Best Restaurants for Fall in Chicago

Get cozy at Chicago's best restaurants for autumn dining and drinking

It's time to reject charcoal lemonade and poké bowls and order anything soaked in smoky whiskey or sticky maple. If a German  experience lifts your spirits, The Publican's annual Oktoberfest celebration is your ticket to ride into autumn. Timothy O’Toole’s Pub swaps Irish tweed caps and cable knit sweaters for Alpine hats and lederhosen during its 2022 Oktoberfest party. The German food and beer selections during Oktoberfest at all three locations of Old Town Pour House will have you saying, "Ach du meine Güte! In West Town, Funkenhausen's Funktoberfest celebration adds a wunderbar dash of autumn glee. One of the few restaurants left in the city that serves traditional German food, Himmel's gets even better with its autumn Oktoberfest celebration. Since you're replacing the fashion item of summer, midriff tops, for sweaters and jeans, splurge on the best comfort food in the city - Chef Art Smith's new Reunion Restaurant at Navy Pier. Or, fill up on California-inspired cuisine alone with steamy soup at Summer House/Coastal Soups in Lincoln Park.

Witness autumn city and river views while supping on contemporary American tavern fare with dramatic tablesaide presentations at River Roast.  Peek into Time Out Market, too, during its Oktoberfest weekend, Oct. 7-9, 2022.




Lincoln Park

It may seem peculiar to suggest a place called Summer House for fall food and drink but a visit to the Lincoln Park restaurant satisfies those who still want lighter fare like salads (but with autumnal flavors as in the Harvest Kale Salad with apples and candied nuts and dried fruit) and others who always covet pizza - how about a butternut squash and candied bacon pie? The Cali-inspired American restaurant offers an ever-changing menu of dishes prepared with local and seasonal ingredients. Find fall's best in tacos, pasta and risotto, wood-grilled items, sandwiches and tons of veg. Finish with a slice of spiced pumpkin chiffon pie. Moisten the pipes with choices from an extensive wine list or fresh-squeezed juices. When there's a chill in the air, hit up Coastal Soups within Summer House that slow cooks seasonal soups for pickup and delivery. Soups include favorites like comforting chicken noodle and tomato bisque, hearty Italian Wedding and zesty chicken tomatillo. Coastal Soups returns in mid-October and cooks until the end of the winter season.

Recommended for Best Restaurants for Fall because: A Cali-inspired beach house atmosphere with autumnal Midwestern ingredients equals a fine fall combo.

Jacky's expert tip: There's also an alluring array of seasonal baked goods, made fresh daily, from brown butter crispy rice treat bars to gingersnap and chunky cinnamon cookies.

Read more about Summer House →


There are bites and boards, greens and oysters but what really makes River Roast a fabulous fall foray are the roasts like slow-roasted beef; applewood smoked whole chicken; a boatload of market-fresh veggies; Berkshire pork loin; and fire-roasted whole fish. Highlights on the fall menu of contemporary American tavern fare include a Cider Brined Berkshire Pork Chop with Apple Cider Nage and Fontina & Cheddar Mac 'n' Cheese with Garlic Herb Buttercrumb topping. For dessert, Raisin Bread Pudding with Apples, Cinnamon, Nutmeg and Sea Salt Caramel Gelato is practically autumn on a plate. Or, order a spiced apple Old Fashioned for dessert. The location on the river can't be better with architectural and water views from every seat - inside and out on the patio. Weekend brunch and weekday Happy Hour, too.

Recommended for Best Restaurants for Fall because: River Roast is like one big happy family celebration with dramatic presentations of whole roasts carved tableside and lovely views.

Jacky's expert tip: River Roast was made for celebrating a special occasion with friends and family with its family-style sharing and creative libations.

Read more about River Roast →

With a name like Farm Bar, expect a cornucopia of flavorful fruit and veg in your future. The neighborhood tavern focuses on seasonal produce including a variety of Brown Dog Farm products from a 140-acre Wisconsin farm owned by Farm Bar's co-owner TJ Callahan. There's honey from the farm's beehives and apples finding their way into the restaurant's food and special ciders, beers and cocktails. You'll want to dig out your favorite sweater to enjoy views of the tree-lined street and dig into roasted chicken accompanied by brown butter spätzle, seared mushroom zucchini, griddled onion, grain mustard, and chicken jus. Fall veg forward items include Roasted Beet Reuben (roasted beets, sauerkraut, Swiss cheese, Farm Bar Secret Sauce, maple rye) and Cauliflower Steak enhanced by pea puree, Brown Dog Farm honey roasted carrots, seared vine tomatoes, pesto and mint. Side anything with creamed sweet corn and any of the Farmheads cider and you are smack dab in the middle of autumn flavor. Apple cider donuts make a perfect ending.

Recommended for Best Restaurants for Fall because: The neighborhood tavern focuses on seasonal produce including products from a Wisconsin farm owned by Farm Bar's co-owner, TJ Callahan.

Jacky's expert tip: Every Tuesday, Farm Bar donates 20% of your dining experience to the charity of your choice!

Read more about Farm Bar Lakeview →


When you want an injection of "die Fröhlichkeit" know that it's Oktoberfest all year long at Himmel's. Upon entry, the decor and scents transport you to Munich, hometown of owners Carol and Dianne Himmel. Count on a number of from-scratch German dishes this fall including: Bavarian pork shank prepared Munich style, crispy outside and tender and juicy on the inside, served with mushroom gravy, pretzel dumplings and cabbage salad; sauerbraten; schnitzels; and comforting liver dumpling soup among the options. Those are in addition to tempting year-round menu items such as homemade spätzle baked with Swiss and Gruyere, roasted young duckling and family recipe strudels. Pair it with several German beers on tap. Bring along little Harold and Heidi for kids' dishes like schnitzel with mashed spuds or even spaghetti with a meatball. October 15 and 16 you'll be toe tapping to the German band, Phenix.

Recommended for Best Restaurants for Fall because: One of the few restaurants left in the city that serves traditional German food, Himmel's gets even better with its autumn Oktoberfest celebration.

Jacky's expert tip: Don't feel like sauerbraten? Formerly Pizza D.O.C., Himmel's kept the pizza oven and D.O.C. standards so you can also experience a wúnderbar pie.

Read more about Himmel's →

West Town

Just the name, Funkenhausen, connotes, well - fun. But the West Town restaurant is no Disneyesque gimmick. The space is an elegantly casual beer hall and Executive Chef Mark Steuer mixes a magical Southern American/German culinary alchemy in the kitchen inspired by his Charleston roots and German family heritage. Enjoy colossal garlicky pretzels, bratwurst and Amish chicken year-round but autumn brings a Funkoberfest celebration filled with special food and beer. The West Town spot pours 16oz Spaten Oktoberfest beer ($8 all day, every day) for the entirety of Oktoberfest (Sept. 17 - Oct. 3). Enjoy barbecue each Sunday from 5-8pm ($38) with a smoked meat main and three sides. Try bratwurst with mustard, house giardiniera, and sal & vinegar chips; seasonal pretzel panzanella; and Berkshire pork loin schnitzel. Ach du meine Güte! Peruse the extensive beer list with 27 and 45 oz boot pours to sip in the biergarten all season long.

Recommended for Best Restaurants for Fall because: Funkenhausen successfully mixes a menu German and Southern inspired cuisine and its Oktoberfest celebration adds a wunderbar dash of autumn glee.

Jacky's expert tip: You're steps away from Alcala's Western Wear which makes a fun stop to search for authentic Western boots, buckles and spurs.

Read more about Funkenhausen →


In addition to laying claim to one of the biggest and best beer lists in Chicago and an old-fashioned pub vibe that makes fall even cozier, Old Town Pour House (Chicago, Oak Brook, and Naperville) beckons this autumn with an Oktoberfest celebration. From Wednesday, September 17 to Sunday, October 3, 2022, indulge in delicious German-inspired menu specials. Doesn't Pork Schnitzel with warm potato salad; Crispy Pork Belly Spaetzle basted in brown butter; and Smokehouse Currywurst with bacon braised sauerkraut just about bellow, "Autumn"? Expect to be flummoxed by the extensive choices of seasonal beer favorites, too. Fifteen huge flat-screen TVs and and state-of-the-art A/V ensure satisfying football watching sessions to accompany tasty pub grub from two-fisted sandwiches and tempting bar bites (fried pickles, Buffalo Chicken Dip and flatbreads) to an array of tacos and mac 'n' cheese. Bring little Quarterbacks for the kids' menu, too.

Recommended for Best Restaurants for Fall because: The German food and beer selections during Oktoberfest will have you saying, "Ach du meine Güte!"

Jacky's expert tip: Take a look at the "How We Serve Beer" booklet - it explains why your beer comes in a snifter rather than a pint glass and what nitro taps are all about.

Read more about Old Town Pour House →

Timothy O'Toole's Pub unboxes the Alpine hats and lederhosen for its 2022 Oktoberfest celebration. From Friday, September 16 to Sunday, September 25, the pub's four Chicagoland locations (Streeterville; Gurnee; Libertyville; Lake Villa) pull the taps on Oktoberfest biers and prepare German-inspired fare to enjoy with an oom-pah-pah music serenade. Dip your pretzels into IPA mustard and beer cheese fondue before sinking into a brat burger, sauerbraten or schnitzel. Expect Oktoberfest selections from over 15 different breweries, including Hofbrauhaus, Paulaner, Hacker-Pschorr, Founders Brewing Co., Revolution Brewing, Eagle Park Brewing Company, 3 Floyds, Bell's, Around the Bend Beer Co., Toppling Goliath, Metropolitan Brewing, Samuel Adams, Phase Three Brewing Company, Two Brothers, Half Acre, and More Brewing Company. Prost, indeed!

Recommended for Best Restaurants for Fall because: Whether a special event like Oktoberfest or a chilly fall football weekend, a visit to Timothy O'Toole's is always fun and filling.

Jacky's expert tip: Can't make it during Oktoberfest? It's is a great place to watch football, too, with 74 HD screens, 48 craft brews on draft, two-fisted burgers and award-winning wings.

Read more about Timothy O'Toole's Pub Chicago →


Elizabeth Restaurant opened in September, 2012 and "The Queen of Midwestern Cuisine," Iliana Regan, began collecting Michelin stars. New Executive Chef, Ian Jones and his culinary team continue to wow diners with foraged or forgotten foods on the seasonally focused menu. To celebrate the 10 year milestone in elevated dining, the acclaimed restaurant offers a special menu this autumn featuring recreations of Chef Iliana Regan's first dishes at Elizabeth. You'll experience items like Chanterelle Compote with acorn, pine gel, thyme; Hazelnut Custard with fermented and pickled crab apples; and Huckleberry "Pie" that includes huckleberry juice and a pie crust smear, among many other extraordinary dishes. Revel in beverages such as the spirit-free fall cocktail, Smoked Salted Apple Cider or a glass of rosé from Basque country. Chef Jones, with a stellar resume including NoMI; Bavette's; Band of Bohemia; Sepia; and Kitsune, creates surprising and flavorful dishes using each season's sustainable bounty - so visiting anytime of the year promises an uncommonly sublime experience.

Recommended for Best Restaurants for Fall because: Elizabeth continues to present surprising, sublime, creative food in a heady, intimate setting.

Jacky's expert tip: Google Maps hasn't played a trick on you - Elizabeth is ensconced in an unassuming building.

Read more about Elizabeth →

Autumn, from donning sweaters to igniting bonfires, is all about comfort. And then there's the food and you may not find any grub more comforting than what Chef Art Smith offers at his new place on Navy Pier: his famous fried chicken with housemade hot sauce; shrimp 'n' grits; fluffy biscuits enlivened with a goat cheese tang; braised Southern greens; wickedly good deviled eggs; and the kind of buttery mashed potatoes that are surely served in heaven. All presented on crockery reminiscent of your granny's china. Reunion Restaurant should lure local food snobs to the Pier for the deeply flavorful offerings and tourists are in for a treat, too - generous portions of hearty, soulful fare that isn't overpriced considering the real estate. Even when the lake's waves whiplash the shore, diners are warmed with melty pimento cheese dip and crackers; creamy cucumber dill salad; braised short ribs; pulled pork platter; fried catfish escorted by artisan corn grits and hush puppies; and fall-apart tender pork shank in a smoky Guajillo broth. There are sandwiches and healthier items, too, from various salads to pan-seared salmon which you may need if you order Chef's Hummingbird cake for dessert - a banana-pineapple spice cake popular in the South.

Recommended for Best Restaurants for Fall because: Believe it - there's a restaurant worthy of Navy Pier's popularity and Chef Art Smith brings it home with comfort food, delcious cocktails and spiffy service.

Jacky's expert tip: There's a large flower-filled outdoor patio and bar open to at least Halloween.

Read more about Chef Art Smith's Reunion Restaurant →

Fulton Market
The Publican
Photo courtesy of The Publican

The Publican's annual Oktoberfest celebration attracts clamorous crowds to the expansive dining hall and outdoor patio for feasts full of pretzels, sausages and beer. While the party has been a weekend-long event in the past, the Fulton Market restaurant expanded the event into a two-week long festival celebrating Bavarian tradition. From Sept.18th - Oct. 2nd, reserve for one of the two seatings per night: 4:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. You'll enjoy four family-style courses of German-inspired favorites like pork schnitzel, smoked white fish dip and handmade Publican Quality Meats sausages. Keep your lederhosen on - pours from The Publican's award-winning list of brews will be flowing. Wear Bavarian attire to immerse yourself in the experience. Even if you miss these events, The Publican's hearty menu, extensive international beer roster and beer hall space evoke fall in the most delicious way.

Recommended for Best Restaurants for Fall because: You can entertain your inner Arnold and party Oktoberfest-style at The Publican's Teutonic fall fête.

Jacky's expert tip: The Publican is akin to a European beer hall, so expect an exuberant, spirited dining experience.

Read more about The Publican →


Meet Jacky Runice

Born in Bucktown when bulletproof was a home safety choice and not a coffee order, Jacky Runice has been knocking around Chicago as a professional print, online and broadcast journalist and...  More About Jacky