A whole roast chicken can be a thing of pure beauty: simple, comforting, and delicious. But recently some of Chicago’s most skilled chefs have turned their attention to more exotic full-bird preparations. Using wood-fired ovens, rotisserie spits, and cold smokers, they’re extracting heightened levels of flavor and juiciness out of a beloved classic, and even doing the carving themselves for a mess-free meal. Here are some of the best whole-chicken dishes in the city.

River Roast

An unpretentious rendition, brimming with smoke, thyme, and rosemary, boasts skin so crispy it would make a Peking duck jealous. $39. 315 N. LaSalle St., 312-822-0100

Chicken & Farm Shop

This spit-roasted offering at a London import inside Soho House Chicago—rubbed with paprika and finished with lemon—combines the pleasant pucker of Greek lemon chicken with a spicy kick. $22. 113–125 N. Green St., 312-521-8000

Leña Brava

The single finest mezcal-friendly dish: succulent wood-fired fowl lacquered with sticky agave-garlic glaze and served with a surprisingly palate-cooling jalapeño crema. $40. 900 W. Randolph St., 312-733-1975


One tea-brined bird becomes three mini masterpieces—poached breasts, feathery-light fried thighs, and a rich confit salad—all served with a delicate sunchoke hot sauce. $64. 951 W. Fulton Market, roister.tocktix.com


This tasty salt-brined rotisserie number delivers a pitch-perfect carnivale of flavors—beer, sun-dried chilies, cumin, and Chinese five-spice powder. $36. 118 W. Grand Ave., 312-222-9700