Where to get legit Southern food in Chicago

By Kat Odell

While Chicago might not exactly be a stone’s throw from the Big Easy, luckily the city is equipped with a roster of restaurants ready to plate everything from fried chicken to pimento cheeseburgers. From family recipes to modern interpretations, here’s where to fill up on hearty Southern plates across the Windy City.

The Roost Carolina Kitchen
One of the city’s first Nashville-style hot chicken joints, over the last few years The Roost has earned a following for its excellent hot chicken biscuit sandwiches, made on biscuits they bake fresh in house every day. The city now counts three casual outlets, the most recent of which hit Downtown last month, drawing snaking lines right off the bat.
Neighborhood: Multiple locations

Shrimp and grits at Big Jones (photo: Grant Kessler)

Big Jones
Longtime Andersonville staple Big Jones went under the knife for a whole-body nip and tuck, emerging just recently with a clean new look. While kitchen commander Paul Fehribach has been organizing quality, ingredient-driven dishes like chicken and dumplings, along with shrimp and grits, for the last decade, looking ahead he’s excited to introduce an updated menu more relevant to modern Southern food today.
Neighborhood: Andersonville MAP

Pearl’s Southern Comfort
New Orleans-tinged Pearl’s, which channels a range of playful and more traditional Southern eats—from pulled pork poutine and crawfish cheesecake to Kansas City barbecue and Louisiana Jambalaya—does the comfort thing right, via hearty plates and classic Southern cocktails. Helmed by Danny Beck, who also owns Lakeview sports bar Toons, expect a casual vibe and TVs to watch the game.
Neighborhood: Edgewater MAP

Luella’s Southern Kitchen
Family recipes shine at Michelin Bib Gourmand recipient Luella’s, a homey, BYOB and order-at-the-counter Southern spot, helmed by chef Darnell Reed. Drop in for serious plates of Southern classics like buttermilk fried chicken, and don’t forget to try the powdered sugar-topped beignets for dessert.
Neighborhood: West Ravenwood MAP

Evanston Chicken Shack
There’s absolutely nothing fancy about this neighborhood chicken specialist who has been frying birds, mostly to-go, for over two decades. With a few tables dressed in classic red and white checkered, plastic-laminated tablecloths, you’re coming here for birds fried-to-order, crispy and juicy, with a peppery crust.
Neighborhood: Evanston MAP

Parson’s Chicken & Fish
Unfussy, coastal cuisine–inspired Parson’s Chicken & Fish—a great place for al fresco imbibing (Negroni slushies!) come warmer weather—takes a cheffy approach to Southern classics, using quality ingredients to build pimento cheese toast, hush puppies, and fried fish by the basket or in sandwich form. Its first location is in Logan Square, and two more outlets are coming soon in Nashville and Lincoln Park.
Neighborhood: Logan Square MAP

5 Loaves Eatery
This family-run Irving Park neighborhood haunt serves substantial soul food classics along with American breakfast fare, like chicken and waffles and a variety of well-cooked omelets, daily until 4 p.m. Thanks to its genuine hospitality and small space, expect to encounter long lines.
Neighborhood: Irving Park MAP

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