When you think about Chicago, you may envision bustling streets and an expansive city skyline. But the Windy City is closer to Illinois agriculture than you might think. Chicago boasts a number of farm-to-table restaurants featuring seasonal dishes prepared with ingredients grown on local Illinois farms. So after you’ve tried the deep-dish pizza, Polish sausages and Chicago-style hot dogs, get a taste of Illinois at one of these top farm-to-table dining experiences in the city. It’s tough to narrow down the list, but we’ve pulled a few of our favorites so you can get to work adding the cream of the crop to your Chicago bucket list.
4539 N Lincoln Avenue, Chicago
Gather is a New American-style restaurant in Lincoln Square with a background that makes it stand out from the crowd. This savvy dining destination was born from the dream of four partners who wanted to create neighborhood gathering places that would give patrons an excuse to celebrate everyday occasions with good food made from locally sourced ingredients.
With an emphasis on seasonal menus and cooked-from-scratch plates, it didn’t take long before this hopping restaurant became a neighborhood favorite. Their chef receives ingredients from local farms in the morning and crafts inspired dishes such as pan-seared arctic char and crispy mustard spaetzle.
They even host monthly farm dinners highlighting the local produce and the guests of honor – the farmers themselves.
615 W. Randolph, Chicago
With a cozy and minimalist interior and communal seating, Avec is the place to go if you want to enjoy a unique dining experience with creative meals inspired by Mediterranean and Midwestern flavors. Guests can choose from a variety of shared dishes made with Midwestern ingredients from local purveyors. Then, pair them with one of the 100-plus bottles of wine from a list that celebrates small boutique vineyards across France, Italy, Spain and Portugal.
Even though wine is at the heart of the restaurant’s creation, its daily menu leaves nothing to be desired. From small and large plates featuring everything from fried duck eggs and braised lamb neck to desserts like pomegranate custard and chocolate babka, you can’t go wrong with anything you order at Avec.
835 N Western Ave, Chicago
If you want to book a table at a farm-to-table restaurant that gives you an elevated dining experience, look no further than Elizabeth Restaurant. Their tasting menu features a variety of Midwestern cuisine crafted from locally sourced, foraged ingredients. Paired with their breathtaking interior décor and communal seating, this is more than a place to eat – it’s an experience unlike any other.
Because the restaurant focuses on ingredients from the surrounding area, the menu changes seasonally to feature the produce that’s currently available. Chef Iliana Regan turns each changing season into an opportunity to make guests smile, with menu themes like Game of Thrones, Alice in Wonderland, 1980s Nintendo and Downtown Abbey.
Whether you choose to enjoy inventive dishes like salt-roasted beets with cricket flour spaetzle or the succulent rabbit loin with sea buckthorn berry sauce, you are sure to leave here with a full belly and happy heart.
177 N Ada Street #101, Chicago
Eater National declared Smyth to have “the finest seasonal tasting menu in Chicago.” While the food definitely plays a huge part in that honor, we think it might also have something to do with the atmosphere. Owners John and Karen Shields want their Michelin-starred restaurant to stand out as a place that not only provides beautiful farm-to-table meals but also creates lasting memories.
Smyth sources many of its menu ingredients from the owner’s 20-acre farm. That means the menu is always rotating to feature the available produce in new and refreshing ways. You might find beef with sprouted wheat on the menu one day and a yogurt parfait with pickled ground cherries a few days later. The owners even source their chickens and eggs from their personal flock and the honey and syrup from their own beehives and maple trees.
837 W. Fulton Market, Chicago
When you hear the phrase farm-to-table, it probably doesn’t conjure up images of modern-day American beer halls. But that’s precisely what’s on at The Publican in the Fulton Market District. Prepare to be surrounded by people from all walks of life when you visit this buzzing destination. The restaurant offers everything from oysters and pork to an impressive beer list that includes local Illinois brews and beers from far-reaching locations like Bavaria and Belgium.
As delicious as the beer may be, don’t skimp on ordering from the menu while you’re here. The Publican offers Midwest dishes that feature items from more than 10 different farms in the area to create a long list of offerings from barbecued carrots with creamy herb dressing from Henry Brockman in Congerville to dry-aged sirloin from Slagel Family Farm in Fairbury.