In this article, we'll explore some culinary delights in town, where you'll find everything from mouthwatering BBQ to delectable Mexican cuisine and so much more.
So, join me as we embark on a culinary journey through the best restaurants in Waukegan, Illinois.
While this list showcases some remarkable restaurants, it's important to note there are many other exceptional dining establishments in Waukegan that are not featured here. Our aim is not just to guide you to popular eateries but to encourage you to venture out and experience the city's diverse culinary landscape for yourself.
CM Chicken & Bobadod
I was thrilled to see a new restaurant opening up nearby.
So, my brother and I decided to check out CM Chicken & Bobadod.
As soon as we walked in, I couldn't help but notice the unique atmosphere.
The K-pop music playing on a projector and the overall vibe were unlike anything else around here.
We were seated promptly, and the menu was easy to navigate, with helpful pictures next to each item.
I ordered a spicy BBQ chicken bowl with white rice, while my brother decided to get some fried jumbo shrimp for us to share.
Our food arrived quickly and, boy, was it delicious!
I can honestly say that I haven't had a meal this satisfying in quite a while.
Aside from the great food, the service was top-notch, and the restaurant itself was clean and welcoming.
Another bonus was the free parking and the fact that there are plenty of other things to do along Grand Ave.
I absolutely love going to The Maple!
The food and drinks are top-notch, and I can't get enough of their carne asada fries and smash burgers.
I've also tried their elote hush puppies, which were simply delicious and practically melted in my mouth.
The Oaxacan Viejito is my favorite drink there, with its unique and amazing flavors.
The service at The Maple is always outstanding, and I appreciate the eclectic atmosphere, which features artwork from local artists.
The interior design and cleanliness of the restaurant make it a comfortable and enjoyable place to dine.
Although the menu may be small, the dishes are definitely generous and satisfying.
The drink menu is the real star, with beautiful, strong drinks that won't break the bank.
Papa Marcos Restaurant
One of my favorite spots to dine at is Papa Marcos Restaurant.
The old-world flair and welcoming atmosphere make it an ideal place for a casual evening out with friends or family.
I was first drawn to it because of its unique combination of Middle Eastern and American dishes, and I have been a regular customer ever since.
What really sets Papa Marcos apart from other restaurants in the area is its exceptional customer service.
In terms of food, you simply can't go wrong with anything on the menu.
As someone who absolutely loves Mediterranean cuisine, I can confidently say that their dishes are authentic and delicious.
One of my go-to options is the chicken and gyro lunch special – not only is it a generous portion size, but it's also perfect for warming up on a cold day.
And if you're a fan of rice, their lemon-flavored rice is a must-try.
Test Kitchen BBQ
I have to admit, I was skeptical when I first heard about Test Kitchen BBQ, but after trying their food, I now recommend it to all my friends and family.
The brisket I had there was absolutely amazing - incredibly juicy, tender, and with just the right amount of smoke.
And don't get me started on the rib tips - very meaty and perfect even without any sauce.
But you should definitely try the sauces, as they aren't poured out of a bottle but are made from scratch with great flavor and are not overly sweet.
The atmosphere is welcoming, and the restaurant is very clean.
One time, my partner and I shared the brisket with bourbon sauce, which was fantastic.
It definitely rivals some famous Texas BBQ we've had in the past.
The service is always quick and efficient, which makes it an ideal stop for a delicious meal.
Big Ed's BBQ & Bar
I recently had the pleasure of dining at Big Ed's BBQ & Bar, and it didn't disappoint me.
I ordered the brisket sandwich, and it was cooked to perfection - tender and literally melting in my mouth.
The fries were fresh from the fryer, hot, and seasoned just right.
As for the sides, I tried the standard Mac & Cheese, which was also alright.
The rib tips were quite meaty and enjoyable, while the baby back ribs were equally delicious.
I also had the greens and baked beans, which were good.
The sweet corn muffin that came with the meal was a delightful addition, especially when combined with the greens.
The pound cake, on the other hand, was dense and had an enjoyable flavor.
TR's Front Row On Greenwood
I recently discovered a hidden gem in our neighborhood - TR's Front Row On Greenwood.
I'd seen it being recommended on Nextdoor for their delicious $4.99 pub burger, so I thought I'd give it a try.
I went there for lunch on a Monday, and I was pleasantly surprised by the great service and wonderful atmosphere.
The pub burger didn't disappoint, and I can say it's one of the best I've had.
I also got a chance to try their inferno wings, which were excellent and had the perfect level of spiciness.
Their drinks were mixed to perfection, and the overall dining experience was amazing.
SMC Pampanga Express
I stumbled upon SMC Pampanga Express a while ago and instantly fell in love with their warm and inviting atmosphere.
This colorful, family-owned spot specializes in Filipino home cooking, and it has quickly become one of my favorite go-to places for a casual and cozy meal.
What sets this place apart for me is not only their delicious food but also the friendly family that owns and operates the joint.
They make you feel right at home from the moment you step inside their snug and cheerful digs.
Their lechon kawali and coconut chicken have become my personal favorites, but I've also heard great things about their freshly made lumpia and whole roasted pig.
I appreciate how they let you taste-test their dishes before making your final selection, which is perfect for trying new flavors and finding new favorites.
And don't forget to check out their dessert and pastry selections – they are the perfect way to end a satisfying meal.
I love visiting Poppys for a quick and tasty meal!
In fact, the food was so fantastic that I couldn't wait to come back again.
Over the years, I've bought fast food at Poppys for my kids, and they absolutely love it.
Their favorites are the nachos, chicken fingers, and the delicious Chicken Diablo.
And of course, we can't forget about the ice cream and cheese fries!
One of the things I appreciate the most about this place is that it's very inexpensive and offers high-quality food.
No frills, just good food at great prices.
I usually pick up and go, but sometimes we eat outside on their umbrella-covered benches.
Their half-pound burger is really tasty, and the thin and crispy fries are just perfect.
The Chicago dogs are also a must-try!
It's interesting to know that years ago, this used to be a Shirls, but Poppys offers much lower prices.
You can check out their location here.
North Avenue Tap
I love hanging out at North Avenue Tap, it's my go-to spot when I'm looking for a low-key night out with my friends.
The moment you walk through the door, you get this homey vibe that instantly makes you feel welcome.
The bartender, who is always amazing, fun, and funny, makes sure everyone is having a great time.
Every time I visit, I see familiar faces as well as newcomers, and it's always a great mix of people who contribute to the overall friendly atmosphere.
We love to play pool, bocce ball, and corn hole - it's the perfect spot to unwind and have a good time without feeling like we're in a crowded club or bar.
One of the best things about North Avenue Tap is their delicious food.
They have a variety of specials that keep me coming back time and time again.
I love to belly up to the bar and order something from the grill - I've never been disappointed!
bb.q Chicken Waukegan!
If you're craving Korean fried chicken, you absolutely have to try bb.q Chicken Waukegan.
I've been to their place a few times, and each time has been a delightful experience.
The Korean fried chicken here is so good, I'd say it's one of the best I've had since my trip to Asia.
What really stands out at bb.q Chicken is the reasonable prices and their generous portions of chicken.
I love that they offer a variety of sauces, but I do wish that they would allow you to split the 10-piece order with two different sauces or even just have half plain and half with a sauce.
But that's just a minor detail, the overall experience and food are fantastic.
The atmosphere in the restaurant is casual and comfortable – they even serve the food on paper plates, which I find charming.
Every time I visit, I'm impressed with their excellent customer service.
Some of my favorite dishes here are spicy wings, honey garlic chicken, and kimchi fried rice.
The galbi and rosé rice cakes are also worth trying.
One of my favorite spots in town is Louie's Restaurant.
I've been going there for years, and it never disappoints.
The atmosphere is like an old-school supper club, making it a perfect place to unwind after a long day.
Their Brandy Old Fashioned is one of the best in town, and I can't resist their breadsticks.
You can find the restaurant here.
Louie's offers a variety of dishes, from chicken and pizza to pasta and fish dinners.
Their soups are also delicious, making it hard to choose just one thing from the menu.
I've tried almost everything, and the quality is always top-notch.
I once went with a large group of 25 people, and the service was still excellent.
The pizza at Louie's is wonderful, with super thin, crusty dough.
My friends love the sauce, but for me, it's all about the fresh mozzarella.
It makes a huge difference in the overall taste of the pizza.
Leno's Sandwich Shop
Oh, the memories that came flooding back when I visited Leno's Sandwich Shop after so many years!
I hadn't been there since high school, but recently, I overheard a coworker talking about it, and I just knew I had to take my family there for dinner.
The menu is massive, and there truly is something for everyone.
I ordered the gyro sub and lemon rice soup, and it was just as delicious as I remembered.
My family was equally impressed.
In fact, we loved it so much that we stopped by again before hitting the road to grab another hoagie.
It's safe to say Leno's Sandwich Shop hasn't lost its charm over the years.
This Waukegan gem has always been a favorite of mine, and I'm so glad to see it's still thriving.
The cozy atmosphere with indoor and outdoor seating is perfect for families to enjoy their meals, and the service is always friendly and welcoming.
As a fan of trying out new cuisines, I decided to give Catrachos Restaurant a try.
I had heard about some dishes from a Honduran friend of mine and decided to give the baleada a try.
Though it looked intimidating at first, it turned out to be extremely delicious.
I also couldn't resist trying their pastelitos, which were simply amazing, especially with the tasty red tomato sauce.
During my visit, the restaurant was packed, which made it a bit cramped for dining.
I wasn't able to try their soup, as they were all out, but I'm definitely going back soon to try it.
I must say Avocado Express is a gem in our neighborhood.
I remember when it used to be called the Dog House, but the new family-owned and operated restaurant has given the place a fresh and delicious Latin flare.
Every time I visit, I'm greeted with kind, respectful, and attentive service, which is why I keep coming back.
One of my favorite things to order is the green chilaquiles.
I've tried other items on the menu, but there's just something about those chilaquiles that makes me crave them.
The red chilaquiles are good too, but the green ones are simply unbeatable.
Plus, the price point is decent for the area.
The last time I went, I got a torta, fries, and a drink for under $16.
One of my favorite places to start the day is Monica's Diner, which you can find on their website.
I usually go there on weekends, and I just love their Mexican Omelette, which is priced reasonably at $10.
The atmosphere is very welcoming.
The other dishes on offer are equally delicious, especially their Mexican breakfast options.
I have heard good things about their green chilaquiles from other diners too.
Every time I go there, I am surrounded by happy faces and the chatter of satisfied customers.
I've been visiting Waukegan Gyros for years now, and it's always been a reliable spot for delicious food at reasonable prices.
You can find their location here.
Although it's a small shop, they offer a large variety of meals and combos.
I usually go for their juicy gyros, but I remember recently craving a cheeseburger and cheese fries.
What I really appreciate about Waukegan Gyros is that I can still get a filling lunch for less than $10, sometimes even cheaper.
For example, their Italian beef combo, which includes a large portion of French fries and a drink, costs under $8.
It's hard to find such great prices for quality food these days.
Bob & Anne's Restaurant
Bob & Anne's Restaurant has always been one of my favorite spots to eat.
I often find myself craving their country-fried steak, which is so tender that you can easily cut it with a fork!
They also have this delicious chicken and dumpling soup – it's packed with dumplings, and I can't get enough of it.
I love the fact that their food is made to order, and their prices are very reasonable.
One time, I ordered eggs, bacon, and blueberry pancakes for breakfast, and everything was cooked to perfection.
The helpings were big and absolutely delicious!
The atmosphere at Bob & Anne's is welcoming and cozy; it has that perfect diner vibe, where everyone seems to know each other.
Green Town Tavern
Whenever I'm in the mood for some classic pub grub and a pint, I head over to Green Town Tavern in town.
It's a bustling neighborhood spot with delicious bar food, a ton of craft beers on tap, and TVs showing all the latest sports action.
One of my favorite things to order here is their Cod fish fry - the fries and homemade coleslaw that come with it are to die for.
I've also tried their Chicken Tortilla soup and Clam Chowder, which never disappoint.
Their Cheese curds appetizer is perfect for sharing with friends, as the portion size is quite generous.
The atmosphere is always lively and welcoming, and the service is consistently top-notch.
I've even had the pleasure of attending their trivia night and winning a free breakfast!
I must say that living in Waukegan has truly been a culinary adventure for me.
The diverse range of restaurants in the area means that there's always something new and exciting to try, no matter what my cravings may be.
From the mouthwatering BBQ at Big Ed's to the delicious and unique flavors of Avocado Express, I'm constantly impressed by the quality and variety of the dining scene in our town.