While dreaming of a sugary crepe from the street vendors of Paris or a wood-fired Italian pizza might drive you to rethink your study abroad plans (or consider making them), the truth is you don’t even have to leave the city limits of Chicago to indulge in European cuisine. Thanks to the variety of European restaurants in the city’s Lincoln Square neighborhood, all you need is a Metra ticket to get all the flavors of the Old World. Better yet, only a few blocks (rather than a few borders) separate you from tasting the whole of Europe.
A French bistro with an intimate dining space and outdoor terrace with strings of lights, this eatery looks like something right out of Paris. While the menu might seem pretty foreign, the food is simple and even largely sourced from local Midwestern farms. Go for the Prince Edward Island mussels or the “soupe à l’oignon gratinée” (otherwise known as French onion soup).
Featured on Guy Fieri’s “Diners, Drive Ins and Dives,” this old-school restaurant is a mainstay for hearty German classics. And if an abundance of beer isn’t enough to make you feel like you’ve been transplanted to Munich, live German folk singers grace its stage every night. You can’t go wrong with the wiener schnitzel (breaded veal cutlet) or sauerbraten (slow roasted beef in a gingersnap sauce).
Unlike the many places serving up Chicago’s famous deep dish, this restaurant prides itself on its thin crust, Neapolitan-style pizza. But the thinness of its wood-fired pies is more than made up for with quality toppings like buffalo mozzarella, prosciutto and porcini mushrooms. Plus customers get a free cannoli after their meal — what could be better than that?
Red Lion is an English pub with traditional eats, an impressive sandwich list and a whopping 35 different beers. The restaurant also has a separate space that showcases art by both Chicago and UK artists. Nab a pint and an order of bangers ‘n’ mash (translation: sausages and mashed potatoes). On Fridays, save room for fish ‘n’ chips because it’s all-you-can-eat.
Inspired by her love of Holland and pannenkoeken (Dutch pancakes), owner Linda Ellis set out to recreate a taste of the Netherlands in Chicago. Since 2007 she’s been serving different varieties of the pastry, now numbering up to a dozen. The chocolate banana is drizzled with imported Belgian chocolate, while the bacon and cheese pannenkoeken would be any breakfast lover’s dream.
Going to this restaurant is probably what it would feel like to get together with your crazy Greek relatives. The place has a boisterous and fun atmosphere and a BYOB policy that makes for a laid-back setting, while the no-frills presentation of the food makes it feel even less like an actual establishment. Even the owner, who greets every customer, treats you like part of the family. Go for the chicken souvlaki (skewered chicken with rice) or the spanakopita (spinach and feta cheese baked in phyllo dough).