Chicago Mag’s Top 40 Chicago Restaurants

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A giant, “honey, I blew up the kids!” version of Rick Bayless terrorizes Pizzeria Uno. (Photo compilation totally swiped from ChicagoMag.com)

I hail from the Chicago area and was super excited to see Chicago Magazine‘s article on the 40 Best Chicago Restaurants Ever! The list includes current and former restaurants and has some weird rating system that is kind of arbitrary. That said, I think knocking 9 off their list is pretty good, especially since many establishments came and went before I was born. Here are the ones’ I’ve been to:

#36. Manny’s Cafeteria & Delicatessen – This deli has been serving Chicagoland’s hungriest since 1942. Come hungry or be prepared to take home a meal for 5. Their sandwiches are monstrous. The guy behind the counter making your insanely delicious pastrami is named Satan. He’s a real stand-up guy, though. Don’t let the name fool you.

#33. Hackney’s on Harms – It is down the street from my childhood Girlscout camp – yes, you read that right. They make a mean burger. It’s a 1/2 lb burger on a nice, toothsome rye. If you’re craving them, but can’t get to the city, you can get them mail ordered to your door from Tastes of Chicago along with a Manny’s pastrami (see above),  Lou Malnati’s deep dish, Eli’s Cheesecake, Long Grove Confections, and Chicago-style hot dogs.

#31. Berghoff – The restaurant opened in 1898 and remains a tradition in the city. It was also the location where the restaurant scene with the mobster in The Dark Knight was filmed. I highly recommend getting a beer (of the alcoholic or root type, they make both) and anything on their Octoberfest menu if you’re there that time of year.

#23. Carson’s Ribs – You’d never feel classier in a plastic bib. I remember these being decadent. The Skokie location closed when I was a kid, but there are other locations still open.

#15. Cafe Ba-Ba-Reeba – It’s a tapas place, but it’s loud in both decor and noise. The perfect place for a big group. Plus, I love that they have tapas-sized desserts. You can try 4 for the same price as 1 most places!

#10. Pizzaria Uno – Don’t let the Uno’s locations in your home city fool you. Those are frozen. Come here for the real deal. I don’t know if they make it anymore, but the garlic, mushroom, and spinach one will blow your socks off.

#8. Morton’s Steakhouse – I once went for a friend’s birthday with his parents. A vegan came with. I think they had to make steamed asparagus specially for him, since everything not with meat had butter or cream in it. Hilarious. But seriously, you come here for a spectacular steak. Bringing vegetarians, let alone vegans, is just silly.

#4. Frontera Grill – This is my favorite restaurant in the whole wide world. A review is coming soon, but everything is made from scratch with many ingredients locally grown. Some so local they were grown on the roof! I usually skip dessert, but I never skip a perfectly made margarita.

#2. Le Francais – The best French restaurant in the country in its time  is sadly closed. “Who says it’s the best?” you ask. Julia Child and many others. You can’t tell me Julia is wrong. I would call you a liar. I got the privilege to go here when I was about 9 years old for my parents’ super important anniversary ending in a zero (20th?). I don’t remember much, but they had fun rooster plates and it was the first time I ever had a palate cleanser. I remember apple and grapefruit ice in between meals. It opened my eyes to things I never dreamed could happen on a plate.

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What’s your favorite Chicago restaurant? Leave a comment below!

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