No one should have to walk outside in the winter. There’s the terrible feeling your lungs get when you breathe in below-zero air, not to mention the realization that even your $15,000 Canada Goose coat is no match for four-degree weather with a windchill factor of negative 28 degrees. In other words, you don’t want or need to be outside longer than necessary. Given that, here are 22 Chicago restaurants that are very close to train stops. So close, in most cases, that you won’t even have to wait to cross the street. It’s too cold for that sh*t. (For each spot on this list, we’ve noted the closest train stop in bold.)
Chinatown Red Line
The broth-filled dumplings at QXY in Chinatown are warm and comforting, and pretty much designed for combating winter. You can choose to get them steamed, boiled, or fried, with a long list of fillings like pork and pickled cabbage or shrimp and leek. It’s a hard decision to make and they come in orders of 12-18 - so you better come with a group since you won’t be taking any leftovers home without them freezing along the way.
Granville Red Line
This counter-service Korean spot is very close to the Granville stop in Edgewater, and has some of our favorite chicken wings in Chicago. There are other dishes here, like bibimbap and bulgogi, and they’re perfectly fine - but the jumbo wings are what you want. They’re huge, perfectly crispy, and served with a tasty ginger glaze that never makes them soggy. Overall, this place is perfect if you need to grab a bite on your way home from work (getting groceries at Whole Foods will put you outside for an entire extra minute, which, in January, is unacceptable).
Grand Blue Line
This place serves some seriously good cheeseburgers (like one topped with foie gras and truffle aioli, and another that tastes like the 1950s on a bun), along with a delicious three-flavor skillet cookie. It also has a large bar that’s perfect for watching sports, and it’s open for lunch. So there are a variety of situations in which you might find yourself here. Conveniently, it’s right on the corner of a six-corner intersection across from the Grand Blue Line stop.
Grand Blue Line
On another point of the same six-corner intersection as Maillard Tavern is Piccolo Sogno, a kind-of-fancy Italian restaurant that’s perfect for date night. This place is well-known for its romantic patio, but the inside also works well for a romantic Italian meal. Get some pasta, whole roasted fish, and a bottle of wine. For what it’s worth, they do partially cover and heat their patio during the winter - but let’s face it, if it’s too cold to walk outside, it’s for sure too cold to eat out there.
Kedzie Brown Line
Noon O Kabab is a Persian restaurant in Albany Park with a really long menu of dishes perfect for sharing with friends. Like the adass polo (seasoned rice made with caramelized onions), and all of the kebabs. There are two locations - this one, which is more upscale, and one across the street that’s casual and focused on carry-out. Both are less than a minute from the train, but when we’re on the North Side with a bunch of people who don’t own blanket coats, we go to the sit-down version.
Chicago Brown Line
Good Measure is a very useful spot to know about in River North. First of all, unlike a lot of other bars in the area, this is a low-key option for cocktails after work. Second, despite the bar-like atmosphere and great drinks, it’s actually a fantastic restaurant as well (with creative dishes like Nashville hot fried duck livers and rarebit with potato and sage donuts). In fact, the food here is better than what you’ll find at most of the nicer restaurants in the neighborhood. And it’s right down the street from the Chicago Brown Line stop. In other words, we’re seeing if the apartment above it is available for rent.
Merchandise Mart Brown Line
Bavette’s is one of our favorite spots in the city for a special occasion. In fact, we’re tempted to make up fake occasions solely so we can eat here more often. And as a bonus, it’s very close to the Merchandise Mart Brown Line in River North. The rookie move is going through the Mart to get down to the street - it’s a pain to navigate, and you’ll still have to cross the street to get to the restaurant. Instead, walk north on the east side platform, and head down the stairs. Once you’re actually inside Bavette’s, get the bone marrow, which is what pioneers ate during the winter, we’re pretty sure.
Merchandise Mart Brown Line
Ciccio Mio is right next to Bavette’s (they’re owned by the same people), which makes it a good choice if you want Italian food, and if being outside for an extra 10 seconds won’t kill you. Like Bavette’s, this place is big on atmosphere. It’s dimly lit with red velvet booths and decorated with a bunch of old-timey furniture and pictures. Food-wise, focus on the pasta (our favorite is the lasagna) and entrees like the chicken parmesan. But you should know this place is small and busy - so unless you want to be stuffed inside the waiting area, be sure to make reservations.
Merchandise Mart Brown Line
Next to Radio Anago, which is next to Bavette’s, is Gilt Bar - and surprise, it’s also owned by the same people. Gilt Bar looks a lot like Bavette’s, but it has more pasta dishes on its menu. So come here if an extra 20 seconds won’t kill you, and you want bone marrow but also bucatini amatriciana.
Morgan Green Line
Even though there are about 1,268 restaurants in the West Loop, not many are close to the one L stop in the neighborhood. Fortunately, Bar Takito is right by Morgan. It’s a casual Mexican/Central American/South American fusion restaurant, with dishes like tacos, arepas, and paella. So eating here will make you think of warmer climates, which, depending on how you’re doing emotionally right now, will either make you happy or sad.
Washington Blue Line
The good news is that the Loop has a lot of L stops. The bad news is that it also has a lot of terrible, overpriced restaurants near said L stops. But The Dearborn is not one of them. This place has good food and a menu that, while kind of boring, will appeal to a lot of people (make sure someone gets a cheeseburger). Plus, the space is huge, with multiple rooms that work for everything from large group dinners to date night. If you’re afraid of ice falling from skyscrapers, and would like to minimize the time you spend walking underneath them, this is a valuable spot to know about.
Loyola Red Line
There are two locations of Bop N Grill in Chicago (Rogers Park and Lakeview), and both are located right near the train. They’re also basically identical. Meaning they’re both counter-service spots that do two things - burgers and bibimbap - and do them very well. But we come here primarily for the burgers, which are just the right kind of hard to eat (i.e. sloppy but still manageable), and fries topped with caramelized kimchi and cheese. After dinner here, that puffy winter coat will come in handy for being rolled home.
Belmont Brown/Purple/Red Lines
This is the Bop N Grill in Lakeview, which is right near the Belmont stop. See above.
Damen Blue Line
Because it’s close to the CTA and open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, Dove’s is a cold weather utility player. And since there’s almost exclusively counter seating, it’s especially good if you’re dining solo or with just one other person. The menu is primarily Tex-Mex, with dishes like burnt ends hash, chicken fried steak, and a flour tortilla brisket taco. Sit by the window and watch people walk by very, very, very fast - you’ll be able to see their breath, so you can pretend they’re choo-choo trains. It’s fun.
Montrose Brown Line
There are restaurants we go to mainly because they’re extremely close to the train, and then there are spots we’d go to even if we had to walk for 30 minutes because our car ran out of antifreeze. Bayan Ko, a small BYOB Filipino and Cuban restaurant with delicious food, falls into the second category. Order the ropa vieja, and a bowl of the excellent rice porridge, which is like antifreeze for your body.
Montrose Brown Line
Glenn’s is right next to the Montrose Brown stop in Ravenswood, and it’s an odd restaurant. On the one hand, it’s known as “that cereal place where you can get Apple Jacks in a chilled bowl of milk,” but on the other, it’s also a great casual seafood restaurant, with crab legs and daily fish specials. If having cereal and seafood on the same table sounds weird to you, you’re not wrong. But you should still come here. When you’re done, hit up the Ravenswood outpost of Margie’s Candies, which is right nearby. It’s an old-school ice cream shop where you can order a giant sundae in a clamshell bowl with gravy boats of homemade hot fudge and caramel on the side. Which is basically the ultimate f*ck you to winter.
Argyle Red Line
Immm Rice is a casual restaurant that serves great Thai street food, and let’s face it, right now you’d much rather be walking through Chiang Mai than the salt-stained streets of Chicago. This place has a long menu involving curries, noodle dishes, grilled meats, and six different papaya salads. It’s hard to choose what to order, so there’s even a section called “Thai Dinner Table” where you can get tasting portions of different dishes, along with rice (or noodles for curries). Get that, and try to hang out here till spring.
Argyle Red Line
There is really only one way to do Sun Wah BBQ in Uptown: Go with a group, and order the fantastic off-menu Peking duck (their specialty). It’s carved tableside and served with bao, then as a rice or noodle dish, and finally as a soup. The rest of the menu can be hit-or-miss, but the duck is reliable. And don’t be surprised if you get oddly jealous of the roasted ducks hanging in the window - they do look very warm.
Lawrence Red Line
This upscale Ethiopian restaurant in Uptown is very close to the Lawrence Red Line, and ideal for hitting up before you freeze your a** off waiting in line for a show at the Riviera or Aragon. If you’re with a group, order one of the messob platters, which serve three to eight people. It’s a communal dining situation that lets you try eight dishes picked out by the chef. Just plan on getting extra injera.
Logan Square Blue
Our relationship with Longman & Eagle has been up and down over the years - we used to really like it, but it’s been through a few chefs, and much of the food has changed. That being said, this restaurant still has a consistently great burger and good whiskey cocktails. Plus, it’s right near the Logan Blue Line stop in Logan Square. And since it’s also a boutique hotel, when the weather gets really bad, you don’t even need to worry about getting home.
18th Pink Line
5 Rabanitos is down the street from the Pink Line, and it’s one of our favorite Mexican spots in all of Chicago. You could put all the dishes here on a metaphorical wheel of food, spin it, and be happy eating whatever you landed on. Like the tacos, anything from the huge vegetarian menu, or the very, very spicy torta ahogada that might actually make you grateful it’s 8 degrees outside.