Chicago has a lot going for it. We don’t live along an active fault line, we have plenty of alleys perfect for hiding our garbage and rats, and the cost of living in the city is reasonable. That being said, we’re still in flyover country.

But occasionally airplanes do stop here, dropping off people from the East and West Coasts (among other places). When the people in question are friends of yours, you need to know where to take them. Keep in mind that Midwestern food, much like zero gravity, is something a person should be eased into – so here are some places where your visitors might feel at home, in addition to a few where they’ll definitely know they’ve made it to Chicago.

Summer House Santa Monica

Lincoln Park 
1954 N Halsted St

Your cousin who moved to California a few years ago has returned. The first thing she did when she landed was eat a hot dog at O’Hare, but now she wants something quinoa-adjacent for lunch. Put West Coast-inspired Summer House Santa Monica on the itinerary. There’s a big skylight in the dining room, and a healthy menu with salads, grilled fish tacos, and plenty of avocados. She can always grab a cookie from the pastry case on the way out, once the hot dog high has worn off.


River North 
74 W. Illinois St.

At some point, a visitor to Chicago might get overwhelmed by our heavy food and want a detox – a steady diet of hot dogs and deep dish pizza can inspire this type of thing, or so we’ve heard. Take care of this with a meal at Ema. The Mediterranean small plates are light and fresh, and the dining room has enough plants and sunshine to make your friends feel like they’re at home, where there isn’t quite so much cheese.