The best places to eat and drink in Chicago

Co-owner Genie Kwon finishes off a croissant with black truffle at Kasama.

Looking for something to eat?

Here are all of the Tribune Food and Dining team’s guides to different food and restaurants throughout Chicago.

Jump to each feature:

The 25 best new restaurants in Chicago

In their first two years as our food critics, Louisa Chu and Nick Kindelsperger have charted the ascent of a number of new restaurants, from brick-and-mortarless virtual concepts making a splash (Funeral Potatoes) to some already boasting Michelin stars (Esmé, Claudia, Kasama). As we considered how best to tackle this Best Restaurants project, we realized this cohort of restaurants launched in the pandemic had quickly entered the ranks of the city’s best — so why not celebrate them on their own?

While our critics will keep whittling away at the list of best restaurants, both old and new, here are the 25 best new restaurants, with a fairly generous “new” defined as opening in 2020 or later.

Critics’ Choice Food Awards: From pizza to pho, our picks for the best in Chicago dining for 2023

Chicago Tribune's Critics’ Choice Food Awards winners.

For our 2023 Critics’ Choice Food Awards, what stood out the most wasn’t necessarily the foods or drinks themselves (although, don’t get us wrong, those are decidedly award-worthy all on their own) but the spirit of the people who make that magic happen, day in and day out. In a grueling industry still finding its way through the pandemic, their stories stay with us, long after the last bite of the night.

Our eight winners this year span far and wide — from fantastic pho in a suburban strip in Bloomingdale, to fine dining redefining the Bronzeville neighborhood on Chicago’s South Side. But they all have something in common: A drive to put some good into the world, whether it be through a humble slice of pizza or by raising hundreds of thousands of dollars to help people in Ukraine, Ethiopia or their own backyard.

Find the full list of winners here.

Readers’ Choice Food Awards 2023: Your picks for Best New Restaurant, Chicago-Style Barbecue and more

Winners of the Chicago Tribune's 2023 Readers’ Choice Food Awards.

In this year’s Readers’ Choice Food Awards, nearly 600 readers submitted nominations over a weeklong period in March. From there, we selected five finalists in each category (10 for Best New Restaurant), and nearly 9,000 votes poured in during the final half of the month. Readers showed their support from Chicago neighborhoods such as Washington Heights and Logan Square, to suburban Evanston and St. Charles and beyond.

Here are our 12 winners of the Readers’ Choice Food Awards.

Tribune’s Holiday Cookie Contest

Chewy Sesame Chocolate Chunk Cookies, from left, Graham Cracker Pralines and Coconut Tassie are the winners of the annual Chicago Tribune holiday cookie contest Monday, Nov. 13, 2023. (Brian Cassella/Chicago Tribune/Food styling by Shannon Kinsella)

There’s something undeniably special about cookies and our time-honored tradition of sharing them, particularly during the holidays. Here are the three winners of our 2023 contest, plus their award-winning recipes.

Chicago’s 2023 Michelin star restaurants

The 2023 Michelin Guide Ceremony on Nov. 7, 2023, gave Smyth a third Michelin star, Daisies received a green star for sustainability, and newcomers to the list, Indienne and Atelier, each received a Michelin star. Atelier’s chef Christian Hunter was one of the recipients of the Michelin Young Chef Award.

Chicago restaurants that maintained their one-star rating are Boka, EL Ideas, Elske, Esmé, Galit, Kasama, Mako, Next, Omakase Yume, Porto, Schwa, Sepia, Temporis and Topolobampo. Chicago restaurants with two stars still are Ever, Moody Tongue and Oriole. Josh Perlman of Giant earned one of Michelin’s Outstanding Service awards this year, while Monica Casillas-Rios of Elske won for exceptional cocktails and Alex Ring of Sepia won the Sommelier Award.

James Beard Awards

The James Beard Foundation Awards returned to Chicago in June after a two-year hiatus, celebrating the best and brightest of the culinary world on a national scale.

Iconic Chicago foods and drinks

Here’s a list of our most-loved essential experiences in Chicago food and drink.

See how many you’ve checked off, and start making a list of the rest.

Guide: A Chicago food critic’s perfect day in Chinatown

You’ll find our guide to Chicago’s Chinatown deeply rooted in food memories. It’s an insider’s itinerary on what to eat, drink and do around the neighborhood.

So happy Year of the Rabbit, and let’s eat.

Best barbecue

An assortment of meats and sides, including sliced brisket, St. Louis style spare ribs, house-made hot links, elote style corn, spicy pickles, coleslaw, pickled onions and broccoli salad are shown at Green Street Smoked Meats on March 28, 2023, in Chicago.

The fact is simple: Chicago has a dearly underrated barbecue scene. While we’re still not on most shortlists of the top national barbecue destinations, there’s no question the local barbecue options have gotten more varied and tempting.

Our barbecue foundation remains the Black-owned operations on the South Side, where many pitmasters use aquarium-style smokers, so called for their rectangular shape and glass sides. Here, the rib tip and hot link combo reigns supreme. Chicago has its own unique style of barbecue, and this is it.

Here are the nine best barbecue joints in the city, plus a list of five great suburban options.

The best bagels

One of the best bagels is the everything bagel from Split Rail, which includes salted local butter.

A wave of city chefs have revolutionized Chicago’s bagel scene. Some are East Coast expats determined to re-create the bagels they grew up eating. Others are dough obsessives, who have spent years researching how to craft perfect bagels every single time.

The best burgers

We’d rather have the occasional astonishing burger than numerous mediocre ones. That’s what this list is all about.

Here are the 25 best burgers in Chicago.

The best pizza

Chicago tavern-style pizza with sausage at Pizza Fried Chicken Ice Cream.

Instead of slinging the same standard pie, Chicagoland restaurants are embracing the freedom that pizza provides, from specializing in different regional styles to experimenting with completely different cuisines.

Here are seven great spots where you should place your next takeout order, whether it be deep-dish or tavern-cut.

The best Italian beef

A search for Chicago's best Italian beefs led through more than 50 restaurants and Italian beef stands.

For those unfamiliar with Chicago’s Italian beef sandwich, it initially can sound like an enigma. It’s sort of a roast beef sandwich, albeit one where beef broth plays an integral role. This makes it similar in spirit to a French dip, but it’s both more extravagant and less polite. No one would ever confuse the two.

Here are the city’s 20 best.

Best tacos

The best tacos in Chicago in 2022.

The more tacos we eat in Chicago, the less confident we feel about declaring the best. How can anyone honestly know the answer, with so many taquerias in so many neighborhoods and suburbs?

That hasn’t stopped us from trying — here are 31 of the city’s greatest.

Best corned beef sandwiches

The Uncle Rube sandwich is pastrami with sauerkraut, swiss and Russian dressing on rye at Steingold's Delicatessen and Cafe, March 8, 2023.

Can you imagine St. Patrick’s Day in Chicago, a city that dyes its river emerald green, without corned beef sandwiches?

The cross cultural connections can clearly be seen, from Irish American pubs, to new school delis, to Black-owned businesses. This year, three new sandwiches join the ranks of the best corned beef in Chicago.

The best breweries for out-of-town visitors

The Spiteful Lager by Spiteful Brewing.

When visiting from out of town, time is fleeting. Choices must be made. While it’s difficult to point someone toward just one of the Chicago area’s 220 or so breweries, there are a few answers, depending on the beer drinker in question.

Here are picks for the “one Chicago brewery to hit” when there’s only time for one.

The best canned cocktails

Bramble Mule cocktail by Cardinal Spirits.

Of the dozens of ready-to-drink cocktails on shelves, here are the ones to savor — and those to avoid.

Wrigleyville bars: Your 2023 guide to all 45 spots around Wrigley Field

Fans cheer inside Sluggers World Class Sports Bar while watching the Chicago Cubs play the Cleveland Indians during the fourth inning of Game 7 in the World Series on Nov. 2, 2016, in Chicago.

Here’s our list of every alcohol-slinging spot in Wrigleyville, from top taco joints brushing up against the Friendly Confines to the perfect sports bars to a couple of swanky new cocktail bars.

Locations are sorted by distance from the Wrigley marquee.

Patio and rooftop guide

Patrons eat lunch at Pizzeria Portofino on the river and Clark Street on Aug. 13, 2019.

Whether it’s your first summer in Chicago or your 40th, little feels quite as satisfying as that first breezy patio hang. But with such a wealth of options, how does one find the perfect patio?

We’ve got you covered.

Big screen or home stream, takeout or dine-in, Tribune writers are here to steer you toward your next great experience. Sign up for your free weekly Eat. Watch. Do. newsletter here.