‘The Bear’ Costar Matty Matheson Shares His Favorite Chicago Restaurants

a person holding a tray of food
Matty Matheson’s Favorite Chicago Restaurantsaaron wynia

Most people these days might recognize mustachioed, jovial, tatted-up giant Matty Matheson from his role on the Emmy award-winning FX series The Bear. But Matheson isn’t just some newfound celebrity chef—he’s a cook first and foremost, a serious restaurateur whose rise to stardom has been slow and steady over the past twenty-four years.

Long before there was The Bear, Matheson cut his culinary teeth in Toronto, where he started cooking in French kitchens in the early 2000s. He most notably helped open the defunct hip haute-cuisine restaurant Parts & Labour, where he was executive chef. Today, Matheson runs his own mini-empire of restaurants in the region.

a man in a white coat

As he’s been filming The Bear, Chicago has become a second home of sorts for the chef-turned-actor. On the show, which drops its third season on June 27, Matheson portrays friendly handyman Neil Fak (Matheson also serves as a producer and culinary consultant); ironically, Matheson plays one of the few characters who is not a chef in the series. But at the same time, his role is a variation on his own persona: affable and likable, a loud-mouthed and people-pleasing Mr. Fixit who helps the restaurant handle construction, pass inspections, and cross the finish line for opening.

And because we know Matheson to be a man of good taste, we hit him up for some of his favorite restaurants he loves in the Windy City when he’s in town filming. These aren’t run-of-the-mill restaurants you’ll find on TikTok or fancy-pants places you’ll read about in Michelin Guides; rather, Matheson shares unlikely gems: off-the-beaten-path spots, steakhouses with major vibes, pre-airport Chicago dog dives, and more.

Matty Matheson’s Favorite Chicago Restaurants, in His Own Words

a green store front


“Lucia’s is so freaking cute, inside a little deli. A little home cooking. It’s a dream spot. The sausage on a bun with cheese and peppers is truly unbelievable.” 1825 W. North Ave.

a restaurant with a table and chairs
a restaurant with a table and chairs



“Going to Bavettes and getting the shellfish tower with an extra pound of crab, with a side of fries and green salad, is maybe one of my last meals for real. Also for a steakhouse, their roast chicken and mash is fully banana town.” 218 W. Kinzie St.

a bowl of food
Birrieria Zaragozamarisa KM

Birrieria Zaragoza

“Birrieria Zaragoza is always so fire. They have the best tortillas ever, and the goat is always so succulent, it’s nutso. The cabeza is my fave. Best family, best tacos.” 4852 S. Pulaski Rd.

a plate of food
Gene and Jude’sNick Holmes

Gene and Jude’s

“Gene and Jude’s is by far my favorite hotdog in all of Chicagoland. It’s the perfect size and snap and I always get it with an orange pop. 2 dogs, mustard, onion, sport peppers, and extra salt on the fries.” 2720 N. River Rd., River Grove, IL

a table full of food


“Tufanos’ grilled calamari and sausage and peppers are to die for. It’s really the perfect restaurant.” 1073 W. Vernon Park Pl.

a brick building with a gate
Mr. BeefMr. Beef

Bonus: Mr. Beef

While you’re at it, might as well hit the restaurant that inspired The Bear in the first place: Mr. Beef. While Matheson didn’t specifically mention this spot to us, we know he approves of its delicious roast-beef sandwiches—there’s a picture of himself that hangs on the wall, with “MR. BEEF BEST IN THE GALAXY” in his signature all-caps handwriting. 666 N. Orleans St.

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