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Top-Value Restaurants in Downtown Chicago That You Can’t Miss

Updated on January 26, 2015

There are some places where you longed to go but never made it. For example, there are certain restaurants in the place where you live that you passed its window a couple of times, and every time when you passed by and looked inside through the wall-size windows, you told yourself, “I’d like to have a nice dinner here next time.” But you spoke to yourself exactly the same the next time…

And that scenario went over and over again until you got tired of thinking about it, and tried to persuade yourself, “Well, it is ok, their food might be just ok, so it is ok for me to pass it.” Then you repeated this to yourself every time you passed by the windows, but deep down inside you might think just the opposite. You just didn’t realize it until one day you eventually made it by some chance. You were so excited that you could feel you heart beat wildly.

Downtown Chicago, Chicago River
Downtown Chicago, Chicago River

As a result, there could be two types of endings to this story. If the dining experience was just so-so, or even worse than your expectation, you would get really disappointed and never visited the same restaurant again. Or if the food was really delicious and the service was five-star or more than what you expected, it would then end up to be one of your favorite restaurants and you can’t wait sharing with the entire world!

This is the very reason why I’m here starting this blog series about my favorite restaurants one by one which I had similar experience as describe above. Whether you are first-time or frequent traveler or local resident, these restaurants are all located conveniently in downtown Chicago and worth your visit because of their delicious food, wide selection of wines, top-rated customer service, great city views and fair price. Beyond detailed descriptions about my dining experience there, I will also attach relevant pictures about their food, their internal and exterior views, sample of menus, and average price for the food I tried and most importantly visual-friendly data chart about the average customer ratings across major review websites (such as Yelp and OpenTable).

I am very excited about this topic, and you know what, in the meanwhile I’m going to revisit some of those places in order to get more complete pictures and details so that I could share with you the entire dining experience here. Then you decide whether you should go and take a visit that restaurant once you get a chance.

1. Location, location, location

Now, let’s start from the first one: Tavern at the Park, which I just visited three days ago, so the memory are still fresh. Sitting next to the Prudential building, this place earned its reputation largely due to its one of the best locations in downtown. If you are lucky to get window seats, you could have one of the best city views with Millennial Park across the street and Chicago Cultural Center on the right. Looking down north the South Michigan Avenue, you could have an overview of the busy street and myriads of high-rises including the red CNA building down further while enjoying your meals or having casual conversations with your partner.

Get Directions

Tavern at the Park:
130 East Randolph Street, Chicago, IL 60601, USA

get directions

Upscale American food restaurant located in downtown Chicago, rated top 10 restaurant of Crain's Chicago Business

2. Interior and Exterior Design

Chicago is well known for its architecture, and has long been considered the “Paradise for architects.” It is true, especially when you walk across blocks over blocks of tall buildings with various construction types in downtown. This restaurant itself is an architecture, and you could find a trace by looking at its exterior yourself in the picture below.

Tavern at the Park Exterior
Tavern at the Park Exterior
Tavern at the Park Interior (Window Seats)
Tavern at the Park Interior (Window Seats)
Tavern at the Park Interior (2nd Floor)
Tavern at the Park Interior (2nd Floor)
Tavern at the Park Interior (Skybox)
Tavern at the Park Interior (Skybox)

Window seats are very popular, so it is hard for you to find one if you get there around lunch time without a reservation, and you will see all the executive-like businessman or businesswoman sitting there enjoying their business meals. Remember, I told you it’s next to the huge Prudential Building, where hundreds of white collars work inside the big insurance company daily. However, I was lucky to get a window seat when I dined there on Wednesday. You might ask, “What? Execs don’t like to dine there on Wednesday?” No, I was seated there because I arrived at the restaurant around 2pm when I just finished a business meeting. Most people had had their meals at this time and very few customers were still there when I entered the place. I was very happy that I chose the right time though my stomach had been complaining down there for at least an hour (but she’s very happy, much happier than my brain after the meal).

There are also second floor and the roof top. I have been to the second floor for once and took a peek (because Lady’s room was on the same floor), and it looked more like fine-dining place especially for dinner. Compared to the second floor, the first floor where all the window seats are located was more like a casual place with bar seats on the right and window seats on the left. It was a pleasure to sit there eating delicious food while enjoying the great city views.

I did not get to the roof top, because it is January, and it might be covered with ice and snow and may not open in winter. I’m not sure. But I may visit there this summer and have a try, and I will share my experience and feelings here with you once I do that. But in the meantime, here is what its Rooftop look like from the picture I found on the Internet that was taken by other customers in warmer weather. Isn’t it nice? I wish it was already summer now so that I would visit it again immediately.

Tavern at the Park (Rooftop dayview)
Tavern at the Park (Rooftop dayview)
Tavern at the Park (Rooftop nightview)
Tavern at the Park (Rooftop nightview)

3. About the Food, Wines and Price

The food I ordered was Prime Rib with Grilled Asparagus. Yeah, Prime Rib for lunch, for I told you it was around 2pm, and I did not have big breakfast that morning. It was delicious, really delicious (maybe that’s because I was “starving”), and it was not priced as high as around $50, but merely $28, a fair price for Prime Rib, in my experience. The asparagus was also great, very tender inside and crispy outside.

Entrée and Appetizers

Prime Rib
Prime Rib
Smokehouse Brisket
Smokehouse Brisket
The Max Burger
The Max Burger
Tuna Taco
Tuna Taco
Surf and Turf
Surf and Turf


Strawberry Blues Cake
Strawberry Blues Cake
Blueberry Apple Bread Puding
Blueberry Apple Bread Puding

Their wine list is not as big as those fine-dining restaurants I’m going to write about in the next blog, but you could still have various options. I’m not very good at tasting wines, so I put a sample of their wine list there so that you could take a look and make your judgment yourself if you are interested in.

Sample Wine List

Tavern at the Park wine list
Tavern at the Park wine list

4. Customer Review

Now, finally, as I mentioned above, this is only about my personal experience, and you may want to hear more voices about it. So here are the data and figures about how other people rated this restaurant.

On average, Tavern at the Park scored as high as 4 stars across all the primary review websites. In details, it had 3.5 stars on, 4.1 stars on OpenTable, 4.2 stars on Google Reviews, and 4.5 stars on Facebook … Here’s the chart that shows the complete rating scores, so that you could view it yourself.

Average Reviews on Major Review Websites

Detailed Data

Website Name
Average Rating
Number of Reviews
Google Reviews
Yahoo Local

You might also want to hear what exactly they said about it, here I quoted partial of the customer reviews from various sources, take a look:

“Hands down, the best burger (not just in Chicago) but in the country - no joke. It's insane. The meat blend, seasoning, sear/crust and the brioche bun - it's a 1/2-pound of simplified amazement that melts in your mouth. I host business meetings and out-of-town guests here. Never fails. They all say the same thing...great people, perfect location and simple food that rocks.”

“The service was excellent! We didn't have a reservation but the Host seated us fairly quickly. James did an amazing job at suggesting cocktails for us. He was also very friendly in sharing that the side dishes were easily big enough for 2 my husband & I to share. He recommended the Black Hawk Special, it was AMAZING! Probably the best steak I've ever tasted. We were a little bummed that the upstairs dining patio was closed for a private event, but other than that, it was an amazing time! Thank you James!”

“I enjoy this convenient spot just off Michigan Avenue as a place to bring out of town guests for a terrific view from the rooftop lounge. The food and wine selections are plentiful and the staff very attentive. We always have a great experience here and it remains on the old standby list!”

Rated A Top 10 Restaurant by critics' and readers' of Crain's Chicago Business for two years running!

Rated #1 Lunch Spot in Chicago by Best of Citysearch 2009 and #3 Best Place for Groups

Tavern Chef Made Tuna Taco and Flatbread at Rooftop

Now you have the entire virtual experience at the restaurant, are you planning to visit it? Vote here:

Are you likely to visit this restaurant if there is a chance to visit downtown Chicago?

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