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Best Chicago Restaurants

Where to Eat in Chicago

Every time I think about visiting the windy city, I want to pack up my family and move there. From celebrity chef, Charlie Trotter to Grant Achatz of Alinea and Rick Bayless and his Mexican Cuisine at the Frontera, the city has launched more chefs than Washington has notable politicians. Even Donald Trump has staked his claim with the elegant Sixteen Restaurant in Trump International Tower.

Sushi SambaSushi SambaBut Chicago's real beauty is the happy contradiction of the new and the old, the haute and the street. There are more than 7,000 restaurants here, which makes it a tasty town to visit. Whether you're noshing on deep-dish pizza or charting new territory in gastronomical adventures, Chicago is about making good food the best it can be. The only thing you won't find here is mediocrity.

Join us in a foodie exploration of America's Heartland.

Sushi Samba

The bright yellow and orange sign out the front belies the theatrical drama inside. Dining areas are scattered on different levels separated by only a few steps each and the bathrooms are European style (men and women together) in a bamboo garden.

Chef's creation at Sushi SambaChef's creation at Sushi SambaThe food is equally surprising. While Japanese sushi paired with traditional Peruvian fare might seem like a bit of a stretch, the formula works. From their signature app, sawagni, (Japanese nachos) tiny, river crabs, fried and eaten whole to their samba rolls (sticky rice and seaweed wraps with unique fillings) there's nothing pedestrian about a meal enjoyed at Sushi Samba.

I visited with a large group of people and not everyone was comfortable with raw fish - including me. The chef asked what I liked (onions, tomatoes, garlic - yum!) and then he added in coconut, nuts and other veggies for a Japanese stew with a presentation as spectacular as the flavor.

For information and reservations, visit Sushi Samba online or call: 312-595-2300.

Billy Goat Tavern

Billy Goat TavernBilly Goat TavernA gritty little newspaper bar that's known across North America for the famous 1978 Saturday Night "Cheezborger" skit.

 

Don Novello and Bill Murray still stop by for their "Doublecheezburger" when they're in town.

Since 1934 reporters and lawyers and Cubs fans have been bellying up to the bar and haggling over business deals on the red and white checkered tables on the other side of the grill. Look up and you'll the "Wall of Fame" section littered with photographs of local celebrities and articles written by Chicago columnists.

The Billy Goat Tavern is expanding, but our fav is the near Tribune Towers and Wrigley Buildiing. For information and reservations, visit Billy Goat Tavern online or call: 312-222-1525.

More of GoGirlfriend's best dining bets in Chicago

Charlie Trotter's - It might be a tasting menu, but that's where the predictability ends. And if you choose not finish what's on your plate, expect a table-side chat with Chef Trotter asking you why. For information and reservations, call: 773-248-6228.

Alinea - AlineaAlineaChicago's "it" restaurant of the moment, Chef Grant Achatz fearless experimentation reinvents contemporary dining experiences. Added bonus - expect friendly, Chicago-style hospitality - no food snobbery. For information and reservations, call: 312-867-0110.

Morton'sMorton'sMorton's - We can't talk about Chicago dining without a salute to the old guard steakhouses. Restaurateur, Arnie Morton, no longer wanders the dining room at the State Street location (he passed away in 2005), but Morton's remains the best place to get a steak in Chicago. For information and reservations, call: 312-266-4820.

 

Whether you come to shop, play or do business, a visit to Chicago should always include a dining memory that will have you aching to come again. Ever been to Chicago? Share your foodie find with us on GoGirlfriend - maybe we'll meet you for lunch!

We'd love to hear what you think of Chicago on Facebook, Twitter or in the comments below. Let's get talking!

 

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Comments

I'll be in Chicago next month,I'll have to track some of these places down. They sounds amazing.

Thanks for stopping by Sushi Samba - and for the name of the dish I enjoyed while visiting. I'm looking forward to visiting Chicago again and Sushi Samba too! Julia

Thank you for the great write up, glad you enjoyed your visit and we look forward to your return. Only one correction - I believe the stew you had is not Japanese, it is Brazilian. From the photo it looks like you had a traditional dish called Moqueca Mista.

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