Restaurants

Top Choice Spanish in South Loop & Near South Side

Mercat a la Planxa

This Barcelona-style tapas and seafood restaurant buzzes in an enormous, convivial room where light streams in through the floor-to-ceiling windows. It cooks all the specialties of Catalan and stokes a festive atmos…
Italian in Lincoln Park & Old Town

Balena

‘Mamma mia!,’ you want to shout after forking into the fat, creamy, roasted mushrooms atop grilled bread. Balena tastes like an Italian grandmother whipped up the wood-fired pizzas, house-cured salumi and saucy past…
Mediterranean in Near West Side & Pilsen

Avec

Feeling social? This happening spot gives diners a chance to rub elbows at eight-person communal tables. The mini room looks a heck of a lot like a Finnish sauna and fills with noisy chatter as stylish urbanites pil…
Spanish in Lake View & Wrigleyville

mfk

In mfk's teeny space it feels like you're having a romantic meal in Spain, with the sea lapping just outside the door. Dig into crunchy prawn heads, garlicky octopus and veal meatballs amid the whitewashed walls and…
Italian in Lake View & Wrigleyville

Mia Francesca

Diners quickly fill up the room at this family-run Italian bistro (part of a local chain) and energy swirls among the closely spaced tables, topped with white tablecloths and fresh flowers. The handwritten menu feat…
Italian in Near West Side & Pilsen

Tufano’s Vernon Park Tap

Still family-run after three generations, Tufano’s serves old-fashioned, hearty Italian fare for modest prices. The blackboards carry a long list of daily specials, which can include such wonderful items as pasta wi…
Italian in Near North & Navy Pier

Eataly

This two-story food emporium overwhelms when you step inside. The winners among the many restaurants and cafe stations strewn throughout include La Focaccia (warm, bread-y goodness), Nutella (spread thick on bread o…
Mediterranean in Near North & Navy Pier

Purple Pig

The Pig's Magnificent Mile location, wide-ranging meat and veggie menu, and late-night serving hours make it a crowd-pleaser. Milk-braised pork shoulder is the hamtastic specialty. Dishes are meant to be shared, and…
Italian in Wicker Park, Bucktown & Ukrainian Village

Enoteca Roma

Candlelit and cozy, family-run Enoteca Roma feels like an old country ristorante. Bruschetta flights and handmade pastas steal the show, best consumed on the starry back patio in summer. During the day, sibling eate…
Spanish in Near North & Navy Pier

Cafe Iberico

Iberico’s creative tapas burst with flavor. Among the standouts: salpicon de marisco (seafood salad with shrimp, octopus and squid), croquetas de pollo (chicken and ham puffs with garlic sauce) and vieiras a la plan…