Illinois is a hub for delicious and fun places to eat, whether you’re looking for an authentic farm-to-table experience, a trendy new spot, or an Illinois classic. Chicago will even play host to the James Beard Awards – often called the Oscars® of food – for the third year in a row in May. Read on to find some great new eats to try with friends and family starting in Chicago and heading south.
If you are looking to be a part of the dining experience from start to finish, look no further than Alinea Group’s latest creation, Roister in Chicago’s West Loop neighborhood. Launched in 2016, this unique and unforgettable dining experience blends the kitchen and the dining area, so you get a chance to watch your delicious meal being prepared among the tables where you dine. The gourmet and eccentric fare has creative flavors you won’t find anywhere else, with dishes like chicken braised in chamomile and Foie Gras. For an even more immersive experience, book a reservation for the chef’s table downstairs to receive a surprise tasting menu.
Make your way into Central Illinois and stop off at Riggs Beer Company in Urbana. Growing up on a 5th generation farm in Champaign County, Matt and Darin Riggs knew they wanted to continue the family tradition while also turning a profit. They both discovered an interest in brewing beer and started experimenting with it in their homes. After some time spent in Germany and a formal degree in brewing, Matt and Darin returned to Champaign County, purchased a building near the farm where they grew up, and opened the doors to Riggs Beer Company in 2016.
With the tap room surrounded by plots of barley, hops and non-GMO corn used to brew the beer, you won’t find a more farm-to-table brewing experience. Even better, there’s something for everyone to do at Riggs, thanks to the family friendly beer garden with a playground and outdoor games. If you get hungry, step outside to grab a bite from one of the delicious food trucks parked out front.
Continue your journey just a little further south and next you’ll hit Catrina’s in Edwardsville. Co-owners Megan and Ana Becerril decided to open this upscale Mexican restaurant after the former restaurant where they worked closed. Megan, whose husband’s family is from Mexico, was inspired to open a restaurant serving up authentic Mexican fare, and opened the restaurant in January 2016. Dishes like house made taquitos, guacamole topped with pistachios and street tacos with baja fish, Catrina’s menu is nothing short of creative and fresh. This restaurant emphasizes serving only the most authentic food you’d find in a Mexican kitchen.
Keep travelling south and you’ll come to Pie’s the Limit in Springfield. Local restaurateurs Vic Lanzotti and Chris Hanken opened in November 2015 after getting inspiration from a pizza expo in Las Vegas. They returned with the up-and-coming idea of fast-casual meets pizza parlor.
This fast and fresh pizza joint with two Springfield locations lets you choose unlimited toppings on any of your pizzas, made with homemade crust. Not in the mood for pizza? You can’t go wrong with a freshly tossed salad or a comforting bowl of pasta. Pro tip: make sure to save room for the homemade cookies for dessert!
From fine dining and fast casual to ethnic food and farm-to-table fare, there’s no shortage of restaurants to try in Illinois.