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Inside Kendall

Chicago’s Best-Rated Ethnic Restaurants|Kendall College

Chicago’s Best Ethnic Restaurants

Ask people to name what Chicago is so famous for, and they’re probably just as likely to name deep-dish pizza or Chicago-style hot dogs as they are to name a Chicago landmark like the John Hancock Tower or “The Bean”. At the same time, Chicago is historically a city built of unique neighborhoods, each with their own character and history.

With world-renowned restaurants like Next, Girl and the Goat, and Frontera Grill, Chicago is a culinary mecca. As it turns out, Chicago’s neighborhoods and gastronomic adventure go hand in hand; since Chicago is such a diverse city, many neighborhoods derive their culinary traditions from their residents’ historical ethnicity. From the Latin American tastes of Pilsen to the German sausage shops of Lincoln Square, the diversity of Chicago’s neighborhoods contribute to the enticing smells and the even better food that come from the better known downtown restaurant scene.

And to illustrate this, we created an interactive map that shows the historical ethnicity of each neighborhood, along with the neighborhood’s highest Yelp-rated restaurant serving the corresponding ethnic cuisine.

America is a melting pot, and Chicago is home to the most delicious foods that our melting pot has to offer. What authentic ethnic restaurant has your mouth watering?

Using the Encyclopedia of Chicago’s Ethnic Mosaic, we determined the historical ethnicity of each of Chicago’s 85 neighborhoods; we categorized neighborhoods without a historical ethnicity as “American Melting Pot” to reflect their diversity.

We then used Yelp review data to find the highest-rated restaurant matching the historical ethnicity of each neighborhood. As foodies, we typically prefer to browse professionally edited resources like Zagat when searching for the city’s best empanadas or the hottest restaurant in Bronzeville. However, the specifications of our project called for a huge data set, one far beyond Zagat’s capabilities. Because of those needs, we turned to Yelp instead.

In addition to having an incomparable range of restaurant listings and reviews, using Yelp’s data allowed us to slice and dice the numbers by both neighborhood and cuisine style. Note that for the American Melting Pot neighborhoods, we found the highest-rated American-style restaurant in that neighborhood, since American cuisine is a fusion of many ethnicities’ culinary styles and traditions. Meanwhile for historically African-American neighborhoods, we found the highest-rated American, Soul Food, Southern, Caribbean or African restaurant, to reflect the diversity in African-American culture.

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