Hyde Park has tons of amazing restaurants, so it might be tough to find your favorite when you get to campus. Hyde Park has any type of food you could ever crave: sushi, ramen, Ethiopian, Nashville Hot Chicken, pizza, South African-Portuguese fusion, French vegan comfort food, and so much more. If you’re anything like me, then you love to eat and try new restaurants, and you’re probably really excited to get to campus and try out these places, so here’s a list of a few places I enjoyed visiting during my first year in Hyde Park. Hopefully this guide willhelp you navigate all the great places when you come to Hyde Park, whether you’re just on campus for a few hours or four years!
Valois is the oft-mispronounced favorite restaurant of former President and Hyde Park resident Barack Obama (It’s pronounced Vuh-Loiz). Obama is a hero of mine, so this was the first restaurant that I went to when I got to campus. It’s a cash-only cafeteria-style restaurant, you stand in line and order your food and they cook it to order. In addition to their regular menu, they have a small menu to the left with Obama’s favorites. I ordered number two off of his list of favorites–two eggs, bacon, hash browns, and toast and it was really good. It’s no wonder a guy who would become president would have such good taste in breakfast joints. Everything at Valois is very reasonably priced and they serve very good-sized portions. I’ve been here a few times and the quality is always top-notch, the servers are very kind, and it’s always fun to sit at the presidential table–a table that has Obama’s face on it. Some houses have traditions where they go to Valois when it opens at four a.m. once a quarter.This is a really great place to take friends and family when they visit as well, I definitely recommend it.
Nando’s is a South African-Portuguese restaurant that serves flame-grilled chicken and is widely regarded as the most popular chicken chain restaurants in the world. I had never heard of it before I got here, but my friend is a huge fan, so he took a group of us here one of the first weeks we were on campus and it did not disappoint. I ordered the hot half chicken with french fries. When you order from Nando’s you select from five degrees of heat. I like the hot the best because I feel like it has a good degree of spiciness without sacrificing flavor. The chicken at Nando’s is probably the best prepared out of any restaurant I’ve been to; it always has incredible flavor and it’s always really tender. If you’re in the mood for chicken, Nando’s is the place to go in Hyde Park.
The Med is a Hyde Park staple that has been here for over 60 years. It’s located just one block off campus and has tons of really great breads and pastries in their bakery, as well as a full service restaurant next door serving milkshakes, pizzas, and burgers. My favorite thing from Medici is the almond croissant, it’s by far the best croissant that I’ve ever had. I also really enjoy the bread that they have here–it’s nice and crunchy on the outside, but soft on the inside. Best of all, it’s very affordable and thus very popular among UChicago students.
Giordano’s is a Chicago staple that we’re lucky enough to have in Hyde Park. It’s famous for Chicago-style deep dish pizza and most locations are usually packed with tourists. However, the Hyde Park Giordano’s is perfect because it’s out of the way enough that it doesn’t typically have wait times inflated by hungry tourists. My favorite pizzas from here are the Meat and More Meat and the Fresh Spinach. If pizza isn’t your thing, Giordano’s also has traditional Italian food like chicken parm, fettuccine, and spaghetti.
Shinju is one of the most exciting restaurants in Hyde Park. In addition to a regular sushi menu, they have an all you can eat option which is one of my favorite things of all time. When you order all you can eat, they give you a menu and you can check off boxes for all the food that you want to order. They have rolls, nigiri, and appetizers like gyoza, miso soup, and shumai. I like to go with my friends and see who can eat the most. The price is a little high if you don’t usually eat much, for dinner after tax and tip it usually ends up being around $30, so I don’t recommend getting the all you can eat option if you won’t/can’t make it worth it. However, Shinju does have reasonable prices for what you get and the staff are very friendly. Plus, at the end of all you can eat meal, you get free ice cream!
Pizza Capri is another great pizza and Italian restaurant in Hyde Park, however, this restaurant serves a great thin crust pizza. It has a nice upscale vibe, but it isn’t too expensive and the food is very good. While Pizza Capri is known for their thin crust pizza, they do also serve a very good deep dish pizza, because no Chicago pizza joint is complete without deep dish.
Stan’s Donuts is another Chicago staple that we’re lucky enough to have in Hyde Park. Stan’s serves every kind of donut imaginable, from your traditional glazed to glazed pretzels and chocolate glazed, Nutella-filled donuts. Stan’s isn’t just donuts though, they also have breakfast sandwiches, an expansive coffee and tea bar, and milkshakes. They have some of the best cold brew coffee that I’ve ever had, they’re chocolate lightning (Cold brew + chocolate milk) is a great way to start the day.
Harold’s is a tried-and-true Chicago favorite. They have some of the best fried chicken I’ve ever had, and I live in the south and they know how to do fried chicken down there. I’m a fried chicken fanatic, so a fried chicken stamp of approval from me is hard to earn, but Harold’s definitely has it. The chicken has a crispy breading with lots of flavor, and juicy and tender meat, it’s never dry and they have really good prices here. It’s definitely worth a visit.
Roti is by far one of my favorite restaurants of all time. It is a chain, but all their locations are in Chicago. At Roti, they have three options for how you would like your food: a rice bowl, salad, or pita. My favorite is the pita; I usually get it with chicken, hummus, dill cucumber, saffron rice, and tahini sauce. It essentially is a Mediterranean Chipotle, where you go down the line and choose what you would like. You get so much food for what you pay for here. It’s one of my favorite places to eat, and I feel like it’s an underrated place in Hyde Park.
There are so many more wonderful options in Hyde Park, but these are just a few of my favorites! Here a few other restaurants to check out that are also amazing:
- Nella Pizza e Pasta—Nella is an Italian restaurant conveniently located at the bottom of North.
- Medici Restaurant—This is the other half of the aforementioned Medici bakery, which serves pizza, burgers, and milkshakes.
- Strings Ramen—Strings is very popular with UChicago students, people like to go there and try their hell ramen to see if they can handle how spicy it is!
- Virtue—Virtue is a highly acclaimed restaurant that serves food that is just as southern as their hospitality.
- Seoul Taco—A fun Korean-Mexican fusion restaurant.
- Noodles etc.--.Noodles etc. has great Asian dishes!
- The Soul Shack—A great place to get some southern food.
- True North Cafe—A nice cafe with a great lunch menu, it’s a nice place to study or chill with friends.
- Philz Coffee–The Philtered Soul coffee from here is so good
- Roux—A nice brunch spot that serves great New Orleans southern food.