I love Chicago. I lived in the area for two and a half years. I worked in downtown for a while. It’s a city I can’t spend enough time in. There are so many things to do and see and taste. Seriously, it is a foodie’s city. So many amazing restaurants, and infinitely more I haven’t been yet. I could probably talk about the food in Chicago for just about ever, but I won’t.
I want to talk about four of my favorite restaurants in Chicago. I could dedicate an entire blog to the food I love in Chicago, so I’m just including my fly-by-musts for when I’m home for a day or two.
Naf Naf Grill
I LOVE Naf Naf. I found it when I worked in downtown. I ate it all the time. Almost every day. This is not a hyperbole. It’s cheap. It’s quick. It’s healthy. It is beyond scrumptious.
I love Middle Eastern food. They have a garlic sauce I still crave on a weekly basis, but the tahini is excellent too! The shawarma and steak are great, but honestly I eat strictly vegetarian here because the falafel is that good. Have it in a pita or a bowl with rice, lettuce, hummus, or couscous and top it with great stuff. You have options. The lentil soup is worth a try. Everything is cooked in house and in plain view. I love watching pitas made in their bakery.
Naf Naf means ‘fan the flame’ in the context of bringing people together for a sense of community over a shared meal. They come through. I have never entered without being greeted and treated well. Their staff is attentive, kind, and full of personality. #Nafon
In downtown Chicago, you can spend a pretty penny on food. You won’t at Naf Naf. Unless I felt like eating myself into a coma, I would never spend more than $9. Believe me, you will leave stuffed. Hold my pita, I’m going back for seconds!
This is my favorite restaurant. As the foodie I am, I do not say that lightly. So much so, I am dedicating a whole post to this place.
Authentic Italian food in Little Italy. I accidentally happened upon it one day several years ago. I keep going back because everything is amazing. A testament to this, is they are always busy. So make a reservation. The menu is always changing. Thankfully, my favorite dessert, the Brown Butter Blondie, is always there! Plates are made to share, although I don’t always.
I wouldn’t call this a cheap restaurant, but you can find far more extravagant in Chicago. Go for a beautiful meal and leave a few pounds heavier.
Portillo’s is an institution in Chicago. Have you even been to Chicago if you didn’t eat Portillo’s? I didn’t grow up in Chicago or Illinois, so I don’t have that innate love for the place natives do, but I always stop by.
Known for their Italian Beef, they also have hot dogs, salads, desserts, and more. I suggest an Italian Beef Sandwich dipped. I get mine with cheese on it because cheese. Dipped means they dip the sandwich in “gravy” or what the rest of the world would call the juice. It’s a messy sandwich. Roll up your sleeves and dig in. You won’t regret taking part in this institution.
I don’t think I have ever been to an empty Portillo’s. There are always people and usually a line. The drive-through around-ish lunch or dinner consists of two lines with quite the wait. It’s worth it. Everyone thinks so.
Argo Tea at Connors Park
This one isn’t a restaurant so much as a specific little cafe I love to visit. You can definitely grab a cup of tea and a nibble, so it counts. I found Argo Tea while living in Chicago. Their tea shops are all over. The tea is great. It’s yummy, and there are tons of unique flavors hot or iced. Buy a cup of tea, tea leaves, bottles of tea, or stock up on some swag. They brew the tea in front of you and offer yummy snacks.
This specific little gem is located in downtown Chicago at Connors Park. In a historic area full of beautiful architecture, it stands out. Modern and made of glass, it’s perfect for a respite. I found it one frigid winter day as I was wandering. My hands and nose were numb. I saw it and dashed for the door. Inside the transparent walls, I felt warm and cozy like I was in a greenhouse. A fountain only added to the affect. I love going and sitting because I feel like I’m watching the city without having to be a part of it. Also the tea is delightful.
I highly suggest taking a break from the bustle for tea time. It’s small, but you’ll love it. It’s hard to find, so here’s the address.
Argo Tea at Connors Park
871 N. Wabash Avenue
Chicago, IL 60611