From pizza and hot dogs to haunted houses and universities, several Illinois spots have been recognized as among the best in the country.
The titles of distinction were awarded to these local joints by various companies that have curated rankings and lists by sifting through pools of reviews, among other factors.
Here's a roundup of Illinois' finest, according to these lists:
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Although the best, most tasty cheeseburger in Illinois may be subjective, a new nationwide cheeseburger ranking from Yelp says otherwise.
According to the review site's Top Cheeseburger in Every State list, "there's nothing like the perfect cheeseburger to get your mouth watering and your tummy rumbling."
So, which burger earned the title of top cheeseburger in Illinois?
According to Yelp, it's Au Cheval, a "diner-style bar and restaurant with a passion for eggs," the restaurant's website waxes.
If you'd like to try Illinois' top cheeseburger 'Au Cheval,' the restaurant is located at 800 W. Randolph in the West Loop. Read the full Yelp ranking here.
An Illinois hot dog was plated among the best in the U.S., but it might not be the recipe you're expecting.
The Hot Dog Box, located at 4020 N. Milwaukee Ave., took a rather unconventional approach to the dish with its Bronzeville Bourbon Hot Dog, which landed a spot on TastingTable's list of "13 Best Hot Dogs in America."
The meal, as created by the father-daughter duo that runs the place, features a steak dog with bourbon barbecue sauce, hickory-smoked bacon and cabbage and carrot medley all loaded inside of a pretzel bun.
With that said, the Chicago joint still offers the city's flagship frankfurter, with yellow mustard, relish, tomato, onions, dill pickle, sport peppers and a hot dog all hugged in between a poppy-seed bun.
Brace yourselves Chicago — there's a new pizza restaurant ranking out, and things could get a little saucy.
Chicagoans are no strangers to passionate debates about where to find the best pizza in the city, so anytime a new ranking comes out there's bound to be some heated opinions — and The Infatuation noted that possibility in its release.
Topping the list is Pequod's Pizza, which got a rating of 8.7 from the site thanks to its unique structure, caramelized crust and minimal sauce.
"Pequod’s serves pan-style pies, with sauce underneath the toppings (unlike traditional Chicago-style deep dish, which has sauce on top)," the review states. "What sets Pequod’s apart from the average pan-style is its “caramelized” crust, also known as the burnt edges of crispy cheese surrounding the pie. The crust itself is thick and airy with a great crunch, and the pies only have a little bit of sauce."
Chocolate Chip Cookie
National Chocolate Chip Cookie Day treats the gooey and chewy confection to its own holiday, which falls every Aug. 4.
To celebrate the cookie's big day, Yelp chipped in and whisked up a list of the "Top Chocolate Chip Cookie" spots in each state.
Sweet Mandy B's took the crown on Yelp's list as the best place to grab a chocolate chip cookie at in Illinois.
On top of selling the classic dessert, the bakery has a "Just Dough It" treat, which features an eggless chocolate chip cookie dough sandwiched between two chocolate chip cookies. The special sweet will be available on the menu until Sunday.
The bakery has a location in Lincoln Park, at 1208 W. Webster Ave., and Streeterville, at 254 E. Ontario St.
In honor of National Hispanic Heritage Month — which spans Sept. 15 through Oct. 15 — Yelp curated a "Best Empanada in Every State" list, detailing spots across the country that serve their own savory spin on the "piping hot pillows of dough."
Across Illinois' empanada scene, Bistro 6050 hiked to the top of Yelp's list.
Perched at 6050 W. Irving Park Rd., the restaurant is a self-described destination spot for pan-global snacks, with 12 different takes on baked empanadas packed onto the menu.
Customers can munch on vegetarian empanadas or bite into a rather spicy Peruvian-style chicken empanada. Each one comes with a filling-specific symbol stamped on top.
To see what other restaurants rounded out Yelp's ranking, click here.
Rooftop bars offering spectacular views aren't hard to come by in Chicago. But according to rankings released by a travel website, one specific bar tops them all. In fact, the iconic establishment has been deemed the nation's top rooftop bar.
The website Big 7 Travel curated a list of the Top 50 Best Rooftop Bars in the USA, ranking Cindy's Rooftop as number one.
Situated on top of the Chicago Athletic Association Hotel in the Loop, Cindy's features a picturesque terrace that offers panoramic views of Millennium Park, Lake Michigan and much more, according to its website.
Big 7 Travel describes Cindy's as a sky-high bar "you'll keep coming back to," and an establishment "perennially packed with both locals and out-of-towners thanks to its sweeping views ... . "
In addition, a bar in Chicago's West Loop was named one of the 50 best watering holes in North America, according to a list.
Kumiko, at 630 W. Lake St., landed at No. 5 on William Reed's list of 50 Best Bars in North America. The annual list, released June 7, "provides a ranking of the best bar experiences in the region as voted by 220 drinks experts from Canada, USA, Mexico and the Caribbean," according to a press release.
"In addition to the thoughtful collection of sake, shochu and Japanese whisky, cocktail menus feature drinks made with both Japanese and American ingredients, usually selected with seasonality in mind," the list says of Kumiko.
The bar also fittingly offers alcohol-free drinks, as the bar's owner, Julia Momosé’, is known restaurant world for pioneering "spiritfrees."
Out-Door Dining Restaurants
Two Chicago-area restaurants have been named among the best in the U.S. for dining al fresco.
OpenTable released its list of the 100 best restaurants for outdoor dining, based on reviews from 13.6 million diners. The ranking looked at reviews on views, cuisine and "an incredible outdoor dining experience."
Chicago's Piccolo Sogno and Aurora's Hardware Restaurant made the cut.
Hardware, located in North Aurora, is a "sustainable gastropub and brewery, complete with greenhouse and organic hop farm," according to OpenTable.
Meanwhile, Piccolo Sogno, which translates to "little dream," offers "regional Italian cuisine featuring a combination of local and Italian ingredients."
As the weather begins to cool down and the spooky spirit enters the air, Illinois residents can visit two of the country's top-rated haunted houses with Halloween on the horizon.
Four colleges in Illinois have earned a spot on U.S. News & World Report's newest ranking of the 2022-2023 Best Colleges and Universities in the nation, with two of them landing among the top 10.
Two Illinois universities ranked high in the list: University of Chicago came in at No. 6, and Northwestern University came in at No. 10.
The other two Illinois universities that ranked in lists' top 100 are University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, at No. 47, and the University of Illinois Chicago, also known as UIC, at no. 97.