The restaurant industry is a major global employer, but women are underrepresented in leadership roles. However, more women are opening successful restaurants in Chicago and making an impact on the city’s dining scene. We highlight some of the best women-owned restaurants in Chicago and the talented female chefs and restaurateurs behind them.
1308 Chicago is a prohibition themed restaurant located in the new Salt District of Chicago. They offer a variety of vegetarian and vegan dishes and non-alcoholic cocktails.They are open Monday – Friday 11-4p for lunch and 4-9p for dinner. 1308 Chicago is a casual restaurant with “a melting pot of ideas and experiences”.
In the mood for a fresh margarita? Antique Taco has tacos and margaritas made from scratch using local and seasonal ingredients. With locations in Wicker Park and Bridgeport, Antique Taco offers carryout which includes margarita mixes to go. Their fruits are hand squeezed in order to make the freshest cocktails daily. Antique Taco is a proud woman and minority owned restaurant serving the freshest food.
Banato is a unique woman owned brand of ice cream. Their ice cream is banana based and has no added sugar, no soy, and are gluten and dairy free. They are sold at two locations- in Wicker Park at World Nutrition and in Lakeview at Sundae Stop. During the warmer months you can find Bonato at farmer’s markets.
Birch Road Clubhouse
With two locations- Roscoe Village and Lincoln Park, Birch Road Clubhouse is a neighborhood BYOB clubhouse with no bartenders, and no corkage fees. They offer a monthly membership fee of $125 which includes a fingerprint entry. If you are in the mood for a place to drink where you get out of the house, but don’t want to go to a bar, this is the place for you! They have a comfortable setting which includes private space where you can enjoy wine.
Bistronomic serves French cuisine and uses ingredients from farms located in the Midwest. Take a seat at the bar and enjoy a cocktail, imported spirits… seasonal, local and sustainable ingredients… chic, contemporary decor, outdoor patio for summer months, located near Magnificent Mile, open for lunch, dinner and weekend brunch, Chicago’s Gold Coast neighborhood, favorite menu items are Ahi Tuna Tartare, grilled cheese du jour and organic amish chicken
Located on Belmont Ave in Lake View East, this European style pastry shop and cafe was founded in 1992 by award winning pastry chef Judy Contino. With a variety of pastries, specialty desserts and more, everyone is sure to find something to enjoy in this lovely cafe. Bittersweet also makes wedding and celebration cakes. Open from 8-4pm, stop by for breakfast, lunch or anytime of day for a sweet treat!
Casati’s Modern Italian is an authentic Italian restaurant located in Lincoln Park. Perfect for date night, this restaurant has a beautiful modern interior and an impressive menu. Casati’s offers plenty of vegan options, house crafted cocktails and handmade pizza. For families, they have a convenient kids menu.
Dandy Crown is a lounge and restaurant located in the River West neighborhood. This women owned restaurant was opened in 2019 by Julia Shell and Jamie Hale. With an ever changing menu that uses seasonal ingredients, there’s something for everyone here. Check out their all-season dog-friendly patio that’s enclosed and heated! Enjoy handcrafted cocktails by their fireplace lounge or on the rooftop patio in warmer weather.
Owned by sisters Amy and Clodagh Lawless, The Dearborn specializes in welcoming hospitality and delicious tavern food. Located in the heart of the Loop, The Dearborn honors the sisters’ Irish heritage and Chicago’s past. Their Midwest-focused menu with its warm, familiar flavors and nostalgic dishes is perfect for a midday lunch or a night with friends.
Dip and Sip Donuts
Nestled in Roscoe Village, Dip and Sip Donuts serves up fresh, from-scratch donuts and fresh roasted coffee daily. All of their donuts are crave-worthy (at least Eater Chicago and NBC think so). The All You Need is Bacon donut is Dip and Sip’s claim to fame with its rich maple frosting and brown-sugar candied bacon. Try their Mexican Hot Chocolate donut, which pairs delectably with their Metropolis Coffee and you’ll have the best morning ever.
If you’re looking for a clean-eating restaurant with New American cuisine, Eden is perfect for you! They use seasonal, high quality ingredients grown from their own greenhouse. This farm to table restaurant offers private dining options. Enjoy their signature cocktails and mocktails. They are open Tuesday through Saturday for brunch, lunch and dinner, dine in, take out delivery.
Egg Rolls Etc
Sold at select stores and restaurants, Egg Rolls Etc. was founded by Javon McCain Nicholas. Through her experience traveling abroad in Taiwan as well as being a clinical nutritionist, Javon was inspired to make egg rolls and other traditional Asian foods with non-traditional ingredients, such as her buffalo chicken egg rolls. You can order Javon’s specialty egg rolls online or buy them at select stores, restaurants, and even community festivals.
Exquisite Catering is a woman owned catering business that offers full service international and cultural cuisine. They are able to cater anything from intimate gatherings to corporate events of over 600 people. Exquisite Catering is the perfect catering company to provide a large gathering with their impressive made-from-scratch food!
If you’re a coffee lover, Fat Milk is for you! They sell homemade coffee brewed from Robusta beans sourced in Vietnam and they work directly with Vietnamese farmers. You can order Fat Milk coffee online through their website.
Floriole Cafe and Bakery
Floriole is a cafe and bakery in Chicago that brings a taste of France to the midwest. Started in 2010 in Lincoln Park, their menu includes bread, sandwiches, salads and pastries. They use organic flour and sugar, and cage free eggs. This cafe started as a vendor at the Green City Market, expanded into a brick and mortar in 2010.
Flour Power, a Latina-owned mom-and-pop pasta shop, brings high-quality, family-inspired flavors to their dishes. With 20 years in the culinary and hospitality industries, Wilson Bauer and Alice Richter serve up their locally-sourced, seasonal food in a homey and inviting environment. Flour Power is an elevated alternative to chain restaurants.
Located in the Loop, Imee’s Kitchen serves authentic Mediterranean food. This woman owned restaurant was inspired by owner Nicole Nassif’s maternal and paternal grandmothers and mother. This quick, casual spot is perfect for grabbing a bite of authentic, healthy Mediterranean food.
Inspiro Tequila was created when founder Mara Smith was on the search for a clean tequila with no additives. Inspiro has zero carbs, zero sugar, no additives, and is gluten free. Sold in stores and online, Inspiro is great at any get together on its own or as an ingredient in the cocktail of your choice.
Known as Chicago’s Original Sushi Bar, Kamehachi highlights the unique flavors and traditions of Japanese cuisine. “Kamehachi” means “eight turtles” in Japanese, signifying long life and good luck. Co-owners Sharon Perazzoli and Giulia Sindler bring the riches of their ancestry to Old Town. From their maki rolls to their sake, Kamehachi establishes its place in Chicago as a premier woman-owned restaurant.
Genie Kwon and Timothy Flores invite you to enjoy their modern Filipino restaurant. Honored with a Michelin Star and awards worldwide, “Kasama” means “together” in Tagalog, the native language of Filipino people, and you feel this togetherness through food. Their daytime menu features sweet and savory dishes, including their Kasama Combo Sandwich and the Halo Halo dessert.
Lexington Betty is a smokehouse with two locations as well as food trucks in Chicago. The smokehouse was founded in 2016 and serves pulled pork, brisket, ribs, and more. They also cater events and are great for a crowd. Lexington Betty is the place to go for authentic, southern smoked food and appetizers.
Mi Tocaya Antojeria
“Mi tocaya” means “my namesake,” a term of endearment in Spanish, and Chef Diana Davila brings her cherished memories of her homeland to every dish at Mi Tocaya Antojeria. Inspired by Mexican favorites, Chef Davila has recreated dishes and brought regional specialties into the spotlight. Every dish, including the Duck Carnitas, Steak Burrito, and Sangria Ponche, will leave you feeling satisfied yet craving more.
Located in the Avondale neighborhood, Moonwalker Cafe serves coffee, sandwiches, and pastries made from scratch. They offer plenty of gluten free and vegan options and are open Tuesday through Sunday.
NaKom is a trendy Thai restaurant located in Evanston. They serve “old world recipes in a modern presentation” using traditional spices and ingredients. They have plenty of cocktails, small plates to share, and traditional Thai main dishes. NaKom also sells unique gifts like their Afternoon Snack Box that you can order online and pick up in the restaurant.
Nobody’s Darling is a cocktail bar located in Andersonville. The bar opened in 2021 and is a Queer-owned, LGBTQ+ friendly hangout. Nobody’s Darling has an extensive wine menu as well as fun cocktails and traditional drinks. Owners Angela Barnes and Renauda Riddle’s mission is to make everyone feel safe and welcome in this LGBTQ+ cocktail lounge atmosphere.
Prairie Grass Cafe
Located in Northbrook, Prairie Grass Cafe is a New American cafe. The cafe opened in 2004 and gets their fresh ingredients from local farms. They offer plenty of vegetarian options and have a kids menu. The cafe is open for lunch and dinner and serves daily specials. Prairie Grass Cafe is a great place for healthy, seasonal, fresh food.
Pretty Cool Ice Cream
Pretty Cool Ice Cream was founded in 2018 by award winning pastry chef Dana Cree and Michael Ciapciak. They sell hand-made ice cream bars, vegan pops, ice pops, and ice cream sandwiches. Each of their ice cream bars are handcrafted and sold in select restaurants and boutique grocery stores. Pretty Cool Ice Cream has two locations- Logan Square and Lincoln Park. Stop by year round for an ice cream bar!
Saigon Sisters first began serving Vietnamese food at the Chicago French Market in 2009 and blossomed into a restaurant in the West Loop. The restaurant is owned and operated by sisters Mary Nguyen Aregoni and Theresa Nguyen and their mother Mama Suu. If you’re in the mood for traditional Vietnamese and Thai food, head over to Saigon Sisters for some pad thai, curry, or spring rolls.
The Sole Ingredient Catering
The Sole Ingredient is a catering company that serves corporate events. This catering business was founded in 2009 by Chef Lorene Devaroe. Chef Devaroe drew upon her experience working in the corporate world and opened this catering business. With her knowledge of corporate events, chef Devaroe creates food that is creative, artistic, and sure to leave an impression at any gathering.
Soul Veg City
Soul Veg City first opened on Chicago’s South Side in 1981. Since then, they have been serving heart-healthy plant-based foods. The restaurant has grown and now includes a juice bar, live bar, and hot bar as well as an outdoor patio. Stop by on Friday and Saturday nights for “Soul Vibes” which includes live music, a full bar, and a late night menu.
Spice Note Tequila
Inspired by her mother’s cooking with East Indian spices, Sheetal Bhagat created Spice Note Tequila. Spice Note is the first line of all natural spice-infused tequila. Combining East Indian spices with traditional Mexican tequila makes this a one of a kind spirit. Spice Note Tequila can be found at select liquor stores.
A Taste of the Philippines
Located inside the Chicago French Market, A Taste of the Philippines has been in Chicago since 2018. This authentic Filipino restaurant is woman owned and operated. A Taste of the Philippines offers pop-up dinners, cooking classes, and catering for corporate events. Check them out at the Chicago French Market!
Vermilion is an upscale Indian and Latin restaurant. With their extensive list of cocktails and Latin wines, this is a perfect place to gather for drinks and food. Try some of their appetizers or a traditional entree. They offer a vegan, vegetarian, and gluten-free menu. Vermilion’s chic interior and outdoor patio make this the perfect place for an intimate evening or night out with friends.
Located in Lincoln Park, Verzenay Patisserie serves French delicacies. This pastry shop offers delicious chef crafted baked goods and desserts. Pastry chef Arshiya Farheen first began selling pastries and baked goods at Green City Market in 2014 and in 2021 opened an official store in Lincoln Park. Verzenay Patisserie uses locally sourced ingredients.
Victus Foods is a healthy meal delivery program with a rotating menu. Located in Libertyville, all of their food is gluten-free, soy-free, and dairy-free. Victus Foods makes it possible to maintain a healthy sustainable lifestyle. They also use locally sourced and fresh ingredients in their meals.
Volition Tea is a high quality tea company owned by a first generation Chinese American woman who is inspired to bring back traditional teas. Their online store sells tea, teaware, and tea gift sets. Volition teas are loose-leaf, providing the best flavor and spices for tea drinkers.