Chicago Dining Roundup – Evanston to Bridgeport

Hey, Everyone!  During the last 3 weeks, I have covered a lot of territory on the Chicago dining scene from the north side to the south side in 14 different neighborhoods.  I have gotten cozy in some adorable coffeehouses, celebrated Taco Tuesday, stuffed my face full of some decadent desserts and I stopped in at the latest giant among Chicago’s restaurants.  Whether you live in Chicago or you are planning a visit here, below is my recent guide on how to reach my latest recommendations using the local trains and buses.  No car necessary.  Save the planet!



Evanston is one of the suburbs which is closest to the city of Chicago. It is not only home to Northwestern University, it is a

charming neighborhood filled with some tasty dining options.  If you are looking for a more elegant option for lunch or dinner, head to Found which is a pretty and cozy spot.  Choose an individual table or sit around a coffee table for your meal or a drink.  I met my friend, Anca at Found for lunch a couple of weeks ago and it was delightful!  


Shared plates are the best way to go here to ensure you get a taste of a few of their creative dishes.  After we split a smoky cauliflower soup, we shared a plate of gorgeous smoked salmon salad, a mozzarella/beet salad, as well as a bad-ass flatbread with prosciutto, grilled apples, parsnips and pickled onions.



Chicago Dining Roundup Menu at Found in Evanston

So glad I found Found in Evanston!



Chicago Dining Roundup Small plates at Found in Evanston



Flatbreads at Found in Evanston, Chicago



We finished off our meal with a sticky toffee bread pudding with ice cream.



Chicago Dining Roundup Dessert at Found in Evanston

Sticky toffee bread pudding with ice cream at Found

(1631 Chicago Ave.  Take the Purple Line to the Davis ‘L’ stop.)



North Park


Brunch spots in Chicago are a dime a dozen but if you are looking for one of the very best and you are willing to venture outside of the more trendy locations, I highly recommend Bryn Mawr Breakfast Club.  That’s right!  This spot is open every day for breakfast and lunch, as well as brunch.  


The portions here are a great bang for your buck and I find the food to be pleasing to the palate as well as to the eye.  Bryn Mawr Breakfast Club is the perfect corner nook with a lovely and accommodating staff.  


While the sweet options on the menu here are stunning, on a recent visit, I chose the scallion pancake with Brussels sprouts in a pork belly and garlic sauce, over-medium eggs and dreamy potatoes.  Of course, you can choose your eggs any way you like them.  This plate of wonderful comes with your choice of toast but I declined because the potatoes were more than enough carbs for one day.



Chicago Dining Roundup Bryn Mawr Breakfast Club in Chicago

Bryn Mawr Breakfast Club in Chicago is my new obsession!

(3401 W. Bryn Mawr.  Take the Brown Line to Kimball (last stop) and transfer to the #82 bus)


Lincoln Park


Fancy something sweet to eat?  Well, cupcakes are king in Chicago but Molly’s Cupcakes has some of the best you will find.  On a recent visit, I was really feeling this Malted Marble cupcake with vanilla and chocolate marble cake.  It was filled with malted milk pudding and topped off with chocolate swirl buttercream and malt candy.  Yum!



Chicago Dining Roundup Molly's Cupcakes Chicago

The Malted Marble cupcake at Molly’s Cupcakes is dreamy!

(2536 North Clark St, just a few blocks north and east of the Fullerton ‘L’ stop on the Red and Purple Lines)


Logan Square


The newest and most acclaimed darling of the Chicago dining scene is Giant and those accolades are very well deserved, indeed.  Giant’s kitchen is in the talented hands of the former Nightwood chef on the south side and the menu here is phenomenal.  Last week, I stopped in for what is the best meal I have eaten in 2016, to date.


I began with a zucchini with pumpkin seed and cilantro marinade.  There were a smattering of nuts and cheese which added another layer of flavor to this already warm and smoky dish.  Whether you are a vegetarian or you are just looking to meet your veggie intake for the week, this is the dish for you!




Menu at Giant in Chicago



After I polished off the zucchini, I ordered the swordfish which is one of my favorite fish options to have when it is available.  Giant’s swordfish creation was made with a lovely lemongrass and coconut broth and accompanied with fresh mint, jalepeños, and lime.  Wowsa!  This is one comforting and refreshing plate of food.  Go get it before it leaves the menu.



Chicago Dining Roundup Swordfish Giant Chicago

Oh, this swordfish!

I cannot wait to work my way through the rest of Giant’s offerings.  Do make a reservation!

(3209 W. Armitage.  Take the Blue Line to the Western ‘L’ stop and transfer for the #73 Armitage bus)




Let’s talk tacos!  If you are looking for tacos with a Korean twist, head to En Hakkore.  This bright counter service spot has a small but delicious menu and the tacos are pretty hefty.  They come two to an order, so pace yourself.  I loved the tofu-kimchi taco and the spicy pork taco.  The flour tortillas were thick enough to hold up to the ingredients without getting soggy or falling apart.



Best Chicago Tacos Chicago Dining En Hakkore

Tofu-kimchi and spicy pork tacos at En Hakkore

(1840 N. Damen, two blocks north of the Damen ‘L’ stop on the Blue Line)


Who doesn’t love a joint that is open 24 hours?  Arturo’s Tacos is a family-run Bucktown diner that has you covered with taco dinners, breakfast and much more.  The price is right, too.  I ordered this taco dinner which comes with 3 tacos of your choice, rice, beans and complimentary chips with pico de gallo (very fresh and zesty pico at that).




Best Chicago Tacos Chicago Dining Arturo's Tacos Bucktown

3 Taco Dinner is served all day and night at Arturo’s Tacos in Bucktown.

(2001 N. Western Ave., 1 block north of the Western ‘L’ stop on the Blue Line)


If you are looking to get your coffee and tea needs satisfied in this part of Chicago, I recommend the well-crafted drinks at Buzz Killer Espresso.



Chicago Dining Roundup Buzz Killer Espresso in Chicago

Perfectly smooth americano with soy milk


(UPDATE:  Buzz Killer Espresso has since closed.)



Wicker Park


One of the most lovely bakeries in Chicago is Alliance Bakery in Wicker Park.  It is located on the bustling and trendy Division St.  They are churning out gorgeous cakes for every occasion, as well as cookies, pastries, and quiches.  Take your pick!  I stopped in on Thanksgiving morning for a roasted red pepper and spinach quiche and a steaming hot americano.  



Alliance Bakery in Wicker Park

Roasted red pepper and spinach quiche

There is also a space next door with free Wi-Fi.

(1736 W. Division.  Take the Blue Line to the Division ‘L stop and walk west)


I do not think there is any bad day for a steaming bowl of ramen but, certainly, this is the season to take the chill off.  If you’re of like mind, head to Kizuki Ramen and Izakaya in Wicker Park.



Chicago Dining Roundup Kizuki Ramen Wicker Park



I tried the garlicky pork ramen the other day and I thought it was quite good.



Chicago Dining Roundup Kizuki Ramen and Izakaya

Garlic pork ramen at Kizuki Ramen and Izakaya

(1482 N. Milwaukee, just one block south and east of the Damen ‘L’ stop on the Blue Line)



Humboldt Park


Spinning J is a nostalgic throwback to the old-fashioned pie and ice cream shops.  They are making creative pies, shakes, ice-cream sodas and more in this adorable Humboldt Park neighborhood.  There is nowhere else like it in Chicago.  


I love this ginger-lime soda (house made) with blackberry-lime gelato made with Black Dog gelato.  It was outrageously refreshing and a great way to start my day, as I had it for breakfast 😉  I will be back for the quiche, strata and sweet pie creations.



Chicago Dining Roundup Spinning J Chicago

Ginger-lime soda with blackberry-lime gelato float

1000 N. California Ave.  Take the Blue Line to the California ‘L’ stop and transfer for the #52 Kedzie/California bus to Augusta.


Gold Coast


On one of the first chilly days of the fall season, I headed to Francesca’s on Chestnut in the Gold Coast.  It’s a great place to take a load off and re-energize if you are shopping near Water Tower Place and Michigan Avenue.


I had not been to Francesca’s in quite some time and I really enjoyed this lovely bowl of rigatoni with spicy sausage, sun-dried tomatoes, garlic, white, goat cheese and basil.



Francesca's on Chestnut in Chicago


(200 E. Chestnut, a few blocks east of the Chicago ‘L’ stop on the Red Line)


Amorino’s is a cute, corner spot to try for some yummy gelato.  It’s not the famous Vivoli’s in Florence but it’s pretty damn tasty 🙂



Chicago Dining Roundup Amorino gelato in Chicago

3 scoops of gelato for me: pistachio, chocolate-hazelnut and tiramisu


(838 N. State St., just one block north of the Chicago ‘L’ stop on the Red Line)



Old Town


Eva’s Cafe is absolutely the best coffeehouse in Chicago with its brick floor, fireplace, and kitschy decor.  There are high tops, comfy seats, and some communal tables.  They serve pastries and sandwiches and the coffee and tea are always on point.  



Chicago Dining Roundup Eva's Cafe in Old Town, Chicago

Greetings from the most adorable coffee house in Chicago!


If you drop by now, you can enjoy the fully decorated, live Christmas tree!  There is no cozier and quiet spot to get your work done and avoid the stroller set.

(1447 N. Sedgwick, just 1 1/2 blocks south of the Sedgwick ‘L’ stop on the Brown Line)


Woodies Flat is one of the new additions to Wells Street, the main drag in Old Town.  This spot is a small and friendly spot to grab dinner during the week or brunch on the weekend.  There is always a game on here.


I dropped by for a healthy salad with shrimp on Sunday before I went to Eva’s Cafe.



Chicago Dining Roundup Woodie's Flat Chicago


(1535 N. Wells, just 3 blocks east and 1 block south of the Sedgwick ‘L stop on the Brown Line)



West Loop


Chicago has a lot of great Italian restaurants and Bar Siena is definitely on that list.  Top Chef contestant, Fabio Viviani is at the helm of this sister-restaurant to Siena Tavern.  


Try to the lovely selection of soup like this hearty potato and bacon number served with a side of gooey grilled cheese.



Chicago Dining Roundup Bar Siena West Loop, Chicago

Potato at bacon soup with a side gooey grilled cheese at Bar Siena


Finish things off on the lighter side with the shaved butternut squash salad and add a protein such as grilled salmon.



Bar Siena in the West Loop

Shaved butternut squash salad with pomegranates and salmon


Brunch here is also great as well as the fabulous sausage and peppers sandwich.

(832 W. Randolph St, just 3 blocks east and one block south of the Morgan ‘L’ stop on the Green and Pink Lines)



South Loop


I always lament that my South Loop neighborhood does not have more great food options but Rylon’s Smokehouse is a new and promising addition.  I have only been here once since it opened recently and I am looking to returning soon.  It is not the best BBQ in Chicago (that would be Smoque) but I am optimistic and I will be back again.


I did enjoy my lunch of shrimp, brisket bourbon baked beans and mac ‘n cheese.


Chicago Dining Roundup Rylon's Smokehouse

Rylon’s Smokehouse in Chicago’s South Loop

(67 E. Cermak Rd., just 1 1/2 blocks east of the Cermak-McCormick Place ‘L’ stop on the Green Line.  So, if you are in town for a convention at McCormick Place, stop by for lunch or dinner)





OPA!!  If you’re in a Mediterranean frame of mind and you are looking for some healthier eats with enough olive oil to make your skin glow, check out Santorini in Greektown.


Get the lemon-egg soup because it is so light and refreshing.  I always feel sad when I reach the bottom of the bowl.



Chicago Dining Roundup Santorini in Greektown

Lemon-egg soup



Another stand-out at Santorini is the angel hair pasta with shrimp.  It is surprisingly light with a lemon profile in the sauce.  Delish!




Chicago Dining Roundup Pasta at Santorini Chicago

Angel hair pasta with shrimp


Fish at Santorini is a must-do.  I loved the grilled swordfish.



Chicago Dining Roundup Santorini in Chicago

Grilled swordfish at Santorini in Chicago’s Greektown

(800 W. Adams – 3 blocks north of the UIC-Halsted ‘L’ stop on the Blue Line or 3 blocks west and 3 blocks south of the Ogilvie Transportation station on the Metra)


Little Italy


I love Davanti Enoteca for delicious Italian fare but if you fancy some Mexican food, check out Jarabe Mexican Street Food.


I was pleasantly surprised with Jarabe’s al pastor tacos and the earthy, garlicky mushroom burrito with cabbage.



Best Chicago Tacos Chicago Dining Jarabe Mexican Street Food




Best Chicago Tacos Chicago Dining Jarabe Mexican Street Food

Garlic-mushroom burrito with cabbage and avocado at Jarabe

(2255 W. Taylor St.  Take the #12 Roosevelt bus to Oakley and walk 2 blocks north))





Bridgeport is a historic and down-to-earth, south side neighborhood in Chicago that has some fun dining options.


Antique Taco opened up a new location in Bridgeport this year and I am super excited.  You don’t want to miss the garlic shrimp tacos with elote cauliflower and crispy kale.  The al pastor is fabulous, too.



Chicago dining Antique Taco in Bridgeport

Al pastor tacos

(1000 W. 35th St.  Take the #8 Halsted bus to 35th St and walk west (you can connect at the Halsted ‘L’ stop on the Orange Line).)




Chicago Dining Roundup Jackalope

Jackalope is one of the best coffee houses in Chicago


Another cool Chicago coffeehouse is Jackalope Coffee and Tea House.  They make some creative coffee drinks like “The Dirty Ho” with espresso, horchata, and milk.  It’s creamy and delightful.



Chicago Dining Roundup Jackalope in Brigeport

“The Dirty Ho” is made with espresso, horchata, and milk


Jackalope also has some great pastries and sandwiches available and free Wi-Fi.  So, you can get some work done or enjoy a quiet conversation here.


(755 W. 32nd St.  Take the #8 Halsted bus directly there (connect at the Halsted ‘L’ stop on the Orange Line).  Look for the colorful signage outside.)


OK, folks!  I hope I got you excited to hop the rails (and buses) and traverse the city for some great Chicago dining options from the north side to the south side.  

Then, check out How to Eat in Chicago and Save the Planet as well as these other 8 Chicago Neighborhoods that Offer Amazing Eats.

In keeping with the spirit of Feeding Off The Rails, I encourage you to leave your car at home and take the CTA trains and buses to the best Chicago dining.  Save on gas. Avoid traffic, parking and road rage.  Reduce pollution. Don’t drink and drive!