Congratulations are in order for Chicago 2017 James Beard Award winners Topolobampo (Outstanding Restaurant) and Chef Sarah Grueneberg of Monteverde (Best Chef: Great Lakes), announced at the prestigious James Beard Foundation Awards Ceremony—known as the Oscars of the food world—held in Chicago on May 1, 2017.

Chicago was also proudly represented by five other restaurants that were nominated in the Best Chef: Great Lakes and Rising Star Chef of the Year categories. Plan a group dining experience at any of these restaurants and get a taste of the award-winning cuisine that Chicago is famous for.  



The Buzz: Celebrity chef Rick Bayless takes Mexican cuisine to new heights in his elegant restaurant that won the 2017 James Beard Award for Outstanding Restaurant. Bayless tirelessly searches for new ideas during his frequent treks to Mexico, constantly surprising diners with his latest finds that translate to delicious dishes served at Topolobampo.


The Dish: Contemporary Mexican fare includes the squab served with Oaxacan black mole and seared foie gras. Feeling adventurous? Choose The Perfect Seven and let the chefs create your seven-course meal.

Book It: Reserve the private Library Room (lined with Bayless’ collection of cookbooks) with its own personal chef; contact Dana Armon at or 312-334-3662.


The Buzz: Chef Sarah Grueneberg took home the 2017 James Beard Award for Best Chef: Great Lakes for the Italian cuisine with a twist that she cooks up at her West Loop restaurant. Incorporating Italian culture and global influences from her trips around the world, Chef Grueneberg uses ingredients and cooking methods not normally seen in typical Italian restaurants.

Monteverde Food Shot

The Dish: Pasta made daily includes the roasted lamb ravioli with crispy artichokes and manchego cheese.

Book It: The restaurant accommodates private dining for 70 seated or 100 reception-style; contact



The Buzz: Chicago has had a culinary love affair with this stylish Lincoln Park restaurant for nearly 15 years. Its quirky decor (think walls paneled with vintage door locks) and candlelit back garden patio are the perfect backdrop for the artful American cuisine of Executive Chef Lee Wolen, a 2017 nominee (and previous winner) for Best Chef: Great Lakes.


The Dish: Examples of the creative seasonal dishes here include the olive-oil poached cod with shiitake mushrooms. One can never go wrong indulging in the seven-course tasting menu.

Book It: For private parties, call 312-337-6070 or email


The Buzz: This small, hip Logan Square restaurant impresses with big, colorful cuisine. Chef Abraham Conlon, nominated for 2017 Best Chef: Great Lakes, employs a whimsical take on the traditional cuisine of Macau.

Fat Rice

The Dish: The restaurant’s menu of playful dishes includes the namesake Arroz Gordo (fat rice), stacked with jumbo prawns, char siu pork, curried chicken, Manila clams, sausage and more.

Book It: Large-party menu options are available; call 773-661-9170.


The Buzz: This acclaimed eatery in the Thompson Chicago boutique hotel brings fine Italian seafood to the Gold Coast neighborhood. Brick walls, rich leathers and plush velvets create a sumptuous setting for the food of Chef Erling Wu-Bower, a 2017 nominee for Best Chef: Great Lakes.

Nico Osteria Chicago

The Dish: Extraordinary pastas include the squid ink spaghetti with lobster and green garlic pesto.

Book It: The second-floor event space is comprised of three private dining rooms, accommodating up to 100 guests for a seated dinner or 150 reception-style; call 312-994-7103.


The Buzz: The Korean-American fare at this convivial 40-seat restaurant in the city’s Avondale neighborhood is meant to be shared, with selections changing nightly. Husband-and-wife team Chef Beverly Kim and Chef Johnny Clark were nominated in the 2017 Best Chef: Great Lakes category for the cuisine they describe as “food from the heart.”


The Dish: Small plates have included pork belly with mung bean pancake and pineapple butter, and skate wing with rhubarb and pine nuts.

Book It: Large parties of 7-12 guests can order a multi-plate Chefs Menu, or plan a private event for up to 50 guests. Call 773-654-1460 or email



The Buzz: Co-founded by Chicago’s world-renowned Chef Grant Achatz, this sleek, innovative restaurant completely changes its prix fixe menu of 12-18 courses every four months to create ever-changing dining experiences. Next is helmed by Executive Chef Jenner Tomaska, who was nominated for 2017 Rising Star Chef of the Year.


The Dish: Past adventurous menu themes have included Paris 1906, Sicily and A Taste of Thailand.

Book It: The dramatically designed private Room can be reserved for up to 10 guests at

See a list of all James Beard Award winners in Chicago. 

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