Nine Chicago restaurants were named on The Daily Meal's annual list of the 101 Best Casual Restaurants in America. A companion list to its "best restaurants" list, this one looks at spots where two people can "fill themselves up and get out for less than $50, excluding tip and alcohol." These restaurants can be considered "destinations," The Daily Meal writes, and have "a proven reputation and longevity" as well as a "comfortable and relaxed ambiance." "From hot dog shacks to taco joints, from neighborhood hangouts to legendary barbecue spots, these are amazing restaurants where price is no barrier to entry and you'll feel right at home in jeans." The top spot belongs to Katz's Delicatessen in New York City, but Chicago will be pleased at some of its time-tested foodie spots getting this national hat-tip.
#79 The Berghoff 17 W. Adams St. Described as a "true Chicago classic" whose local infamy dates back to 1898, The Berghoff gets love from The Daily Meal for its "full roster of German classics" and classic items like the pork shank and Thüringer sausages with sauerkraut that continue to be mainstays on the menu.
#75 The Weiner’s Circle 2622 N. Clark St. "If you’re not too intimidated to order (the infamously, ahem, rude environment can get a little rowdy at night, when employees and drunk customers share barbs), the move is a double chardog with everything," the Daily Meal writes, noting that The Weiner’s Circle represents the classic Chicago hot dog well: with classic toppings and a char-grilled or double-charred hot dog.
#71 Superdawg 6363 N. Milwaukee Ave. nSuperdawg is first touted on the list for "what has to be considered some of America’s best signage," but the proof is in the food. "The family-owned drive-in still serves superior pure beef dogs."
#43 Big Star 1531 N. Damen Ave. nFrom the concept ("Mexican-inspired street food with a Californian vibe") to the booze ("stellar beverage program, highlighting plenty of tequilas as well as single-barrel bourbons") to chef Paul Kahan, The Daily Meal is a big fan of Big Star. Then there's the food: "The menu keeps it simple with dishes like taco al pastor (marinated, spit-roasted pork shoulder with grilled pineapple and green onions) and torta ahogada, a roasted beef chuck sandwich with spicy árbol chile salsa and lime-soaked onions."
#38 Portillo's Various locations across the Chicago area nThe Daily Meal notes that though Portillo's has gone from its single-location "Dog House" to a full-on 30-plus-restaurant chain, it's still a local icon. And it's certainly a destination thanks to its "ribs, salads, burgers, and crazy-good Italian beef sandwiches (among others)."
#30 Au Cheval If you know the Chicago food scene, you know Au Cheval is all about the burger, and that's not lost on The Daily Meal. "Just about everything about this burger is perfect."
#17 Kuma's Corner n"Kuma’s Corner is a seriously rock and roll burger joint, and the best in Chicago." Though not known for its silence, the publication notes the tunes are a "perfect fit" for the meal. And while all the combos are enticing, "you have to start with the signature Kuma Burger: bacon, sharp Cheddar, lettuce, tomato, onion, and a fried egg."
Al's No. 1 Italian Beef
#24 Al's #1 Italian Beef Various locations n"The essential choice here is the Italian beef sandwich, of course." Want to eat it Al's way? Then get your beef ("dry-roasted in a secret recipe blend, super-thinly sliced") dunked in gravy -- or "wet." The Daily Meal is all in on this one, calling it 'quite possibly the greatest sandwich you’ll ever eat."
#14 Little Goat 820 W. Randolph St. Stephanie Izard's Girl & the Goat is no stranger to the "Best Restaurants" list, so the appearance of her diner, Little Goat, is no surprise. "Go and see for yourself how delicious the food here is."