Eating in Elmhurst

Elmhurst has a variety of tasty food options. From cozy cafes to upscale restaurants, there is something for everyone with very little need (if any) to leave town for a bite. Read on to explore Elmhurst dining through some of the top restaurants in this charming suburb.


American food or cuisine is often hard to define and ends up being a catch-all that doesn’t fit into other places. We typically think of fried foods (perhaps “bar food”) with appetizers like flatbreads and wings with entrees featuring chicken, beef / steak, etc. and these options can range from very casual to unique dining experiences. Hamburger Heaven is a quintessential old school walk-up diner serving up delicious burgers, fries and shakes (our favorite) since 1948. Mack’s Golden Pheasant is the oldest continuously owned restaurant in DuPage County and its lodge-like dining room needs to be experienced. Mack’s offers American dishes alongside specialty Czechoslovakian cuisine with an eclectic menu featuring roast duckling, wienerschnitzel, steaks, seafood and burgers. Modern Plate is a new addition to Elmhurst in December 2023. This restaurant offers a unique blend of modern flair with classic tastes – try the short rib grilled cheese, exotic burger (bison / elk / wagyu / wild boar), bacon wrapped meatloaf or short rib risotto. We have to mention South Elmhurst favorites like Southtown Hot Dogs (hot dogs, burgers, Italian beef and ice cream cones) and Harlo Grill (sandwiches, breakfast specials, etc.). Locals will remember long-time Elmhurst establishment, HB Jones, which is transitioning to a new concept, Golden Boy Barbecue (coming soon in 2024). Note: we intend to cover Elmhurst bars, breweries and pubs in a future blog!


The great thing about Asian cuisine is that it allows diners to experience a number of flavors and textures in one meal. Elmhurst features numerous options for those seeking Chinese, Indian, Japanese or Thai food. For “take-out” Chinese, enjoy Ni Hao Asian Cafe close to the train downtown, Emperor’s Kitchen in south Elmhurst or Ming Chef on York Rd. offering mongolian beef, sesame / sweet & sour chicken, crab rangoons and other typical entrees (Ni Hao has a sushi bar and Ming Chef has seating too). Hunan Palace Chinese Restaurant is also worth a try with chef specials like the Hong Kong steak, governor's chicken and twice-cooked pork.

Maharaj Indian Grill is an Indian restaurant that offers a variety of dishes, such as gobi manchurian, masala pappadam, lentil donuts and vegetable pakora – be sure to check out the tandoori specials and chef’s recommendations. Tucked away downtown is Kan Ya, a Japanese option featuring ramen with all the toppings, beef / chicken / shrimp entrees, fried rice, sushi, signature maki and sashimi. Also find sushi in a bowl or burrito (combination of poke wrap in a seaweed paper) at Poke Burrito, where every dish is freshly made and customized. Lastly, BNK Thai & Sushi offers a great combination of Thai dishes (soups & noodles, pad thai, sushies, curries, rices, etc.) with the liveliness and excitement of an exhibition kitchen. 


Currently, the Elmhurst barbeque discussion starts and ends with Firewater BBQ N Brew. Their menu brings the flavors, traditions and hospitality of southern style BBQ including slow cooked meats, grillmaster’s signature suggestions, signature sides and homemade desserts. Firewater also does party platters / packages, catering and a local favorite -- pig roasts. A new option, Golden Boy Barbecue, will be opening in spring 2024.

Breakfast, Coffee & Bakeries

Elmhurst has a number of places to start the day or grab a quick treat. Courageous Bakery is a local favorite south of the train that offers fresh breakfast, lunch, and baked goods. Best known for its amazing “Cupcakes for Courage,” a portion of all sale proceeds support cancer research. Nearby is Brewpoint Coffee offering award-winning coffees, teas and more (also a Brewpoint coffee bar in the Elmhurst Public Library and another location in north Elmhurst). Moving east of York Road, Stray Hen Cafe has a large menu of traditional breakfast items, breakfast bowls and signature dishes as well as sandwiches and salads for lunch. Elmhurst City Centre has several great options for breakfast. Egg Harbor Cafe is part of a family-owned chain with 20+ locations that offers an extensive selection of breakfast and lunch options. Nu Crepes has tasty breakfast (served all day), sweet and savory (great for lunch or dinner) crepe creations. Moving north, Rainbow Cafe (owned by a Greek family) is a place that friends “meet n’ eat” with a hand-crafted and modern menu which also includes rotating and seasonal items called “Nick’s Picks”. In south Elmhurst, Fresh Start Cafe and Prairie Cafe have a traditional diner feel serving breakfast, lunch specials, sandwiches and wraps. Also stop in for a quick coffee or espresso at Lezza Spumoni & Desserts on Spring Road; this place is also known for cannolis, spumoni, cake, cookie, Gelato, and Italian ice made in-house.

Italian / Pizza

We could write an entire blog post focused only on Italian food in Elmhurst…there are so many great options with more than a dozen locally owned restaurants. Residents are enthusiastic about their preferences so there is no doubt this list will be controversial. For those wanting top-tier pizza, we generally prefer Armand’s Pizzeria, Mama Maria’s Pizza, Pazzi di Pizza and Roberto’s Ristorante & Pizzeria. Honorable mention goes to DiLeo’s Pizzeria (carryout) and Rosati’s (great deep dish option). If a broader Italian dining experience and ambiance are important factors, you won’t be disappointed by Angelo’s Ristorante, Francesa’s Amici and Gia Mia. We are excited to try Ella’s Italian Pub, which just opened in the heart of downtown Elmhurst as a Roman-style pizza pub. Additional local options include Mangia Napoli and Two Brothers from Italy Restaurant and we know locals that love these places! If we had to pick just one restaurant in this category, it would be Pazzi di Pizza, followed closely by Roberto’s Ristorante & Pizzeria…but why choose?


Elmhurst has several great Mexican options. Primos Locos downtown is hard to beat when you combine the great food (tostadas, tacos, fajitas, enchiladas, etc.) and drinks (margaritas, cocktails, Mexican beers, etc.) with their garden bar (open during warm weather). This restaurant also offers Sunday brunch. Just across the street is locally-owned restaurant, Guac N Tacos, which opened up a second Elmhurst location on North Avenue. Known for their tacos, they also offer quesadillas, burritos, salads, etc. as well as sides and sweets with adult drinks (only at the York Road location). On the north side of Elmhurst, Cilantro Taco Grill offers fast casual, authentic Mexican-style food made-to-order. This Illinois-based family business has 15+ locations and recently secured Pitbull as an investor and its public face to begin franchising. Another family-owned option with more than 10 locations across Chicagoland (Elmhurst location is also up north), El Famous Burrito has a variety of traditional fast-casual menu items and creatively reinterpreted ‘specials.’ Lastly, Elmhurst is expected to get a new Mexican option in 2024 called Orale Güey Mexican Modern Cuisine (now in Elgin).

Steaks & Seafood

If you're a fan of high-quality meats and seafood, Victory Meat & Seafood is a great option in the heart of Elmhurst. This upscale establishment offers a curated menu featuring prime cuts of beef, fresh seafood, and expertly crafted dishes. Victory will be moving a few doors down on York Road in 2024. Visit 100 South Chop House and Grill for a swanky-hip 1950’s supper club feel that’s upbeat but still relaxed. The steaks are USDA center cut and minimum aged of 21-28 days to ensure freshness and flavor, the martinis are tall and each dish is made to ensure an exceptional dining experience. One Fifty One Kitchen | Bar should be at the top of your dining list if you're a supporter of the farm-to-table movement. This Elmhurst eatery prides itself on sourcing fresh, local ingredients to create dishes that showcase the very best of the region. Start here with a charcuterie platter and move on to the pan-seared salmon or grilled ribeye.

Elmhurst has so many great options across food types. Whether you're a local looking for a new dining spot or a visitor eager to explore the hidden gems in town, these picks are sure to leave you with a full stomach and appreciation for this vibrant suburb.

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