Best-of Guides Chicago

Where to Find Grilled and Wood-Fire Dishes in Chicago

9 Restaurants
For American Independence Day and every day this summer, here's where to find wood-fired and charcoal-grilled fare—think brisket, whole grilled fish, and golden heads of cauliflower.
Updated on 18 September 2023
951 W. Fulton Market, 60607 Chicago
$$$ · Contemporary

The best seats here are at the counter, facing the blazing hearth. The cooking is hearty and refined, incorporating that wood fire at every possible turn. Start with the likes of hearth-roasted rainbow carrots enriched by smoked labneh and pistachio croutons, before digging in to a bowl of rigatoni with Wagyu Bolognese. Smoke even finds its way into dessert, like a boulder of ember ice cream served on a bed of crushed hazelnuts, cherry jam and milk chocolate mousse.

2429 N. Lincoln Ave., 60614 Chicago
$$$ · Middle Eastern

The prix-fixe menu allows diners to make their own selections from a range of options, but sharing is key to cover the most ground. Kick things off with salatim (spreads and pickles) accompanied by flame-kissed pita; you'll find more grilled dishes in the "mostly over coal" section. Dessert manages to be just as tantalizing as the savory fare. Sample an updated spin on baklava with white chocolate and raspberry for a wonderfully elegant finale.

Maple & Ash
8 W. Maple St., 60610 Chicago
$$$$ · Steakhouse

This restaurant is set to the soft glow emanating from the semi-open kitchen, where a wood-fired hearth lights up dry-aged steakhouse classics. Seafood lovers will find plenty to mull over too, like a tangle of octopus and squid, prepared in the wood-fueled oven and served with dill yogurt, arugula and roasted potatoes. Then, a fire-roasted seafood tower is brought tableside, featuring lobster tail, scallops, Manila clams and king crab, all bathed in garlic butter, chili oil and served with house-made pasta.

5419 N. Clark St., 60640 Chicago
$$ · Israeli

All eyes here are drawn to the wood-burning hearth, in turn enclosed by a low blue-tiled wall that partitions off the open kitchen. Other walls echo the azure hues of the façade. That hearth isn't just a decorative element here. In fact, this Israeli-inspired menu boasts pillowy pita with hummus and burnished roast cauliflower, both of which emerge flame-kissed from the oven. Dishes also unveil classics from the greater Near East, including Georgia. Behold the piping-hot and deliciously rich khachapuri. 

Girl & The Goat
809 W. Randolph St., 60607 Chicago
$$$ · Contemporary

A pick-your-own-protein adventure, the menu here is organized by ingredients with a dedicated section for goat. Start with freshly baked ham bread accompanied by smoked Swiss cheese-butter seasoned with coarse mustard and olive tapenade. Taste a bit of flame with the wood-fired shishito peppers or a whole grilled branzino. End with an almost pudding-like “all leches” cake enriched with strawberry-rhubarb sorbet. 

County Barbecue
1352 W. Taylor St., 60607 Chicago
$$ · Barbecue

The smell of smoke wafts through the air and out to the sidewalk from this small, cute spot. Tables may be laden with such classic barbecue delights as spice-rubbed pork ribs, deeply tender brisket and smoked pastrami, all of which highlight delicious charred flavor and meltingly tender meat. No doubt barbecue is the main feature, but one can virtually make a meal out of the sides alone. Think: delightfully spongy and creamy corn pudding; slowly simmered collard greens; as well as deeply addictive mac and cheese.

Dusek’s Tavern
1227 W. 18th St., 60608 Chicago
$$ · Gastropub

Dusek’s seems dark and moody, but everyone is having a rollicking good time here. Its front room is like a tavern, while the back is a dining room warmed by wood-burning ovens from which come asparagus, baked squid, and trout. Past menu favorites include a boudin blanc sandwich with beef-fat fries; and bacon-covered country pâté with toasted crostini. Close out with a summery strawberry rhubarb shortcake.

Andros Taverna
2542 N. Milwaukee Ave., 60647 Chicago
$$$ · Greek

Some make an entire meal out of the mezze by swiping warm pita through dips, like creamy whipped feta, smoky charred eggplant and creamy taramasalata. Others might zero-in on that hulking platter of grilled lamb chops. Then again, a few may stick to the gyro and save themselves for impressive sweets, like custard pie with phyllo, or baklava froyo with pistachio sauce. In the end, no detail goes unnoticed in this breezy space flaunting sleek concrete floors, dangling greenery and a wood-burning oven that kisses nearly everything on the menu. 

Rose Mary
932 W. Fulton Market, 60607 Chicago
$$$ · Croatian

Imagine a setting that evokes Croatia's konobas (akin to a rustic trattoria) featuring whitewashed walls, rustic clay and hanging plants with seating that can easily accommodate some-100 diners. Well-versed servers are on hand to guide patrons through the menu, which draws inspiration from the Adriatic. High points include tortellini djuvec (eggplant and preserved zucchini in a red pepper cream) as well as burek with ground beef and mozzarella. The charcoal hearth is solely responsible for such sumptuous mains as lamb with blitva and potatoes. Save room for sweet treats like rosewater fritule.