The Best Restaurants In Albany ParkOur favorite restaurants in the neighborhood.
Finding a place to eat in Albany Park is hard. But not because there’s nowhere to eat. In fact, this diverse neighborhood is overflowing with restaurants—taquerias on nearly every block, decades-old Korean institutions, and plenty of kabob places vying for grilled meat supremacy. And there lies the dilemma—where to begin? To help you avoid decision paralysis, we’ve narrowed it down to 22 spots.
Helmand opened in 2023, making it one of the newest additions to the area. And for a neighborhood that already had many fantastic kabob spots, this Afghan restaurant enters the fray with its impressively juicy and perfectly spiced skewers. But other dishes also deserve some time in the spotlight—like mantu with ground beef drizzled in a spicy tomato sauce, and fall-off-the-bone lamb shank atop kabuli with sweet raisins and caramelized carrots. And luckily, their spacious dining room isn’t too busy.
Ssyal is an Albany Park institution that's been around since 1988, most famous for samgyetang, its signature Korean ginseng chicken soup. And that fame is justified: the whole cornish hen stuffed with rice and sweet jujubes, floating in a light broth, is tender and comforting. While the rejuvenating soup is a must-order, Ssyal has other tasty dishes on their menu, too. Like sweet galbi and spicy dakdori tang, a sinus-clearing spicy chicken stew with potatoes and carrots. The casual space is very chill, often filled with people quietly eating to a soft instrumental soundtrack.
This special occasion Thai restaurant opened in 1987 and is unapologetically formal—servers wear jackets and every table is draped in a crisply ironed tablecloth. Arun’s serves a nine-course tasting menu for $100, and it’s a back-to-back parade of beautifully plated dishes like khanom chine, and miang kum. And if the tasting menu feels like too much of a commitment, they have an a la carte menu as well, with dishes like pad see ew and duck curry. You’ll still get the same excellent service and cocktails if you go a la carte, but you can also worry less about having an “extend parking” reminder interrupting your meal.
Kabobi is always packed. But the business is warranted: the Persian food at this casual spot is delicious. And group dining is the best plan of attack. Share a massive kabob platter (the juicy lamb and filet mignon are particularly tasty) and make sure to upgrade to herbaceous dill rice or the sweeter cranberry polo rice. Since this place has no less than three birthdays and at least one family reunion happening at the same time, book a reservation to avoid a wait.
At Chicago Kalbi, Korean and Japanese BBQ come together in a cozy space that feels like the Japanese baseball hall of fame. A display of signed baseballs grace the front bar and autographed photos of Japanese home run stars line the walls (but they need Shohei’s to complete the collection). Other than coming to admire the memorabilia, the main reason to visit is for their great yakiniku. They have a variety of delicious meats like spicy marinated pork belly, beef tongue, and Japanese wagyu—which you get to cook yourself on their charcoal grills. Each meal comes with some plates of banchan, but be sure to also order a few appetizers like seafood pajun or crispy kara-age.
Ruby’s Fast Food has been serving Filipino food in the neighborhood since the 90s, but moved to a new location in 2022. Originally a “turo-turo” or “point-point” restaurant, where you point at pre-cooked dishes in steam trays to order, their new spot is much larger. It feels like a neighborhood sports bar, with plenty of tables, TVs on the wall, and bar seating. Some of their standout dishes are the kare kare with oxtail in a creamy peanut butter stew as well as their garlicky and spicy dinuguan. But every visit should include an order of the crispy pata. The massive fried pork leg is a balanced combination of buttery meat and crackly skin.
Like the now-defunct Wonderball, you never know what you’ll get at this small sushi restaurant—their fish offerings vary depending on what’s available that day, sometimes flying seafood in from Japan. Raisu’s omakase is fantastic, but their a la carte options are great for something more casual, with pieces starting as low as $2.50. The rolls are tasty (we like the omega maki with fried salmon and shrimp tempura), and so are the signature nigiri and sashimi. They come with interesting toppings (like shaved apple or fried garlic chips) that enhance the flavor of the fish.
What Subo lacks in size, it makes up for with a huge menu. Over 20 entrees, different empanadas, multiple types of egg rolls, and lots of desserts—the menu doubles as a comprehensive Filipino food directory. They have everything from garlic rice breakfast bowls with eggs, to classics like sinigang or chicken adobo. But the best part about Subo is their combo rice plates that let you try a couple of dishes without needing help from a whole pick-up soccer team to make it through the long menu. Though if you do show up with a bunch of people, their $15 mountain of pancit is an incredible deal.
Noon O Kabab is a Persian restaurant in Albany Park with a really long menu of dishes perfect for group dining, and two dining areas. And while the adass polo and all of the kebabs are great to share in the casual dining area, we prefer hanging out in their larger, more upscale space (there are drinks here too). It’s a beautiful, round dining room with lots of tables, flowy curtains draped across the domed ceiling, and painted tiles hanging on the walls that’s perfect for a birthday or a date night.
Most of Peking Mandarin’s menu is full of Chinese dishes like kung pao chicken or Mongolian beef, but it’s the Korean-Chinese staples that should be prioritized. Their sweet and sour pork has an impressively crispy batter that doesn’t seem to get soggy in the tangy sauce, and their cha chiang mein is full of umami. It’s a great take-out spot, but their dining room has lots of tables for a family-style dinner, along with old school Chinese zodiac placemats to check if you should actually be friends with the Dragon sitting across from you. Just a heads up: they only take cash or Zelle.
Arzan Cafe is just steps away from the Kimball Brown Line, which makes it an extremely convenient place for commuters to grab a meal. But even if you’re allergic to the CTA, their tasty Central Asian food is worth checking out. The long menu has plenty of great starters like manty filled with pumpkin or tandoor samsa filled with savory beef and onions. For larger entrees, the Uyghur dish achuu et with spicy beef, vegetables and rice is excellent, and their boso lagman has plenty of slurpable, saucy noodles. Plus, it’s open until midnight every day.
While the large number of Mexican restaurants in the neighborhood means that tortas are everywhere, the best ones are at Torteria San Lenchito. With over 26 different versions to choose from (and an impressive photo for each on their wall), deciding what to order can be daunting. But a torta at this tiny torteria comes with the assurance that everything is delicious. Stay simple with a single filling like al pastor or carne asada, or go all out with their signature San Lenchito: slow-roasted pork, ham, poblano peppers, onions, and melty American cheese.
Antepli’s busy space has big booths, long tables, a patio, and plant walls decorated with neon cursive—it feels very “River North bottomless brunch.” But there won’t be any mimosa-fueled shout-talking happening at this Turkish restaurant. Anything involving their freshly baked bread is a must, from cheesy pide with eggplant to crispy lahmacun stuffed with minced meat. And for mains, the must-order is their iskender—slivers of lamb and bread pieces with yogurt and a zesty tomato sauce. Chances are, there will be a few customers stopping by to pick up some baklava to go—and you should follow suit because Antepli makes some of the city’s best.
Like Peking Mandarin, Great Sea is another casual Chinese restaurant that’s been serving up Korean-Chinese food for decades. But while their jajangmyeon or jampong are both tasty, their lollipop wings are what they’re famous for (and the reason they're on our best wings guide). Each order comes with around 12-15 pieces of chicken that defy physics, staying crispy regardless of how long they hang out in the sweet and spicy sauce.
For the best birria in the neighborhood, go to Birrieria El Texcal. The meat is buttery from hours of slow-roasting, and the consomme is rich and fragrant, with a hefty helping of cilantro and onions. The grande serving of juicy goat meat and a large stack of steamed tortillas works well for a group, while the crispy, cheesy quesabirria platter with rice and beans is great for a solo dinner. And just because this small corner spot has birrieria in its name, don’t let that stop you from also getting at least one taco on the side.
It’s hard not to be even a little impressed in the presence of a 20-inch quesadilla. And that’s exactly what you’ll find at this casual Mexican spot. While part of the fun is the novelty of working through a massive griddled corn tortilla full of cheese, the namesake machetes (called such because they look like a sword) are actually delicious. Each one comes with at least two toppings, and everything from chicharron with salsa verde to squash blossom is great. But they also have smaller junior and baby machetes if the full-grown, adult machete is too intimidating. Make sure to also stock up on salsas and fresh garnishes at their sauce bar.
When it comes to affordable sushi there’s no better spot than Lawrence Fish Market. It’s been around for over 40 years, and has an incredibly long menu full of delicious (and reasonably priced) nigiri, sashimi, rolls, and trays. Many pieces are less than $2 and most rolls are $3-$7—an absolute steal. Just a heads up, it’s cash-only and they only do takeout. So make sure you stop by an ATM first and already have a destination in mind for where you want to feast on 50 pieces of seafood (no shame in taking care of business in the car).
Despite El Fogón De Elena’s tiny, easy-to-miss storefront, it shouldn’t be overlooked—their Colombian food is delicious. The tiny crispy empanadas are great starters, filled with things like shredded chicken or cheese and potatoes. Order a pillowy arepa, and share one of their larger tasty seafood platters with a round of Cola and Pola, a refreshing, slightly alcoholic Colombian soda that has a 1.5% abv. The dark, wooden interior has a homey atmosphere filled with decorations that look plucked straight out of a World Market catalog. It can get busy pretty quickly during lunch and dinner, but it never feels cramped, and there’s always lively energy from the chatter and upbeat Latin playlist.
The pupusa might be the official dish of El Salvador, but El Cuscatleco makes the argument that it should be the official dish of everyone’s life. Theirs are incredibly pillowy, with plenty of cheese and tasty fillings stuffed inside the warm, griddled corn patties. The mixta with beans and chicharron is our favorite, while the pupusas filled with squash or oroco (an edible flower common in El Salvador that tastes similar to asparagus mixed with broccoli) are great as lighter options. Their small dining room is ideal for a quick snack, but they also have heartier Latin American dishes like a Guatemalan longaniza platter.
Kim’s Home Cooking is a small casual Korean restaurant inside of the same strip mall as Antepli. And though there’s not much going on in terms of decor, there’s plenty to be excited about when it comes to the food. The menu is full of Korean staples like sweet and savory kalbi, piping hot soondubu, and some fantastic crispy chicken wings with a sweet and sticky glaze that’ll warrant extra napkins. It doesn’t get too busy since many people are often just stopping by for takeout, so it’s a good place for a low-key dinner.
The dining room at LD Pho is simple: framed photos of city scenes and landscapes, a few rows of tables, and a counter for to-go orders. And since it’s primarily a carryout spot, this quiet Vietnamese restaurant is ideal for a relaxed bowl of pho. Their fragrant beef broth is nicely balanced—not too salty or sweet. Plus, it tends to be on the lighter side, so even when it’s loaded with flank steak, meatballs, and tendons, it never feels like meat overload. Each bowl comes in two sizes, but if the large isn’t enough, grab some egg rolls or spring rolls.
Dokil Bakery has been around for decades—known especially for making sweet breads and cakes for Korean grocery stores in Chicago and all over the Midwest. And one bite of their pastries is all it takes to see how they’ve made it through Y2K, a global pandemic, and the fall of Twitter. All of their breads and buns have a heavenly lightness—perfectly soft and squishy, sweet without feeling overbearing. They’re so easy and pleasant to eat, don’t be surprised if you make it through a peanut cream bread, red bean bread, banana cream bread, and green tea castella in one sitting.