Food & Drink

The Best Restaurants in Chicago Right Now

Updated On 02/02/2018 at 04:34PM EST Updated On 02/02/2018 at 04:34PM EST
The Warbler
The Warbler | Kailley Lindman Photography
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Courtesy of Small Cheval

Small Cheval

Old Town

Coveted double-patty burgers in the Wells Street scene
Hogsalt Hospitality's burger-centric spinoff of Au Cheval expands to Old Town's main drag with its third location. The small storefront only houses a handful of communal tables and stool seating along the front window, but promises an expansive patio that'll fit right in with the neighborhood's penchant for al fresco dining once the weather improves. Expect the same limited menu of burgers, fries, and shakes as the other locations.

Courtesy of Fort Willow

Fort Willow

Elston Corridor

An Ada Street sister concept with lots of international offerings
With 75 seats, a tree-fort motif, and menu that reads like a world tour, DMK's latest offers something for every palate, as well as hard-to-resist daily specials and $5 cocktails during happy hour. The Traveler's Sour (gin, mezcal, pink pepper, and melon) and the cacao-rye-based Big Easy shine among the house cocktails, while the Middle East-inspired labneh, the Thai-influenced charred broccoli, and the Mexican-leaning pork meatballs with hatch green chiles and salsa verde will whisk your tastebuds off to a faraway land.

Kailley Lindman Photography

Taylor Gourmet

Loop

DC-based hoagies elevating Chicago's sandwich scene
This modern space is the brand's first in the Midwest, and is accented by a unique-to-Chicago black and white mural emblazoned with cheeky phrases like "new hoagie, who dis" and inventive light fixtures made from drum barrels and buckets, setting an ideal backdrop for lunchtime noshing. Dig into highly addictive fried risotto balls, a supremely cheesy double-stack burger, and massive signature hoagies, including the Italian-inspired Federal with Genoa salami, hot capicola, Italian cured ham, pepperoni, fresh mozzarella, Roma tomatoes, red onion, fresh basil, olive oil, and a zesty tomato vinaigrette.

Kailley Lindman Photography

The Warbler

Lincoln Square

Veggies and ancient grains abound in an airy space
This neighborhood charmer, the latest from the Gather team, is the stuff that veggie lovers' dreams are made of. Chef/partner Ken Carter's menu spans from a colorful freekeh bowl laden with grapefruit, turnip puree, rosemary crumble, and sherry gastrique and "everything" seasoning-sprinkled roasted broccoli, to potato wedges with mushroom aioli and toasted nori powder and fusilli tossed with pomodoro, Parmigiano, and olive oil and topped with basil breadcrumbs. Meat eaters shouldn't miss the flatbreads, which are topped with everything from bacon and eggs to chicken sausage, Korean-style chicken wings, and a griddled cheeseburger crowned with colby jack.

Zoe Rain

Sushi-san

River North

Hand rolls and hip-hop from experts of Japanese cuisine
A standard sushi bar, this is not, and it has the late-night hours, inventive handrolls, and thumping beats to prove it. Purists can enjoy traditional bites, like negi hamachi and toro, but if you really want to do Sushi-san right, you should embrace their unique experiences: a walk-ins-only "Let's Roll" hand roll menu, and a reservations-recommended "Oma-Kaze" menu guided by chef Kaze Chan himself. Sushi-san is the latest spot from the minds behind Ramen-san, and it lives up to its heritage.

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Joshua Haines

Pink Squirrel

Logan Square

Retro Midwestern cocktail culture is the name of the game
Stepping inside this cocktail bar is like teleporting back to a delightfully campy 1960s Wisconsin supper club, complete with glittering vinyl booths, formica tables, and vintage treasures aplenty, as well as a two-lane bowling alley for those who prefer their cocktails with a side of friendly competition. Owner/mixologist Dustin Drankiewicz's rotating menu features nostalgic classics like the namesake dessert-y Pink Squirrel, a Grasshopper, a Brandy Alexander, and even non-alcoholic options like milkshakes and ice cream.

Anthony Tahlier

Bellemore

West Loop

If you've never had duck heart, try it here
Former Bohemian House chef Jimmy Papadopoulos is back in the restaurant game and has teamed up with Boka Restaurant Group to resurrect the long-vacant Embeya space. While BoHo showcased Papadopoulos' penchant for Eastern European flavors and cooking techniques, the menu here proves his versatility: a savory oyster custard flirts with Osetra caviar, creme fraiche, lemon dressed apple, and dill in the inventive oyster pie, dry-aged duck is glazed with raspberry vinegar and teamed with duck heart en crepinette, and venison tartare balances earthy grilled mushrooms with pumpernickel and lime. In addition, the restaurant also offers a six-course tasting menu for those who want to take the guesswork out of their meal.

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Boka

Lincoln Park

Equal parts romance and practical culinary magic
Romantic enough for a date night and inventive enough to surprise even the most jaded of palates, this time-tested favorite promises a great atmosphere (including a breathtaking “living wall” punctuated with anthropomorphized animal paintings) and even greater food. Crafted by visionary Lee Wolen, the Michelin-starred menu is an exercise in mixing complementary flavors and textures; no dish better exemplifies this than Wolen’s heirloom carrots, which come to life with pistachio crumbles, bulgur, and smoked goat cheese. And by all means, save room for one of pastry chef Meg Galus’ equally whimsical desserts.

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Smoque BBQ

Irving Park

The dry-rubbed smoked meats King of the North
This Texas-style barbecue joint has been slingin’ its signature brisket and ribs for the better part of a decade, and remains steadfast as the North Side’s top dog for smoked meats. It’s BYOB, so arrive hungry and with a frosty six-pack of your favorite local brew in tow to fend off the inevitable meat sweats.

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Chicago Athletic Association Hotel

Loop

Gorgeous architecture rivaled only by the eats and the drinks
Following a meticulous renovation project, this breathtaking historical building now operates as a boutique hotel that houses several food and drink options, including Chicago’s second Shake Shack outpost and a rooftop restaurant and open-air terrace with a beachy vibe. Wait, there's more! The game room bar boasts a built-in bocce bay, billiards, shuffleboard, and a beverage program designed by Paul McGee. There's also a Prohibition-era whiskey bar, and a fully reimagined Cherry Circle Room inspired by CAA menus dating back more than a century.

Kyle Kissel

Lula Café

Logan Square

Committed to locally sourced ingredients since the '90s
This OG Logan Square favorite was embracing the farm-to-table philosophy long before it was cool, and has remained one of the North Side’s most in-demand weekend brunch destinations since opening in 1999. The menu is subject to change depending on the seasonal availability of certain ingredients, but "The Royale" breakfast sandwich, which is currently made with turkey leg confit, Gruyere cheese, braised bacon, parsley salad, and a sunny-side egg on sourdough, is a sure bet.

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Pequod's Pizza

Lincoln Park

You might actually end up eating the crust first
While classic deep dish is undeniably "Chicago," it’s worth noting that some of the best pies in the city don't necessarily conform to expectations. Case in point: the dreamy pan pizza with signature caramelized cheese crust at this Clybourn Ave mainstay, which scored a place on our Chicago Bucket List for good reason.

HASH

Hash Chicago

Humboldt Park

Gimmick-free yet highly Instagrammable breakfast hash
With its hippie spirit and namesake hash lineup, this whimsical diner is one of West Town’s coolest hidden gems. Pull up a seat at one of the mosaic-topped tables and revel in the porcine magic that is the bacon fat hash with pork shoulder, sweet potatoes, and Brussels sprouts laden with rich mustard cream sauce.

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Doughnut Vault

River North

The only donuts in town worth fighting lines and crowds
Brendan Sodikoff's award-winning donut shop sets the bar unattainably high with its supremely dense, moist old-fashioned-style donuts. The crave-worthy dough rings come in flavors like toasted almond, classic buttermilk glazed, and lemon-poppy seed, and in limited production daily, which means, once they sell out, they're gone 'til the next morning. Pro tip: If you're lucky, you can also score them at some of Sodikoff's other concepts, including 3 Arts Club Cafe, Sawada Coffee, and C. C. Ferns.

Flickr/Edsel Little

The Purple Pig

River North

The best place to not take a vegan Tinder date
All-swine-everything is the name of the game at this Mag Mile staple from Jimmy Bannos Jr. Pig out on pork-fried almonds spiked with rosemary and garlic, milk-braised pork shoulder with mashed potatoes, and plentiful cured meats, and if you're the adventurous sort, don't miss the "JLT" made with pork jowl, tomato, frisee, and a duck egg fried sunny-side up.

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Roister

West Loop

Alinea's approachable little sister with a penchant for fried chicken
New from Grant Achatz and his team behind three-Michelin-starred and James Beard Award-winning Alinea, this decidedly-more-casual concept balances world-class eats with a sleek, streamlined aesthetic and lively energy. Music plays through the speakers at a slightly-above-normal volume, constant commotion flows through the open kitchen outfitted with a roaring hearth, and vibrant dishes like scallop crudo with mustard, charred daikon, and passion fruit and soy-dusted Yukon fries flecked with bonito flake, splashed with rice vinegar, and paired with tofu mayo prove that "casual" doesn't mean "sacrificed creativity."

Flickr/Eric Allix Rogers

Calumet Fisheries

Calumet Heights

Seafood worth a little South Side road trip
Make the trek to the South Side for all the smoked seafood you can handle at this legendary fish shack. The small but mighty institution has been in the biz for over half a century, and is one of very few Illinois smokehouses still in operation. Stop in to score smoked black cod, catfish, sturgeon, and more by the pound.

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Fat Rice

Logan Square

The restaurant's name is also your go-to order
You can (and should!) come to this Asian fusion mainstay for dishes other than just the eponymous arroz gordo ("Fat Rice"), but first-timers shouldn't leave without at least a taste of the shareable Macanese entree. The massive dish is served in a cast iron bowl, and features a base layer of jasmine rice laced with sofrito, chorizo, and salted duck that's topped with everything from curried chicken thighs and linguica sausage to prawns and tea eggs.

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Owen & Engine

Logan Square

Go for the burger, stay for the late-night pub fare
This British gastropub makes a mean fish & chips, but it's the Slagel Farm beef burger that keeps people coming back for more. The elite burger boasts a monstrous patty blended with locally sourced ground brisket, short rib, and chuck, a pile of subtly sweet caramelized onions, and a house-made potato bap, and is best washed down with a selection or two from the exhaustive beer list.

Anthony Tahlier

Acadia

South Loop

South Loop's gift to Chicago's fine dining culture
With two hard-earned Michelin stars in tow, this contemporary American spot helmed by Chef Ryan McCaskey effortlessly toes the line been upscale and approachable cuisine. Guests may choose between five- and 10-course seasonally driven tasting menus or an a la carte bar menu flush with elevated bites like fried Jidori chicken, a Maine lobster roll, and a burger loaded with bacon jam and taleggio mornay.

Gibsons Bar & Steakhouse

Gibsons Bar & Steakhouse

Near North Side

The steaks are big, and the desserts require mountain climbing gear
With nearly three decades under its belt, this old-school steak giant is a Chicago bucket list must for locals, tourists, and everyone in between. In addition to a bevy of steaks certified under the restaurant's house USDA Angus Beef program, the Viagra Triangle destination is also known for mammoth desserts, like macadamia turtle pie and carrot cake, that will handily leave a family of four in its wake of sugar coma-inducing destruction. Pro tip: Gibsons is also a favorite among celebs and high rollers; if you're lucky, you just might rub elbows with someone famous.

Galdones Photography

Monteverde

West Loop

Pasta is the name of the game
Spearheaded by Spiaggia alum chef Sarah Grueneberg and outfitted with a pastificio, it's hardly a stretch to assume that this noodle-centric concept would focus on classic Italian preparations. While the menu isn't without hand-rolled gnocchetti sardi with fresh-grated tomato, oven-dried cherry tomatoes, basil, and ricotta, there's so much more to it than that. Surprising highlights including skate wing schnitzel with caper salsa verde, grilled summer squash, local greens, cherry tomatoes, and parsley new potatoes, wok fried strangozze with head-on gulf shrimp, tomato, garlic, and hot pepper oil, and prosciutto butter toast.

Huge Galdones

Smyth & The Loyalist

West Loop

A twofer with a kickass burger downstairs and a fanciful tasting menu upstairs
Husband-and-wife team John Shields and Karen Urie Shields have successfully bridged the gap between casual bar fare and cheffy tasting menu with their separate-but-synergistic duo. The Loyalist leans casual and approachable, with a burger that handily upstages the neighborhood's long-reigning champ, bar seating and cozy booths, and a sophisticated lemongrass sundae topped with molasses and blueberries, while Smyth leans upscale with a seasonally driven tasting menu packed with locally sourced ingredients.

Anthony Tahlier

GT Prime

River North

A new school steakhouse with amazing non-steak offerings
Boka Restaurant Group's fresh take on the steakhouse experience is exactly what Chicago has been waiting for: hulking cuts replaced with a shareable selection of prime beef, game meat, and more, a moody atmosphere inspired by a cabin-in-the-woods fairytale, and a variety of small plates and desserts, like mortadella arancini, veal cheek with lemon grits, escarole, and miso, and coffee and stout donuts with creme anglaise and brown sugar streusel, that share the stage with the meat.

Kailley Lindman/Courtesy of Arami

Arami

West Town

Exceptional sushi best enjoyed omakase-style
Reopening after a fire temporarily shuttered its doors, Arami is back and newly remodeled. What this cozy, no-frills Japanese concept lacks in ambiance and aesthetic it makes up for with elegantly composed dishes and simple yet sophisticated maki and nigiri. The one-bite toro tartare is a harmonious blend of minced fatty bluefin tuna, Asian pear, chive, caviar, and house soy sauce, seared Hokkaido scallops are balanced with earthy Japanese mushrooms, carrots, and ponzu brown butter, and sushi offerings range from maguro spicy sake maki with jalapeño, cilantro, avocado, ikura, fried shallots, and yuzu to yellowtail with mushroom and aromatic truffle oil.

Kailley Lindman

Oriole

West Loop

A clandestine Michelin-starred spot devoid of pretension
Inconspicuously tucked away on an alley-like road, this 28-seat literal hidden gem has remained one of Chicago's best-kept secrets since it opened this past spring. That is, until Michelin spilled the beans by awarding it not one, but two coveted stars. Chefs/partners Noah Sandoval and Genie Kwon prove that teamwork does, in fact, make the dream work through an ever-evolving tasting menu comprised of explosively flavorful bites, like Beausoleil oyster with Iberico consomme and finger lime, capellini with Burgundy truffle, rye berry, and yeast, and lemon tea sorbet with hibiscus, Asian pear, and bitter greens.

Stephen Green

Osteria Langhe

Logan Square

The hearty, traditional cuisine of Northern Italy in one spot
T
his acclaimed spot in Logan Square has matured into Chicago's preeminent destination for both Northern Italian eats and an outstanding selection of Italian wines. Menu standouts include Chef Cameron Grant's handmade plin tossed with la tur, parmesan, thyme, and butter, tajarin with Northern meat ragu and grana padano, panna cotta.

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EL Ideas

University Village

Geek-out-worthy molecular gastronomy for the adventurous
This progressive fine-dining destination flies a bit under the radar given its location in Douglas Park, but it should be on every self-respecting food enthusiast's bucket list, if for no other reason than the always-on-menu "French fries and ice cream." One of over a dozen courses, the nostalgic dish evokes the sweet-meets-savory magic of fries dunked in a Wendy's Frosty, featuring potato-leek soup topped with liquid nitrogen-chilled vanilla ice cream. An expansive open kitchen and pretension-free atmosphere punctuated with graffiti-style art complete the unique experience.

Matt Meschede

Entente

Lakeview

Beautifully plated dishes that taste even better than they look
Tucked away in the former Ani space, this late-2016 newcomer offers artfully plated fare and a no-frills, minimalistic atmosphere. Explore Executive Chef Brian Fisher's inventive approach to cooking by way of Carolina Gold (black truffle, duck egg, Parmigiano), duck (forbidden rice, unagi, chrysanthemum, watermelon rind, burdock), and the most photogenic wedge salad you'll ever see. Complete your meal with pastry chef Mari Katsumura's cheesecake, which is made with vanilla, orange, and coconut.

Matt Haas/Thrillist

Mi Tocaya AntojerĂ­a

Logan Square

Some of the best cheffy yet authentic Mexican food around
The chef-driven Mexican fare at Diana Davila's vibrant concept is as thoughtfully crafted as it is satisfying. You can score a heaping basket of chips and salsa, but the other offerings are anything but basic. Team an aromatic elderflower margarita with a caldo de res made with short rib and bone marrow, or smoked beer-can chicken tacos with xoconostle, and don’t miss out on the mouthwatering tres leches.

Eric Kleinberg

Clever Rabbit

Wicker Park

Vegetable-forward dishes so good, you won't need to think about meat
This veggie-centric spot highlights Chef Matt Lair's "root to leaf" approach, with inventive dishes like a crudite platter comprised of raw and house-pickled vegetables, ramp conserva, smoked mushroom mousse, eggplant agrodolce, summer truffle, and hemp seed naan. There are also garden-to-glass cocktails including a carrot margarita made with Piedra Azul Reposado and booze-free "cottontails" like lavender lemonade with honey and topo chico.

Neil Burger

Temporis

West Town

Minimalist design with fancy AF eats
With a mere 20 seats and a sleek, modern aesthetic, this fine-dining hideaway promises an intimate meal with creative flavor pairings. The $125 tasting menu changes often, but always includes hyper-local ingredients grown in the restaurant's hydroponic garden. Courses range from king crab with saffron, satsuma, and steelhead roe to foie gras with passion fruit and sauternes, black sesame, and a canele.

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1. Boka 1729 N Halsted St, Chicago, IL 60614

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 Ă  la carte or as a seven-course tasting. Make sure to order cocktails and dessert -- both are downright indulgent.

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2. Smoque BBQ 3800 N Pulaski Rd, Chicago, IL 60641

This Texas-style barbecue joint in Irving Park kicked off the smoked meat movement on the North Side in the mid-aughts, and it's been delivering great brisket, pulled pork, St. Louis ribs, and Rudy Mikeska sausage ever since. Smoque still has lines out the door because it's a must-stop on any eating tour of Chicago. FYI: it's BYOB so bring a frosty six-pack to fend off the inevitable meat sweats.

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3. Chicago Athletic Association Hotel 12 S Michigan Ave, Chicago, IL 60603

Following a 2015 renovation, this historical building transformed into a boutique hotel with several food and drink options, including a patio-equipped Shake Shack, Drawing Room in the expansive second floor lobby, and a rooftop restaurant with views of Millennium Park. The epic game room has bocce and shuffleboard courts, a pool table, and foosball, while the restaurant, Cherry Circle Room, serves a beef-centric menu and tableside cocktails.

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4. Lula Café 2537 N Kedzie Blvd, Chicago, IL 60647

This Logan Square restaurant has been embracing the farm-to-table philosophy long before the term was so ubiquitous. Open since 1999, Lula Café is a weekend brunch destination with lines running out the door for unreal breakfast sandwiches and veggie-centric mains. The menu is always changing given ingredients' availability, but you'll find it hard to be disappointed by whatever's in store. The garden patio area is the perfect spot for sipping morning cocktails and people watching on Sundays.

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5. Pequod's Pizza 2207 N Clybourn Ave, Chicago, IL 60614

Pequod's should be on everyone's bucket list for deep-dish pizza in Chicago. The Lincoln Park mainstay specializes in cast-iron pan pizza with a caramelized cheese-topped crust. The lacy and blackened edges are a Pequod's signature, and the crust is crunchy and dense, while the cheese is sharp and tangy. The Clybourn Ave restaurant is open until 2am, so it's got your late-night pizza needs covered.

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6. Hash Chicago 1357 N Western Ave, Chicago, IL 60622

Any restaurant dedicated to eggs and hash is a comfort food destination in our books. Case in point: this breakfast and lunch counter-order spot in West Town. The menu features more than eight kinds of hash made with your choice of one or two eggs -- most have meat (corned beef, pork shoulder, sausage), others are stocked with vegetables (chick peas, kale). Hash also serves traditional eggs-any-style breakfasts, loaded meat sandwiches, and salads.

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7. Doughnut Vault 401 N Franklin St, Chicago, IL 60654

This wildly popular fried-dough purveyor in River North (it has a second location in West Loop and a "Vault Van" that changes location every day) breaks hearts with its limited amount of fresh-baked donuts. DV only bakes a certain amount of donuts every day, and once they run out, they're gone 'til the next morning. The dense, old fashioned-style donuts come in flavors like buttermilk glazed, toasted almond, and lemon-poppy seed. Stop by on the early side (it opens at 8am on weekdays, 9:30am on weekends) for the best selection and the shortest lines.

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8. The Purple Pig 500 N Michigan Ave, Chicago, IL 60611

All-swine-everything is the name of the game at this River North staple from James Beard award-winning chef Jimmy Bannos Jr. The Mediterranean menu features meats, cheeses, and adventurous tapas-like plates like fried pig's ear, pork liver pate, and housemade sausage served with a poached lobster tail. The lively space is dominated by an L-shaped bar and high-top communal tables, complemented by a few tables-for-two along the wall. The Purple Pig attracts a mixed crowd of suits and skinny jeans, especially for post-work drinks. Note: it doesn't take reservations.

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9. Roister 951 W Fulton Market, Chicago, IL 60607

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: Ă  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.

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10. Calumet Fisheries 3259 E 95th St, Chicago, IL 60617

It's no wonder Calumet Fisheries, on the far south side of Chicago, was featured on Anthony Bourdain's No Reservations. Open since the 1940s, the family-owned seafood shack is one of the only smokehouses left in Chicago that smokes fish naturally over a wood fire. It offers an endless variety of smoked fish -- from salmon, sturgeon, and white fish to trout, catfish, and shrimp. Not to mention, its fried stuff is pretty good too.

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11. Fat Rice 2957 W Diversey Ave, Chicago, IL 60647

This perpetual hot spot in Logan Square specializes in the cuisine of Macau, which translates to a mix of European and Asian comfort foods. The signature dish is arroz gordo, aka fat rice, a paella-meets-bibimbap bowl of layered rice packed rich with clams, prawns, sausage, chicken, eggs, olives, and chilis. Everything about Fat Rice is conducive to sharing, from the appetizers and entrees to the communal tables.

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12. Owen & Engine 2700 N Western Ave, Chicago, IL 60647

The term "gastropub" is thrown around loosely in the business of restaurant writing, but Owen & Engine truly fits the bill. The upscale British pub in Logan Square has a Bib Gourmand from the Michelin guide, so it might be better than many that are actually in England. The menu includes snacks and small plates like Scotch eggs and beef carpaccio, plus a selection of entrées that includes one of the best burgers in town. The extensive draft list is constantly changing but features IPAs, Belgian ale, stout, and more.

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13. Acadia 1639 S Wabash, Chicago, IL 60616

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 Ă  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.

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14. Gibsons Bar & Steakhouse 1028 N Rush St, Chicago, IL 60611

This upscale Gold Coast steakhouse is known for three things: its celebrity clientele, mammoth steaks (especially the Tomahawk 42 chop), and macadamia turtle pie. Gibsons is where you go to eat an over-the-top meal in the company of high-rollers.

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15. Monteverde 1020 West Madison Street, Chicago, IL 60607

Pasta is the heart and soul of West Loop's Monteverde, spearheaded by Spiaggia alum chef Sarah Grueneberg. The Italian restaurant serves pasta made in-house and imported from Italy, and though most dishes come in individual servings, some are served family-style. It wouldn't be one of the best celebrity chef restaurants in Chicago without stellar wines, and the reasonably-priced bottles come from Italy, California, and other top wine-producing regions.

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16. Smyth & The Loyalist 175 N Ada St, Chicago, IL 60607

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.

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17. GT Prime 707 N Wells St, Chicago, IL 60654

GT Prime resolves the Achilles’ heel that most American steakhouses can’t seem to shake: positively unshareable cuts of meat. The River North brainchild of Giuseppe Tentori of GT Fish and Oyster offers the oh-so-simple solution of 4oz and 8oz versions of cuts like beef filet, Wagyu sirloin, bison filet, and venison loin. While you’re on that small plates grind, taste hot or cold options like the grain salad or the tomato salad with burrata. With prices far more reasonable than your typical steakhouse and décor like charcoal-colored wood and fur-covered bar stools sexy enough to make you swoon, there’s really no reason this shouldn’t be your next date spot.

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18. Arami 1829 W Chicago Ave, Chicago, IL 60642

This West Town Japanese spot serves a carefully selected menu of cooked and raw fish. The sushi-centric menu includes Ă  la carte nigiri, sashimi, and maki rolls, plus grilled robata meats and ramen. The sushi is more creative than what you'd find at a run-of-the-mill Americanized spot but more affordable than a fine dining omakase, and everything is of the highest quality and beautifully prepared.

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19. Oriole 661 W. Walnut St., Chicago, IL 60661

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.

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20. Osteria Langhe 2824 W Armitage Ave, Chicago, IL 60647

This Logan Square spot seamlessly blends slow food (literally, there's snail confit) with fine wines, all while transporting you to the northern Italian countryside. Expect rich dishes like prosciutto-wrapped rabbit loin and hand-pinched ravioli tossed with Parmesan, thyme, and butter. You'll want to grab a table in the Giardino Segreto ("secret garden" in Italian), but heads up: you'll need a reservation to dine on this lovely patio, so be sure to plan ahead.

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21. EL Ideas 2419 W 14th St, Chicago, IL 60618

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.

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22. Entente 3056 N Lincoln Ave, Chicago, IL 60657

Located in a kind of dead zone between bustling Belmont and a vibrant block of Lincoln in Lakeview, Entente brings fine dining to an area sorely in need of it, serving both an Ă  la carte and a reservation-only tasting menu inside a casual, industrial-chic space. Chef Brian Fisher (formerly of Michelin-starred Schwa) is at the helm, using gourmet techniques to spice up basic dishes, like in his grown-up take on a PB&J that features chicken liver mousse and concord grape jam on house-made bread. There's plenty in the way of drinks here, too, including inventive cocktails and a variety of Chicago-brewed beers.

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23. Bad Hunter 802 W Randolph St, Chicago, IL 60607

This vegetable-centric concept from Heisler Hospitality (Pub Royale, Estero, Lone Wolf) has a rustic, outdoorsy aesthetic, complete with white-washed exposed brick walls, a communal bar-style table, and a smattering of potted plants along the walls. The spotlight is on locally sourced produce -- both fresh and wood-grilled -- but there are a handful of meat-based dishes as well.

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24. Mi Tocaya AntojerĂ­a 2800 W Logan Blvd, Chicago, IL 60647

The chef-driven Mexican fare at Diana Davila's vibrant concept is as thoughtfully crafted as it is satisfying. You can score a heaping basket of chips and salsa, but the other offerings are anything but basic. Team an aromatic elderflower margarita with a caldo de res made with short rib and bone marrow, or smoked beer-can chicken tacos with xoconostle, and don’t miss out on the mouthwatering tres leches.

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25. Clever Rabbit 2015 W Division St, Chicago, IL 60622

This veggie-centric spot highlights chef Matt Lair's "root to leaf" approach, with inventive dishes like a crudite platter comprised of raw and house-pickled vegetables, ramp conserva, smoked mushroom mousse, eggplant agrodolce, summer truffle, and hemp seed naan. There are also garden-to-glass cocktails including a carrot margarita made with Piedra Azul Reposado and booze-free "cottontails" like lavender lemonade with honey and topo chico.

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26. Temporis 933 N Ashland Ave, Chicago, IL 60622

With a mere 20 seats and a sleek, modern aesthetic, this fine-dining hideaway promises an intimate meal with creative flavor pairings. The $125 tasting menu changes often, but always includes hyper-local ingredients grown in the restaurant's hydroponic garden. Courses range from king crab with saffron, satsuma, and steelhead roe to foie gras with passion fruit and sauternes, black sesame, and a canele.