Gallery: Staff Picks: Where Do You Take an Out of Town Guest in Chicago?

Publican Quality Meats
Publican Quality Meats

"I get asked this question all the time, and normally I love to tailor specific my picks to the preferences of the guest. But if the person only has a limited amount of time, I have a shortlist of places I recommend without hesitation, including Hot Doug's and Xoco. But the one I've had the most fun showing off over the past year has definitely been Publican Quality Meats. Not only are all the meats cured in house, the funky and distinctive offerings are already some of the best charcuterie you'll find in the city. Add to that some exceptional bread (freshly baked, obviously) and a keen eye to balancing ingredients, and you have the makings for some stunning sandwiches." Nick Kindelsperger

Publican Quality Meats Restaurant, 825 West Fulton Market, Chicago, IL 60607 (map); 312-445-8977; publicanqualitymeats.com

[Photograph: Nick Kindelsperger]

Taqueria Ricardo
Taqueria Ricardo

"Located adjacent to an easily overlooked supermercado, Taqueria Ricardo is a gem of a joint—cheery, tucked-away, and wood-scented from fire-licked fare. Order the spit-carved tacos al pastor ($1.99), which feature bits of pineapple mingling with caramelized nubs of pork. But save room for the main event: a whole wood-roasted chicken ($19.99), which arrives sizzling on a platter with refried beans, addictive fries, and singed jalapeños and knob onions. Then, tear it from the bone and tuck it into a pliable corn tortilla, spurted with lime and fiery salsa verde. Pay mind to other beyond-ordinary menu items, too, like grilled rabbit ($13.99), graced with the same treatment as the aforementioned bird." Jennifer Olvera

Taqueria Ricardo, 4419 West Diversey Avenue, Chicago, IL 60639 (map); 773-292-0400

[Photograph: Jennifer Olvera]

Tre Kronor
Tre Kronor

"Tre Kronor can do no wrong in my mind, but they do the most right at breakfast time. Start with the incredibly flaky, warm pastries—some of the best I've come across. The cinnamon rolls have a swirl of orange that cuts the sweetness a bit. Then you have to make the inevitable sweet/savory breakfast decision. Anders' hash is just fabulous, the meatballs are as good as you would expect at a Swedish place, and the various daily benedicts are always worth trying. But the Belgian waffle here is a golden, pillowy delight, loaded up with fresh fruit and house-made whipped cream. Best to be safe and order everything. It's one of those places that's virtually impossible to hate—homey, warm, and with some of the cutest outside seating in the city." Josh Conley

Tre Kronor, 3258 West Foster Avenue, Chicago, IL 60625 (map); 773-267-9888; trekronorrestaurant.com‎

[Photograph: Josh Conley]

Hot Doug's
Hot Doug's

"My brother was recently in town for just one meal and I knew that the one meal had to be at Hot Doug's. Not only does Hot Doug's provide a crash course in Chicago sausage culture, the food is great. We opted for a bratwurst and andouille sausage, which aren't on the exciting end of the Hot Doug's spectrum, but are just darn good renditions of our favorite sausages." Amy Cavanaugh

Hot Doug's, 3324 North California Avenue, Chicago, IL 60618 (map); 773-279-9550; hotdougs.com‎

The Bratwurst at Hot Dog's [Photograph: Debbie Carlos]

Sable
Sable

"While there's a certain tourist-friendly appeal to Portillo's, Giordanos, and even the Wiener Circle, my go-to spot for out of town guests is Sable. It's a consistent crowd pleaser and the cocktails are second to none. The menu manages to be both approachable and culinary, spanning flatbreads, burgers, scallops, and short ribs. Add in the convenient location, solid service, and the best mushroom veggie burger I've tasted in Chicago, and you have an ideal dining destination for visitors." Rachel Gillman

Sable Kitchen & Bar, 505 North State Street, Chicago, IL 60654 (map); 312-755-9704; sablechicago.com‎

Wild Mushroom Flatbread at Sable [Photograph: Roger Kamholz]

Nellcôte
Nellcôte

"That's easy. My go-to has been Nellcôte ever since I first tried and then immediately fell in love with their pain perdu last summer. There's no quicker way to win over an out-of-towner than with some whipped cream, caramel, and three golden brown hunks of perfectly fried brioche. Of course Nellcôte's charming patio, high ceilings, and glitzy chandeliers certainly won't fail to impress either." Lindsey Becker

Nellcôte, 833 W Randolph St Chicago, IL 60607 (map); 312-432-0500; nellcoterestaurant.com

[Photograph: Lindsey Becker]

Xoco
Xoco

"When I get a visit from somebody outside of Chicago it means a chance to briefly escape college dining hall food. Any of Rick Bayless' restaurants are a great snap shot of what Chicago has to offer in terms of food. When my friends come to visit we get sandwiches at Xoco, and if it's my parents we try to get a table at the higher-end Frontera. Either way, I cap off my meal with a thick Mexican hot chocolate." Eric Singerman

Xoco, 449 North Clark Street, Chicago, IL 60654 (map); 312-334-3688; rickbayless.com

[Photographs: Nick Kindelsperger]

Union Sushi + Barbeque Bar
Union Sushi + Barbeque Bar

"I always take out of town guests to Union Sushi. It has such a fun vibe, is centrally located, and very affordable. The menu is always changing, and when they bring the iPad out to showcase their specials, I can't not order everything. And I'm never disappointed. There are so many vegetarian options too, as well as lots of robata-grilled meats for people who aren't that into fish. So this is a great choice even for picky eaters or large groups with eclectic palates." Amber Gibson

Union Sushi + Barbeque Bar, 230 West Erie Street, Chicago, IL 60654 (map); 312-662-4888; eatatunion.com

Spicy Pigtail Ramen at Union Sushi + Barbeque Bar [Photograph: Roger Kamholz]

Hopleaf
Hopleaf

"My absolute go-to is Hopleaf in Andersonville. It shows off a side of Chicago that people don't always know if they don't live here—we know how to eat and drink. It has that perfect combination of amazing but accessible food, lively atmosphere, and good booze to make for a good night of showing off the city. A strong beer and brisket or stew is great for making guests feel better about how freezing it is in the winter, and the outside patio makes for some solid summer lounging." Nathan Lurz

Hopleaf, 5148 North Clark Street, Chicago, IL 60640 (map); 773-334-9851; hopleaf.com

[Photograph: Josh Conley]

Hot Doug's
Hot Doug's

"When I show an out of town guest around our beloved city, it's always a toss-up between deep-dish pizza (which I only eat maybe twice a year at most), Italian beef, and, of course, hot dogs. So if we have enough time, I try to plan a trip to Hot Doug's. I always give a disclaimer about the long wait in line, though secretly, I think complaining about the wait with other patrons is an essential part of the experience. I can already see some of you rolling your eyes while reading this; I know people talk about Hot Doug's all the time, maybe too much. But there really isn't anything else like it in Chicago." Dennis Lee

Hot Doug's, 3324 North California Avenue, Chicago, IL 60618 (map); 773-279-9550; hotdougs.com‎

Foie Gras and Sauternes Duck Sausage at Hot Dog's [Photograph: Debbie Carlos]

Staff Picks: Where Do You Take an Out of Town Guest in Chicago?