While it may not be quite as popular as Los Angeles or New York City, Chicago is still a bustling city full of different cultures, rich history, and many places to eat delicious food. They may be known for their deep dish pizzas but there are so many different places to dine in and different cuisines to experience it would be a shame if you missed out on some of Chicago's hidden gems by only visiting the most popular places.
Plus, if you decide to eat somewhere lesser-known you'll probably be served much quicker! Here are some of the best places to eat in the city that you might not have ever heard about.
It might be a little strange to seek out classic Philadelphia food while you're visiting Chicago but that's exactly how Monti's came to be. The restaurant was opened by a husband and wife team who were clamoring for a little taste of home. Of course, Monti's perhaps best known for its authentic, delicious, mother-water Philly cheesesteak.
People like to go to Monit's for a cold beer, a cheesesteak, and a great place to relax and watch the football game. But be sure to try out their hot wings too! In addition to their cheesesteaks, other popular dishes include their soft pretzel nuggets and South Side Johnny.
9 Golden Bull
Golden Bull is certainly a hidden gem and it is easy to miss given its kind of tucked away into a corner of Chinatown but if you're in the mood for Chinese food you should definitely seek this place out. People love their crab rangoon, walnut shrimp, potstickers, and orange chicken. It's cooked home-style and everything is sizzling, hot, and fresh.
Despite being lesser-known, the Golden Bull does get quite busy around lunch and dinner time hours so if you're planning to dine-in then you'll want to make sure you get here early or call ahead if you can!
8 Billy Goat Tavern
The Billy Goat Tavern located on N Michigan Ave may not be much to look at but the burgers are divine and keep people coming back for more. If you're planning to go here then make sure you've got plenty of room in your belly because you're going to want to load up on a double cheeseburger.
They make their buns from scratch in the kitchen and they help create a sensational burger, not one you'll soon forget. The tavern is a renowned dive bar in the area, open every day at 6 am and it has its host of regulars. It can be a little difficult to find given its location but just make sure you follow the neon signs!
7 Chicago’s Home of Chicken & Waffles
Who doesn't love some old-fashioned, southern-style, chicken and waffles? You'd be surprised to find southern food so far north in Chicago but the food is so good you might mistake it for being straight from the heart of the south itself. Even if chicken and waffles aren't your thing, there are plenty of other options on the menu.
Another favorite is the fried catfish dinner. For a drink, you should try their homemade strawberry lemonade, many have raved that it's sublime. If you do plan to stop by here, it's recommended you don't go on Sundays since the church crowd loves stopping by here after service and you might wind up waiting for a table for a long time.
6 North Pond
If you're in the mood for a more upscale dining experience with food like cashew octopus, Brulee foie gras, and pigeon, then North Pond is the place for you. The restaurant has become well-known for its gorgeous scenery as its located in one of the most beautiful places in all of Chicago.
One great aspect of North Pond is it nearby the Lincoln Park. You can explore the zoo and then visit North Pond afterward for a sumptuous meal. They're known for hosting many special events, people often come here for their Easter brunches or to celebrate a special occasion such as an anniversary meal.
5 Aloha Eats
This is a little hole in the wall eatery perfect for people who are either from Hawaii and wanting a taste of home or anyone who just enjoys Hawaiian food, particularly barbecue. The eatery is located on N Clark Street. It doesn't have a crazy design or anything particularly fancy about it but it doesn't need to because the food is clearly cooked with great care and love.
If you visit here make sure you try the chicken katsu, the Hawaiian barbecue short ribs, or the kalua pork. But those are just a few suggestions on what is a fantastic menu all around.
4 Oasis Cafe
Oasis Cafe is a Mediterranean cafe located on N Wabash Avenue. They're known for their falafel, lentil soup, Napole stuffed chicken, and Moroccan chicken special. This place tends to get packed during the busy hours like lunch and dinner but that's because the food is to die for.
If you're a fan of Middle Eastern cuisine then you can't miss out on the Oasis Cafe. It is considered a hidden gem but the cafe has been gaining popularity in recent years. The best part is all the food is fairly priced and you get a large portion for the money you spend.
3 Heaven on Seven
This restaurant is actually located right around the corner from the Oasis Cafe so if you're in the area and not in the mood for the Mediterranean but fiending for some Creole food then you've come to the right place. Heaven on Seven will fill you up with delicious cajun foods and spices.
If you're from New Orleans then this place should make you feel right at home. You have to try their Louisiana crab cakes and gumbo! Another must-try item is the fried jalapeno cornbread, their cornbread comes in a tall mound and it's mouth-watering. You'll want to take some home to save for later!
2 Birrieria Zaragoza
This is another restaurant that may not look like much on the outside, and it isn't located in a super popular area, but that doesn't mean the food is bad. On the contrary, Birrieria Zaragoza will give you some of the best Mexican food in all of Chicago. Especially if you really like authentic Mexican.
They even serve goat meat here and Birria. But if you want something more traditional you can load up on tacos and quesadillas too. It's all fairly priced as well you don't have to spend a lot of money here to get more than your fill of delicious food.
1 Whimsical Candy
Whimsical Candy is a sweet shop so you wouldn't really go here for a full meal but it's a place that absolutely cannot be missed. They allow for samples too so you can get your sugary fill before picking out whatever divine desserts most appeal to your palette. It's a great place to stop by for an after-dinner treat.
They also sell different flavors of homemade ice cream and the staff is super friendly and willing to give you all the help you need to find the perfect sweet. It's located in the basement of a high-rise building so it can be easy to miss, make sure you look up directions to ensure you get a chance to visit!