photo credit: Bavette's

A dark dining room full of candlelit tables and velvet chairs.



River North

$$$$Perfect For:BirthdaysDate NightDinner with the ParentsImpressing Out of TownersLiterally Everyone
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Bavette’s shouldn’t be that special. It’s a steakhouse in a city full of them. And since opening in River North in 2012, the team behind it has cloned its signature dishes and 1920s aesthetic across the city at places like Armitage Alehouse, Trivoli Tavern, and Ciccio Mio. In Vegas, you can even celebrate winning $2 playing slots with a Bavette’s prime rib sandwich.

But the famous steakhouse remains one of Chicago's hardest restaurants to get into. And for good reason. Dinner at Bavette’s isn’t just a meal—it’s an immersive experience that grabs you with its penchant for nostalgia and some of the best food in the city.

Bavette’s image

photo credit: Bavette’s

Bavette’s successfully sells the idea that you’ve wandered into an era where Louis Armstrong might drop a new single. The dark, windowless space and early jazz soundtrack make it feel like Prohibition is still a thing—an illusion that’s only interrupted when someone whips out a phone flashlight to read the menu. Flickering candlelight shines on their collection of ornately framed paintings, rustic mirrors, and a “free wine daily” sign. And when curiosity about that sign is rewarded with a complimentary glass of red or white, it’s easy to buy into all of Bavette’s charm before even having a bite.

Unsurprisingly, cow is front and center on the menu. Whether you get a filet or the 32oz wagyu porterhouse, it’ll be the platonic ideal of a steak. Deep beefiness extends from the charred exterior to the juicy medium rare center—it doesn’t need anything extra. That said, you should absolutely try their tangy bearnaise and maybe sprinkle some of the accompanying salt blend.

But as good as the steak is, you don’t need it to have an incredible meal. The appetizers, sides, and non-steak entrees are as worthy of a spotlight as a premium cut of aged ribeye. Their Lyonnaise salad separates itself from piles of sleepy old frisee with thick slabs of sweet, fatty bacon. Large sides like creamed spinach and mac and cheese tempt you into making them a main course. And though fried chicken isn’t a standard steakhouse order, it deserves to be here—the peppery crispy skin and tender thigh meat go down even better with the accompanying buttery mashed potatoes and sweet peas.

A dark candlelit dining space with leather booths and plush chairs.

photo credit: Bavette's

As hard as it is to get into Bavette’s (reservations vanish as soon as they become available) we can’t seem to stay away. It keeps reeling us in, whether it’s for an anniversary, a client dinner, or a solo meal when the only company we want is wine and a phenomenal piece of meat. This is tasteful escapism at its finest—not some cheesy Boardwalk Empire marketing activation. Throw in the exceptional food and service, and Bavette’s encapsulates what makes a steakhouse relevant. No other place in this city wrought with steakhouses keeps us not-so-secretly hoping someone else cancels just so we have a chance at a spot. Dinner at 10pm on a Wednesday? We’ll take it.

Food Rundown

Crab Cake

Crab cakes can sometimes be a mystery of “Where’s the crab?” Not at Bavette’s. Expect plenty of sweet crab pieces mixed into the fluffy breading complemented nicely by the robust remoulade.

Lyonnaise Salad

When this arrives at the table, the thick strips of bacon and soft-boiled egg might seem a bit much. But all of the rich, fatty flavors are balanced out by the bitter greens and refreshing vinaigrette.

A cheeseburger with a side of aioli.

photo credit: Bavette's

Double Wagyu Cheeseburger

If you’re familiar with even a little Chicago food lore, you know about the Au Cheval burger. This is basically the same (you can even get the same egg and bacon combo), but suped-up with wagyu. If that sounds delicious to you, you’d be correct.

A steak from Bavette's with a side of sauce.

photo credit: Bavette's


The best part about the steak here is that it has no surprises. Every cut is always perfectly cooked and seasoned with an ample amount of salt. The 8oz filet works well for a solo meal at the bar, the 16oz Chicago cut or NY strip is great if you’re splitting with a date, and the $259 porterhouse is ideal if you brought some friends and the company card randomly falls in your lap.

Fried Chicken

Telling someone to get fried chicken at a steakhouse can seem silly. But this chicken is serious. The peppery skin has a crunch that sounds so satisfying it deserves a record deal. The mashed potatoes and cipollini gravy aren’t an afterthought either—they’re comfortingly buttery and get some nuttiness from the sweet peas.

Bavette’s image

photo credit: Bavette's


The term “side” doesn’t do justice to dishes like the nearly-over-indulgent truffle mac and cheese or rich creamed spinach with melty blue cheese and sweet caramelized onions. All the sides here are made exceptionally well, and are the perfect way to add some variety to any steak (or fried chicken) dinner.

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