Most of this topic is a few years old, which is why some of the places mentioned have closed.
For a couple of more recent discussions of food around O'Hare, see:
Chicago restaurants near O'Hare - http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/699541
Staying at the Renaissance O'Hare Chicago. Any recs? - http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/695069
My comments on previous suggestions:
Gibson's has a great steak salad on the lunch menu and Harry Caray's 10233 W. Higgins- Rosemont is a good choice too. Wide range of prices - solid sandwiches, steaks, Italian dishes. I like to eat in the bar where they serve homemade potato chips. Wash it down with an ice cold beer :)
Paradise Pup previously mentioned is great, long lines, cash only, but outstanding char broiled burger.
I would not recommend Al's beef at that location either. Further West in Arlington Heights is Johnnie's Beef 1935 S. Arlington Heights Road. Also cash only, limited menu, fast service. Italian Beef (must have), Italian sausage, Combo, Hot dogs. Really good Italian Lemonade.
For pizza, I would recommend you take Higgins West to Elk Grove to Lou Malnati's 1050 E. Higgins. One of their best locations, good service, outstanding pizza.
I have heard very good things about Rosewood, but have never been.
1935 S Arlington Heights Rd, Arlington Heights, IL 60005
1724 S River Rd, Des Plaines, IL 60018
>> I have a 6 hour layover from 12-6pm on a Monday. Would this be enough time to get to al's beef and back.
Yes. Six hours is actually enough to go downtown or anywhere along the way, even without a car. You can allow an hour to take the el (subway - CTA Blue Line) from the airport downtown, two hours for lunching and walking around, an hour to take the el back to O'Hare, and that still gets you there two hours before your connection leaves.
For places you can go along the Blue Line, see this discussion:
lunch on the blue line? - http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/608252
>> Also can I take a pizza through security?
Yes. You just can't bring drinks through (no liquids).
Well, not to quibble as I quibble - but no, if you are taking the Blue line from O'Hare to even Damen*, it will be at least 40 minutes and if you are taking it to Clark/Lake, tack on another 10 minutes to that. That is not taking in consideration walking from the terminal of O'Hare to the CTA station/vice versa. Plus the Blue line can be very tempermental. I would always recommend extra time to get back to the airport if you are trying to make a flight.**
* Damen = very fun area to get off at. Lots of restaurants, etc. There is even a Lou Malanti's within walking distance if you wanted to get pizza. It is for carry out only which actually works for you.
1520 North Damen Avenue
Chicago, IL 60622
** I don't have a car and rely only on public transportation. I go from Jackson to O'Hare for work trips and it always takes at the very least 50 minutes and usually an hour.
If you would like a way bizarre experience, go to the Gaslight Grill in the O'Hare Hilton. I know sounds weird - REALLY strange steak house place. The waitresses wear leotards and fishnets. It is almost a time warp. When I was there, lots of Japanese businessmen eating steaks.
Are you referring to the Gaslight Grill at Racine and Fullerton? There is no steakhouse by that name in the O'Hare Hilton.
The restaurant in the O'Hare Hilton is called Andiamo. I've eaten there twice last year, for a breakfast and a lunch. I was meeting someone with a long connection at O'Hare, so the location was perfect for my needs. (You can park in short term parking on the ground floor of the O'Hare garage for $4 for 3 hours and it's just a few steps away from the hotel entrance.) The food (American cuisine - sandwiches, salads, grilled items and other hot entrees) was good and tasty - not gourmet dining, but perfectly adequate. Prices were a few bucks higher than you might find in a nice suburban hotel - which means it's not inexpensive, but not what I would consider a rip-off, either. And it's a nice dining room, a quiet, relaxing place to get together for a few hours. The service was good and nobody minded that we were there for a couple of hours. Casual attire was totally acceptable (and the servers were normally attired). Since I was meeting someone making a connection at the airport, it was perfect for my needs.
Hilton Chicago O'Hare Airport
OHare Intl Airport
Chicago, Illinois, United States 60666
If I were meeting someone in the area, having nothing to do with O'Hare, I would still choose the Black Ram or Giordano's. But if you're meeting someone arriving on a flight, Andiamo is a good choice.
Here are three recommendations.
1. Black Ram Steakhouse is a restaurant in Des Plaines. All of the food there is absolutely GREAT - the steaks, the seafood, the desserts, everything. It doesn't get a lot of press, but it gets a lot of repeat business. The proprietor greets lots of arriving guests by name. If you're looking for a great steakhouse (and seafood) restaurant that nobody ever heard of, this is it.
Black Ram Steak House
1414 Oakton St.
Des Plaines, IL 60019
2. If you would like real Chicago-style pizza, go to Giordano's and order the stuffed pizza. They are the only major Chicago-style chain with a location right near O'Hare. They also regularly win more reader surveys and critical raves in both the local and national media than any other pizza place in Chicago. (It's my own personal favorite, too, although I also like the other deep-dish chains.)
9415 West Higgins Road
3. Gibson's Steakhouse is the best-known steakhouse in Chicago these days, and they have a location near O'Hare. However, Gibson's is ALL about the pretensions; picture a fancy bustling steakhouse where they bring you a platter to show you the various HUGE cuts of meats to order, and that's Gibson's. The steaks are very good, too. (If you're looking for an unsung place with better food, including steaks, I think Black Ram is better, but if you're looking for a famous place that people can brag about having gone, then maybe this is your ticket.)
5464 North River Road
Rosemont IL 60018
Black Ram, Giordano's, and Gibson's are all open for lunch during the week. Gibson's and I believe Giordano's are also open for lunch on the weekends.
Another place near O'Hare (inconvenient by public transportation, but a short cab ride away) is my very favorite Mexican restaurant in the entire Chicago area (heck, the best Mexican food I've had outside of Mexico). It's called Flamingo's Seafood, in the suburb of Mount Prospect. Open for lunch and dinner seven days a week. They specialize in Mexican seafood dishes, and always have a large number of daily specials in addition to their extensive regular menu. Last time I was there I had a grilled Chilean sea bass with guava habanero sauce and crushed pumpkin seeds that was to die for. Located at Busse Road and Dempster, just north of Algonquin Road. From I-90 westbound, exit at York Road, go north to Algonquin, and turn left. From I-90 eastbound, exit at Arlington Heights Road, go north to Algonquin, and turn right.
1590 S. Busse Road
Mt. Prospect IL
Black Ram has closed.
In addition to Gibson's, other steakhouses in the O'Hare/Rosemont area include Morton's ( www.mortons.com ), Capital Grille ( www.capitalgrille.com ), Wildfire ( www.wildfirerestaurant.com ), and Rosebud ( www.rosebudrestaurants.com ). There's also a location of McCormick and Schmick's for seafood. www.mccormickandschmicks.com I'm not sure which of these is or isn't open for lunch; check their websites for current hours.
Another lunch (and dinner) place near O'Hare in the "cheap eats" category is Al's Beef ( www.alsbeef.com ) and Nancy's Pizza ( www.nancyspizza.com ), which share the location on Higgins at Cumberland in Park Ridge, just north of the Cumberland exit from the Kennedy Expressway. So in one location, you can get three Chicago specialties: Italian beef sandwiches and Chicago-style hot dog's at Al's, and stuffed deep-dish pizza at Nancy's.
For those looking for the single-crust "pizza in the pan" style of deep-dish pizza, Gino's East ( www.ginoseast.com ) has a location at 8725 West Higgins at Cumberland, but I've heard a few negative reports about that particular location.
If you are traveling on the CTA Blue Line from O'Hare, you might want to check out the discussion of lunch places near el stops along the Blue Line, at http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/608252