessert, we each had the Iron Chef Egg Shooter, which is a small shot of coconut milk and a quail egg. I highly recommend it, for although it is just a moment’s worth of flavor, it’s complex enough to wow your taste buds! After you shoot it back, you chew the mint to experience every flavor this dessert has to offer.
2. Gibsons Steakhouse
Gibsons is the go to place for steak. Here the service is always phenomenal. If you’re having trouble deciphering the menu they bring you a plate of their steaks so you can see exactly what you are ordering. You can get anything from a $50 juicy steak to a $12 succulent angus burger.
Gibsons is the only restaurant group in the country to have its own USDA certification. They pride themselves in their prime angus beef, prepared any way you like it. For instance, you can have your steak covered in peppercorns.
My favorite items on the menu are the Filet Mignon, which comes in 10 ounce to 14 ounce, depending on how hungry you are, and the Charbroiled hamburger. But don’t take their side dishes for granted! This restaurant may specialize in steak, but their Double Baked Potato and their Sautéed Spinach & Mushrooms with Garlic are the epitome of comfort food.
You can’t stop there! If you’re going to make a night out of Gibsons, you must try their Chocolate Mousse Pie, which is to die for! We have not visited Gibsons yet without ordering this heaping mountain of soft, fluffy rich chocolate mousse with shavings of white and dark chocolate on top, chocolate sauce around the plate and an orgasmic cookie crumble crust. They serve with the steak knife in so you can divvy it out yourselves, but they will also cut it for you upon request.
3. Edgewater Beach Café
I first became acquainted with this French restaurant when I went to interview owner Zung Dao about his experience growing up in Vietnam and fighting in the Vietnam War. When my husband and I later visited for dinner, Dao was extremely friendly and dedicated, simultaneously speaking with us at great length while darting about, managing the restaurant. He pretty much does everything there, from cooking to bartending, but his wife and son are heavily involved in managing the operation alongside him.
This is truly a romantic dining experience, darkly lit, well-appointed, and warm. Owned by Dao since 1981, this family business serves mainly French cuisine, with a few of Dao’s authentic Vietnamese recipes that are not on the menu.
For starters we ordered the Escargot Bourguignon, the snails in herb butter garlic sauce. Dao insists you dip the bread into the sauce, after the snails have been devoured from the plate, to experience the full flavor of the dish.
Afterward, we ordered the Spinach salad, topped with bacon and an unidentified delectable sauce that complimented it perfectly. For my entree I ordered the Broiled Lake Superior Whitefish, which comes lightly sprinkled with lemon, spanish paprika, butter, and white wine. My husband had the special of the day, another fish dish that he said was exquisite. Whether you’re ordering directly off the menu, or the special of the day, you can always be assured the quality is spectacular!
Don’t forget to check out their live music on Friday and Saturday nights!
This family-owned cafeteria and deli has been around for over 50 years. To celebrate its history, there are news clippings and memorabilia on walls. Walk through in the buffet-style line and choose what you like. The friendly staff behind the counter will prepare it for you, but if you prefer, you can sit and order from their menu.
If you’re going to make a lunch date out of Mannys, try their Corned Beef Sandwich!
It’s a recipe so simple you think you could whip it up it at home, but trust me, it’s out of this world! For side items and starters I recommend the Matzo Ball Soup and their famous Potato Pancakes!
5. Won Kow:
Located in the heart of Chinatown, this restaurant has stood for more than 100 years and is the oldest restaurant in the neighborhood. The atmosphere makes you feel like you’re vacationing in China. Won Kow is dimly lit, relaxing, charming and romantic, all at the same time!
Don’t be thrown by the waiter speaking in broken English, the service is fantastic and the food, incredible! The establishment has an extensive menu, 303 items to be exact, all of them scrumptious! The portions are large, and you wouldn’t be the first to take home a doggie bag. Try their Stir Fried Cuttlefish and Squid for a unique change of pace. It is absolutely delicious! For drinks, I recommend the flaming volcano, a gigantic cocktail served in a bowl that is large enough to bathe in, with an eruption of flaming Bacardi in the center.
And it won’t break your budget! An order of Egg rolls, a gigantic bowl of soup, and entrees for two cost around $40.
This is just a glimpse of Chicago’s fine dining, but an eclectic mix that will certainly steer you in the right direction!
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