When people hear “Chicago,” they think deep-dish pizza. But when we asked chefs for their favorite places to go for lunch in the area, the infamous crust did not make the cut — Mexican food and banh mi sandwiches did. Find their recommendations below, keeping in mind that Jeff Mauro is a trustworthy local. Whether you’re heading to Food Network in Concert this September or are a Chicagoan yourself, this list will come in handy when you’re on the hunt for an afternoon bite in the Windy City.
Geoffrey Zakarian: Frontera Grill — Rick Bayless’ place.
Anne Burrell: The Tavern on Rush is always fun to sit outside and people-watch, and Kuma’s Corner (pictured above) has even better burgers.
Marc Murphy: I recently went to the The Purple Pig for lunch and everything was incredible! They offer so many selections of cured meats and smears that are great for sharing. The chef, Jimmy Bannos Jr., was so friendly and generous; it was an all-around great time. Tony Mantuano’s Cafe Spiaggia is a fantastic option for lunch. It has a relaxed atmosphere where you can enjoy a leisurely lunch and eat delicious, rustic Italian fare. Order any of their signature pizzas or pastas, especially the cacio e pepe.
Jeff Mauro: We love the griddle burgers at Burger Boss in Elmwood Park. Also, the Chicago French Market has everything you could possible crave in one convenient location — smoked meat sandwich from Fumare, BBQ from Lily Q’s, cheese from Pastoral and banh mi from Saigon Sisters.
Alex Guarnaschelli: I love Antique Taco. Great ingredients, tasty tacos. Casual setting. And maybe it’s the chef in me, but I love the spirit (and the hot dogs and fries) at The Wiener’s Circle. Really delicious with a side order of jokes.
Bill Telepan: Seven on Heaven. It’s a fun, casual spot. Not only is the food delicious, but it’s run by the Bannos family, and I always like to stop by for a visit when I’m in town. Terzo Piano is a really nice, pleasant place to have a great lunch. Plus, it’s a great reason to pay a visit to the Art Institute.
Are you from Chicago? FN Dish wants to know your favorite local lunch joint.