Branded Eats

We love lunch, especially when it’s well branded

A couple weeks ago we wrote about our top picks for best beer labels and branding. We enjoyed writing that listicle so much we decided to write another one, this time about food. This week we’re laying out our picks for Chicago’s best-branded restaurants. We know Chicago is a hot foodie scene and people are very opinionated about the best restaurants in the city. While the places on this list are delicious, we’re not going to wade into the debate over the best edible offerings — just the coolest brands.

Little Goat

OK — If we’re being honest, this Stephanie Izard spot is a studio favorite and our usual choice for team brunch. The website is reminiscent of a (slightly creepy) child’s computer game, with illustrated characters and exploratory prompts. The goat in the logo and on the building facade, while symbolic of Chef Izard’s growing empire (Girl and the Goat, Duck Duck Goat) and her affinity for the ingredient, also pays homage to the surrounding Fulton Market neighborhood’s heritage as Chicago’s meatpacking district.

Nonna’s

When your spirit food is an Italian meatball sandwich, Nonna’s is an obvious choice for this list. However, the clever sticker that secures your sandwich and reminds us to “Tweet it before you eat it” is a good indicator that this little sundry shop has considered every brand touch point. Oh, and the food photography and interior design of their tiny corner store will make your mouth drool more profusely than Saint Bernard in the summer time.

Fat Rice

In a tiny corner spot on Diversey & Sacramento, Fat Rice bring Macau cuisine to Chicago’s northwest side. The food is inherently fusion — from tiny region long under Portuguese and Chinese control — and the restaurant is on a mission to tell a story about Macanese cooking. The uniqueness of the cuisine is reflected in the uniqueness of the branding. The owners created a graphic novel cookbook to bring family recipes to fans, fusing two traditional print genres into one active volume.

Owen & Alchemy

This juice bar is in the heart of Logan Square, smack in the middle of Milwaukee Avenue’s hipster stronghold. It looks like a boutique or a gallery at first, with an illuminated plant structure in the front window, framing a black-on-black interior. The juices, kombuchas, and coffee brews are good, but the intricate bottles and labels are what caught our attention. They make you feel simultaneously great about the superfood elixir you’re about to enjoy, and aware that your real lifestyle is slowly killing you.

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