Exploring Chicago Restaurants

Anna Casey

It has been eight months since the pandemic unraveled life as we know it and everyone seems to be reaching a new level of stir-crazy as the same day repeats over and over again. Restaurants across the country have opened up with new precautions in place and they are providing a sense of normalcy  we are all yearning for. Let’s face it, we all want an excuse to get changed out of sweatpants and leave the house - even if just for a meal. 

Chicago, where many Trust20 and RelishWorks team members call home, has as many types of restaurants available as you can imagine. Food is love to folks in the Midwest and what better way to show that affection than recommending where to enjoy a meal? We’ve compiled a list of restaurants that we recommend to someone who wanted a taste of Chicago - take a look!


When picking a restaurant, particularly when exploring a new spot, remember to Be a 5-Star Diner and certainly do not forget to wear your mask.

Monteverde, West Loop

Monteverde has been a long time favorite when it comes to date nights or a celebratory event. They pride themselves on using simple ingredients to hand make their modern italian cuisine - it is guaranteed to make your mouth water with every bite. 

They are requiring that all guests and staff have their temperature checked upon arrival, table reservations are limited to two hours, and in the case of inclement weather they will provide you with packages so you can enjoy your food at home. 

Our Recommendation: Order the burrata e ham for the table, and don’t forget the red snapper or the corn tortellini. 


Cafe Ba-Ba-Reeba, Lincoln Park

If you live in Chicago and haven’t already been to Cafe Babareeba, put this one on the top of your list. Cafe Babareeba has been serving authentic Spanish tapas in Chicago since 1985. Their made-to-share menu offers traditional Spanish fare (but with it’s own unique flair) and the six types of housemade sangria doesn’t hurt. 

They are committed to only opening at 25% capacity indoors and 50% out on the patio. Guests are required to wear masks at all times other than eating, will have their temperature taken upon arrival, and must confirm they haven’t traveled anywhere on the restricted travel list within 14 days. Another precaution they’ve taken is one of our favorites: the QR Code scannable menu. You are guaranteed a safe and delicious experience at this quintessential Chicago restaurant.

Our Recommendation: Patatas Bravas, Garlic Oil Shrimp, Piri-Piri Chicken, Farmers Market Paella - you really can’t go wrong with anything on the menu!


Daisies, Lincoln Square

We love Daisies because it takes ‘farm-to-table’ to a different dimension - the majority of their food comes from their own farm in Illinois. Daisies somehow makes you feel like you are at your grandmother’s having a midwestern Sunday dinner, but also fine dining at the same time.

They are enacting thorough health and safety protocols while also making you feel at ease. The restaurant is well ventilated at all times and they are committed to disinfecting all surfaces (bathrooms, doorknobs, etc) at least every 30 minutes. They also clearly mark 6ft increments across the restaurant so diners can unconsciously practice social distancing.

Our Recommendation: Fill your plate(s) with Cornmeal Fritter, “Overpriced Tomato” (a bruschetta style tomato with bone marrow), Lamb Pancetta Corzetti, and the Pavlova for dessert.


Big Star, Wrigleyville & Wicker Park

This “bourbon and beer-focused honky-tonk” provides true excellence in the form of fresh tacos - and their famous margaritas are well worth the hype. Big Star is teeming with joyful energy due to approachable and thoughtful employees and a menu stacked with options.

Big Star is requiring a paid reservation for all dine-in service and limiting seatings to 90 minutes. They are also requiring that employees and diners receive temperature checks and wear their masks at all times they are not eating or drinking. Earlier this year, they immediately closed the restaurant in order to sanitize the entire facility and to test all employees when one team member tested positive for COVID-19.

Our Recommendations: Queso Fundido. Enough said. Well, except for also the walking taco, and the Chorizo Verde Taco.

Big Star Wicker Park, Chicago Eater


Au Cheval, West Loop

At risk of sounding basic, no Chicago restaurant list would be complete without Au Cheval because the accolades are well-deserved. The menu has been curated so that every item can be executed perfectly. 


This diner-style restaurant is usually packed, however their pandemic response limits all parties to four (or less). Everyone on premise requires a temperature check, masks are mandatory, and employees are wearing gloves and limiting their interactions with diners.

Our Recommendation: Order up the most perfect cheeseburger you’ve ever experienced, fried chicken and the crispy fries with mornay sauce and eggs. You cannot go wrong by completing the meal with the hemingway daiquiri or the strange brew.

Chicago is filled with amazing one-of-a-kind restaurants but make sure you do your research on where you are dining out before you head in. Most restaurants are going the extra mile to protect all their diners so go out and support your favorite places while being safe!


About Trust20
Trust20 is the new standard of restaurant safety and diner comfort, based on 20 tactics by health and safety experts. Supported by Gordon Food Service and General Mills, Trust20 provides an independently verified certification of restaurant practices, training, and other resources to help restaurants create safe, healthy, and welcome spaces for diners. www.trust20.co, @Trust20USA

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