For friends and family who know me, they know that I'm a huge foodie. So when I moved to the Chicago neighborhood of Gold Coast, I was ecstatic to start trying new restaurants. My initial assumption was that everything is too fancy and too expensive in this area that I wouldn't be able to afford to explore all the time. But little did I know, there's such a big variety of good food at every price point! With that in mind, here's the list of some of my favorite restaurants in my neighborhood.
1. Blue Door Kitchen & Garden: 52 W Elm St -
This was the first restaurant we went to after moving to Gold Coast, offering New American cuisine for brunch and dinner in the $$ price range.. When we first moved to Gold Coast we couldn't help but notice this place on the way to the subway to get to work.. We were immediately drawn to the cute exterior and the outdoor garden area that was always bustling throughout the summer and fall months. After walking by it a few dozen times, we finally checked out the menu and pulled the trigger for brunch.
Prior to our visit, Kyle and I both had an item in mind, but when we showed up the waiter informed us that the chef's specialty was fried chicken. The chef was so well known that they cooked fried chicken for President Obama while he was in the White House! So of course we immediately changed our minds and both got the buttermilk fried chicken and waffles, and it absolutely didn't disappoint. If you come on a nice day, the courtyard and garden space on the side has comfortable outdoor seating, perfect on a spring or summer day! During COVID, they've also put up tents to continue outdoor dining year-round
2. Somerset: 1112 N State St
Do you have that restaurant right in by your home, but you just never went because when you go out to eat, you gotta "go somewhere" and not just pick the restaurant right in front of you? Well that's Somerset for us. We've been living here for over a year now, and finally had both brunch and dinner here in the last month. So what makes Somerset so unique is that it is very traveler friendly. It is connected to the 5-star Viceroy Chicago Hotel. The entire swanky vibe of the restaurant feels like something straight out of The Great Gatsby.
Here are a couple photos of our meals. I just have to call out a couple highlights: the fries were divine! Crispy on the outside, moist on the inside. Their cocktails are amazing, and there's a huge variety of options to choose from. if you're going for brunch, definitely try a freshly-made cappuccino or an iced latte!
You can expect delicious American cuisine with a unique twist in the $$$ price range.
3. Velvet Taco: 1110 N State St
Oh how I've had a long standing history with Velvet Taco. I find that every college grad living in Chicago has similar experiences with Velvet Taco. We seems to always find ourselves ending up at Velvet Taco after a fun night out with friends. It's one of those fast casual restaurants that just caters to anyone's cravings. Velvet Taco is not just a traditional taco restaurant. They've got some of the most creative tacos I've ever seen. I also recently found out that while there are only two locations in Chicago, you can also find Velvet Tacos all across the country!
Some of our favorite tacos include: The Cuban Pig, The Korean Pork, Fish and Chips, the Spicy Chicken Tikka and who could forget the Chicken & Waffles. Of course, they have delicious vegetarian options: Beer Battered Cauliflower taco, Falafel Taco, and more. I will say, as good as their tacos are, locals will recommend you save room for a side of Elote Corn and a slice of their namesake Red Velvet Cake.
You can enjoy these delicious Tacos at $ price range. The Gold Coast location has 2 floors for a good amount of indoor dining space, but they travel well for delivery or take out.
4. Chicago Q: 1160 N Dearborn St
This is one of those somewhat deceiving restaurant. From the outside, you can NEVER tell it's a BBQ joint. But every time we walk by, you can't help but get a whiff of their delicious smokiness of fresh BBQ. I've sure you've been to a traditional BBQ place, but have you been to a BBQ Brunch? We recommend visiting for brunch for a unique experience. Definitely try the Benedict Flight where smoked chicken, pulled pork, and prime brisket are served on an eggs benedict with a side of delicious potato hash. Or I'm always a sucker for fried chicken and waffles (have you picked out how much I love fried chicken and waffles yet?).
This, of course, may not be the most vegetarian friendly, but they do have a handful of vegetarian or pescatarian friendly dishes if you are tagging along with your carnivorous friends. You can enjoy their mouth watering BBQ at $$ price ranges.
5. LuxBar: 18 E Bellevue Pl
LuxBar is a modern American restaurant that is known for its delicious brunch and dinner as well as it's classic wood & brass interior. I've been to LuxBar for both brunch and dinner and both options did not disappoint. They are also a frequent participant in Chicago Restaurant Week ( great option if you are visiting Chicago in the late winter or early spring!), which is how I got to enjoy their yummy dinner menu.
Steak lovers rejoice! LuxBar is also known for their Gibsons USDA Prime Angus Steaks. You can choose from Filet Mignon, New York Strip, GGA Ribeye, and Steak Frites (Note, the Steak Frites is currently featured on their Chicago restaurant week menu). Of course, beyond beef, they have plenty of other options including pizza, sandwiches, or vegetarian options for all audiences! I can't close out this recommendation without mentioning their huge drink menu as well with delicious cocktails and plenty of wine and craft beer options, and of course their signature Rosé Cart featuring chilled selections by the glass or the bottle
You can explore their extensive menu at a solid $$-$$$ price range.
6. 3 Arts Club Cafe: 1300 N Dearborn St
This is truly a hidden gem. Most people won't know there's a restaurant inside the Restoration Hardware! To be honest, if you don't pay attention, you'll miss the Restoration Hardware as well because it blends right in the neighborhood and looks just like just another Gold Coast Mansion like you might see on nearby Astor Street.
Once you step in, you'll see this beautifully decorated restaurant sitting in a open ceiling space in the center of RH. You can enjoy delicious brunch & dinner, enjoy down time with a cup of coffee, or end your night with yummy cocktails. Don't let the small package fool you, they've combined a coffee house, wine bar, and upscale American restaurant in one space.
While they have a big menu for brunch and dinner, you MUST explore their wine menu. You can enjoy their food / wine in the $$-$$$ price range
7. The Original Pancake House: 22 E Bellevue Pl
People not from Chicago might have seen this brand before, and that's because they are a pretty well known chain pancake house founded in 1953 in Portland OR. There's actually 5 The Original Pancake Houses in Chicago! But unlike the Denny's or IHOP you'll see at your local highway off-ramp, The Original Pancake House has a way of blending right in to whatever neighborhood it might be in. Their breakfast is one of those foods I often find myself craving on so many Saturday and Sunday mornings.
They offer indoor, and seasonal outdoor dining, as well as take out & delivery. You can find their classic American diner breakfast dishes like skillets, scrambles, waffles, and of course, pancakes. But I did want to highlight their specialty, which is the Apple Pancake (but whatever you do, don't look at the calorie count, I promise it's worth the splurge!) Check out this dish in all it's glory below.
Great thing about a down to earth chain diner? You won't break the bank. This place is easily in the $ price range.
8. Doc B's Restaurant & Bar: 100 E Walton St
To be completely honest, I've only had Doc B's during COVID-19. Like mentioned, we've been living here a little over a year, but majority of our time in Gold Coast has unfortunately been in lockdown due to the pandemic. So Doc B's is actually one of those restaurants where we've gotten take out and delivery a ton of times.
Doc B's falls in the wonderful gray area right between Gold Coast and River North. Some might argue this is a River North restaurant. And to that I say, River North or Gold Coast is not important as long as it's delicious 😋
On of our favorite is their Wok Out Bowl where you get to choose your base, sauce, and toppings. Pretty much has been my go to every time we get take out. Don't feel like stir fry? They have an excellent selection of burgers and sandwiches on the menu!
You can devour Doc B's dishes at $$-$$$ price range.
9. Maple and Ash: 8 W Maple St
Looking for a fancy date spot? Maybe you're a steak lover? Try Gold Coast's beloved steakhouse, Maple and Ash. I guess Kyle probably wishes we went there more often!
They offer a variety of different dining options: dining room dinner, brunch, courtyard brunch, courtyard dinner, courtyard lunch, carry out, or delivery. So you'll find something perfect for any season / weather.
Chicago has some great steakhouses, and Maple & Ash is often rated as one of the top steakhouses in the city. On the menu, you'll find the common steakhouse items with a modern flair such as filet mignon, surf and turf, ribeye, or crab legs, but they also have a unique menu item called "I don't give a f*@k" (no I promise I'm not kidding here). I haven't tried this personally, but for a flat amount of $200 per person, they will serve you wine until you find a bottle you love and then bring you more food than you could ever want. According to their site, "We will put a blindfold on someone and let them go in and pick out a bottle. If they don’t like it, 400 other people might, so we’ll cork it and put it on the by-the-glass list and find something that you like". So if you're looking to be adventurous, you can definitely shell out some money for an interactive experience!
Like mentioned, this is not your average steakhouse. You can expect to spend a solid $$$$ for your experience there, but could be a great date night spot or somewhere to celebrate a special occasion!
10. Lou Malnati's: 1120 N State St
You know... as much as I can recommend local favorites, it's hard not to mention a tourist must try. So if you're coming to Chicago for the first time, and you have your mind set on having some iconic Chicago deep dish pizza, then you really have to plan a visit to Lou Malnati's.
If you've never heard of deep dish pizza, you're missing out. It is the Chicago-Style pizza that's got that classic high edge which provides plenty of space for a HUGE amount of sauce and cheese. Think of it more like a pie with pizza ingredients than a traditional pizza. At Lou's Gold Coast location, you'll also enjoy a great space with a bar area, a bustling outdoor area, and a parlor-style dining room.
Let's just say, this is surely a calorie heavy and dense meal you'll probably want to share with friends or family. But hey, whose to stop you from getting one for yourself? You can actually get deep dish pizza frozen/ready to bake and ship it home to anywhere across the country!
All this can be enjoyed at a $$-$$$ price range.
Special Shoutout: Sprinkles 24 Hour Cupcake ATM: 50 E Walton St
I hope this was a helpful list as you plan your time in Chicago! Let me know if you end up visiting one of these amazing restaurants!