Hello my garbanzo beans throughout Chicago (and beyond)! Happy Sunday to you, wherever you’re reading this from. Today I’m cracking down on what seems like the #1 post that everyone has been asking for but hasn’t received yet… until now. My favorite spots in Chicago to go to eat and drink.
Being in Chicago for almost four years, I’ve experienced the food scene here to some degree. But don’t get me wrong, compared to other Chicago-based Instagram influencers and bloggers, I don’t go to nearly enough restaurants. You usually can catch me at the same three to five spots just because I like to keep things on the healthier, home cooked, less expensive side. But trust me, when you’re running from work to workouts to meetings and everything in between, eating and grabbing coffee/tea/any drink out is the most sensible option.
So! To give you guys the best guide I can possibly deliver, I’ve decided to put all of my favorites/must-have spots onto one photo (scroll down below) but break this post down by what I think you should order at each place because after all, I can’t just let you run loose and not pick the best options!
I’m a super picky eater – as one might guess since I’m a health-focused blogger – but by scoping out the Chicago food scene quite heavily, I’ve found healthy options are lurking EVERYWHERE, if you look hard enough! In the last year alone, Chicago has been booming with more options and it doesn’t hurt that my diet now has been more focused on eating local and going from borderline vegan my freshman year of college to graduating college being a heavy meat eater (with all of the veggies on the side, of course!)
Many of the place listed below keep in mind will cross into the same categories but just to make it easier, I put them where I thought they belonged best. Enjoy!
C.C. Ferns – Located in the Humboldt Park community of Chicago, this is without a doubt my favorite coffee shop in Chicago. Something about it just gives me so many nostalgic feels, it’s the smallest coffee shop ever and kind of plopped in the middle of nowhere but it is so dreamy. Small marble tables, huge plants in the windows and the strongest latte I’ve had to date.
My order: Almond milk latte, Hot
La Colombe – Locations in Wicker Park, Andersonville and the West Loop. They’ve got both lattes and an assortment of teas but I go for their almond milk latte. Super creamy and just a tad sweet!
My order: Almond milk latte, Iced
Intelligentsia Coffee – Locations in Old Town, The Loop and Logan Square. You guys… the infamous OAT MILK LATTE! It is my sweet, sweet addiction (without being sweetened, so god bless that). I get this thing maybe minimum 2-3x a week, I love it that much! They have such crisp coffee, matcha lattes, teas, vegan and homemade bakery options and I love their branding. It was one of the first coffee shops I ever went to in Chicago and I freakin’ love it!
Fun little fact… I’ve met maybe 20+ bloggers who have gotten the oat milk latte just from hearing me talk about it and it still brings a smile to my face! SO GET IT! And tell me 😉
My order: Oat milk latte, iced (It’s delicious hot too but never hot enough for me, unfortunately)
Oromo Café – Located in Lincoln Square. This place came into my life last fall out of nowhere! I have been once just because it’s a bit of a trek from me but I wish I could go everyday because HOMEMADE NUT MILKS. They have pecan, hazelnut, pistachio and more. Other additions I love about this place are their homemade treats that are mostly raw and/or vegan, gluten-free, and superfood-filled. In addition, they have coconut sugar to add into your coffee as opposed to refined white sugar!
My order: Golden milk latte, iced
Ipsento – Located in Bucktown. I love this spot for warmer summer days due to the fact it has a seating area against a retractable window that overlooks a mini park and the 606 walkway (a huge walking/biking path that runs through Wicker Park, Bucktown and Logan Square). It has minimal seating but is a beautiful space! You must try their mini micro donuts as well.
My order: Plain coffee with a splash of almond milk
Sawada Coffee – Located in the West Loop. I love Sawada for their matcha latte and how it is one of the only matchas that isn’t too too sweet in the city. Seriously, when will Chicago get a matcha latte that is high quality and unsweetened? Never? Eh! Until then, this is my safest bet. It’s always packed usually and a line is out the door, just a heads up!
My order: Matcha latte, hot, with macadamia nut milk OR almond milk!
Floriole Bakery – Located in Lincoln Park near DePaul University. A two-story coffee shop/bakery with the most delicious, fresh options. They offer breakfast, lunch, gorgeous pastries, fresh homemade bread and they’re the only coffee shop I know of in Chicago that makes HOMEMADE ALMOND MILK (aside from Peach & Green in the Loop – which I did not include on my list for space/time).
My order: Iced almond milk latte
Metropolis Coffee Co. – Located in Edgewater. This was another one of the first coffee shops I ever went to when I moved to Chicago because it’s right on Loyola’s campus. They always have the best quiches and not to mention, HEMP MILK! So unique and it has such a neighborhood feel to it. Also some of the strongest cold brew coffee I’ve ever had.
My order: Hemp milk latte, hot
Others I included: SOL Café (gorgeous space), TOMS (very hipster and trendy – drinks are okay but great to check out), Wormhole Coffee (a perfect spot in Wicker Park), Asada Coffee Roasters (reminds me of Harry Potter – it’s a gorgeous entrance), DOLLOP (multiple locations and they have almond milk available), Caffé Streets (a decor to die for and coconut milk available!), David’s Tea (a chain around Chicago with multiple locations and dozens of teas – organic tea options, too!), Amazon Books (They sell Stumptown Cold Brew on tap so I mean what’s not to love? And it’s right next to SoulCycle Southport).
Range – Located in Lincoln Park. I found this restaurant unexpectedly my sophomore year of college after a friend’s birthday dinner and it is one of my favorites. I feel as though NO ONE knows about it and I love that! It’s farm to table, the chefs use local and high quality ingredients and so many veggies. Their breakfast is what I love the most!
My Order: Their root vegetable benedict on the brunch menu – if they have it 🙂 Menus are seasonal.
Uncommon Ground – Located in Edgewater and Wrigleyville. Another great farm to table option, a bit pricier options but so many good dishes. The Edgewater location actually has a rooftop garden where most of the produce for the meals is used!
My Order: Root vegetable hash with an egg for breakfast, the chicken sandwich and sweet potato fries for lunch and their baja fish tacos with a side of sweet potato fries for dinner. Trust me, their fries are LEGIT.
Bareburger – Located in Lakeview. I just found out about this place THIS year and it is my new favorite “going out” spot. When I find restaurants that anyone can bring a friend or family member to despite any dietary preferences or restrictions, I rejoice! It’s such a hard thing to do these days to get both healthy and picky eaters together in one spot. Bareburger’s menu includes about 6 different meat burger options (duck, elk, bison, beef, turkey, chicken) and 3 different veggie burgers. You can build your own with the insane amount of toppings and sauces they have, pick a salad or even get a regular sandwich. Oh and they also have a VEGAN AVOCADO MILKSHAKE. I’ve already been there two weekends in a row.
My order: Be My Burger (MYO) with bison (medium rare), tomato, lettuce, caramelized onions, mushrooms and tomato fig jam on a sprouted seed bun. Appetizer of brussels sprouts and side of sweet potato fries. *Collard green wrap and gluten free buns are options*
Goddess & The Baker – Located across from the Chicago River and in the South Loop. I love Goddess because it reminds me of a café I might find in New York. They’re known for their rainbow cake and tons of pastries but I go for the coffee! Their salads are pretty delicious and they also have grab and go overnight oats and matcha chia pudding.
My order: Matcha chia pudding and an almond milk latte, iced
Doc B.’s Fresh Kitchen – Located in Gold Coast and River North. For a fast casual American restaurant with a healthy spin, this is the spot to go! They have sandwiches, salads, entrees, wok bowls and more but offer seafood, meat and vegetarian options.
My order: The California Salad or “The Plate” which is basically a huge plate of veggies and quinoa. Don’t forget about their homemade guac for an appetizer that comes with sweet potato chips!
Kitchfix – Located in Gold Coast and a specific delivery zone. MY FAVORITE PLACE EVER. Seriously, no joke. As I’ve been eating more paleo this year, Kitchfix is my go-to as it is essentially a grab and go café and delivery service with gluten, grain and dairy-free meals. They source local and organic produce and meats as much as possible and also offer smoothies UNDER $10, bulletproof coffee and kombucha. They sell paleo snacks like Simple Mills crackers, Primal Kitchen Foods mayo and dressings and Vital Proteins, too. I love ‘em!
My order (to go): The almond crusted chicken strips with green beans, bacon and sweet potato fries
Pro tip: Definitely try their cashew yogurt parfait! They sell Whole30 compliant meals as well.
Snap Kitchen is very similar to Kitchfix. Locations throughout Chicago.
My order there: Almond crusted salmon, carrots and zucchini or the grass-fed beef lasagna.
Chicago RAW – Located in River North and West Loop’s French Market. Fun fact I actually used to work here! All of their food is completely raw vegan and they also offer smoothies.
My order: Their raw tiramisu – buy it, take it home, freeze it and then devour. So good.
Whole Foods Lincoln Park – This is comical that I put this here but truly… I freaking love Whole Foods. Does this come as a shock to anyone? I worked here last summer and it was by far my favorite “joe job” in my highschool/college career. Anyhoo, this is the 3rd (or 4th?) largest Whole Foods in the US. They have a diner, taco stand (my favorite), gelato bar, meat station and now… Poké Bowl Co.! Like how much better can it get?
My order: Fish tacos on corn tortillas from their taqueria in the back! Love! (I got them 24-7 on my lunch breaks when I worked there)
Sweetgreen – Located in River North. I would be lying if I said I didn’t go here at least 3 to 5x a month. I love this as a quick option during work or after a workout in the area. Tons of salad options with delicious drinks, homemade falafel and dreamy dressings!
My order: ‘OMG Omega’ salad, add sweet potatoes or a make your own salad and get the spicy cashew dressing
Aloha Poké Bowl Co. – Multiple locations in Chicago. Poké first came to Chicago with Aloha and since last year, so many spots have been trying to take over but truly.. Aloha is my favorite thus far! I always do a make your own bowl which I love because they offer tuna, salmon OR tofu for the vegans of Chicago. You can get your bowl with white or brown rice OR greens.
My order: Make your own bowl with marinated salmon or tuna, half brown rice, half greens, extra avocado, seaweed, ginger
Brightwok Kitchen – Located in the South Loop. I haven’t been here in over a year and I’m dying to go back! Right when they opened in 2015 I think I was here every day. Think of it has a healthier build-your-own wok bowl restaurant. The 8 sauces available are all homemade, the meat is local, and you can add a crispy egg to any bowl.
My order: Mixed greens, chicken, carrots, broccoli, edamame, kale with a side of tahini ginger, golden miso, or creamy cashew (they’re all so good)
Pro tip: Get the scarlet glow iced tea! It literally makes me glow from the inside out I love it so much.
Graze Kitchenette – Located in the Loop and River North. If you’re looking for the best smoothie/açai bowls in Chicago, you need Graze Kitchenette in your life. Not only do they have smoothie bowls like avocado matcha and banana cashew but they use Purely Elizabeth granola (the best in the game) and serve burgers too! Smoothies and burgs? What’s not to love?
My order: The #3 Damn Good Smoothie without apple (Avocado, Banana, Cucumber, Kale, Watercress, Mint, Spirulina, Lemon) – It is the thickest smoothie in the city!
HI VIBE Juicery – Located in River North. Smoothies, bowls, tonics, juices… you name it, HI VIBE has it. Their ingredients are so simple, nutrient dense and back to the basics. They focus on a very high fat, low carb diet and have amazing bulletproof coffee!
My order: A matcha latte or bulletproof coffee with no coconut oil and swap butter for cacao butter
Real Good Juice Co. – Multiple locations in Chicago. Smoothies, avocado toast, juices, shots and more. My favorite location is the Southport location because of how bright and white it is, with large bench seating and homemade avocado toast with Floriole Bakery bread but tons of Whole Foods around the city have RGJC’s in them!
My order: Punky Juicester (matcha latte with chia seeds) and avocado toast with a soft boiled egg
Harvest Juicery – Located in the Loop and West Loop. I love how bright and welcoming Harvest Juicery is! Their West Loop location is an Instagrammer’s paradise with white walls and hanging plants. They are mostly known for their juices but also sell toasts and smoothies.
My order: Golden Milk, Watermelon Juice, or the “B” Power smoothie
Left Coast Food and Juice – Located in Lakeview. If you’re looking for a spot for breakfast or lunch and especially during those hot summer days, this is the go-to. It has those California good vibes that Chicago sometimes often lacks and it is such a perfect escape, whether you’re with a friend, family member or alone.
My order: Hermosa Avocado Toast, Montecito Hash sans queso or the D-O-Double G wrap (a whole wheat wrap with turkey meatballs and hummus – MY DREAM)
The Allis at the Soho House – Located in the West Loop. All you need to know about this place is their Breakfast Plate is my everything. Smoked salmon, two eggs your way, toast, avocado and tomato slices. It’s my favorite weekend brunch/breakfast situations in the city, especially due to the interior of the Soho House. They also do afternoon tea which I’ve never tried but always looks adorable, especially for special occasions!
My order: Breakfast Plate or Avocado Toast with Egg on top
The Winchester – Located in Bucktown. Another welcoming and bright café that always delivers a good ‘gram, if we’re being honest. I love taking friends and family here too for all of their interesting options. P.s. they have GT’s Kombucha on tap!
My order: Avocado Toast, Smoked Salmon Toast, or Omelette with mushrooms and goat cheese
Le Pain Quotidien – Located all over Chicago. I always tell people LPQ to me is like a healthier version of panera. Their open-faced tartines are some of my favorites, especially the avocado and smoked salmon ones. They always have healthy options from fresh omelettes to chia pudding, a new açai bowl, salads and almond milk lattes.
My order: Avocado toast with scrambled egg on top or an omelette with avocado and smoked salmon
True Food Kitchen – Located in River North. I’m so happy we finally have a True Food Kitchen here in Chicago because of the numerous healthy options it offers. Smoothies, tonics, teas, grain bowls, almond ricotta pizzas and the best breakfast ever!
My order: Ancient Grains Bowl with added salmon OR their breakfast of two organic eggs with sweet potato hash and chicken sausage
Pro tip: ALWAYS order a side of cauliflower and/or brussels! You won’t regret it.
Meli Café & Juice Bar and Kanela Breakfast Club are two options with multiple locations perfect for whenever family comes in as they have extensive breakfast menus packed with juices, smoothies and vegan options. I love both!
Bernie’s Lunch and Supper – Located in River North. My absolute favorite dining out restaurant for all of the good Mediterranean eats! Truly, this place is the ideal spot for a date or brunch. They offer a sweet potato falafel sandwich with dill yogurt and harissa, a turkey burger in a warm pita and a fried egg sandwich with slab bacon and avocado. Their cocktails are extremely creative as well.
My order: Spiced Lamb with Hummus and the Greens & Grains salad
Another hit that is similar to Bernie’s is Ema! Their frozen greek yogurt post dinner is a must.
GT Fish & Oyster – Located in River North. Where I went for my 21st birthday! Think of it as a seafood restaurant with shareable plates. They have oysters, octopus, a delicious tofu dish with green tea soba noodles and a shrimp bruschetta – just a few of my favorites.
My order: Crab Salad, Tuna Poke and Cold Green Tea Soba
Cocktail: The Waitlist
Siena Tavern – Located in River North. Another location I always take my family to when they’re in town. A fancier, elevated Italian restaurant that combines a sports bra feel with a high end restaurant. Crudos, meat and cheese boards, an array of salads and the best pizza in my opinion.
My order: Mushroom or Brussels Sprout Pizza, Salmon entree, Hearts of Palm Salad, Oysters!
Another fancier option with similar food is Nellcote in Chicago’s West Loop neighborhood.
Nellcote is farm to table, with smaller portions but same sort of vibe.
For nights out with friends:
Hubbard Inn, Little Beet Table, Café Ba Ba Reeba (great for birthdays because it is all tapas!), Cindy’s (views of Millennium Park and a kombucha cocktail) and Blue Door Kitchen.
Big Star Taco – Located in Wicker Park. Ask anyone in Chicago for a taco recommendation and they will probably guide you here. It is one of my favorites because of how small the tacos are, the offerings and the vibes. Everyone flocks here in the summer due to the fact the restaurant is 90% outdoors. They have tons of tequila and mezcal drinks, as well!
My order: The carrot tacos
Antique Taco – Located just a ways down in Wicker Park from Big Star. Instead of ordering with a server like you do at Big Star, Antique has a few tables inside and outside for a quicker grab and go casual eating experience. Their tacos are a bit more creative than Big Star and you can only order 2 rather than 4 at Big Star. I prefer to come here in the day, and Big Star at night!
My order: Shrimp, Kale and Cauliflower Elote Taco
Other delicious taco spots are Taco Joint (River North and Lincoln Park), XOCO (River North) and Broken English (River North).
Other spots I love/have been to: Café Robey, Restoration Hardware, Avec, Juice RX, The Coffee Studio, M. Henry, Buzz Bait Taqueria, Tallboy Taco, Foodease in the Water Tower mall, Lou Malnati’s (favorite deep dish pizza)
Places I want to go to in the future: Eden, Au Cheval, Girl & The Goat, Mott Street, Fairgrounds Coffee & Tea, Bar Siena
I hope you guys enjoyed this MASSIVE list and are ready to eat/drink all over Chicago… and basically become like me because that’s what I do, ha!
Keep a lookout on here to see where I’ll be at next.
Until then, Happy Sunday (and adventuring)!