To create an insightfully unbiased dining guide to Chicago, The Michelin Guide is controlled by an unseen panel of anonymous food editors who this year have bestowed ratings upon an unprecedented 25 restaurants in Chicago. In the world of dining and in the community of chefs, a Michelin star rating can bring a small neighborhood establishment to international recognition, or knock a fine dining venue from exclusive to empty. Here's a guide to manuevering this year's Michelin Guide to Chicago, one shining star at a time.
Alinea (1723 N Halsted St)
Chicago culinary visionary Grant Achatz strikes again. His very own Alinea continues to raise Chicago's dining profile on an international level that resonates with locals and foreign tourists alike, with creations that are nothing short of fine art and taste like nothing short of a masterpiece. Since its 2005 opening, Alinea has been one of the world's most saught after restaurants, and shows no sign of relinquishing this distinction.
Grace (closed): Less than a year old, Grace has risen to a two star rank under the meticulous focus and dedication of Chef Curtis Duffy (pictured above). The presentation of each of his thoughtfully beautiful plates is assembled in perfect elegance akin to the ease of a ballet performance, with grace stunning enough to emulate the restaurant's namesake. The balance between Chef Duffy's artistry in the kitchen and his entire team's devotion to capitol "C" Consistency create a dining experience that is nothing short of remarkable.
Graham Elliot (217 W Huron St): Though recently clad with a two Michelin star rating, Graham Elliot's namesake restaurant will be serving its last guests on New Year's Eve during a celebration that Elliot promises to be a "massive fiesta." The city is eagerly awaiting his new Graham Elliott concept, which he has described as a reconceptualized restaurant to pick up right where Graham Elliot left off. Elliot honed his craft in the kitchen of the late Charlie Trotter, and is sure to create a new culinary hot spot with his next restaurant opening.
L2O (2300 N Lincoln Park W)
Quite literally, L2O offers a fresh perspective on fine dining, exposing the intricacies of fish and shellfish as if they were whimsically and simply assembled. L2O is flourishing under Chef Matthew Kirkley in an exciting resurgence onto the Chicago dining scene after the departure of previous head chef Laurent Gras, leaving Kirkley to recreate the freshness and remarkable nature of L2O's dining experience.
Sixteen (401 N Wabash Ave): As if the view from the sixteenth floor of The Trump weren't enough, the dining at Sixteen is of two Michelin star caliber. After having won back Sixteen's one star in 2013, Chef Thomas Lents has brought this high level restaurant to the next level this year with two stars. Whether you prefer the view of the Wrigley Building clock tower, the Tribune Tower, or the Magnicifent Mile, the cuisine and experience Sixteen are sure to dazzle.
Acadia (1639 S Wabash Ave): This year's Michelin ratings have been good to many restaurants outside of downtown, but Acadia is the only Michelin star recipient to flourish in the South Loop. Bringing fine dining to the neighborhood, Acadia offers an experience that lacks the ego and excentuates a seamless design, not to mention admirable cocktail menu.
Blackbird (619 W Randolph St)
Well into its second decade as a culinary force in Chicago, Blackbird continues to paint its legacy on the Chicago dining scene still today as one of the most iconic restaurants in the city. This Godfather of casual fine-dining remains as innovative with its menu as its exterior is sleek. The open kitchen showcases its talented chefs and seasonal ingredients, as well as engage its guests in an inticing manner that keeps them coming back - and keeps its Michelin star in tact.
Boka (1729 N Halsted St): Not its first year to earn a coveted Michelin star, Boka continues to deliver a contemporary American menu with items seared, cooked and poached to perfection. Executive Chef Giuseppe Tentori is taking Boka in the right direction with his passionate dedication to innovation that has yet to diminish since his Food & Wine Best New Chef award in 2008.
EL Ideas (2419 W 14th St): On a mission to redefine fine dining, EL Ideas keeps its motto of "Question Everything" in tact with each of its whimsically and creatively crafted dishes. Chef Phillip Foss is all about thinking outside the box when it comes to pairings and methods of serving. Be sure to keep an eye on EL Ideas to see what they'll do next.
Elizabeth (4835 N Western Ave): Self-taught and invested in the nature of the land around her, Chef Iliana Regan receives a hard-earned Michelin star for her Lincoln Square restaurant Elizabeth. Her novel mission to highlight nose-to-tail, root-to-branch, and farm-to-table Midwestern bounty has garnered her the attention of adventurous palate-ed and open-minded diners. Are you one of them?
Everest (440 S La Salle St #4000): Located on the 40th floor of the Chicago Stock Exchange, Everest offers fine diners an experience with a classically French aristocratic air and a uniquely Chicago view. Chef J. Joho's world-renowned cuisine continues to dazzle along with his award-winning wine list, the combination of which is skyrocketing Everest to international recognition.
Goosefoot (2656 W Lawrence Ave): Chef Chris Nugent's devotion to his culinary craft shines for the second year with Goosefoot's one star rating. After investing everything they had in what they believed this restaurant could be, Nugent and his wife's brainchild of a restaurant concept highlights a market-driven contemporary American menu made up of an artful blend of French technique and modern vision.
The Lobby (108 E Superior St): Between the world-class hotel walls of The Peninsula lays a kitchen that has fostered the amazing culinary talents of famed Chicago chefs for years, such as Graham Elliot and Curtis Duffy who have since gone on to open their own Michelin star restaurants. This year, The Lobby gets the recognition a Peninsula dining establishment has long deseved with a 1 star rating.
Longman & Eagle (2657 N Kedzie Ave)
Farm to table dining, seasonal libations, modernized inn - take Longman & Eagle's advice and eat, sleep and drink within its walls. The creativity of their menu coupled with their neighborhood charm is at the heart of Longman & Eagle's continued success of earning a Michelin star sans the fine dining extravagance. Foodies and beer buffs unite to enjoy Longman & Eagle's cozy and delectable appeal.
Mexique (1529 W Chicago Ave): Holding on to its star from last year's debut onto the Michelin Guide scene, Mexique continues to delight and refresh guests with Mexican cuisine. Chef Carolos Gaytan's blend of French ingredients and Mexican cooking techniques, this "revolution in Mexican gastronomy," is a refreshing option on Chicago's dining scene.
Moto (945 W Fulton Market): Moto's commitment to sustainable gastronomy is one unmatched throughout the entire culinary community in Chicago. Dining at moto is an experience to excite taste, touch, sight, and smell - world-renowned post-modern gastronomy leader Chef Homaro Cantu's presentation is sure to entertain.
NAHA (500 N Clark St)
Executive Chef Carrie Nahabedian has been pouring her passion and talent into NAHA since she opened it in 2000, and has since accumulated a James Beard Award and three consecutive Michelin stars. This Armenian- and Greek-influenced restaurant continues to serve up fresh concept every season, and doesn't show sign of slowing down.
North Pond (2610 N Cannon Dr): North Pond's unparalleled combination of welcoming neighborhood hospitality and world-class menu brought this Lincoln Park gem its first Michelin star this year. Chef Bruce Sherman's inspiration from local markets is evident in his seasonal ingredients and dishes that reflect the nature that encompasses North Pond.
Schwa (1466 N Ashland Ave): An experience at Schwa is one you won't find anywhere else in the city, and most likely anywhere else in general. A BYOB restaurant with a soundtrack that pumps out Notorious B.I.G., fine dining is anything but refined at this edgy and fantastically unique dining venue, captained by Chef Michael Carlson.
Senza (2873 N Broadway St): Opened just a year ago, Senza is already a Lakeview neighborhood - and city-wide - favorite on the Chicago dining scene under Executive Chef Noah Sandoval (Schwa, Spring) . Not only is this accessible high-end restaurant a fantastic dining experience, but also transforms into the unique Wheat's End Cafe each morning, serving gluten-free baked goods from Wheat's End Artisan Foods, the only Chicago Michelin star-rated gluten-free haven.
Sepia (123 N Jefferson St)
The rustic tradition of Iron Chef Andrew Zimmerman's menu is expertly complimented by the contemporary comfort of Sepia's interior. The inviting bar here lures you in with its inticing cocktail menu that will have you sipping warming ginger and sour cherr Jam Sessions until the kitchen closes.
Spiaggia (980 N Michigan Ave): A culinary gold standard for Chicago Italian cuisine for 3 decades, Spiaggia and Chef/Partner Tony Mantuano continue to dazzle guests and food critics alike. Executive Chef Sarah Grueneberg continues to lead Chicago's only four star Italian restaurant to success, having been named Chicago Chef of the Year in the 2011 Eater Awards.
Takashi (1952 N Damen Ave): Recent Top Chef: Masters contestant Takashi Yagihashi's flagship restaurant is celebrating its fourth consecutive year with a Michelin star under its belt. Chef Tagihashi's creative approach to contemporary fine dining brings in elements of French and Asian cuisine on his unmatched flavorful menu.
Topolobampo (445 N Clark St): Rick Bayless does it again. Sister restaurant to Bayless' Frontera, Topolobampo is the sleek, quiet, classy sister. Topolobampo's Michelin repeat rating is a testament to the soundness of his restaurant concepts, his new one which will have Chicago eagerly awaiting any new announcement on this project that he assures will be like "nothing in the U.S."
Tru (676 N St Clair St): To call Tru Executive Chef Anthony Martin's cooking prgoressive French cuisine is to leave out most of the story of this renowned Michelin star recipient. Chef Martin continues to showcase his creative genuis, building an environment suitable to the experiential dining of his guests and platting his creations with a distinct element of humor and unexpectedness that is both remarkable and refreshing in the world of fine dining.