Our Favorite Women-Owned Restaurants in Chicago and the Suburbs — Part 2

In celebration of Women’s History Month in March, we showed our support for women-owned local businesses with a long list of women-owned restaurants and bakeries in Chicago and the suburbs. But that was just A through L! Here are some of our absolute favorite women-owned restaurants from the second half of the alphabet. As I’ve said before, don’t go just because they’re owned by women; go because each one of these spots is fricking awesome.

Little Parachute

Beverly Kim Little Parachute Women Owned Restaurants Chicago 2021
Beverly Kim

Top Chef alum and James Beard Award-winning chef Beverly Kim and her husband, chef Johnny Clark, own both Parachute and Wherewithal on Elston Avenue in the Avondale nabe. As of this writing, they are operating as Little Parachute out of the Wherewithal space, serving up some of their greatest hits, like the insanely delicious Baked Potato Bing Bread and Ddukbokki, chewy Korean rice cakes topped with spicy ground pork ragu and peaches. You’ll also find spicy Korean Fried Chicken on the menu, and it’s a do-not-miss item.

Mindy’s Bakery 

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Nationally recognized as the James Beard Awards’ Outstanding Pastry Chef in 2012, Mindy Segal has long been a Chicago culinary star. She has since added best-selling cookbook author and cannabis chef to her already stacked resume. Segal closed Bucktown favorite Hot Chocolate during the pandemic, transforming it into Mindy’s Bakery, putting her special twist on bakery goodies like bagels, coffeecakes, babka, quiche, cookies and more. Pre-order online for weekend pickup.

Mi Tocaya Antojería

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This Logan Square neighborhood restaurant has scored national attention — including Food & Wine’s annual Best New Chefs list in 2018— for its uber-talented chef/owner Diana Dávila, and deservedly so. Nothing about her food is business as usual. Every dish is imbued with her family rich heritage and lived experiences, influenced by local seasonality. There are no short cuts here: every masa tortilla is handmade, every juice squeezed by hand. Truly special.

Monteverde Restaurant and Pastificio

Chicago has an impressive number of great female chefs who have been featured on Top Chef AND have won a James Beard Award, and chef/owner Sarah Grueneberg is high on that list. Her West Loop Italian restaurant has won tons of accolades, both local and national, for the exuberant chef. Her handmade pastas are some of the finest you’ll ever have the pleasure to eat, and her Whole Bird Chicken Parm bested Bobby Flay!


Co-owners and lifelong best friends Sam Rattanopas and Mina Sudsaard met in Bangkok, and eventually moved together to the States 25 years ago. Mina became a computer graphics specialist, and Sam managed restaurants. But their dream was to open a place together that reminded them of the Thai home cooking of their youth. NaKorn — which means “cosmopolitan” in Thai — is not your standard Thai restaurant. Real Thai food is balanced between the five tastes: salty, sweet, sour, bitter and hot, but unlike many Thai places, at NaKorn the heat takes a back seat. You won’t miss it. Instead, you’ll discover treasures like Jumbo Lump Crab Meat and Rice Noodles with turmeric-coconut curry, or Khun Sompit’s Big Fish, a whole branzino served crispy with kale and a lime gastrique. Did I mention that the plating here is spectacular? Another bonus.

Prairie Grass Café

Sarah Stegner Prairie Grass Cafe Women-owned Restaurant Chicago
Sarah Stegner

Chef/owner Sarah Stegner can boast TWO James Beard Awards for her brand of sustainable and seasonal cuisine. She celebrates local farmers, partners with other chefs, mentors up-and-comers, and sustains many Chicago-area nonprofits with her generosity of time and talent. All of that, and she and her co-chef/owner, George Bumbaris, put out consistently terrific food at their Northbrook restaurant. I dream of their Ancho-Marinated Skirt Steak with Three Sisters Garden refried beans, sauteed Mighty Vine tomatoes, and River Valley mushrooms.

Pretty Cool Ice Cream

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If popsicles, ice cream bars, and paletas are your jam, look no further than Logan Square’s Pretty Cool Ice Cream, where chef/owner Dana Cree — previously the pastry chef at The Publican and Publican Quality Meats, and author of the best-selling cookbook, “Hello, My Name is Ice Cream” — produces pops to suit all of your cravings. There are coconut-based vegan pops, Piecicle pops that blend in partner Bang Bang Pie slices, her version of classics like Strawberry Shortcake and Dreamsicles, and fantasy combos like the chocolate-dipped Peanut Butter Potato Chip pop. Each pop is individually wrapped and ready for your discerning tastebuds.

Saigon Sisters

Mary Aregoni Saigon Sisters women-owned restaurant Chicago
Mary Nguyen

Inspired by their family and Vietnamese roots, sisters Mary Nguyen Aregoni and Theresa Nguyen opened the Saigon Sisters booth at the Chicago French Market in 2009, with family matriarch Mama Suu manning the phò pot. They’ve since branched out to a stand-alone restaurant in the West Loop, and a third location at Northwestern Memorial Hospital in Streeterville, but their commitment to serving fresh and flavorful Vietnamese food is the same in every location. You’ll live for their fluffy Banh Bao, steamed buns stuffed with Caramelized Chicken, Hoisin Pork Belly, or Bo Luc Lac (beef tenderloin with oyster sauce), not to mention perfect Banh Mì sandwiches, Whole Branzino with Turmeric and Shrimp Paste, Vietnamese Coffee Flan, and more.

Terra & Vine

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Owner/wine expert Alpana Singh was only 26 when she became a Master Sommelier, and the youngest woman — and only South Asian — to attain that honor. The longtime host of WTTW’s “Check, Please!” also deserves our praise for helping bring the James Beard Awards to Chicago, which has been a huge boon for the city. These days, you’ll often find Singh at her Evanston restaurant, where beautiful oven-fired pizzas and soul-satisfying bowls of pasta abound…and, of course, great wines to share with the ones you love.

Three Tarts Bakery

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Truth be known, they’re down to only two “tarts” at this Northfield “all-butter” bakery: chef/owners Ann Heinz and Kate Rooney, who have been serving top-tier pastries, breads, celebration cakes, soups, salads, and sandwiches to appreciative North Shore families since 1998. Holidays are always something special here, and if love has blossomed during the pandemic, the wedding cakes here are legendary.

Union Pizzeria/ Union Squared

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Co-owner Heather Behm lives not far from the restaurant, her home away from home. Her warmth is typical of Union, and Evanston has embraced this neighborhood spot, where the bartenders know the regulars’ favorites (mine is the Left Bank, a refreshing and potent blend of fin, elderflower liqueur, and prosecco), and the wood-burning pizza oven churns out perfect pies with Lamb Sausage, Eggplant and Olives, or Wild Mushroom with Bechamel Sauce, Fontina and Sage. The organic salmon preparation changes with the seasons — currently napped with a mustard sauce and served with a sauté of shaved Brussels sprouts, squash, and pancetta — but it’s always a winner.


Rohini Dey Vermilion women-owned restaurant Chicago
Rohini Dey

The overlap of ingredients between Indian and Latin American cuisines — think tropical fruits, rice, cilantro, saffron, cumin, legumes, flatbreads — helped inspire chef/owner Rohini Dey to create Vermilion’s Indian-Latin fusion cuisine. River North never had it so good… or so spicy. You’ll find Venezuelan Arepas filled with Duck Vindaloo, Brazilian Seafood Stew with Indian Seasonings, and Blackened Tamarind Ribs with Indian-Latin Tamarindo-Pepper Glaze. Save room for the Vermilion Hedonism dessert, a chili-infused dark chocolate cake with masala oranges and berry-cardamom sorbet.


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Culinary art is made daily at this gorgeous West Loop spot, where the all-female leadership team includes Executive Chef Mari Katsumura, GM Morgan Olszewski, Wine Director Mai Pham, and Pastry Sous Chef Zasha Gazder. Katsumura refers to her style as “progressive Japanese cuisine,” and her seasonally changing menu bears testament to that moniker, with dishes like Crab Rice with Puffed-Grain Furikake and Salmon Roe, Chawanmushi with Foie Gras Torchon and Celery Root, or Fig with Black Garlic Ice Cream, Sesame, Goat Cheese and Nori. The presentations are truly astounding, dinner theatre at its most luxurious.  

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Julie ChernoffBetter’s dining editor since its inception in 2007, graduated from Yale University with a degree in English — which she speaks fluently — and added a professional chef’s degree from the California Culinary Academy. She has worked for Boz Scaggs, Rick Bayless, and Wolfgang Puck (not all at the same time); and counts Northlight Theatre and Les Dames d’Escoffier International as two of her favorite nonprofits. She currently serves on the national board of MAZON: A Jewish Response to Hunger, an advocacy group addressing hunger issues in the U.S. and Israel for the nearly 46 million people — veterans, children, seniors, tribal nations, and more — who go to bed hungry every night.