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
Dr. Bird’s Jamaican Patty Shack is a fan favorite spot thanks to its flavorful food, high quality, and accessible price points. The Caribbean restaurant serves up Jamaican patties unlike any other in a lowkey counter service style. The Bucktown spot is even run by the sons of the original owner! With spicy beef, chicken, and spinach-filled patties, along with an extensive list of jerk options like chicken to shrimp and a veggie-friendly jackfruit to choose from, the options are sure to be delicious at Dr. Birds. They’re open Wednesday from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. and Thursday through Saturday from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m.
Address: 1215 N Milwaukee Ave, Chicago, IL 60642
With two locations in the city, including Wicker Park and Bridgeport, Antique Taco is best known for its made-from-scratch menu and delicious margaritas! The laidback restaurant is all about celebrating Mexican heritage with orders big enough to share between friends and family. We recommend the Pork Carnitas Tacos and the guac and chips for a fully satisfying meal.
Address: Wicker Park, 1360 N Milwaukee Ave, Chicago, IL 60622; Bridgeport, 1000 W 35th St, Chicago, IL 60609
Wormhole Coffee is weird, but honestly, that’s the appeal! Decorated with an eclectic 80s theme from bright neon lights to Ghostbusters and Back to the Future posters, cardboard cutouts, and a retro car on the ceiling, the cafe is cozy and homey, curating an enticing cafe mood you’ll only find in Wicker Park- old-school tv and skeleton included. The main draw to the throwback cafe has to be the delicious coffee of course! You have to try the ghostly trio which is made with sesame. Another fan favorite is the Honey Bear Latte, which is made with local honey. Go ahead, we know you want to grab a strong latte (or three) and situate yourself at one of the community tables!
Address: 1462 N Milwaukee Ave, Chicago, IL 60622
Retreat at Currency Exchange
Open Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Retreat at Currency Exchange offers an artist retreat by day and a lively atmosphere at night. The uniquely cultivated experience provides immaculate vibes whether you’re looking to study, work or chill with friends for happy hour.
The coffee and cocktail bar services a series of delightful food and drink options, with a Happy Hour every Thursday and Friday from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. It was once a space to pay utility bills but has since been transformed into a stylish cafe, part of Theaster Gates’s numerous projects in the area.
The cozy space not only serves delicious coffee, tea, and seasonal food during the day but the bookshelf-lined walls add an extra studious ambiance to the space. At night they bring in a live music act to complete the relaxed and elevated bar feel.
Address: 305 E Garfield Blvd, Chicago, IL 60637
Bronzeville Soul owner Mario Coleman puts a lot of love into this space, filling the menu with abundant choices, the soul food-focused spot serves up everything from mac and cheese to flavorful baked chicken, lamb chops, candied sweet potatoes, and more inspired by his grandmother’s recipes.
With the help of chef Rekia Jenkins, Bronzeville Soul came to life last year, bringing comforting, filling, and delicious food to the neighborhood. Consistently great menu options and a friendly atmosphere ensures that Bronzeville Soul has a series of restaurant regulars stopping by every Wednesday through Sunday from 12 p.m. to 8 p.m.
Address: 4655 S Martin Luther King Dr, Chicago, IL 60653
Sip and Savor Chicago
With a tagline declaring Sip and Savor ‘Chicago’s favorite coffee spot’ you know we had to go and test out their coffee selection. Luckily, everything exceeded our expectations, from the smooth roasts to the comfortable shop atmosphere. This month’s exclusive menu item (which rotates every 30 days) includes strawberry smoothie mix, cupcake syrup, milk, 2 scoops of ice cream, and whipped cream!
The locally owned chain has a shop in Bronzeville, along with Hyde Park, Rosenwald, and Matteson, bringing delicious coffee to a wide variety of locations across the state.
This hibachi and sushi spot deserves a spot on every list! They serve up generous portion sizes filled with delicious, fresh choices that satisfy and delight, bringing an innovative and exciting hibachi-inspired restaurant to the Chicago community. The restaurant is open Tuesday through Thursday 11 a.m. to 8 p.m., Friday, and Saturday from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m., and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Everything on the menu, from the extensive hibachi choices to the expertly crafted sushi or sashimi options, it’s all top-tier delicious.
Address: 258 W 31st St, Chicago, IL 60616
First Sip Cafe
This sweet cafe is located in the heart of Uptown serving all the cozy vibes and an impeccable drink list. With everything from matcha to an Ube latte to a more adventurous banana sundae or a pistachio mint latte, First Sip Cafe does a great job of presenting a warm, homey atmosphere.
The cafe is decked out in subtle detailing, like the collection of vintage mugs hanging above visitors, or the bright bursts of greenery by the windows. From a vintage sewing machine stationed at a standalone table to the larger community gathering spaces, this delicious cafe deserves all the praise!
Address: 1057 W Argyle St, Chicago, IL 60640
Tweet Let’s Eat
This longstanding Chicago restaurant serves up delicious breakfast and lunch options by day at Tweet Lets Eat and specialty cocktails and disco vibes by night at Big Chicks. The always bustling Uptown spot has become a beloved staple in the area, filled to the brim with diner charm and a buzzing atmosphere.
Everything from the bright salads to the scrumptious egg sandwich and more are two must-try menu standouts, with the lowkey and kitschy bar next-door hosting dance parties galore and endlessly enticing drinks. We’ve also included this iconic location in our brunch roundup!
Address: 5020 N Sheridan Rd, Chicago, IL 60640
El Rincon de Fabio
The family-run Venezuelan restaurant is the real deal! Not only do they have an expansive and phenomenal menu of delicious items to choose from, but the quaint restaurant also has an authentic feel, filling the small restaurant with a bright joy that you’ll carry with you long after finishing that last bite.
Everything is great! From the delicious empanadas to the chips and guac, and the cachaca with pork, El Rincon de Fabio goes above and beyond to provide an incredible and authentic experience filled with flavorful, sublime eats that will have you leaving feeling happily full. Stay refreshed with passion fruit juice or go for a virgin chicha, a usually alcoholic beverage made with sweet milk, cinnamon, and vanilla!
Address: 1002 W Argyle St, Chicago, IL 60640
If you’re looking to enjoy a traditional Ethiopian meal, this swanky Uptown spot is the right place for you. Choose from an incredible selection of incredible Ethiopian flavors for a gourmet dining experience you won’t soon forget.
Traditionally, Ethiopian food is eaten with your hands so tear off some injera and use it to scoop up any of the aromatic, authentic dishes on the menu.
From the lowkey yet impeccably run service, to the gigantic platter of veggie-friendly and vegan choices, Demera was a welcome treat that definitely included some incredible sauce! While we visited the Uptown location, they also have one at Fulton Market (916 W Fulton Market Chicago, IL 60607) as well, which features select special options only available there.
Address: 4801 N Broadway, Chicago, IL 60640
Sam & Gertie’s
This vegan Jewish deli is a personal favorite amongst our staff as the classic deli-style space provides endlessly enticing bagels, knish, and vegetarian-friendly Matzo ball soup (Which is quite hard to find in Chicago unless you make it yourself!). Grab a dozen everything bagels to go and pile ’em high with cream cheese and alternative lox! Don’t forget to grab a chocolate babka on the way out as a sweet bite ends the weekend-only trip for the ultimate comfort food on a perfect note. While Sam & Gertie’s is only open on Saturday and Sunday, the beloved Uptown spot shines even amongst the traditional Jewish Delis in Chicago.
Address: 1309 W Wilson Ave, Chicago, IL 60640
Vegan ice cream is a thing and it is wonderful! With a long-standing outpost in Wicker Park since 2021, and a new location in Lincoln Square, Vacas Creamery serves up all the delicious soft-serve goodness, minus the cream! Our favorite has to be the original chocolate, though they also do a mighty fine combo option as well!
Most of the items are made in-house from the decadent ice cream to the crispy waffle cones and the hot fudge! The Lincoln Square store also serves up a delicious selection of pastries and cakes like their seasonal lemon olive oil cake. So, what are you waiting for? Go grab a vegan scoop on a gluten-free waffle cone and prepare to fall in love! PS: if you go, please bring me a slice of the olive oil cake!
Address: 2324 W Giddings St, Chicago, IL 60625
Evette’s, named after the owner Teta (grandma in Lebanese), has been named one of the most exciting restaurants according to the New York Times.
They present quality, colorful, and inspired dishes in a friendly, homey, setting. Yes, we’re out at a cool casual restaurant but we could very well be sitting at Teta’s (Evette’s) kitchen table with the sweet knickknacks, framed family photos, and airy plants hanging around.
The food is something special. The menu is refined but satisfying with everything from gyro tacos, a pomegranate-filled ‘pretty salad’, and decadent garlic feta fries. We highly recommend the Evette’s plate– filled with your choice of protein, couscous, and a salad, the filling menu option is a must-try.
Having recently opened a second location in Lakeview, and a smaller outpost at Fulton Market, Evette’s is expanding its reach, bringing incredible eats to the area. The motto behind Evette’s, inspired by Teta, is to serve food filled with love to everyone who stops by.
Address: 350 W Armitage Ave, Chicago, IL 60614
All Too Well Cafe
The Lincoln Park cafe sits right next to Evette’s and is conveniently owned and operated by the same person! The classic deli and sandwich shop is a relatively new concept, opening last year to fanfare as it’s partially named after the popular Taylor Swift song (Taylor’s Version of course!).
The other half of the inspiration came from the owner Mitchell Aboujamra’s (nickname: Jamra) long family history as butchers.
Serving artisanally crafted sandwiches like the veggie-forward ‘Cousins’ sandwich or the newly added ‘Happy Birthday Sebastian’ sandwich (inspired by the owner’s dog!), everything here tastes fresh and comes from an innovative perspective. At All Too Well they’ve amplified deli sandwiches, using the much-loved basics and adding an extra exciting twist.
There’s also a small market section filled with interesting snacks and chips, pasta sauce, and more. So if you’re looking to stock up on some cool essentials, and possibly bring home a whipped fig and brie dip, the options are open!
PS: See if you can spot the 3 hidden Taylor Swift-inspired stickers around the deli! If so, tag us on Instagram!
Address: 352 W Armitage Ave, Chicago, IL 60614
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!