A Complete Guide to the Obamas' Favorite Chicago Restaurants

High and Low: Choose From Upscale Dining and Casual Comfort Food

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••• Spiaggia. Courtesy of Spiaggia

Chicago is well-known as foodie heaven, and it's a well-deserved title. But Chicago's two most famous residents have their own list of favorite restaurants. Next time you're there, take a page from their book and check out one or more of these places to eat in the City of the Big Shoulders. You'll find upscale dining and casual restaurants among the Obamas' go-tos when they're in Chicago.

 

  • 01 of 06

    This upscale restaurant, which presides at the head of the Magnificent Mile, was the Obamas' restaurant pick the Saturday night after Barack Obama won his bid to become president of the United States. So it must be pretty special. It's not a surprise, though, that they chose it; this elegant mainstay has hosted many couples' celebrations over the years. Its James Beard Award-winning chef serves up modern Italian food the includes handmade pasta and small plates. It's also consistently listed as one of America's 100 Best Wine Restaurants by Wine Enthusiast. But you can't just drop in spontaneously for dinner; reservations are required.

     

  • 02 of 06

    The Obamas understandably name Rick Bayless' upscale, Mexican-inspired Topolobampo on North Clark Street as one of their Chicago faves. This gourmet Mexican restaurant offers two five-course tasting menu options, classic and seasonal, along with a seven-course tasting menu. They probably also appreciate Bayless' Frontera Grill, which is located right next door. It's the more relaxed version and just as delicious.

     

  • 03 of 06

    This popular soul food mecca on the city's far west side got a mention in Barack Obama's book "Audacity of Hope" as one of his favorite restaurants in the city. Word is he loves their turkey legs and dressing. It's Southern food heaven, where you can get grits, baked or fried chicken, catfish, and short ribs. 

     

  • 04 of 06

    This corner eatery in Lincoln Park is one of the most notable restaurants in Chicago, and the Obamas are frequent patrons. It opened in 1970 and launched not only the salad bar concept but also Lettuce Entertain You, a privately held, wildly successful Chicago restaurant group. 

    R.J. Grunts' casual atmosphere still exudes a '70s feel, and it's a great place to bring kids, but it works best for children who no longer have a need for high chairs and strollers. The dining room is a bit cramped, so it doesn't accommodate either particularly well. This is too bad because it's within easy walking distance of the Lincoln Park Zoo. No doubt Malia and Sasha give R.J. Grunts a thumbs up, too.

    It serves up a huge choice of burgers, shakes, malts, onion rings, french fries, nachos, wraps, and a salad bar with 50 items ... you get the picture.

     

    Continue to 5 of 6 below.
  • 05 of 06

    The restaurant draws its name from the print shop that was housed there almost a century ago. It's elegant yet warm, and its menu is gourmet American, with an emphasis on locally sourced ingredients and traditional methods. Perhaps Michelle Obama stumbled upon it one day after shopping at Maria Pinto, which is located right next door on North Jefferson Street.

     

  • 06 of 06

    This classic Chicago diner, which is located in Hyde Park, serves what is said to be one of Barack Obama's favorite breakfasts. The morning after he won his bid for president of the United States, Valois celebrated by giving away breakfast for free. The beloved diner is also known for its promo line "See Your Food."