Chicago, in addition to being the home of some of the most delicious American comfort dishes, is also an up-and-coming foodie city, filled with exciting new restaurants to take in and appreciate. Still, there’s a third eats-related category—the more unusual side of the dining world, where odd decor and food combinations are celebrated. Here are the weirdest restaurants in Chicago worth putting on your list of experiences, if at least for a good story.
1072 N Milwaukee Ave
It’s not often you’ll see “whole animal service”—or really, ever. What does that mean? Exactly what it sounds like: An entire animal of your choosing is served at the table, which you can select from a varied menu featuring tame beasts (pig, duck, salmon) to the decidedly less so (wild boar and alligator, oh my!). Bring your family and friends, then dig into that roasted hunt like you live out in the country.
702 W Fulton Market
Every day is Carnivale at this appropriately-named restaurant. The main dining area is a beautiful bright burst of colors and light, and with the gorgeous Latin American fare plated before you, you’ll swear the parade is about to go by.
1612 W Division Street
At the Bedford, you’ll dine inside a former bank vault surrounded by rows and rows of safety deposit boxes that used to contain who knows what kinds of valuables. Either way, it’s a cross between a cool trip back in time and an experience inside a chic, modern restaurant and lounge.
Okay, this is less of a restaurant and more of a supper club, but it still involves grabbing dinner in unusual circumstances. They call their experience an “unforgettable one-night journey across Chicago,” which includes dinner, drinks, transportation, and entertainment. Simply enter your contact information and you’ll be on the list for their next evening, which is in a top secret location and has a top secret menu.
3500 N Cicero Ave
You’ve always dreamed of dining in a sweat lodge. Wait, what? Yes—inside this “21st century authentic Turkish Wet Stone Sauna and Russian Dry Cedar Sauna,” as they list on the website, you can relax, sweat it out, and also grab a bite to eat in their restaurant featuring Eastern European specialties like pierogies and borscht. Unfortunately this establishment is men only, as they don’t have women’s facilities for now.
2727 Howard Street
Dining at Gulliver’s is like having dinner inside an antique shop, or perhaps even a museum. Duck into this dimly-lit, Victorian-inspired space with hanging candelabras and busts adorning the walls, then order the pizza for a kick of the modern day inside these surroundings.
1723 N Halsted Street
And what list of weirdest restaurants in Chicago would be complete without Grant Achatz’s masterwork Alinea, a spot totally devoted to the strange and wonderful aspects of molecular gastronomy? The three-star Michelin restaurant tends to “blur the lines between art and food,” where you’ll come across real edible balloons, bonfires held right at the table, and dessert painted to look like a Jackson Pollock painting. This video best demonstrates the sheer beautiful insanity that is this place, which is worth making it out to at least once in your life.