Ditka's - Chicago - Chicago
The former NFL star's restaurant takes the best of Chicago steakhouses -- from the meat, of course, to the mahogany-themed decor, white tablecloths, and top-notch wine list -- and combines those star-caliber qualities with the Midwest's signature friendly service. Fine grade steaks aside, Ditka's wants nothing more than that guests feel at home. In fact, Mr. Ditka himself frequents the restaurant, and lucky guests might catch a glimpse and even a photo between bites, with this a larger-than-life character who has come to exemplify Chicago and Chicago sports.
With two locations in nearby suburbs, plus two in Mr. Ditka's hometown of Pittsburgh, Penn., the downtown Chicago location is conveniently located inside The Tremont Hotel on Michigan Avenue, near many of Chicago's most popular attractions. Ranked number 36 out of over 7,000 Chicago restaurants on TripAdvisor, this steakhouse knows how to please diners, including die-hard football fans as well as casual eaters, with more than merely meat and potatoes.
The menu features USDA Prime and Linz Heritage Angus steaks, wet-aged a minimum of 28 days, keeping them juicy, fresh and ready to put a smile on your meat-loving face. The very reasonable prices of fine cuts including filet mignon, New York strip, and bone-in ribeye (affectionately referred to on the menu as a "Kick Ass" Paddle Steak on the menu) allow plenty of reasons to indulge in a shareable side. Choose from seared day boat scallops, Alaskan king crab legs, or simply delicious caramelized cipollini onions, all of which will up the ante on whatever meat you choose to feast upon. Then pick a side or two (or three!) to round out the meal. Stick with the classics, like a giant baked potato and smashed red skins, or keep it light with broccoli florets and burgundy mushrooms. Heck, go for that two-point conversion with a delightful side of Lobster Mac & Cheese.
“Chicago Magazine” named Ditka's one of the city's best steakhouses in 2013, saying "Eating at Ditka's is fun. The wait staff is relaxed and professional (no hipster shtick, no nonsense), the dining room feels cozy, the crowd is multigenerational, and the conversation inevitably turns to the glory days." For fans of “Duh bears,” and sports fan in general, Ditka's is here to please.
Appetizers kick off any meal, celebratory or every day, with a bit of easygoing pizzazz. Contemporary dishes include a lot of options, such as tuna poke nachos, brimming with avocado, Sriracha aioli, wasabi crema and crispy wontons, and filet mignon sliders, as well as steakhouse classics like crispy calamari and shrimp cocktail.
As your mom probably said, “you should eat your greens,” and when you’re facing a mountain of meat, it just makes sense to chow down on a littler greenery. You can lighten up the meal with Mike's Salad, a modern mix of greens with pecans, goat cheese, and sliced apples, or a Baby Iceberg Wedge doused in blue cheese and bacon. Warm up with a rich cup of Sherry Crab Bisque to start the meal off with a solid return.
Despite the excellent options for meat lovers, friends of the sea are not forgotten at Ditka's. Fish and seafood dishes include a cornmeal-encrusted Great Lakes perch served with brown rice and coleslaw, and a wasabi-glazed Chilean sea bass with exotic black rice and a lime-zested beurre blanc. These are definitely seafood dishes that don’t just sit on the bench. More classic seafood steakhouse options are also available to sub, including Maryland-style crab cakes and South African lobster. Those guests (cough, health nuts, cough) desiring a simpler preparation can choose any fish to be made with extra virgin olive oil and a little salt and pepper, accompanied by brown rice, asparagus and grilled lemon.
With enough Ditka-approved menu items, one could stick with Da Coach throughout the entire meal. The “solid burger,” according to TimeOut Chicago, clocks in under $15 and is served with hot, salty fries, while the meatloaf and baby back ribs sport Ditka’s signature BBQ sauce, which is as good as or better than any sauce you’ve enjoyed while tailgating outside Soldier Field.
For diehard fans, the multi-level restaurant, which boasts several dining rooms, a large bar area, and an outdoor patio, is also home to a gift shop, complete with classic Iron Mike souvenirs and more. Dining at Ditka’s is a real Chicago experience, and it’s likely you’ll want to take home something more than just a pleasantly full belly.
Conveniently located in downtown Chicago, just off the Magnificent Mile, Ditka’s location, price point, and quality of service remain hard to beat -- much like the proprietor’s esteemed professional sports career.