It’s no secret: we know all the best spots all across Chicago. That’s why we’ve created the ultimate ongoing list of our team’s favorite local businesses—and we’re letting you in on the secret.
We love discovering the best of what the city has to offer—from checking out the latest cafes to discovering those perfect under-the-radar restaurants, we’re on an endless journey to bring you the best insider tips, plans, and inspiration based right here in Chicago.
Now, we’re making it a whole lot easier for you to do the same! We’re launching a new project and leaving our mark on every corner of Chi-town. From a women-owned dessert bar to Chinatown’s latest speakeasy, we’re giving our Secret Chicago stamp of approval on all our favorite spots that deserve your support!
Make sure to keep your eyes peeled for those beautiful bright blue stickers decorating local business windows! If you spot our Secret Chicago stamp of approval you can be certain it’s your next must-visit destination.
We started out finding our favorite spots near home, but stay tuned as we add more to our list and expand to all of Chicago’s neighborhoods– and scroll to the bottom for an easy-to-see map of all the places!
The Rogers Park cafe serves up the sweetest lattes and brunch options! We’re particularly obsessed with the french toast here. The Rogers Park Extreme features sweet cream cheese, fresh bananas, blueberries, caramel sauce, house-made strawberry compote, and pecans is so incredible! Honeybear Cafe is a local, family-owned restaurant and one of the best brunch spots in the city thanks to its cozy environment and expansive menu!
Address: 7036 N Clark St, Chicago, IL 60626
Kale My Name
Hail to the kale! This vegan-friendly restaurant has been voted one of the best vegan restaurants in the country– and for good reason! The Avondale hotspot has a 100% vegan menu filled with delicious options galore. Open daily from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Kale My Name is a staple restaurant serving decadent salads, mac n cheese, and buffalo cauliflower that’s beyond impressive.
Address: 3300 W Montrose Ave. Chicago IL 60618
Walking into 2D Restaurant it’s as if you’ve entered a real-life comic book. The cartoon-inspired Parisian restaurant offers customers a unique experience. You’re surrounded by stenciled drawings that cover the floors and walls! Known as the first hand-drawn monochrome 2-dimensional illusionary restaurant, 2D offers an exciting atmosphere and an ultra-tasty menu you don’t want to miss out on. Co-owners chef Kevin Yu and designer Vanessa Thanh Vu created the space from scratch, carving out a staple menu and design that feels both decadent and authentic. If we had to choose a favorite dish, we recommend ordering the crispy french fries!
Address: 3155 N Halsted St, Chicago, IL 60657
As winter continues to descend upon us, we’re always happy to warm up with a rich hot chocolate. Filled to the brim with every imaginable marshmallow, sweet treats, and plenty of pizzazz, XO Marshmallow in Lincoln Park is known as the original marshmallow cafe, but it’s the decadent s’mores hot chocolate that’ll have you making XO Marshmallow a weekly must!
Address: 6977 N Sheridan Rd, Chicago, IL 60626
You wouldn’t know about this alleyway donut shop unless you had the inside scoop. Situated amongst the bustling shops of Armitage Ave. Beacon Donuts offers a selection of donuts that feel like actual beacons of light, calling out to those passing by to stop by and order any of their fluffy small-batch donuts. Decorated in a colorful tropical print, the small service counter offers visitors some of the best donuts in town. PS: The blueberry pancake flavor is one of our all-time favorites, and we suggest ordering early as they serve a small-batch menu.
Address: The Alley, 810 W Armitage Ave, Chicago, IL 60614
Cafe Jumping Bean
The Pilsen staple is the epitome of a cozy cafe! Serving hot coffee and tea options to the neighborhood, Cafe Jumping Bean will have you fueled by caffeine and embracing the friendly atmosphere. We love the brightly painted walls and the delicious cafe bites. The bagels are truly impeccable.
Address: 1439 W 18th St, Chicago, IL 60608
With house-made tortillas, Rubi’s Tacos in Pilsen does it all– serving up huge portion sizes, and gigantic tacos to the masses. Odds are, you’ll leave here raving over the corn tortillas! The small restaurant has gained notoriety because of its inviting atmosphere, big portion sizes, and authentic food. PS: maybe ask for a takeout box if you order a quesadilla because they’re massive!
Address: 1316 W 18th St, Chicago, IL 60608
The funky vintage store is the only non-restaurant on the list– for now! Stacked to the brim with endlessly cool throwback decor, clothing options, art, and furniture, Pilsen Vintage is a premiere retro store that always serves up a fresh find. We’re particularly fans of the jewelry selection. They also do furniture reupholstery and clothing alterations!
Address: 1430 W 18th St, Chicago, IL 60608
The Chinatown speakeasy is one of the first cocktail bars in the area. Situated in the converted Moon Palace formerly owned by Wang’s parents, Lily Wang and Joe Briglio, turned the back room into a dimly lit hang-out. At Nine Bar, they serve a list of impeccable cocktails and flavorful bites like cold sesame noodles, vegetable dumplings, and dessert milk bread. Or, if you want to order at the counter up front, a list of Moon Palace favorites is available for takeout.
Address: 216 W. Cermak Road, Chicago, IL 60616
Stay tuned as we continue to add to this map and feel free to reach out to us with any of your suggestions through Instagram!