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Visiting a new city that you have never been to before is exciting—there are tons of new sights to see and experience, and tons of new food to try. But no one likes looking like a tourist, and a lot of the best eateries in a city are the best-kept secrets of the city natives. Chicago is no exception—while there are many big-name restaurants in the city, some of the city’s best places are kept under wraps. But don’t worry! If you’re visiting Chicago for the first time (or returning for more fun), here are some tips on how to dine like a local.
Devon Street between California and Damen
Devon Street is a place where worldly flavors live and thrive. Here, you can expect to find some authentic Middle Eastern food and Indian cuisine, as well as some adorable shops. Devon Street is host to an amalgamation of South Asian, Polish, Kurdish, Mexican, Cuban, and many more foods and vendors that represent Chicago’s immigrant history. You can expect to stumble upon some unique finds here—from plentiful spice shops, handmade soaps, practical cookware, to colorful saris, worldly groceries, and beautiful jewelry.
The best part is, you can often get a great meal on Devon Street less than $10. It is an experience that you simply can’t pass up.
If you go east of Michigan Avenue and past the touristy areas, you will find the neighborhood of Streeterville. Streeterville is most known for being the gateway to Navy Pier, a bustling Chicago landmark, but this area has so much more to offer, especially in the food department. Here, you can find unique food and entertainment experiences unlike any other.
Looking for a fresh, one of a kind dining experience? Stop by the Albert. Located in a whimsical boutique hotel called Hotel EMC2, the Albert (as in, Albert Einstein) is a fine dining option that promises a contemporary culinary experience. Want a place to sing the night away? Check out Marusaki Sake Lounge where you can get your own private room to karaoke with your favorite people (or strangers, if you want).
Just south of Wicker Park lives the Ukrainian Village. This neighborhood is picturesque and quaint—any Instagrammer’s dream. In Ukrainian Village, you can find beautiful homes that make you feel like you’ve stepped into a different time in history, with a rich history to match the exterior.
And with rich history comes amazing food, as well. As the name of this neighborhood might suggest, Ukrainian Village is home to some of the most authentic Ukrainian food in Chicago. But that is not all that you will find here. There’s an expansive spice shop for all your culinary needs near Damen, as well as second-hand stores. Looking for something more historical in an American sense? Grab a pair of Cowboy Boots at Alcala’s! No matter what you’re looking for, Ukrainian Village has it all.
Visiting a new place does not have to be daunting, as long as you know where to look. And if you are a returning guest to Chicago, these are some wonderful, less tourist-packed places to explore. Each Chicago neighborhood and area has its own charm and history, and these are the ones that Chicago natives love (and keep to themselves). Next time you find yourself in the Windy City, be sure to check out all of these places and decide for yourself which one is your favorite.
Interested in dining at the Albert? Book a reservation.