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The Most Fun Restaurants in Chicago

Chicago is the main link between America's two coasts and is home to some of the greatest architecture, scenery, shopping, arts, and culture in the country. There are countless ways to have a great time in the city—especially when it comes to dining. But where are the smartest, savviest diners eating out? Welcome to our Tastemaker List. We’ve pulled data from thousands of restaurants to find the top spots among OpenTable's most expert, seasoned diners. You’ll find everything from neighborhood gems to Spanish tapas spots, buzzy sushi bars to white-tableclothed steakhouses—all vetted by the types of tastemakers who know the best spots around the city. Impress your friends and family and score a table; we wish we could join you.

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The OpenTable Team
16 Restaurants
Updated February 25, 2020
Restaurants:TAO Asian Bistro - Chicago, Sepia, Café Ba-Ba-Reeba
Price Range:$$ - $$$$
Cuisines:Asian, Contemporary American, Tapas / Small Plates
Neighborhoods:River North (Chicago), West Loop, Lincoln Park
A photo of TAO Asian Bistro - Chicago restaurant

TAO Asian Bistro - Chicago

$$$$
Asian
River North (Chicago)
4.6
1883 reviews
Tao Chicago is in the River North neighborhood of Chicago and offers diners a culinary trip through the flavors of Asia. Based on locations in NYC, Las Vegas, and Los Angeles, Tao Chicago features multiple levels of beautifully designed space with a restaurant and adjoining nightclub. Artist Hush even created signature murals for the space, and of course, it is recognizable by the 16-foot tall Quan Tin statue at one end of the dining room. Head here for a night of Chicago food and fun you will remember for a long time.

At the moment, there's no online availability within 2.5 hours of your request. Do you have another time in mind?


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A photo of Sepia restaurant

Sepia

$$$$
Contemporary American
West Loop
4.8
4452 reviews
Sepia is the perfect melding of classy and rustic, Old World and New. The space is warm and welcoming, and suitable for a fancy date night or a casual hang with friends—check out the custom Art Nouveau tile floor, the hand-crafted millwork, and the vintage stemware. They spare no details here! Chef Andrew Zimmerman is a master at creating inventive American cuisine and you’ll find that the product-driven, seasonal menu has only the freshest, most vibrant flavors included in the dishes. The menu changes frequently but expect fantastic dishes like the duck liver mousse, pork sausage crepinette, and carrot cake with mascarpone on the prix fixe menu.

At the moment, there's no online availability within 2.5 hours of your request. Do you have another time in mind?

A photo of Café Ba-Ba-Reeba restaurant

Café Ba-Ba-Reeba

$$$$
Tapas / Small Plates
Lincoln Park
4.8
7763 reviews
Cafe Ba-Ba-Reeba! is Chicago’s original tapas restaurant. Located in the Lincoln Park neighborhood, founding chef Gabino Sotelino serves up tapas, pintxos, and that classic Valencian rice dish, paella. The restaurant has a reputation for drawing in a very lively crowd and you’ll feel the festive vibes as soon as you walk in the door. The space is boisterous and fun and has a warm ambiance, with artwork celebrating Spanish language, cuisine, and culture. Plus, there is an all-season patio where you can order sangria and enjoy the sunroom feel all year-round!

At the moment, there's no online availability within 2.5 hours of your request. Do you have another time in mind?

A photo of Quartino restaurant

Quartino

$$$$
Italian
River North (Chicago)
4.7
9419 reviews
Quartino is an urban Italian restaurant and wine bar created by the same folks that did Gibson’s Bar and Steakhouse, Hugo’s Frog Bar, and other popular spots in the city. Their goal was to create a cool restaurant with a casual vibe in the River North Area that serves authentic, everyday Italian food and wine that groups can enjoy. Quartino focuses on clean, simple dishes and shared plates, like pizzas, salads, family-style bowls of pasta, meatball sliders, cheese and meat plates, and more. They have a comfortable, charming environment that makes a cozy dining spot in the evenings or for a weekend brunch.

At the moment, there's no online availability within 2.5 hours of your request. Do you have another time in mind?

A photo of il Porcellino restaurant

il Porcellino

$$$$
Italian
River North (Chicago)
4.7
3191 reviews
Il Porcellino is a local favorite in River North and serves classic Italian-American comfort food in a laid-back setting. The focus here is on housemade pastas, vegetable antipasti, and daily specials all crafted from the freshest ingredients. They partner with quality artisans, purveyors, and local farmers to create the very best and most authentic Italian dishes. Plus, they have an amazing wine menu that focuses on selections from Central and Southern Italy to pair with your meals. The warm atmosphere and friendly staff help make Il Porcellino one of the most fun restaurants in Chicago.

At the moment, there's no online availability within 2.5 hours of your request. Do you have another time in mind?

A photo of North Pond restaurant

North Pond

$$$$
American
Lincoln Park
4.9
4032 reviews
Located in the Lincoln Park neighborhood at the edge of a pond overlooking the city’s dramatic skyline, North Pond has one of the best settings in the city! The menu here focuses on what is currently available on the market to ensure that their food is always fresh and unique—Chef Bruce Sherman only plays with ingredients that are at the peak of their season in his delicious American cuisine. The setting has Arts and Crafts decor, lending the dining room a simple, old-fashioned appeal. The waterside setting and gorgeous outdoor patio make this a super fun place to gather for great food and good times with friends or on a date.

At the moment, there's no online availability within 2.5 hours of your request. Do you have another time in mind?

A photo of Le Colonial - Chicago restaurant

Le Colonial - Chicago

$$$$
Vietnamese
Gold Coast / Streeterville
4.8
6395 reviews
Le Colonial is a spacious, gorgeous restaurant that celebrates the spirit and flavors of 1920s French Colonial Southeast Asia. It is an invigorating space in the ritzy Gold Coast neighborhood and diners can choose to eat in the first floor dining room, outfitted with louvered shutters, rattan chairs, and classic photos of old-fashioned life in Saigon, or in the upstairs lounge, with its decked-out mahogany bar, plush couches, and a beautiful veranda. The menu features thoughtfully prepared Vietnamese cuisine with a French twist. Le Colonial the perfect setting to gather with friends and colleagues after work.

At the moment, there's no online availability within 2.5 hours of your request. Do you have another time in mind?

A photo of SUSHI-SAN restaurant

SUSHI-SAN

$$$$
Japanese
Chicago
4.7
794 reviews
Foodies will love this amazing Japanese sushi place in the River North neighborhood. They focus on funky, fresh sushi including crispy handrolls, bincho-tan roasted meats, tempura dishes, marinated cuts of beef, robata Beef, and sizzling rice dishes. If you’re looking for cool restaurants and great food in this area, Sushi San won’t let you down! They have a long sushi bar where you can sit to watch the chefs prepare your meal or tables for groups to lounge at and enjoy the ice cold beer and signature cocktails, like the Cilantro-Lime Margarita.

At the moment, there's no online availability within 2.5 hours of your request. Do you have another time in mind?

A photo of Shaw's Crab House & Oyster Bar - Chicago restaurant

Shaw's Crab House & Oyster Bar - Chicago

$$$$
Seafood
River North (Chicago)
4.8
12795 reviews
Shaw’s Crab House in a big and bustling space in the River North area that features two restaurants in one. The main dining space is a jazzy, sophisticated seafood restaurant and they also have a carefree, lively oyster bar. The focus here is on fresh, seasonal fish and they features top-grade and shellfish crab, several varieties of just-shucked oysters, and inventive sushi and sashimi combinations. Depending on the season, you can find Alaskan red king legs, Florida stone crab claws, Maryland blue crab, whole Dungeness crab, and Maine lobster. If you’re a meat lover, fear not! They also have a selection of hand-cut USDA Prime steaks. Pair your meal with a fantastic glass of wine from the excellent menu, categorized by taste characteristics.

At the moment, there's no online availability within 2.5 hours of your request. Do you have another time in mind?

A photo of Hugo's Frog Bar & Fish House - Chicago restaurant

Hugo's Frog Bar & Fish House - Chicago

$$$$
Seafood
Gold Coast / Streeterville
4.6
4738 reviews
The owners of Gibson’s Bar and Steakhouse opened Hugo’s in the Gold Coast neighborhood as the companion to their successful steak restaurant. This is a fine dining spot focused on delicious seafood and excellent service. If you desire fresh oysters, crudos, frog legs, lobster, and the freshest fish in town, this is the place to go. They also offer Prime Angus beef sourced entirely from Midwestern cattle on the menu. The space is vibrant and perfect for a lively social gathering. They're also centrally located, making this a great start to a fun night out on the town.

At the moment, there's no online availability within 2.5 hours of your request. Do you have another time in mind?

A photo of The Brasserie - Waldorf Astoria restaurant

The Brasserie - Waldorf Astoria

$$$$
American
Gold Coast / Streeterville
4.7
346 reviews
Margeaux Brasserie offers a classic, French dining experience that conjures up 1920’s Paris and the Belle Epoque era. James Beard Award-winning Chef Michael Mina focuses his menu on contemporary French dining, offering Brasserie classics like salade Nicoise, bouillabaisse, and filet mignon, and sides like duck fat pommes frites, mushroom and fennel fricasse, and pomme puree. They serve food late into the night, just like the French do, so swing by on your way home from an evening out to enjoy a snack and a nightcap.

At the moment, there's no online availability within 2.5 hours of your request. Do you have another time in mind?

A photo of Mon Ami Gabi restaurant

Mon Ami Gabi

$$$$
French
Lincoln Park
4.8
6461 reviews
Mon Ami Gabi features an intimate bistro atmosphere that provides a perfect setting for group dinner, special occasions, and celebratory dates. Pull up a bistro chair and dine on the tables covered in crisp butcher paper. They serve classic French food like onion soup au gratin, steak frites, and chicken grand-mere. You can select wine from the historic rolling wine cart that waiters wheel around the restaurant, and soak up the cozy, comfortable vibes inside or out in the open air on the beautiful patio in Lincoln Park. The signature menu items include escargots de Bourgogne with garlic-herb butter and fresh seafood like the mussels mariniere.

At the moment, there's no online availability within 2.5 hours of your request. Do you have another time in mind?


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A photo of Nonnina restaurant

Nonnina

$$$$
Italian
River North (Chicago)
4.6
2295 reviews
Nonnina is an old-school Italian restaurant located in the River North neighborhood near the Merchandise Mart. Their cooking, as the name suggests, reflects that of their grandmothers, who relied on classic recipes and old-school cooking techniques to create slow-food dishes that bring out the flavors of Italy. The restaurant focuses on creating an upscale atmosphere that is still approachable—and has a fun, retro vibe. Nonnina is as bustling as the neighborhood around it and diners will love the energy as well as the classic dishes, like meatballs alla Nonna, rigatoni alla vodka, and chicken parmigiana.

At the moment, there's no online availability within 2.5 hours of your request. Do you have another time in mind?

A photo of Gibsons Bar & Steakhouse - Chicago restaurant

Gibsons Bar & Steakhouse - Chicago

$$$$
Steak
Gold Coast / Streeterville
4.8
7000 reviews
Gibson’s Italia, brought to you by the same owners as Gibson’s Bar and Steakhouse, is an Italian restaurant that pairs the same excellence of the original restaurant with the chef-driven tastes of Italy to create a fantastic spot for dining and socializing. Located on Canal Street in River North, they're a great stopover for after-work hangouts. Their crudo bar features Hawaiian kampachi and Ora king salmon and they have an entire menu of shellfish specials. They also have their own certified USDA Angus beef program so be sure to try one of their classic cuts, like the New York strip or bone-in filet mignon.

At the moment, there's no online availability within 2.5 hours of your request. Do you have another time in mind?

A photo of HUB 51 restaurant

HUB 51

$$$$
American
River North (Chicago)
4.6
5212 reviews
HUB 51 is the River North creation from entertainment group Lettuce Entertain You. They sought to create a space that offers entertainment, nightlife, dining, and social activity all in one spot—and they succeeded! HUB 51 is a social and culinary destination offering an awesome menu of contemporary American food and a swanky nightclub experience. The dinner menu features a smattering of shared plates such as burrata, chicken egg rolls, and ahi tuna poke. You can choose from sushi, salads, heaping sandwiches, tacos, and signature dishes like the turkey meatloaf and slow roasted BBQ chicken.

At the moment, there's no online availability within 2.5 hours of your request. Do you have another time in mind?

A photo of Summer House Santa Monica restaurant

Summer House Santa Monica

$$$$
American
Lincoln Park
4.7
6183 reviews
Located in Chicago’s Lincoln Park neighborhood, Summer House offers an escape to the vibes of the West Coast. They feature beach house decor and a beautiful retractable glass ceiling to let the light and fresh air in. The menu lists California-style dishes that focus on fresh, market-driven ingredients, local and sustainable farming, and seasonal specialties. Complement your choice with a California or Pacific North Coast wines, and don’t forget to end your meal with one of their delicious fresh-baked pastries, cookies, or muffins.

At the moment, there's no online availability within 2.5 hours of your request. Do you have another time in mind?


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