DINING

Scroll down for OUR OPINIONATED recommendations Within the Hotel; within WAlking distance, AND further afield in CHiCAGO. THEN CLICK THE LINKS FOR EVEN MORE INFORMATION!

Dining within the Hilton Hotel

720 South Michigan Avenue, Chicago, Illinois, 60605, USA TEL: +1-312-922-4400

There are several restaurants within the hotel itself:

720 South Bar & Grill is classic American casual dining open from 6 a.m. to 1 a.m. The food is good, especially for breakfast, but as with any hotel restaurant, prices are a bit higher than out on the street.

Herb N’ Kitchen is for a quick bite on the go or a cup of Starbucks coffee, open from 5:30 a.m. to 11 p.m., and very convenient.

Kitty O’Shea’s is an American take on an Irish pub, complete with fish & chips and shepherd's pie, open from 11 a.m. to 2 a.m. Mind you, this is Chicago Irish; the place may not pass muster for authenticity with one of our Irish modeling friends like John Schley. But it’s a fine place to hoist a pint nonetheless!

The hotel also offers room service from 5:30 a.m. to 1 a.m.

Dining a quick walk from the Hilton Hotel

Jim DeRogatis says: I teach at Columbia College Chicago, and its campus surrounds the downtown Hilton. I have eaten at many of these places and have marked the ones I like best and can can vouch for personally with a heart [♥]. A very good resource for more information on all of them can be found at TripAdvisor.com (this link leads to the search for restaurants near the Hilton). Links on the titles of the restaurant most often lead to the restaurant’s Web site, though in some cases they click through to TripAdvisor. Links on the restaurant's actual address lead to walking directions from the Hilton.

Chicago’s Culinary Claims to Fame: Deep-dish Pizza, Chicago-Style Hot Dogs, and Italian Beef Sandwiches

Mind you, this is according to the tourist books; many actual Chicagoans eat these alleged delicacies rarely, if ever. But you’ve heard of them and you want to know, so…

Lou Malnati’s Pizzeria

805 S. State St., .2 miles from the Hilton; (312) 786-1000

Lou Malnati's in the South Loop.

Lou Malnati's in the South Loop.

Okay, a few words about pizza in Chicago: Our Town boasts that it provides the best pizza in America, but this can be debated. Our friends from Italy, especially Naples, may not even recognize pizza as it’s done here, and Americans from the East Coast feel pretty much the same! Yes, you can get thin-crust (or “bar-style”) pizza in Chicago, cut into tiny squares instead of triangles or “pie cut,” and it’s a good base for soaking up lots of beer. But when most people say “Chicago pizza,” they mean what’s called “thick-crust” or “stuffed” pizza—a heavy, massive, two-inch-thick pizza overflowing with cheese, tomato sauce, and myriad other ingredients (though purists go with just sausage). One piece can be a meal; two may leave you comatose, especially in the summer. Few places do that kind of pizza better than Lou Malnati’s, which offers the option of “butter crust,” making all that breading more tasty. If you’ve detected some skepticism in the preceding sentences, you’re right: Real Chicagoans have mixed feelings about “Chicago pizza” and often prefer going to an authentic woodfire Neapolitan joint (of which there are many). But Chicago pizza is one of those things you may feel you’ve got to try while you’re here, like the Chicago hot dog, and you won’t find a better example than Lou’s.

Chicago deep-dish pizza from Lou Malnatti's.

Chicago deep-dish pizza from Lou Malnatti's.

Chicago-style hot dog, stuffed to overflowing!

Chicago-style hot dog, stuffed to overflowing!

Devil Dawgs

767 S. State St., 312-583-9100; .1 miles from the Hilton

Now, about that Chicago hot dog: In contrast to New York, where hot dogs most often are purchased from street vendors via “dirty water” street carts, arriving on a basic and floppy bun with mustard and maybe a little relish or sauerkraut, the Chicago-style dog is a think beef frank on a substantial poppy-seed bun laden with a ton of ingredients, most often including tomato, pickle, onions, hot pepper, mustard, and celery salt (the “secret ingredient”), though there are many variations (except for ketchup; ask for that and you will be mocked—it’s part of some local tradition we’ve never understood). Again, it’s not for everybody, but most tourists feel compelled to try a Chicago hot dog at least once, and this fast-food counter-service storefront (one of two Devil Dawgs locations in town) serves ’em up with pride.

Another nearby option for a Chicago Dog:

America’s Dog

522 S. Lake Shore Dr., .4 miles from the Hilton

A bigger chain and a slightly lesser dog than Devil Dawgs.

And this place has hot dogs and Italian beef (more on the latter in a minute):

Max’s Take Out

20 E. Adams St., .5 miles from the Hilton

Chicago-style Italian Beef Sandwich.

Chicago-style Italian Beef Sandwich.

Al’s Italian Beef

324 S. Wabash Ave., .4 miles from the Hilton

The last uniquely Chicago quick delicacy that many visitors here feel compelled to try is the Italian beef sandwich—thinly sliced roast beef piled on a hoagie roll with peppers or giardiniera and drenched in au jus (watery gravy). It is, as you might imagine, one of the sloppiest sandwiches you ever will eat, but it is beloved by some in this city, and those folks often swear that Al’s is the best.

OTHER FOOD NEARBY

Buddy Guy’s Legends

700 S. Wabash Ave., .1 miles from the Hilton; 312-427-1190

The club owned by the legendary blues guitarist serves lunch and dinner (Cajun, Creole, and typical pub fare). The kitchen is open until midnight every day, but the music is the real draw here. Check the Web site for the calendar of entertainment and consider purchasing tickets in advance. (Buddy doesn’t play here himself very often, but the blues musicians who are booked are top-rate.)

COFFEE & BREAKFAST PASTRY

Starbucks

636 S. Michigan Ave.

31 E. Roosevelt Rd.

555 S. Dearborn St.

1154 S. Clark St.

Ubiquitous American coffee chain; fine when you’re on the run and in need of caffeine and a cookie or muffin. All of the locations above are within a few minutes' walk of the Hilton. Other locations are far too numerous to mention!

Other coffee-chain options nearby:

Peet’s Coffee & Tea

14 E. 8th St., .1 miles from the Hilton

Very similar to Starbucks, with slightly tastier coffee drinks but slower service.

Dunkin’ Donuts

600 S. Wabash Ave., .2 miles from the Hilton

America’s no-frills (and much less expensive) coffee-chain alternative to Starbucks. And the donuts are good, too, especially in the morning, when they are freshest.

Sit-Down Breakfast Options

Yolk

1120 S. Michigan Ave., 312-789-YOLK (9655); .3 miles from the Hilton

A small chain with two convenient locations nearby offering a slightly fancied-up take on the classic American breakfast fare: eggs, omelets, pancakes, etc. But that’s breakfast until 3 p.m. if you’ve stayed out late the night before!

Panera Bread

501 S. State St.,.2 miles from the Hilton

Slightly upscale but relatively inexpensive American sandwich chain (but also good for breakfast pastries). And good soup and fresh-baked cookies, too.

FRIED CHICKEN

Fried chicken from Harold's Chicken Shack.

Fried chicken from Harold's Chicken Shack.

A Southern specialty, but very popular in Chicago, too, given the large African-American population.

Harold’s Chicken Shack

636 S. Wabash Ave., 312-362-0442; .1 miles from the Hilton

A small chain with several locations in Chicago, Harold’s is American fast-food of the good sort (not McDonald’s): Southern-style fried chicken and catfish come to the big city as part of the Great Migration. Nothing fancy—think harsh fluorescent lights and Formica table top—but a lot of pretty good food for a very low price, and as authentically American and Chicago as you’ll find!

Other options for fried chicken nearby:

Wingers USA

606 S. Wabash Ave., .1 miles from the Hilton

Wingstop

12 E. Harrison St., .2 miles from the Hilton

ASIAN CUISINE

Thai Spoon

601 S. Wabash Ave., (312) 427-9470; .2 miles from the Hilton

Inexpensive, tasty, and very convenient American take on pan-Asian cuisine: Japanese sushi, Chinese food, and Thai. A great stop for a quick lunch.

Other nearby options for Asian food:

Niu B

888. S. Michigan Ave., 312-922-1127; .1 miles from the Hilton

A more fine-dining (more elaborate and more expensive) option for sushi, but well worth the price.

Osaka Sushi Express

400 S. Michigan Ave.,.3 miles from the Hilton

Thai Spoon

632 S. Wabash Ave., 312-427-9470; .1 miles from the Hilton

Another convenient and inexpensive option for the American take on Thai cuisine.

Kai Sushi

1255 S. State St., .5 miles from the Hilton

Mei’s Kitchen

1108 S. Michigan Ave., 312-294-2488; .2 miles from the Hilton

The American take on Chinese food. It’s okay, but…

The landmark gate welcoming visitors to Chicago's Chinatown, not far from the Hilton.

The landmark gate welcoming visitors to Chicago's Chinatown, not far from the Hilton.

The very best option for American Chinese Food is Chinatown

If you really have a hankering for Chinese, the Hilton is not far from Chicago’s Chinatown, centered on Cermak and Wentworth Avenues, one of the oldest Chinese enclaves in the United States. Home to a dozen great Chinese restaurants, it’s almost impossible to get a bad meal there. Chinatown is a two-mile cab ride (maybe $5) from the Hilton, or a short walk to and from the El at Harrison St. and the very next stop at Cermak-Chinatown. Click here for the Google Maps directions.

SANDWICHES

In addition to Panera Bread listed above, these are other tasty and nearby sandwich shops, listed in order of our preference.

Jimmy John’s

725 S. State St., .1 miles from the Hilton

Potbelly Sandwich Works

542 S. Dearborn St., .3 miles from the Hilton

Subway Sandwiches

1300 S. Wabash Ave., .1 miles from the Hilton

Corner Bakery Cafe

224 S. Michigan Ave., .4 miles from the Hilton

A longer walk, but this is the most convenient of several locations of a Chicago chain offering slightly more upscale sandwiches and excellent fresh baked goods. Good soup, too.

Fontano’s Subs

332 S. Michigan Ave.,.3 miles from the Hilton

THE ALL-AMERICAN BURGER

Epic Burger

The Epic Burger is epic indeed.

The Epic Burger is epic indeed.

517 S. State St., .2 miles from the Hilton

Relatively new American burger chain, and much, much better than McDonald’s, Burger King, or the other ubiquitous American burger joints. Good shakes, too.

Other nearby burger options:

Hackney’s

733 S. Dearborn St., 312-461-1116; .2 miles from Hilton Chicago

Not a better burger than Epic, but this is a pub setting, so they serve beer!

DQ Grill & Chill Restaurant

436 S. Wabash Ave., .3 miles from the Hilton

That’s “DQ” as in “Dairy Queen” before a corporate rebranding to emphasize that they sell burgers and hot dogs as well as soft-serve ice cream, but the latter still is better than anything from the grill. If you’re here, go to Cafecito, the Cuban cafe next door, unless you just want a cold drink, in which case I recommend the Orange Julius, a uniquely American frozen orange-juice milkshake.

Five Guys

1146 S. Wabash Ave., .3 miles from the Hilton

Another American chain that would like to be Epic Burger (but isn’t).

JEWISH DELI

Eleven City Diner

1112 S. Wabash Ave., 312-212-1122; .3 miles from the Hilton

Chicago’s best take on New York-style Jewish deli: corned beef and pastrami sandwiches, classic Brooklyn egg creams, potato pancakes and coleslaw, etc. Great deserts and breakfast, too. Not cheap, but worth every penny.

Another diner/deli option:

Artist’s Cafe

412 S. Michigan Ave., 312-939-7855; .3 miles from the Hilton

Although the food—sandwiches and diner fare—isn’t nearly as good as at Eleven City, the ambience here is renowned: Think lots of young and funky art students from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, which is across the street.

CUBAN, MEXICAN & SOUTH AMERICAN CUISINE


Cafecito

26 E. Congress Parkway, 312-922-2233;.2 miles from the Hilton

Fantastic Cuban pressed sandwiches and other authentic Cuban dishes, plus the Cuban coffee is a million times better than any drink at the local coffee chains.

Flaco’s Tacos

725 S. Dearborn St., 312-922-8226; .2 miles from the Hilton

Inexpensive and consistently reliable American take on Mexican street food.

Another Mexican option nearby:

Spanglish Mexican Kitchen

555 S. State St., .2 miles from the Hilton

INDIAN CUISINE

Chicago Curry House

899 S. Plymouth Court, 312.362.9999; .2 miles from the Hilton

American take on Indian & Nepalese cuisine. Nothing spectacular, but solid and convenient. If you want really great Indian cuisine, Chicago has a “Little India,” the neighborhood along Devon Avenue centered for a few blocks east and west off Western Avenue, but that’s an ambitious cab ride ($15 or more) to and from the Northwest Side, and Chicago Curry House is a five-minute walk.

BARS

When it’s more about drinking than eating

Kasey’s Tavern ♥

701 S. Dearborn St., .2 miles from the Hilton

A great American bar, and it claims hold the city’s second oldest liquor license (which is saying something, given the city’s many, many taverns). A favorite of Columbia College professors and students.

Other taverns nearby:

Exchequer

Exchequer

Exchequer Restaurant & Pub

226 S. Wabash Ave., .4 miles from the Hilton

Great for a burger and a pint, and the colorful regulars (mainly folks from the Art Institute, Second City, and Columbia College) love the pizza, too!

Miller’s Pub & Restaurant ♥

            134 S. Wabash Ave., .5 miles from the Hilton

Another landmark Chicago bar and a favorite haunt of Second City writers and comedians, though I’ve never figured out why, because Second City is nowhere near the South Loop (it’s at 1616 N. Wells in Old Town, 4.5 miles to the north). You know it’s a testament to a good bar when hard-drinking comedians travel to belly up there!

First Draft

649 S. Clark St., .3 miles from the Hilton

Bar Louie

47 W. Polk St., .3 miles from the Hilton

More of a “cocktail lounge” than a tavern or bar (you wouldn’t order a mixed drink at Kasey’s, more like a shot and a beer). But if you’re with your wife or date, a fine choice.

Wabash Tap

1233 S. Wabash Ave., .4 miles from the Hilton

FINE DINING

Mercat a la Planxa: Tapas and Spanish Cuisine ♥

638 S. Michigan Ave., in the Renaissance Blackstone Chicago Hotel, .1 miles from the Hilton; 312-765 0524

A moderately expensive but absolutely wonderful taste of Barcelona right on Michigan Avenue. Highly recommended; reservations strongly suggested.

Sofi Restaurant

616 S. Dearborn St., 312 753 5502; .3 miles from the Hilton

Moderately expensive American take on Northern Italian (Milanese) cuisine. I have not tried it but have heard good things. Of course, we would be interested in Fabio Nunnari’s opinion!

The Gage Restaurant

24 S. Michigan Ave., 312-372-4243; .6 miles from the Hilton

New American cuisine, moderately expensive but worth splurging.

The Berghoff Restaurant

17 W. Adams St., 312-427-3170; .5 miles from the Hilton

The American version of hearty German cuisine; more notable for the beers on tap than the sauerbraten and such, but a Chicago institution.

The Bongo Room

             1152 S. Wabash Ave., 312-291-0100; .3 miles from the Hilton

Upscale breakfast and brunch.

Dining FURTHER AFIELD (TAKING A CAB OR THE "EL")

As you no doubt have already gathered, Chicago is a city that loves to eat! In addition to countless small "mom and pop" restaurants for grabbing a bite on the run when out and about, over the last decade, Our Town has become a culinary capital to (dare we say) rival the best in France, Italy, and Spain, with a long list of Michelin-starred and James Beard Award-winning chefs and destination fine-dining restaurants. These are far too numerous to list here, but the following links will provide most helpful if you're looking to explore Chicago's food scene further away from the Hilton.

No less an authority on Mexican food than Bill Horan worships famed Chicago chef Rick Bayless. This is one of his several restaurants, Topolobampo, an extraordinary fine-dining experience!

No less an authority on Mexican food than Bill Horan worships famed Chicago chef Rick Bayless. This is one of his several restaurants, Topolobampo, an extraordinary fine-dining experience!

PHIL VETTEL'S TOP 50 CHICAGO RESTAURANTS

Phil Vettel is the long-time restaurant critic of The Chicago Tribune and a very reliable guide to the best food Chicago has to offer. This is his "best-of" list circa April 2016.

THE HOTTEST RESTAURANTS IN CHICAGO RIGHT NOW (MAY 2016)

From the Chicago Eater blog, a slightly funkier and hipper guide.

THE 10 BEST RESTAURANTS IN CHICAGO

According to TripAdvisor.com.

BEST RESTAURANTS IN CHICAGO

According to the Thrillist blog.

Grace, Phil Vettel's choice for the best restaurant in Chicago... and, indeed, one of the best in the world right now.

Grace, Phil Vettel's choice for the best restaurant in Chicago... and, indeed, one of the best in the world right now.