The Getaway
Must-try Restaurants in Chicago Inspired by the Bear

"The Bear" is a riveting TV show that delves into the mesmerizing culinary scene of the Windy City – Chicago. Brimming with delectable delights, rich cultural diversity, and a vibrant gastronomic tapestry, this series takes viewers on an extraordinary journey through the culinary mecca of the Midwest. Inspired by real-life culinary ventures, the show encapsulates the essence of Chicago's food scene and the passionate chefs who wield their culinary prowess in creating culinary masterpieces. The show's second season follows the journey of Carmen, Richie, Sydney, and the rest of the kitchen gang as they start from scratch to create the restaurant they've always dreamed of. "The Bear" ventures beyond the ordinary food-based programs, offering an immersive experience into the bustling kitchens, dynamic culinary competitions, and the compelling stories behind each dish.

As the heart of the Midwest, Chicago's culinary world is an eclectic blend of traditional influences and contemporary innovations. From the iconic deep-dish pizzas that epitomize indulgence to the mouthwatering hot dogs and tantalizing soul food, the city's cuisine represents a fusion of flavors that resonates with both locals and visitors alike.

But here's the best part: you don't have to be a mere spectator. The restaurants that make "The Bear" a phenomenon are real, and they're right here in Chicago—a world-class culinary city that's just a short flight away. So why just watch when you can taste the magic yourself?"

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01 Gibson's Steakhouse: where meat dreams come true

Nestled in the heart of Chicago, Gibson's Steakhouse is a timeless emblem of classic American dining. From perfectly aged ribeye to tender filet mignon, every cut is cooked to perfection, leaving diners with a truly unforgettable experience. The elegant ambiance and impeccable service add to the restaurant's charm, making it a favorite among locals and visitors alike. For the ultimate steakhouse adventure, Gibson's Steakhouse is an absolute must-visit. The restaurant, operating since 1979, is the home of the original beef sandwich in Chico and is an American classic of a food spot.

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02 A Tavola: the perfect spot for Italian delights

If you've ever craved a taste of Italy in Chicago, A Tavola should be your top choice. This rustic Italian eatery captivates diners with its warm and inviting atmosphere, reminiscent of a Tuscan trattoria. Using fresh, locally sourced ingredients, the talented chefs craft an array of authentic dishes that pay homage to Italy's diverse culinary traditions. From luscious handmade pasta to soul-soothing risotto, each plate bursts with flavor and soul. A Tavola's commitment to simplicity and tradition shines through, making it an ideal spot for Italian cuisine enthusiasts. The restaurant is also the first Filipino restaurant ever to win a Michelin star, offering a unique fusion of Italian and Filipino flavors.

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03 Girl & the Goat: for adventurous eaters

Bringing a dash of boldness to Chicago's dining scene, Girl & the Goat is an eclectic gem that beckons foodies seeking culinary adventure. Award-winning chef Stephanie Izard's creative dishes combine unexpected flavors and ingredients, resulting in a delightful symphony for the taste buds. From the famed wood-fired pig face to innovative vegetable-driven options, every bite offers a thrilling surprise. The restaurant's lively atmosphere adds to the enjoyment, making it a perfect place to celebrate food and embrace the unexpected. The restaurant also features a companion cocktail lounge, After, where Marcus spent time making dessert in Copenhagen with the gorgeous Will Poulter.

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04 Fat Rice: a fusion feast

Prepare to embark on a journey to Macau, China's culinary melting pot, right in the heart of Chicago at Fat Rice. Drawing inspiration from the vibrant crossroads of Chinese, Indian, and Portuguese flavors, this charming eatery offers a unique fusion experience. You'll be in awe of the aromatic dishes, such as Arroz Gordo, a rich seafood and rice extravaganza fit for a king. The eclectic decor and warm ambiance transport diners to another world, adding to the overall experience. For a dining adventure that showcases global flavors with flair, Fat Rice is the place to be. The restaurant is also known for its incredible thin-crust options, offering a different take on the traditional deep-dish pizzas of Chicago.

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05 Lula Cafe: organic and seasonal

Embodying a love for nature, Lula Cafe takes pride in serving organic, locally sourced ingredients that celebrate the changing seasons. This cozy eatery in Logan Square has been a pioneer of the farm-to-table movement in Chicago for over two decades. The ever-evolving menu features inventive dishes that highlight the bounty of the Midwest, allowing diners to savor nature's finest offerings. With a focus on sustainability and a commitment to the community, Lula Cafe embodies an appreciation for wholesome, delicious food. The restaurant also features a butcher lesson from PQM's very own Rob Levitt, providing viewers with a unique insight into the preparation of their meals.

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06 Frontera Grill: a spicy Mexican fiesta

If you're craving a fiesta, head to Frontera Grill, a vibrant Mexican culinary haven in Chicago's River North neighborhood. Founded by renowned chef Rick Bayless, this restaurant has been a pioneer in bringing authentic Mexican flavors to the Windy City. The menu is a fiesta of vibrant colors and bold flavors, featuring mouthwatering dishes like the signature molcajete stuffed with grilled meats and rich salsa. The lively atmosphere, adorned with festive decor, sets the stage for an unforgettable dining experience. For a taste of Mexico that makes taste buds dance, Frontera Grill is a must-visit. The restaurant is also known for its homemade ice cream, milkshakes, and classic sundaes in old-school clamshell dishes.

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07 The Purple Pig: Mediterranean magic

Prepare to be captivated by the Mediterranean-inspired creations at The Purple Pig. This vibrant restaurant on Michigan Avenue celebrates the flavors of Italy, Spain, and Greece with an artistic twist. Guests are invited to indulge in an array of small plates, perfect for sharing and savoring diverse tastes. Each dish is crafted with passion and flair, from indulgent charcuterie to heavenly desserts. With a lively and energetic atmosphere, The Purple Pig adds a touch of Mediterranean magic to Chicago's dining scene. The restaurant is also known for its shareable Mediterranean menu, offering a diverse range of flavors to its guests.

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08 Portillo's: a Chicago hot dog adventure

Hand holding hot dog on street Chalabala / Getty Images

When it's time to savor the iconic flavors of Chicago, make a beeline for Portillo's, this beloved eatery has been a Windy City institution for decades, famous for its mouthwatering Chicago-style hot dogs and Italian beef sandwiches. Whether you prefer your hot dog "dragged through the garden" or you're in the mood for a hearty Italian beef sandwich dipped in savory au jus, Portillo's delivers a true taste of Chicago. The nostalgic ambiance, complete with retro decor and friendly staff, makes every visit a heartwarming experience. The restaurant also played a fictional French restaurant in the show but showed actual Giant chefs working in the background.  

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09 Alinea: a high-end gastronomic journey

As you roam through Chicago's culinary landscape, you'll undoubtedly encounter Alinea, a three-Michelin-starred restaurant that takes dining to an entirely new level. Alinea is a gastronomic playground where artistry and food converge to create an awe-inspiring dining experience. The imaginative and boundary-pushing dishes are meticulously crafted, showcasing flavors, textures, and presentations that challenge the senses. Each course is an exploration of culinary creativity, leaving guests in awe of the culinary genius behind it all. For those seeking a once-in-a-lifetime dining adventure, Alinea is that destination. The restaurant also features a Michelin-starred spot in the West Loop, and everything from the restaurant and kitchen's interior, top-notch service, and even one of the food courses was shown in this season of "The Bear."

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10 Smoque BBQ: barbecue bliss

bbq brisket rebeccafondren / Getty Images

If you're craving smoky and succulent barbecue, get to Smoque BBQ. This humble yet iconic spot in Irving Park is a haven for barbecue enthusiasts, boasting slow-smoked meats that fall off the bone. From tender pulled pork to mouthwatering brisket, every dish is infused with flavor and cooked to perfection. The rustic decor and communal seating evoke a sense of camaraderie and joy, creating the perfect setting to enjoy hearty, comforting barbecue fare. For a taste of authentic Southern-style barbecue, Smoque BBQ is the ultimate destination. The restaurant also offers a unique experience, allowing Syd to use the kitchen to tinker and cook a new pasta dish.

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11 Big Star: tacos, tequila, and delight

hand holding tacos PamelaJoeMcFarlane / Getty Images

Big Star is the go-to spot for a lively and flavor-packed fiesta. This Wicker Park gem delivers a bold selection of tacos, each loaded with tantalizing flavors and fresh ingredients. From traditional al pastor to creative vegetarian options, Big Star's tacos cater to every palate. Pair them with a wide range of tequilas or refreshing margaritas, and you have a recipe for a vibrant, lively evening. The festive atmosphere and outdoor patio create a convivial ambiance that enhances the overall dining experience. The restaurant also features a fictional French restaurant but showed actual Giant chefs working in the background.

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12 Avec: a rustic and chic Mediterranean hideaway

If you've got a wanderlust for Mediterranean flavors, find solace in Avec, a culinary hideaway in the West Loop. With a focus on rustic yet chic dining, this restaurant presents dishes that celebrate the bold and robust flavors of the Mediterranean. The restaurant also features a scene where Syd sits pre-service and chats with Donnie Madia, a highly regarded Chicago restaurateur and past employee of the real Mr. Beef, providing viewers with a unique insight into the culinary world.

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