If you're wanting the ultimate mark of excellence for a restaurant in your city, look no further than the Michelin Guide. Recently Michelin announced its star selections for 2017, and 26 Chicago spots were awarded at least one Michelin star. Both Grace and Alinea retained their three star status, while the number of restaurants awarded two stars increased from three to five. A total of 19 restaurants (including four new spots) were awarded one Michelin star, the largest number of restaurants to date in Chicago. These should be your splurge-worthy spots to target over the next year.
Grant Achatz’s Alinea keeps its three-star rating, even after reconcepting and remodeling this year. Alinea has been awarded three Michelin stars every year since 2011.
Curtis Duffy’s Grace retained its three star rating for the third year in a row. Grace remains one of only two three-Michelin-starred restaurants in Chicago.
After receiving a boost to two stars in 2016, Chef Ryan McCaskey’s Acadia retained its two star rating in 2017. The South Loop restaurant focuses on Northeastern American-inspired fare.
42 Grams in Uptown held onto its two star status for the third year in a row. The BYOB policy helps make a dining experience here more feasible than other award-winning restaurants.
Oriole skyrocketed to two stars this year after being open less than one year. Executive Chef and Owner Noah Sandoval’s 16-course tasting menu clearly impressed Michelin inspectors in the 28-seat restaurant.
Sixteen, located inside the Trump Hotel, retained its two star status for another year. Each menu crafted by Executive Chef Thomas Lents follows a theme that changes on an annual basis.
This year, Lettuce Entertain You’s Tru received an additional star, bringing it to two stars overall. Tru has held one Michelin star every year since 2011 when the first Michelin Guide Chicago was published.
New to the 2017 list is restaurant and brewery, Band of Bohemia. It is the first Michelin-starred brewpub and is one of four new restaurants awarded one Michelin star this year.
Chef Paul Kahan’s Blackbird in the West Loop retains its one star for another year. The sleek restaurant from One Off Hospitality Group is a minimalist Midwest-loving masterpiece.
Boka has remained a Michelin-starred restaurant every year since 2011. A Chicago classic, Boka continues to thrive under Chef Lee Wolen and Pastry Chef Meg Galus.
2016 marked the first year Dusek’s Board & Beer received a Michelin star. The Pilsen gastropub renew its star with its meaty, beer-infused menu.
The Douglas Park BYOB restaurant keeps its one star for the fourth year in a row. Chef Phillip Foss’ tasting menus are some of the most affordable (and innovative) among Michelin-starred restaurants in Chicago.
Iliana Regan’s Elizabeth Restaurant keeps its one star rating again. The foraging-focused spot in Lincoln Square has been awarded one star every year since 2014.
A Lettuce Entertain You Classic, Everest consistently holds onto its one star rating. The restaurant is celebrating its 30 year anniversary this year.
Chefs and Owners Chris and Nina Nugent’s 16-seat Lincoln Square restaurant keeps its one star rating for an additional year. The BYOB spot features modern French cuisine that changes frequently.
Another new addition to the 2017 Michelin star list is GreenRiver. The restaurant’s patio, 18 floors above Streeterville, is a prime spot for excellent cocktails and Chef Aaron Lirette’s American dishes.
The flagship Logan Square restaurant has been a pleasantly affordable staple on the Michelin list since 2011. There's soul favorites for brunch, wild boar sloppy Joes for dinner, and more than 400 whiskeys in house.
Another Chicago classic, Naha, keeps its one star. The River North restaurant was awarded one star every year since 2011 for its inventive American and Mediterranean cuisine.
The Lincoln Park restaurant with picturesque views of the Chicago skyline was again awarded one Michelin star. Chef Bruce Sherman gets creative with his plating and incorporates the freshest local and seasonal ingredients in each dish.
Beverly Kim and Johnny Clark received one Michelin star after making their Michelin debut in the 2016 Guide. Korean-American dishes include bi bim bop and their famous baked potato bing bread.
The Alinea Group’s Roister makes its debut on this year’s list with one Michelin star. Its whole chicken and chamomile is arguably the most talked about dish in Chicago.
Michelin favorite, Schwa, remains on the one star list. The unassuming dining room on Ashland Ave continues to offer patrons a unique, albeit loud, dining experience.
The West Loop’s Sepia keeps its one Michelin star under Chef Andrew Zimmerman. The warm space, a former print shop, is a great setting for enjoying seasonal entrees and Sepia’s extensive wine program.
New to the 2017 list is Smyth, one half of Smyth + the Loyalist in the West Loop. Husband-and-wife Chefs John and Karen Shields earned one star for their multi-course restaurant open since August.
Spiaggia is a Chicago classic that consistently lands on Michelin’s one star list. Chef and Partner Tony Mantuano’s Italian dishes are easily enjoyed in Spiaggia’s beautiful dining room on Michigan Ave.
Chef Rick Bayless’s Topolobampo has been operating since 1989, long before Michelin’s Chicago Guide arrived in 2011. Since that first issue, the contemporary Mexican restaurant has sustained a one star Michelin rating.
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1. Alinea1723 N Halsted St, Chicago
2. Grace652 W Randolph St, Chicago
3. 42 Grams4662 N Broadway, Chicago
4. Oriole661 W. Walnut St., Chicago
5. Sixteen401 N Wabash Ave Fl 16, Chicago
6. TRU676 N Saint Clair St, Chicago
7. Band of Bohemia4710 N Ravenswood Ave, Chicago
8. Blackbird619 W Randolph St, Chicago
9. Boka1729 N Halsted St, Chicago
10. Dusek's1227 W 18th St, Chicago
11. EL Ideas2419 W 14th St, Chicago
12. Elizabeth4835 N Western Ave, Chicago
13. Everest440 S La Salle St, Chicago
14. Goosefoot2656 W Lawrence Ave, Chicago
15. GreenRiver259 E Erie St Fl 18, Chicago
16. Longman & Eagle2657 N Kedzie Ave, Chicago
17. NAHA500 N Clark St, Chicago
18. North Pond2610 N Cannon Dr, Chicago
19. Parachute3500 N Elston Ave, Chicago
20. Roister951 W Fulton Market, Chicago
21. Schwa1466 N Ashland Ave, Chicago
22. Sepia123 N Jefferson St, Chicago
23. Smyth & The Loyalist175 N Ada St, Chicago
24. Spiaggia980 N Michigan Ave, Chicago
25. Topolobampo445 N Clark St, Chicago
26. Acadia1639 S Wabash, Chicago
Alinea, the three-star Michelin restaurant in Lincoln Park, is a pinnacle of technique and creativity. If the ticketed reservation system tells us anything, it’s that a night at Alinea is more than just a meal: it is an unforgettable culinary experience featuring modern molecular gastronomy at its finest. And if its slew of accolades tells us anything -- namely that it is consistently included in the “World’s 50 Best Restaurants List” -- it’s that Alinea is one of the best restaurants in the world. The revolutionary restaurant on Halsted is the brainchild of acclaimed Chef Grant Achatz -- who cut his teeth under Thomas Keller -- and the dining room is his stage to fuse art and science into dynamic, sensory-evoking menus. Deep pockets required.
With three well-deserved Michelin stars, Curtis Duffy and Michael Muser’s Grace is a destination for the highest end fine-dining in the West Loop. An evening at Grace is an experience in culinary performance: the white tablecloth-dressed tables are angled towards the glass-enclosed kitchen, encouraging guests to watch tweezer-wielding hands compose dishes with whimsy and precision. At Grace, elegance is defined by exemplary service, refined New American menus, and the wondrous presentation of Duffy’s dishes. The two multi-course tasting menus are called Flora and Fauna (you can guess the highlight of each), and Muser’s wine pairings are highly, highly recommended. (His cellar is impassioned and versatile in origin and price, if the pairings don’t strike your fancy). The menus present dishes wherein complex technique and molecular gastronomy are downplayed -- but still very much in place -- to make the ingredient the star of the plate. And just an aside, at some point during your multiple hour meal, you’ll find that the bathrooms are themed to the seasons. Big spenders, this one’s for you.
Alexa Walsh gathers eight dinner guests around 42 Grams' kitchen counter (there's a slightly large, conventional table as well) to begin each experience, detailing what diners are about to eat. Her husband, chef/owner Jake Bickelhaupt, and a few other chefs then plate up something astonishing. It might be tea-smoked salmon, a porky barley porridge, or Wagyu beef with Japanese accents. It might come in a spoon or a bowl, or on a stick. Whatever it is, the cumulative effect of the 14-course BYO tasting menu is like being in the owners' living room (they actually live upstairs) with a better spread than any dinner party you've ever been to.
Helmed by award-winning chefs Noah Sandoval and Genie Kwon, this intimate fine dining spot is as much about the food as the experience. Guests are invited to partake in the extended format tasting menu, which involves some 16 courses packed with unusual ingredients, surprising flavor profile, and interactive components. Unlike most restaurants, a menu isn’t provided at the beginning of the meal, making Oriole a prime destination for adventurous eaters (and dare we say, foodies). Sample dishes include rye capellini with yeast butter, black truffle, and tangerine lace, and chicory custard with whiskey, cinnamon, and Tahitian vanilla.
Named for the floor on which it sits in a River North skyrise hotel, Sixteen is a two Michelin-starred fine-dining destination for French-inspired cuisine. Chef Thomas Lents masters the art of presentation in his intricate, progressive dishes that are almost too beautiful to eat. A smoked oyster topped with horseradish rests over a layer of potato gel in its shell, which is stacked atop a tangled seaweed salad; a thin slice of carrot is folded softly over a cylinder of king crab, dotted with sea buckthorn, and finished with dill. Even the tableside bread service is like a work of art. A meal at Sixteen is a luxurious, flavor-forward experience, and not for those short on change.
A restaurant with a dress code, Tru is a destination for elegant dining in Streeterville. Beyond the revolving door is a space reminiscent of a contemporary art gallery -- stark white walls don works from art icons like Andy Warhol, and plush blue banquettes surround tables draped with pressed white tablecloths. The near-silent dining room features Chef Anthony Martin's prix fixe menus, which highlight progressive French cuisine with attention to detail, technique, and lavish presentation. The wine cellar, home to some 1,500 selections, boasts an impressive collection of fine French wine.
Ravenswood is home to Chicago's first-ever Michelin-rated brewpub, Band of Bohemia. The reverse-engineered brewhouse designs its dishes to complement the beer selection, rather than choosing its beer based on the food menu, as most restaurants do. The menu features Band of Bohemia’s own house beers, which are brewed with ingredients like fenugreek, basmati rice, pear puree, and coriander. Elevated bar fare, like malt-cured salmon with lentil chips and foie schnitzel with rye spaetzle, complete the experience, as do thoughtful cocktails. Tasting menus are also available, beer pairings optional (but strongly recommended).
Blackbird is the foundation upon which James Beard Award-winning Chef Paul Kahan’s One Off Hospitality Group was built. The West Loop fine dining staple boasts elevated and creative Midwestern cuisine through dishes crafted using simplistic techniques and carrying complex flavor. The space itself mimics the menu with a minimalist approach to design and stark whites to boost its already vibrant energy. The cocktail and wine lists are well-rounded, thoughtful, and complementary to the menu. Blackbird is open -- and bustling -- for lunch Monday through Friday, and reserves its focus for the highly sought-after reservations on Saturday and Sunday evenings.
Romantic enough for a date night and inventive enough to surprise even the most jaded of palates, this time-tested and Michelin-starred favorite in Lincoln Park promises good food in a good atmosphere. Crafted by visionary Lee Wolen, Boka serves a contemporary menu (heirloom carrots with pistachio crumbles, bulgur, and smoked goat cheese, for example) available à la carte or as a seven-course tasting. Make sure to order cocktails and dessert -- both are downright indulgent.
Helmed by Longman & Eagle's Jared Wentworth, this Michelin-starred restaurant in Pilsen serves upscale American pub food. Dusek's takes everything you love and makes it better, whether that's cooking French fries in beef fat or topping a juicy hamburger with bacon marmalade and serving it on a house-baked pretzel bun. There are more than two dozen beers on tap -- some are from Chicago, others are from abroad -- and daily beer specials. The late-night menu serves the aforementioned burger and fries until 1am every night.
There’s a good chance you’ve never heard of Douglas Park, even if you’ve lived in Chicago your whole life. EL Ideas is your excuse to scope out the Pilsen-adjacent neighborhood and to experience a different kind of Michelin-starred dining. EL's mission is to redefine fine dining, and that's obvious from its setting in an unmarked building down an alleyway. The tasting menu-only, 24-seat restaurant opens into the kitchen, encouraging guests to converse with the chefs as they prepare inventive, modern American dishes like French fries and ice cream -- a composed, liquid nitrogen-kissed dish of potato, leek, and vanilla -- and wagyu-beet pierogi with dill and sour cream.
Elizabeth is an unmarked Lincoln Square storefront from forager/hunter/chef Iliana Regan, whose Midwestern farm upbringing is clear throughout her restaurant -- menu and décor alike. While the taxidermy on the walls may be fake, the soul behind her self-labeled “new gatherer” cuisine is real. The focus of her tasting menus is produce with a cameo or two by local proteins, depending on the season. The menus change often but are consistently chock-full of format-flipping dishes and unexpected flavor and texture combinations, like an amaranth-everything bagel cracker with cream cheese espuma, candied Meyer lemon rind, salmon granita, and trout roe (so, like, a bagel and lox… granita). And an open kitchen allows you to watch Regan create her wild, quirky dishes from spot at the communal table.
Replete with expansive views of the city from its post on the 40th floor of the Chicago Stock Exchange, Everest is home to one of the country’s largest selections of Alsatian wines. The list itself, featuring 1,600 labels, is primarily focused on the same region as acclaimed Chef Jean Joho’s upscale Franco-Germanic cuisine. For decades, Everest has been a culinary destination among residents and visitors for Joho’s seven-course tasting menu, or the three- or four-course prix fixe menus. And while the wine pairing may be optional, you’d be remiss to skip the intermingling of some of Chicago’s most refined cuisine with one of the world’s best wine lists.
Don’t be fooled by Goosefoot’s BYOB policy: the 30-something-seat Lincoln Square restaurant is a true fine-dining destination. Rooted in France, the multi-course tasting menu gets a modern look from classically trained Chef Chris Nugent. If you’re at a loss for what to drink, next door is Goosefoot Food & Wine, with a wine selection (and cheese, chocolate, and other dry goods) to pair with that night's menu (the salesperson will point you in the right direction). The tasting menu changes seasonally, but always ends with a parting gift from the Goosefoot chocolate lab.
Between its stunning views of the city skyline and Lake Michigan, an Irish American-informed cocktail menu, and inventive dishes like white fish tartine with egg, radish, and celery, and sturgeon with bean ragout, turnip, and kale, there’s much to love about this swanky Streeterville spot. The space is streamlined, airy, and modern, boasting an attached terrace complete with plush seating prime for lounging over whiskey-infused cocktails.
Longman & Eagle, the Michelin-starred gastropub in Logan Square, has an exclusive whiskey selection (clocking in at over 400 labels), a craft cocktail menu, and an extensive beer list all fit for the most pretentious of drinkers, in the least pretentious of atmospheres. Longman takes a flavor-forward, honest approach to eating and drinking, and because it doesn’t accept reservations, there is always a wait for brunch, happy hour, and dinner alike. (And it is always worth it.) While whiskey may be king, the regional American fare has just as much to offer, hence the Michelin star. The menu changes often, but expect anything from beef tallow beignets and veal brains to wild boar sloppy joes, chicken and waffles, and a burger that, if you know what's good for you, you will order.
Acclaimed Chef Carrie Nahabedian marries Mediterranean and New American flavors in her menu at River North’s NAHA. It’s a contemporary space with synonymously contemporary menus, lunch and dinner alike. The wine list is predominantly old world, the beer list predominantly local, and the cocktails predominantly classic with offerings like Negronis, Corpse Revivers, and Old Fashioneds. The lunch menu offers a “Business Lunch” option, a three-course tasting menu with nine customizable dishes to choose from. If you’re looking for a quick stop, NAHA’s lounge offers mezze, snacks, and drinks.
When it comes to romantic restaurants in Chicago, few top North Pond, a waterfront hideaway within Lincoln Park. Chef Bruce Sherman sources seasonal ingredients from local markets and farmers to craft his menu, which is split between a tasting dinner with optional wine pairings and à la carte items. The Arts and Crafts-style building, originally built in 1912 for ice skaters, is as picturesque as the park surroundings.
From Chefs Johnny Clark and Beverly Kim, Parachute takes a soulful American approach to Korean cuisine. The husband-and-wife team cranks out innovative dishes like boudin noir with kohlrabi, apples, and seedy salad; dolsot bibimbap whose ever-changing toppings range from tuna and n’duja to short rib and foie gras; and salt & pepper ribs with a yuzu-chili pepper glaze. The family-style Avondale restaurant is drawing diners en masse, and the 40-seat dining room has a lofty list of reservation hopefuls vying for a table in the intimate space. Start with an order (probably two though, to be safe) of the addictive baked potato bing bread, made with bacon, scallions, and sour cream butter.
From the team responsible for three-Michelin-starred and James Beard Award-winning Alinea, this West Loop restaurant delivers the same world-class eats in a decidedly more casual space. The New American menu is served in three formats: à la carte in the dining room, family-style chef's tasting at the kitchen counter; or the fully-immersive chef's tasting in the basement prep kitchen. The large dining room, bustling open kitchen, and slightly-louder-than-normal music makes Roister feel extra lively and energetic.
Schwa is an elusive, 24-seat prix fixe restaurant in Wicker Park, where the staff is notorious for rarely answering the phone (read: screening calls) to take reservations. If you somehow manage to lock one down (lucky you), you're invited to bring your own alcohol (and encouraged to bring some for the kitchen), and enjoy an ever-changing, nine-course menu with heavy metal playing in the background. The restaurant is run by a small team led by Chef Michael Carlson, each of whom cooks, serves, pours, and washes dishes. If they like you, they'll invite you into the kitchen for some of that liquor you so generously brought them.
Occupying a 19th-century print shop and adorned with sleek chandeliers and trimmings, Sepia looks the part of a high-end restaurant, but a meal here won’t wreck your wallet as much as its ambience might suggest. There are upscale dishes on the menu to match the swanky setting, including a strip steak with escarole, fennel, red onion marmalade, and celery root pavé. You'll want to pair your plate with a creative cocktail, such as the Cruise Control, made with jasmine green tea-infused vodka, cream of coconut, and basil.
This twofer in West Loop is made up of the upscale, tasting menu-driven Smythe and the more quaint and casual Loyalist. Husband-and-wife team John Shields and Karen Urie Shields unite the two restaurants with locally-sourced, market-driven menus, but while the Smythe revolves around innovative plated courses, The Loyalist emphasizes more approachable comfort foods like a house cheeseburger on a sesame seed bun and crispy fried chicken.
Walls of wine bottles line the entrance to this elegant Italian eatery (which nabbed a 2014 James Beard nomination for Outstanding Restaurant), ushering diners into a contemporary space with black marble and white tablecloths. Chef Tony Mantuano heads the kitchen, making the preparation of elevated, artfully plated dishes look like a walk on the beach (by the way, "spiaggia" means beach in Italian). Jackets are no longer required in the dining room, but let it be known, this isn't the type of place where you want to show up looking like a schlub.
Topolobampo, the contemporary Mexican concept from celebrated Chef Rick Bayless, is a soulful, serious ode to Oaxacan cuisine. Located in the same River North building as sister restaurant Frontera Grill, Topolobampo is known for its build-your-own three-, five-, or seven-course tasting menus and personalized experience. The craft cocktail list is divided into three sections: “Mezcal & Tequila,” “Local Spirits,” and “Our Classics.” And the wine list is extensive, divided by style, color, and varietal, with a section devoted to the hard-to-find, conversation-evoking wines of the Guadalupe Valley.
Tucked away in a nondescript South Loop building, this Michelin-starred restaurant showcases chef Ryan McCaskey's contemporary take on classic American fare. Inspired by Maine, Acadia is unique for pulling off a sophisticated multi-course tasting menu (available in five or ten courses) and an à la carte bar menu that sports an aggressively indulgent burger. Whether you're there for the complete prix-fixe experience or for a cocktail and oysters at the bar, Acadia is definitely a special occasion spot.