It’s easy to go to Google or Yelp to find the top 10 restaurants in Chicago and the names you expect to see will continually make the cut. The Alineas, Trus and Spiaggas of the foodie world always top the list with most national recognition, awards, and lengthy pre fixe menus. However, here are a few gems that you may not know, the Haute 5 below the radar local dining spots that are equally amazing and delectable.
If you can brave an hour plus waits for brunch and no reservations, there is absolutely nothing comparable in the city. Whether it’s sweet or savory you need to cure the morning hangover, the white chocolate carmel pretzel pancakes (it’s a mouthful, literally) or any variation of their eggs benedict paired with a bloody mary is my go to morning pick me up.
1470 N. Milwaukee Ave. 773.489.0690. www.thebongoroom.com/
Grab any Chicago tourist guide and they’ll tell you for a true Chicago dog, hit up Superdawg (in A Thousand Places to See Before You Die) or Wiener Circle (for some late night rude and crude entertainment). While both delicious, locals know for discerning hot dog tastes, Hot Doug’s is the upscale haven that is worth the hour wait for those coveted duck fat fries and celebrity-inspired game meats.
3324 N. California. 773.279.9550. www.hotdougs.com/
Any tourist will book it to Gino’s East, Uno’s or Malnati’s for that signature saucy Deep Dish pizza pie. Locals though, know the best pizza may come in the shape of overly cheesy Chicago style. It just may be slathered with off-the-wall, oddball toppings like mac and cheese, Philly cheese steak or mashed potatoes. Yes, this may sound as far from appetizing as you can get, but you’re just going to have to take my and 230 other 4+ star reviews on yelp’s word for it.
3463 N. Clark St. 773.525.4580. www.ianspizza.com/
There are plenty of gourmet burgers in the city, but they don’t hold a candle to Kuma’s. From the Judas Priest with Apples, Walnuts and Dried Cranberries to the Lair of the Minotaur with Pancetta, Brie, and Bourbon Soaked Pears, these bizarrely named burgers are as juicy as they are kitschy. Also notable is the make your own mac, a huge step up from Kraft with toppings like Prosciutto, Andouille, Chicken, Caramelized Onions, Sun Dried Tomatoes, Broccoli, Peas, Mushrooms, Scallions, and Sweet Corn adornments.
2900 W Belmont Ave. 773.604.8769. www.kumascorner.com/
In Chicago, we know that socialite restaurateur Billy Dec can do no wrong. However, his most right move was Sunda, an Asian-fusion spot that would expand even the most extreme sushi connoisseur’s palate. Try the truffled tataki shashimi, it’s to die for.
110 W. Illinois St. 312.644.0500. www.sundachicago.com/