Every fall, Michelin unveils its annual guides to the top restaurants in America and the world, making foodies everywhere giddy with anticipation. Not to be outshone by the one-, two- and three-star entries that tend to dominate the chatter, the Bib Gourmand
selections from the Chicago Michelin Guide recognize restaurants that offer "exceptional good food at moderate prices" — specifically, two courses and a glass of wine or dessert for $40 or less (excluding tax and gratuity).
The Bib Gourmand list for 2017 includes 52 Chicago restaurants where you can sample and share affordable culinary creations from the city's top chefs. Even better: during Chicago Restaurant Week (January 27-February 9, 2017), you'll be able to snag special prix fixe menus at some of the restaurants that made the cut for starting at $22 per person; stay tuned for participating restaurants, but for now, reserve your spot at these standouts from the 2017 Chicago Bib Gourmand honorees.
A new addition to this year's Bib Gourmand list, The Bristol serves up elevated gastropub cuisine in trendy Bucktown. The menu has a variety of shareable starters ($6-$16), like pull-apart monkey bread with dill butter or Smoked Lake Superior Whitefish Dip, and you should strongly consider snacking on a side of duck fat fries ($9), which many consider Chicago's best. Entrées include homemade pastas and meat dishes ($14-$26), like the succulent Amish Half Chicken with mustard dill spätzle.
But no meal at The Bristol is complete without a helping of Basque cake — a legendary sweet and salty confection filled with vanilla pastry cream that will have you saying "merci" to the chef.
With locations in the Loop, Chinatown, and surrounding suburbs, MingHin Cuisine is one of Chicago's top destinations for traditional Cantonese dim sum, which has only been solidified by its second consecutive inclusion in the Bib Gourmand list.
Rack up the bamboo baskets with delicious (and budget-friendly) siu mai, delicate shrimp crepes and pan-fried green chive cakes, alongside entrées like BBQ pork rib (a steal at $9.95). For dessert, dazzle your taste buds with a dish of red bean pudding or water chestnut cake.
Tucked into a quaint, cozy space a few steps from Lincoln Park Zoo, the 50-seat Riccardo Trattoria makes its third Bib Gourmand appearance in 2017. Milan-born owner and executive chef Riccardo Michi has lovingly crafted a menu of simple, elegant Italian classics. Antipasti include a variety of popular carpaccios, veal and ricotta meatballs and a standout burrata with smoked speck prosciutto (prices range from $12 to $20).
But the handmade pastas are the main attraction. Choose from fine-tuned risottos, robust fettuccine Bolognese, orecchiette with wild boar sausage and much, much more, starting at $14.
Dock-fresh fish is the name of the game at Sushi Dokku in the West Loop, where you'll find artistic maki, melt-in-your-mouth sashimi and delightful orders of nigiri bites (try the truffle tuna or smoked unagi). On cooler Chicago nights, you may want to mix in hot items like ramen, grilled hamachi collar or takoyaki, a fluffy battered octopus dish. There's also a full complement of Japanese beers and sakes to wash it all down.
Chicago may be famed for its hot dogs and Italian beef, but vegetarians will find plenty to love, too. One local favorite (located in Wicker Park) is Mana Food Bar, a Bib Gourmand designee since 2014. The diverse, globally inspired menu is divided into hot and cold sections, with light choices like sesame noodles, mushroom sliders, Korean bi bim bop and baked goat cheese with spicy tomato sauce. Many of the dishes can be ordered in small ($2.50-$10) or large ($7-$17) portions — optimal for sharing.
Don't let the name fool you: Dove's Luncheonette offers counter service morning, afternoon and night. With '60s and '70s music floating from the jukebox, this hip Wicker Park diner artfully combines Southern soul staples and Tex-Mex cuisine for comfort food with a spicy twist. Think killer chicken fried chicken smothered in chorizo verde gravy, braised oxtail with guajillo chile broth and sweet potato enchiladas — all perfectly paired with a Mexican lager or sip of smoky mezcal.