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Dining Out 4 minutes 27 August 2018

The 14 Best Gastropubs in Chicago

Here's where to go.

Gastropub

When it comes to gastropub fare, the city of Chicago is a treasure trove of modern-day taverns doling out hearty sausages (read: foie gras hot dogs), craft brews and killer cocktails.

The next time you’re in search for an inventive gastropub in the Windy City, look no further. Here’s were to go:

“Eggs on Eggs,” a French omelet with Osetra caviar and brown buter crumble at Band of Bohemia. (Photo courtesy of Band of Bohemia.)
“Eggs on Eggs,” a French omelet with Osetra caviar and brown buter crumble at Band of Bohemia. (Photo courtesy of Band of Bohemia.)

Band of Bohemia

Andersonville, Edgewater & Uptown

Designation: One Star

What Our Inspectors Say: “Located in a repurposed brick building across from the Metra tracks, the look is understandably industrial, with an open layout that unwinds into a series of seating options, inviting bar, and an open kitchen with another small bar set against pretty blue tiles. Curved, high-backed booths lend intimacy to counter the room’s sheer size. Stainless steel tanks displayed in the back hold the culinary-minded handiwork of their head brewer. On tap, expect a handful of rotating beers like the Coconut ESB, a copper-hued ale brewed with toasted fennel, coriander seeds and coconut sugar. Those rich brews are matched seamlessly to the kitchen's boundless small and large plates, which defy expectations with delicious success.”

Bangers & Lace

Bucktown & Wicker Park

Designation: The Plate

What Our Inspectors Say: “Despite the frilly connotations, this sausage-and-beer mecca’s name refers not to doilies, but to the delicate layers of foam that remain in the glass after your craft brew has been quaffed. You’ll also have lots of opportunity to study the lace curtains as you plow through their extensive draft beer menu, noted on blackboards in the comfortably worn-in front bar room. Decadent foie gras corn dogs (actually French garlic sausage wrapped with soft-sweet brioche cornbread) and veal brats with melted Gouda elevate the humble sausage; while a slew of sandwiches suit simpler tastes.”
Lemon meringue pie at Gilt Bar. (Photo courtesy of Gilt Bar.)
Lemon meringue pie at Gilt Bar. (Photo courtesy of Gilt Bar.)

Gilt Bar

River North

Designation: Bib Gourmand

What Our Inspectors Say: “It’s not easy to miss the revolving door entrance to Gilt Bar, a moody and imposing retreat. The bar up front mixes cocktails to a metronomic rhythm, while the back feels more intimate with studded leather banquettes and nostalgic lighting. However make no mistake: this is no Bugsy Malone speakeasy, but a grown-up version for aficionados with astute palates.”

The Dawson

Bucktown & Wicker Park

Designation: The Plate

What Our Inspectors Say: “The Dawson has everything you can ask for in a gastropub—a convivial vibe, clever bites and great libations. The Surfer Rosa for instance (with tequila, mezcal, blood orange and chiles) serves to loosen up diners jonesing for big flavors. Inside, globe lights shine like beacons through the façade’s lofty windows. And, a wraparound bar attracts spirited guests like moths to a flame.”

The Duck Inn

Pilsen, University Village & Bridgeport

Designation: Bib Gourmand

What Our Inspectors Say: “Head to the Bridgeport warehouses, where this stylish, modern tavern—helmed by executive chef Kris Delee—feels like a diamond in the rough. Then make your way past the buzzy bar (pouring heady cocktails) to a semi-open kitchen, which is in full view of the decorous dining room featuring wood tables and mid-century seats. The cuisine may be coined as 'working-class fine dining,' but there is nothing lowbrow about this menu, which unveils a focused but diverse selection of small plates and mains.”
At Hopleaf, mussels are steeped in beer, Belgian-style, or sautéed with San Marzano tomatoes and fennel, and topped with fresh corn. (Photo courtesy of Grant Kessler/Hopleaf.)
At Hopleaf, mussels are steeped in beer, Belgian-style, or sautéed with San Marzano tomatoes and fennel, and topped with fresh corn. (Photo courtesy of Grant Kessler/Hopleaf.)

Hopleaf

Andersonville, Edgewater & Uptown

Designation: Bib Gourmand

What Our Inspectors Say: “There are so many things to love about Chicago’s taverns: their complete lack of attitude; their undying hospitality; and their downright delicious cooking. Hopleaf is a classic example of all that and more, still packing the house 25 years after opening. A traditional bar graces the front, but the glassed-in kitchen is where the magic happens.”

Dusek’s (Board & Beer)

Pilsen, University Village & Bridgeport

Designation: One Star

What Our Inspectors Say: “The fact that this spot is named for the man who founded the original venue back in 1892 shows the importance of this connection—those in-the-know are usually headed here before or after a show. The space seems dark and moody, but everyone is having a rollicking good time. The front room feels more like a tavern; the back is a dining room warmed by the wood-burning ovens. Yet both share that same friendly ambience and superb service.”
A variety of savory handmade pies are served at Pleasant House Pub. (Photo courtesy of Dan Goldberg/Pleasant House Pub.)
A variety of savory handmade pies are served at Pleasant House Pub. (Photo courtesy of Dan Goldberg/Pleasant House Pub.)

Pleasant House Pub

Pilsen, University Village & Bridgeport

Designation: Bib Gourmand

What Our Inspectors Say: “Classic English pies may be the specialty of this house, but don’t let that inspire visions of chintz and tea cozies—the interiors here are decidedly modern, with marble-topped tables and hand-crafted pottery. But the crowds come for the pies, and for good reason—they’re fabulous.”

Farmhouse

River North

Designation: The Plate

What Our Inspectors Say: “Like shaking the hand of your local farmer, grab the pitchfork door handles of Farmhouse and you’ll be almost as close to the source of your food. Much of the décor is salvaged and much of the menu is procured right from the Midwest. From Indiana chicken to Michigan wine, local is more than a buzzword.”

The Gage

Loop

Designation: The Plate

What Our Inspectors Say: “Handsome banquettes and columns wrapped in celadon tiles lend a clubby allure, but the space’s buzzy vibe never feels overwhelming. While a bar stretching half the length of the restaurant gets its fair share of happy-hour crowds, the rear dining rooms offer a more relaxed setting.”
The charcuterie plate at The Publican features Spanish chorizo, pork pie, head cheese, pâté and pickled vegetables. (Photo courtesy of Chloe List/The Publican.)
The charcuterie plate at The Publican features Spanish chorizo, pork pie, head cheese, pâté and pickled vegetables. (Photo courtesy of Chloe List/The Publican.)

The Publican

West Loop

Designation: Bib Gourmand

What Our Inspectors Say: “This Fulton Market stalwart is something of a local legend and the flagship of Paul Kahan’s restaurant empire. Inspired by century-old public houses where political conversations and beer flowed with equal fervor, The Publican remains true to its roots with cloistered wood booths, a brass bar and background music that cannot be heard over the patrons’ happy din.”

Longman & Eagle

Humboldt Park & Logan Square

Designation: Bib Gourmand

What Our Inspectors Say: “Marked by a single ampersand over the door, Longman & Eagle is the ultimate merging of the Old World and New Order. It’s where remnants of a glorious past live in harmony with chefs who prefer bandanas and beards to toques; and the cuisine remains as ambitious as ever despite the room's saloon-like feel. Although lunch is rather limited, the kitchen remains particularly busy at all times and the cocktail program is nothing short of stellar.”

Owen & Engine

Bucktown & Wicker Park

Designation: The Plate

What Our Inspectors Say: “Brocade wallpaper, gas lights, and studded leather club chairs lend a Victorian feel. A frequently changing draft list always features a few selections pulled from a beer cask (or “engine”). British-inspired gastropub grub matches the impressive roster of brews and Pimm's cups.”

Side Door

River North

Designation: The Plate

What Our Inspectors Say: “In a city with no shortage of steakhouses, Side Door dares to be different. It’s the casual arm of Lawry’s in the historic McCormick Mansion, offering the same quality and service without the power lunch vibe. Comfy leather banquettes and wide wooden tables are well spaced throughout the bi-level restaurant, offering a respite for shoppers to relax with a cheese plate and craft beer flight.”

Hero image courtesy of Ayesgul D. Sanford/The Publican.

Dining Out

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