On November 9, Michelin announced their 2012 Chicago selections for Bib Gourmand. Restaurants on the list serve dinners that are less than $40 dollars for two courses and a glass of wine or dessert before tax and gratuity are factored into the equation. For those who love to eat in Chicago, it's fun to do a comparison with personal wish lists and dining conquests to see where we fall out compared to their anonymous critics. What's clear is that the Bib Gourmand list highlights neighborhood favorites and shines a light on the diversity of food available in the city.

Tuna from deca | Photo courtesy of Tammy Green

I have a little more eating to do, since I've only been to 48 out of the 56 restaurants on this year's list. However, I've dined at a few of these restaurants repeatedly and I'm always happy to return. La Creperie is a stand-by restaurant whenever I plan to catch a movie at the nearby Landmark Century theater. The crepes are quick and satisfying, and the outdoor patio in back is a great place to linger and discuss films over a glass of wine.

There are over 120 menu items offered at Opart Thai House, and I've tried over half of them. While I haven't enjoyed everything, I can enthusiastically recommend their curries, hot & spicy items, and both of the whole red snapper dishes. Expect fast service, an amazing range of flavors and quality ingredients when your order.

Deca is where I take people to escape from the bustle of Michigan Avenue, but still remain connected to the scene. Enjoy a cocktail (Pear Necessity or a Cherry Smash), and one of the outstanding hors d'oeuvres from Chef Mark Payne's kitchen.

Crepe Florentine from La Creperie | Photo courtesy of Tammy Green

The big reveal for starred Michelin happens with the release of the new Chicago Guide on November 15. Those in the know expect a shake-up since starred restaurants L20 and Avenues had chef switch-ups. It will also be interesting to see how well secrecy is preserved in this release as last year's starred restaurants were leaked on-line before the official announcement.

2012 Bib Gourmand winners included in this entry:

deca (160 East Pearson Street at Water Tower Place)
La Creperie (2845 North Clark Street)
Opart Thai House (4658 N Western) and (1906 South State Street)

Gaeng Panang from Opart Thai House | Photo courtesy of Tammy Green