Top Chicago Eats with Lisette Avila

Chicago’s vibrant food scene is constantly evolving. Recently voted the best city for food in the U.S. by Bon Appétite magazine, the array of cuisines offered are boundless. Whether you’re in the mood for casual fare or seeking upscale dining, the city has it all. Lisette Avila, the social media manager for @fabfoodchicago, shows us the best places in the Windy City to grab a bite to eat.

While I was in college, I used to frequently go out to restaurants since I didn’t know how to cook for myself. At the time, my Instagram account was just photos of Chicago, my friends, and my dog but occasionally I would post a photo of food. Since I had a lot of content from going out to dinner all the time, I decided to focus my Instagram account solely on food. What started as a random hobby quickly turned into more.

How has working at Fab Food Chicago and managing your own foodie account influenced the way you eat out?

I always read the menu more thoroughly now because I want to try something that is unique to a particular place. It’s great because the engagement goes beyond Instagram as I often get to chat with the chefs and owners and hear what their vision is for the restaurant.

What are some iconic Chicago dishes everyone should try?

Deep dish pizza, Chicago-style hot dogs, Chicago mix popcorn, and Italian beef are Chicago staples that can’t be missed!

Do you have a favorite food you enjoy photographing the most?

My favorite type of food is sushi because every restaurant is different and has its own type of experience. Whether you get takeout from Lawrence Fish Market or have a sit-down dinner at an upscale restaurant like Juno, both are great options. It feels like every time I go out to eat sushi, no meal is exactly the same.

Are there any quintessential Chicago restaurants you’d recommend to first time visitors?

A few of my favorites that I always recommend when people are in Chicago from out of town are Lou Malnati’s, Mario’s Italian Ice, Portillo’s, Chicago Pizza & Oven Grinder, and Au Cheval.

What’s the most mind-blowing dish you’ve experienced in Chicago?

Omakase Takeya is one of a few new Edomae-style sushi restaurants popping up around the city. I have never done omakase before so after dining at this restaurant, I was blown away by the whole experience. Omakase means “I’ll leave it up to you” in Japanese, so the chefs prepare extremely fresh pieces of fish flown in from Japan. Every bite of the 16-course meal was even more mouth-watering than the last.

What’s the most unique restaurant in Chicago that is a must try?

If you’re looking for a one-of-a-kind experience, look no further than the buzz-worthy Alinea. It’s definitely something to experience when celebrating a special occasion.

Where is your favorite place for brunch and why?

Beatnik, in Ukrainian Village, is currently my favorite spot for brunch. It has a Boho chic vibe with eclectic décor. In addition to the cool vibe, the menu is just as unique. There are many creative flavors in the dishes that blend together seamlessly.

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