Last Updated on January 30, 2024
Curious about Chicago’s culinary scene? You are in the right place! Here we´ll share with you what to eat and drink in Chicago.
Chicago has established itself as a culinary gem, a sprawling metropolis that blends refined tastes with humble charm. Unlike many major cities, it exudes both opulence and humility in its culture, especially through its vibrant dining scene.
Chicago rightfully claims a top spot among America’s finest food destinations, with prestigious accolades like Michelin stars and James Beard awards. Yet its passion for cuisine also extends to beloved local spots like neighborhood taquerias and iconic hot dog stands.
Exploring Chicago’s culinary offerings covers a wide range. It presents a challenge to fully capture in a short list, as the city continuously debuts new ventures while pulsating with life. However, for those wanting to truly savor what makes Chicago unique – from refined to casual, luxurious to comforting – some top recommendations emerge.
Luxuriate in cocktail programs at high-end spots or down-home classics like cinnamon rolls. Immerse yourself in premier choices across the spectrum to deeply experience this “Second to None” city’s incomparable culinary delights.
What to Drink in Chicago
Whether you’re a first-time visitor or a seasoned traveler, navigating the vibrant streets of Chicago can be an exhilarating experience.
To make the most of your journey, consider reaching out to a trusted Chicago travel agency for personalized recommendations on what to drink. They can help you discover hidden gems for drinks along this iconic stretch. But here is our highly recommended list of where to drink:
#1 Omakase-Style Drink Flights at Kumiko
Kumiko, the acclaimed West Loop cocktail bar from mixologist Julia Momosé, landed at number 82 on this year’s ranking list. It was also named the eighth-best bar in North America by The World’s 50 Best Bars in 2023. The ideal spot here is one of the eight seats at the bar, enjoying Julia Momose’s innovative cocktails.
Whether at the bar or one of a few tables in the minimalist dining room inspired by omakase, Japanese ingredients shine through in both the drinks and small plates. Kumiko specializes in structured drink flights akin to omakase tasting menus, pairing a multi-course cocktail experience with bites from the kitchen.
Omakase leaves trust in the hands of the bartender or chef – guests surrender control to immerse fully in the creative vision.
#2 Trader Vic Mai Tai at Three Dots and a Dash
For almost ten years, this cocktail bar has consistently included the mai tai in its cocktail lineup.
But the most current rendition is closer to the classic beverage that Trader Vic Bergeron popularized back in 1944. To recreate the long-gone rum used in the original, director of beverage Kevin Beary experiments with aged Barbadian, Fijian, and overproof Jamaican rums.
He fine-tunes it with orange curacao, lime, and orgeat, seeking the ideal harmony. Honoring the history and progressing the craft, this mai tai strikes a timeless yet contemporary balance that resonates with imbibers.
#3 Euphoric CBD Cocktail at Kuma’s Corner
So, what is a CBD drink, after all? Basically, a restaurant collaborates with a reputable CBD manufacturer to obtain CBD extracts, which are added to cocktails.
CBD is purportedly effective in alleviating symptoms of anxiety and enhancing mood. Beverages infused with CBD could provide a natural and soothing means to address anxiety symptoms and promote overall well-being. KND Labs states that CBD-infused drinks have been on the rise in the US, and Chicago is no exception.
Chicago has gained recognition for its CBD-infused drinks, with several establishments offering this compounded-infused cocktails and beverages. So, if you are planning to try out this type of drink, you can check out Kuma’s Corner.
This local Chicago burger restaurant known for its metal themes is embracing CBD drinks. The bartenders at this chain are crafting unique cocktails served in glass water pipes filled with dry ice for a smokey effect.
Drink options include the floral “Dopethrone,” made with gin, “Ablaze,” which combines sweet pineapple and spicy rum, and “Hazemaze,” blending smoky mezcal with tarragon tart lime flavors.
Patrons can enjoy these three CBD cocktails every Friday and Saturday throughout the warmer months at the restaurant’s Fulton Market location. Meanwhile, the original Avondale venue allows customers to add CBD drops to any drink for an additional price.
By offering these unconventional beverages, the owners demonstrate their willingness to push boundaries and court controversy – traits fitting for an establishment appealing to fans of heavy metal music. The innovative drinks aim to provide a memorable experience while exposing more patrons to CBD’s alleged relaxing effects.
What to Eat in Chicago
Chicago, commonly known as the “Windy City,” boasts a rich culinary landscape with a plethora of eating options to suit a range of tastes and preferences.
Whether you’re an avid food explorer in search of hidden culinary treasures or simply eager to indulge in the city’s renowned dishes, Chicago offers a diverse gastronomic journey. Travel enthusiasts usually prefer to collaborate with well-established local agencies such as Windy City Travel to enhance their exploration of eateries, seeking more enriched and personalized experiences.
Here are a few suggestions we’ve compiled from our own research to get you started:
#1 Buttermilk Old-Fashioned Chicago Doughnut at Do-Rite Donut
As doughnut popularity grew in the city, one type rose to the top of all others: the classic Buttermilk Old Fashioned doughnut. Visitors to my tour of local eateries almost always leave talking about this treat.
With a crispy exterior and soft interior, it’s perfection in pastry form, especially when enjoyed alongside a cup of coffee. Drenched in a vanilla bean glaze, it truly is dreamy to eat. Rather than overloading it with extras, this doughnut allows its simple ingredients and preparation to shine.
#2 Bear Chocolate Cake at Loaf Lounge
Few shows have captured the essence of Chicago like The Bear did. By portraying the gritty realities of operating an Italian beef restaurant, it drew in locals as well as outsiders wanting a taste of the city.
While the lead actor was certainly compelling, many agreed the real star was the chocolate cake. Layered with moisture and fudge-like richness, it left viewers salivating for more.
This dessert showcased the skills of pastry chef Sarah Mispagel, who consulted on the series. She and her husband, Benjamin, own Loaf Lounge in Avondale, where they offer their own version of the cake seen in the show.
Made with top-quality chocolate and generously filled with thick, fluffy frosting, it embodies the decadence of an old-fashioned treat. Each molten bite transports you to an earlier era. Their cake is sure to please even the most loyal fans of other local chocolate favorites. Through skilled baking, Loaf Lounge transports customers to another world, if only for a brief, sweet moment.
#3 Deep Dish Pizza at Pequod’s Pizza
Among many excellent options, Pequod’s has emerged as a local favorite with its pan pizza. With two locations for convenience, visitors repeatedly enjoy this classic style.
Their crust provides substantial structure while still becoming crisp and flavorful from their unique cooking technique. Generously topped, every combination satisfies. What truly sets their pizza apart is the tomato sauce. Rather than masking the tomatoes’ natural qualities, Pequod’s lets their brightness and freshness shine through. This highlights the quality of their ingredients and techniques.
The crust’s signature caramelized edge adds another layer of complexity. Overall, Pequod’s pan pizza achieves the perfect balance of flavors and textures in every bite. It’s no wonder they maintain popularity among pizza purists after all these years.
Chicago’s cuisine delivers world-class dining at both prestigious restaurants and beloved local spots. Through acclaimed chefs, iconic dishes, and innovative culinary destinations, the city satisfies a range of tastes from casual to luxurious.
Whether enjoying classic doughnuts, rich chocolate cake, or deep-dish pizza from legendary establishments, visitors can immerse themselves in culinary delights that capture Chicago’s character.