8 Unique Restaurants in Chicago You Must Try

8 Unique Restaurants in Chicago You Must Try

Welcome to Chicago! Amongst its towering skyscrapers and rhythmic jazz beats lies a diverse food scene mirroring the city’s cultural richness. While deep-dish pizzas and classic hot dogs draw many, a myriad of flavors awaits exploration. From the bustling Magnificent Mile and Cultural Center to serene Lake Michigan, Chicago offers intriguing eateries blending passion, innovation, and surprises. Whether downtown hubs or cozy cafes, each spot promises something special. Embark on a culinary adventure, discovering global flavors and inventive dishes beyond the ordinary with our guide to Chicago’s top eateries.

Top Unconventional Restaurants Redefining Chicago's Culinary Scene


Chicago’s renowned dining gem, Alinea, stands out for its unparalleled uniqueness. A must-visit on any most expensive restaurant in Chicago checklist, its $315, 15-course extravaganza delights with a fusion of Thai, Mexican, and French influences. Expect not just a meal but an unforgettable journey, complete with theatrical presentations (think fog machines), molecular gastronomy wonders (such as egg "yolks" morphing into bread), and witty, personable servers who leave a lasting impression.


Frontier takes mankind's quest to conquer nature seriously, with a theme reminiscent of a 19th-century cabin. Its menu boasts a variety of game meats, offering whole animal meals like roast pig or alligator for special occasions. The outdoor space, including a large fireplace, is perfect for winter gatherings, featuring a menu with rabbit and venison, evoking an Oregon Trail ambiance minus the ailments.

Three Dots and a Dash

Established in 2013, this unique eatery in Chicago pays homage to a cocktail with a Morse code twist. The ambiance immerses patrons in island vibes, with tiki-inspired cocktails and a ceiling resembling a thatched roof, illuminated by vibrant lights. While the food menu isn't extensive, offerings like coconut shrimp and moco loco burgers exude island flavors. The main attraction? The bar boasts 150 rums and a diverse cocktail selection. Don't forget to grab a collectible cocktail glass or mug as a memento!

Jiang Niu BBQ House

This large, vibrant all-you-can-eat fusion establishment in Chinatown specializes in Dongbei-style BBQ. It's quirky and entertaining, featuring robot servers and whimsical additions such as a ferris wheel filled with ingredients and a raw meat cake, which may sound alarming but is rather charming. The BBQ resembles the Korean style, but the marinade skips doenjang, resulting in a lighter flavor. Jiang Niu's extensive menu offers options for grilling on the gas grill, including enoki mushrooms, sweet potatoes, lettuces, and pineapple, among others. Each item comes with recommended cooking times, ensuring your cabbage won't fall apart.

The Wiener’s Circle

Nestled in Lincoln Park, it stands as a beacon of Chicago-style fare since '83, offering hotdogs and burgers. Yet, it's not just the food that defines this spot. What sets it apart is the banter—a verbal joust between staff and patrons, a step beyond Ed Debevic’s. Here, employees freely exchange shouts and curses with customers encouraged to reciprocate. Adding to its charm is the ever-changing sign outside, often poking fun at current events, like mocking the pardon of Rod Blagojevich in 2020.

Roka Akor

This restaurant embodies the apex of Japanese culinary mastery, featuring tantalizing meats seared over an open flame. Their twelve-foot authentic robata grill, ablaze with mesquite charcoal reaching temperatures of 1,900 degrees, exudes sheer deliciousness. Aptly named after both hearth and blazing fire, the restaurant wholeheartedly embraces its essence. Encouraging guest-chef interaction further enriches the cozy ambiance of the venue.

Gulliver’s Pizza

At Gulliver’s Pizza, dining is a journey through time. Stories circulate that an original owner's antique obsession led to every corner adorned with relics dating to the 1800s. Victorian candelabras illuminate as busts watch over pizza enthusiasts. Amidst 350 seats and countless antiques, the unique decor is matched only by the renowned pizza. Embracing eccentricity adds allure and fame, proving that even the quirkiest concepts can captivate audiences.


Vibrant and lively, Carnivale captures the spirit of a Latin fiesta in Chicago’s West Loop. From its colorful decor to pulsating music, every element ignites the senses. The menu pays homage to Latin American cuisine, offering succulent steaks and zesty ceviche. The bar serves up creative cocktails like twisted mojitos and lively pisco sours. With salsa nights and live performances, Carnivale ensures the energy never wanes, appealing to all ages for any occasion. For a taste of Latin America in Chicago, Carnivale stands out as a top dining destination, embodying the essence of Latin culture.

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