1400 W. Randolph. West Town. 312-563-1010
Pan-Asian. Whether you snag a tabletop grill for a DIY experience or relax and let Bill Kim and crew do all the work, start with the golf-ball-size crispy tofu, move on to the tea-smoked duck, and finish with the textural delights of the seafood hot pot.
L Mon–Sat, D nightly. Br Sun. Free parking (lunch and brunch only), wheelchair accessible, child friendly, free dinner parking, BYO (up to $5 corkage) (Sunday only), outdoor dining. $
5347 N. Clark. Andersonville. 773-275-5725
American Southern. Paul Fehribach’s lovingly researched, smartly executed fare (think fried chicken) never looks fussy. In-house baking, preserving, pickling, and meat curing result in homey dishes that are tasty as all get-out. Fine selection of whiskeys, bourbons, and specialty cocktails.
L Mon–Fri, D nightly. Br Sat, Sun. Wheelchair accessible, child friendly, outdoor dining. $$
2024 N. Halsted. Lincoln Park. 773-935-5000
Spanish. This friendly Lettuce Entertain You stalwart holds sway with its tasty tapas, festive vibe, and gentle prices. Appetizer and dessert pintxos cover interesting territory without dumbing anything down. Paella comes three ways. Nice Spanish wines, many under $40.
L Fri, D nightly. Br Sat, Sun. Wheelchair accessible, child friendly, outdoor dining, high noise level, will seat past 11 p.m. (Fri, Sat). $
612 N. Wells. River North. 312-280-9200
American, barbecue. Dig into slabs of hickory-smoked baby backs in a sweet sauce and au gratin potatoes rich as Rockefeller. (See ribs.com for Deerfield location.)
L & D daily. Wheelchair accessible, child friendly, outdoor dining. $
640 N. Wells. River North. 312-664-1707
American. Pseudo-’50s diner where oldies music and dancing waiters are all part of the playful vibe. Burgers, fries, and creamy malts.
B Sat, Sun; L & D daily. Wheelchair accessible, child friendly, high noise level. ¢
33 W. Kinzie. River North. 312-828-0966
Steaks, Italian. Sports fans flock to this building to honor the Cubs legend while devouring aged prime steaks and Italian American faves such as chicken Vesuvio. Big wine list. (See harrycarays.com for all three locations.)
L & D daily. Wheelchair accessible, child friendly, outdoor dining. $$$
Home Run Inn
4254 W. 31st. Pilsen. 773-247-9696
Pizza. Good old sausage pizza rules at this South Side classic, where kids can be rowdy, adults can get a drink, and nobody goes home hungry. (For all nine locations, see homeruninnpizza.com.)
L & D daily. Free dinner parking, wheelchair accessible, child friendly. ¢
2537 N. Kedzie. Logan Square. 773-489-9554
Contemporary American. Hip without chasing trends, more snug than smug, this early adopter of farm-to-table principles continues to turn out creative, enlightened food that glides through the calendar at a high level. The arty but unpretentious atmosphere exudes honesty, with knowledgeable (not know-it-all) servers and ingredient-driven prices. Contentment reigns.
B, L & D Wed–Mon. Wheelchair accessible, child friendly, outdoor dining, high noise level, will seat past 11 p.m. $$
Manny’s Cafeteria & Delicatessen
1141 S. Jefferson. University Village. 312-939-2855
Deli. The Maxwell Street Market ain’t what, or where, it used to be, but Manny’s still has potato pancakes, Reubens, and diner faves galore.
B, L & D Mon–Sat. Free parking (free valet at lunch), wheelchair accessible, child friendly. ¢
Tremont Hotel, 100 E. Chestnut. Gold Coast. 312-587-8989
Steaks. Da Coach himself often shows up for wedge salads, Angus rib eyes, and banana cream pies at the manliest spot in the Gold Coast.
L & D daily. Br Sun. Wheelchair accessible, child friendly, outdoor dining, high noise level. $$$
216 W. Cermak. Chinatown. 312-225-4081
Chinese. This spiffy storefront cooks up dandy Shanghainese, Sichuan, and Mandarin fare. Order the hot-and-sour soup and the juicy Shanghai dumplings. For entrées: Peking duck, spicy scallops with black pepper, and crispy Shanghai chicken. Excellent martinis.
L Mon–Fri, D nightly. Wheelchair accessible, child friendly. ¢
11 N. Michigan. Millennium Park. 312-521-7275
American. The good news: It has the city’s largest patio in summer and coolest ice rink in winter. American classics—chopped salad, a burger, cheesecake—are on target. The bad news: The crowds never let up.
L & D daily. Br Sat, Sun. Wheelchair accessible, child friendly, outdoor dining. $$
130 S. Halsted. Greektown. 312-226-3377
Greek. At this sunny icon, heaping platters of taverna-style classics appear to be immune to inflation: A three-course meal of loukaniko sausage, a pastitsio and chicken riganati combo, and Greek yogurt remains a steal. All this comes with knowledgeable service and free valet parking.
L & D daily. Free dinner parking, wheelchair accessible, child friendly, outdoor dining, will seat past 11 p.m. $
29 E. Ohio. River North. 312-321-1000
Pizza. This is where deep-dish started, and it remains the place for the genre. If it’s crowded, send someone to stand in line at Due a block away (619 N. Wabash, 312-943-2400).
L & D daily. Wheelchair accessible, child friendly, outdoor dining, will seat past 11 p.m. (Mon–Sat). $
Pleasant House Bakery
964 W. 31st. Bridgeport. 773-523-7437
British. The most aptly named restaurant in Chicago, this enthusiastic little countertop BYO does only a few things—gravy chips, homemade sodas, and pies, both sweet and savory—and it does them all incredibly well.
L & D daily. Br Sun. Wheelchair accessible, BYO (up to $5 corkage), outdoor dining. ¢
Prairie Grass Cafe
601 Skokie, Northbrook. 847-205-4433
Contemporary American. George Bumbaris and Sarah Stegner deliver stylish comfort food at their perennially packed gem. Italian sausage with basil rémoulade and grilled vegetables are what this place is all about, but someone at your table should order PGC’s fabulous burger, and everyone should save room for a piece of Mom’s seasonal pie, perhaps blueberry in a heavenly crust.
L Mon–Fri, D nightly. Br Sat, Sun. Free dinner parking, wheelchair accessible, child friendly. $$
2056 N. Lincoln Park West. Lincoln Park. 773-929-5363
American. Lettuce Entertain You launched its empire—and Chicago’s first salad bar—in 1971 at this beloved all-American haunt.
L & D daily. Br Sat, Sun. Wheelchair accessible, child friendly, will seat past 11 p.m. (Mon–Sat) ¢
Shokran Moroccan Restaurant
4027 W. Irving Park. Old Irving Park. 773-427-9130
Moroccan. This friendly gem offers a kitschy-cozy setting for couscous, kebabs, and tagines—traditional casseroles served in earthenware and brimming with goodies such as juicy chicken breast showered with olives, lemon peel, and crispy potatoes. And don’t miss bastila, a sweet-savory phyllo pastry filled with shredded chicken and crushed almonds. Cash only.
D Wed–Mon. Wheelchair accessible, child friendly, BYO (up to $5 corkage). $$
3800 N. Pulaski. Irving Park. 773-545-7427
Barbecue. After bursting on the scene in 2006, this bare-bones smokehouse still smolders. The brisket, the pulled pork, the St. Louis ribs, the chicken, and even the yummy sides live up to the hype. BYO and get in line.
L & D Tue–Sun. Free dinner parking (limited), wheelchair accessible, child friendly, BYO (up to $5 corkage), outdoor dining. $
18201 S. Harlem, Tinley Park. 708-532-0200
Seafood. A DIY menu of fresh seafood options draws the crowds to this family-friendly spot. Guests can choose their own catch, how they’d like it prepared, and sides from a list that includes a mix of andouille sausage and white rice. The crab cake with caramelized peppers and the crab legs make dependable starts; save room for the daily cobbler.
L Mon–Sat, D nightly. Free dinner parking (free valet Fri, Sat), wheelchair accessible, child friendly. $$$
Tub Tim Thai
4927 Oakton, Skokie. 847-675-8424
Thai. One of the ultimate budget-friendly Thai spots in the northern suburbs. Ignore the dated decor and the brisk service, because the food consistently shines: buttery pad thai, fragrant shrimp fried rice, and welcome specialties such as garlic prawns with crispy basil leaves in lime sauce and stir-fried pad woon sen cellophane noodles. Kids will love fried bananas with coconut ice cream to finish.
L & D Mon–Sat. Wheelchair accessible, child friendly, BYO ($3 corkage). ¢
Tufano’s Vernon Park Tap
1073 W. Vernon Park. Little Italy. 312-733-3393
Italian. This iconic watering hole plays host to locals, celebs, cops, and burbites. Order pasta, lemon chicken, or Vesuvio-style chops, but save room for tiramisù. Cash only.
L Tue–Fri, D Tue–Sun. Wheelchair accessible, child friendly, outdoor dining. ¢
1655 N. Sedgwick. Old Town. 312-266-1616
Barbecue. On the same corner since 1932, this comfy tavern touts its baby back ribs as the world’s best. Maybe not, but the sweet-sauced meat falls off the bone—a style beloved by many Chicagoans.
L Sat, Sun; D nightly. Wheelchair accessible, child friendly, outdoor dining, will seat past 11 p.m. (Fri, Sat). $
Italian Village, 71 W. Monroe. Loop. 312-332-7005
Italian. Pretheatre standby re-creates a villa downtown. Sop up the red sauce from your mussels marinara with crusty Italian bread, and slurp strands of pasta to the sounds of Dino.
L & D daily. Child friendly, will seat past 11 p.m. $$
Walker Bros. Original Pancake House
153 Green Bay, Wilmette. 847-251-6000
American. The stained glass merits a visit, but go for the sizzling apple pancakes, puffy omelets, and crisp and airy waffles. (See walkerbros.net for all locations.)
B, L & D daily (breakfast all day). Free dinner parking, wheelchair accessible, child friendly. ¢