As much as I love the hustle and bustle in the big city and beautiful skyscrapers that line the Magnificent Mile, I’ve found quite a few gems in the neighborhoods surrounding downtown Chicago! Per usual, my cuisines of choice include tacos (ehem.. margaritas), sushi, and a little bit of everything in between. I’ve linked the menus to each of the restaurant names just to help you out a little. If you’re planning to hit up some local restaurants in the Lake View, Wicker Park, or West Town areas, I’ve got ya covered!
L E T ‘ S
E A T.
Chicago – Lake View
Whenever I’m traveling and I get the opportunity to try tacos from a local restaurant, I take it! Tacos (and Mexican cuisine, in general) leave so much room for creativity—everyone can add their own twist, and that’s what I love about sampling tacos from anywhere and everywhere during my travels. Plus the patiossss. Why do Mexican restaurants have the best patios?
Barcocina certainly didn’t disappoint! I happened to roll in right at happy hour, yasss, so we got half off apps and margaritas. Plus those free Corona’s from beer reps? I’ll take it. The tacos come three per order, with 10 different kinds to pick from. Talk about a hard choice. The patio outside is beautiful for summer days, check it out ya’ll.
Do it for the ‘gram, do it for the ‘gram! Okay but really, the pancake flights at Orange Restaurant Chicago taste just as good as they look in the insta pics. Maybe even better. This place offers a rotating selection of pancake flights, designed to stuff you full while keeping your tastebuds interested. I took the “eat one bite of each” approach and rotated around the plate until I waved the white flag. There’s more to those baby silver dollars than meets the eye!
Granted, I might have seceded early in my pancake battle because I had a little sushi appetizer beforehand.
SUSHI APPETIZER. AT BRUNCH?
Oh yeah. Fruit sushi. “Frushi” as the Orang-ians call it in Lake View. Because each serving is only $2.59 (and only $1.59 to add more) we tried a little of everything. How many times in life are you presented with fruit sushi? Not many. Life is short—eat the frushi.
Lake View is loaded with prime taco spots, and my latest trip to Chi-town landed me at a super new establishment called Tuco and Blondie.
How cute is their décor?? Don’t mind me snapping a hundred pics, I just couldn’t get enough.
And this cute little Christmas Cactus!
Apologizes for the sh*t pics of the food, I promise the tacos were divine (T&B also offers tacos 3 per order, but we were so stuffed from the guac and chips that our waiter let us just order 1 taco of our choice. What a sweetheart!) and the elote was to die for. I just so happened to be two pitchers deep (NO, not by myself!) (get the passionfruit flavor!) when the food came out, so photography was very much at the back of my hazy mind, but you get the idea—this is a pic of their “platter”, three tacos with a side of rice and beans for only $15.
Another pretty patio on a hot AF summer day, how can life get better?
Chicago – Wicker Park
Oh Stan’s. If I were to ever write an “Ode to Something” poem (don’t worry I won’t), it would be to the gelato milkshake I had at Stan’s Donuts on one of my very first trips to Chicago. I remember it just like yesterday..
It was hot outside, even steamier waiting for the train. It was my first time navigating the L, and I was beyond nervous. Once I got on and realized I was heading where I needed to go, I relaxed a little. I hopped off at my destination and walked smack into a sign for Stan’s Donuts.
Fate? Some would say so. That some is me, it’s me. I went in.
I’m usually not a milkshake gal (let’s get this straight—I LOVE milkshakes. I just hate all of the bad for you stuffs that come with it) but I gave in, and boy do I not regret it.
The little donut that comes on top was the perfect little touch. I’ve also heard great things about their regular donuts, it’s definitely on my list to try next time I’m there!
Okay ya’ll. First sushi burrito experience right here! This shot is from a few years ago as well, when I was on my own navigating the L. I came here on purpose as a result of the Google search “best sushi burrito in Chicago”.. lol. I love Google.
But I don’t disagree with the results! There were quite a few to pick from, many which looked pretty spicy. I asked the cashier (order up front, then you sit down and wait for it to be brought to you) what the most popular burrito was, and went with his answer.
I love ya, “The Fire”, but you were spicy as hell.
Chicago – West Town
I mean, while we’re on the topic of sushi..
But really—I don’t have much to say about Yuzu other than this is most likely the best, prettiest, and most under-the-radar sushi I’ve ever had in my life. The restaurant is BYOB, so the three of us waltzed right in carrying two bottles of wine to a pretty packed house. Luckily we had reservations, but according to the restaurant manager, just two months earlier, the staff would have laughed at a caller asking for a “reservation”. This place was unheard of! Only locals and regulars frequented the joint.
Now, by the power invested in Instagram, that has all changed. The beautiful (and sometimes random) spicy mayo artwork that comes along with your fancy roll is not only super ‘gram friendly, but makes for the perfect dipping sauce for sushi.
Go there, but make a reservation about a week in advance!
Oh, and start with the tots. That little drizzle you see on the top is truffle sauce. You’re welcome.
Of course visiting a brewery doesn’t really come to mind when visiting a big city like Chicago, but this hidden gem was another treasure. The flight of drafts allowed me to try a little of everything (and I actually liked everything I tried.. what??) and the bar hosted a surprising array of liquors of every kind.
Well there you go! I’ve listed every restaurant in Chicago that I’ve been to (that’s worth trying), but of course there are so soo many more. Check out a few below that are on my list to try. Happy eating, Chi-towners!
Others in Chicago:
Zella (Lincoln Park)
One of my besties lives right down the street and swears by Zella for brunch. I’m often jealous of her Saturday morning snaps of bottomless mimosas and to dieee for patio. Worth checking out!
Pequod’s (Lincoln Park)
So I actually have been to Pequod’s, I just didn’t get a pic! Any Chicago-native I’ve spoken to says to skip Giordanos or Lou Malnati’s and go straight for Pequod’s. I had never experienced Chicago deep dish, so I’ll be honest. I was a little disappointed. Every pic I see of deep dish looks so THICK and CHEESY. And this was definitely not the latter. The thickness was made up entirely of crust and a huge slather of red sauce (red sauce isn’t my fav, but I tolerate it on pizza), and just a little sprinkle of cheese. My friends’ thin crust looked super good, so maybe next time…
DMK Burger Bar (various Chicago locations)
Another totally ‘gram worthy experience. These burgers and shakes look like a perfect treat!
Just adding these to my Tour de Chicago Tacos, don’t mind me.
Municipal Bar and Dining Co. (River North)
Their happy hour looks good, sue me.
Cold Storage (River West)
$1 Oysters and a cool environment instantly intrigues me.
Empire Burger’s and Brew (Naperville)
Another cool AF lookin’ burger joint.
The Hampton Social (River West-ish / Downtown)
The name might not sound familiar, but if you like scrollin’ the Explore page, you’ve definitely seen their famous “Rose All Day” neon sign at least once.