Food & Drink

The 10 Best Value Michelin-Starred Restaurants in Chicago

Published On 04/24/2015 Published On 04/24/2015
Blackbird Restaurant
acadia chicago
Flickr/esdel little
Flickr/Seth Anderson
Flickr/Jennifer yin
grace restaurant
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1. Longman & Eagle 2657 N Kedzie Ave, Chicago, IL 60647

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.

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2. 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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3. Sepia 123 N Jefferson St, Chicago, IL 60661

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.

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4. 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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5. The Lobby 108 E Superior St, Chicago, IL 60611

Enjoy approachable, contemporary American fare like pan-roasted skate wing and a killer burger smothered with smoked mozzarella, applewood smoked bacon, and a special sauce paired with thick-cut fries and garlic aioli.

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6. North Pond 2610 N Cannon Dr, Chicago, IL 60614

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 Ă  la carte items. The Arts and Crafts-style building, originally built in 1912 for ice skaters, is as picturesque as the park surroundings.

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7. Blackbird 619 W Randolph St, Chicago, IL 60661

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.

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8. NAHA 500 N Clark St, Chicago, IL 60654

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.

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9. Grace 652 W Randolph St, Chicago, IL 60661

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.

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10. Sixteen 401 N Wabash Ave Fl 16, Chicago, IL 60611

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.