Every city has its favorite culinary stars. But Chicago could claim a whole galaxy.

Rick Bayless

Friend-to-farmers chef Rick Bayless won the James Beard Award for "National Chef of the Year, 1995" and in the decades since, hasn't stopped garnering accolades. His two signature restaurants, Frontera Grill and Topolobampo, have brought the art of authentic regional Mexican cooking to the U.S. and his culinary empire has grown to include the quick casual XOCO and airport-must-have Tortas Frontera. With several cookbooks, celebrity appearances and a national TV show "Mexico—One Plate at a Time", Rick continues to bring new tastes home to Chicago and to audiences around the world.

Stephanie Izard

Also at the heights of culinary stardom is Stephanie Izard. America's "Top Chef: Season 4" winner in 2008, she opened Girl & the Goat in 2011. Food & Wine Magazine named her "Best New Chef" and the restaurant and chef have since been honored with several prestigious James Beard nominations and a win in 2013 as one of the "Best Chefs in America". Diners have been climbing a steep reservation list ever since, both here and at Little Goat Diner and her latest concept, the colorful and quirky Duck Duck Goat.

Paul Kahan

The multi-award winning restauranteur is a man of many talents. His accolades include James Beard nods for "Outstanding Chef, 2013" and "Best Chef of the Midwest, 2004" plus numerous recognitions from Food & Wine MagazineConde Nast TravelerMichelin Guide & more.

He's a master of tacos, all things pork and smokehouse meats... see Big StarThe Publican and Publican Quality Meats for example. He and his teams excel also at modern Midwestern cuisine (Blackbird), rustic Mediterranean (Avec) and Italian-inspired seafood (Nico Osteria). Hard-working and humble, he's a Chicagoan through and through and deserves the praise of the many who claim he is one of America's most influential working chefs.

Grant Achatz

There's probably no greater star chef practicing modernist cuisine in the world today than Grant Achatz. His first restaurant, Alinea, is often more like a laboratory, with several of his 18-22 course meals served with a few instructions. A mecca to many, it has landed on top polls such as the esteemed San Pellegrino World's Best Restaurants list and is one of only two Chicago restaurant to have earned three Michelin stars.

Grant's second restaurant and adjoining bar Aviary are equally innovative. Next Restaurant, James Beard Foundation award winner for "Best New Restaurant, 2012", features a new themed dining experience every three months that will tickle your imagination (the first was Paris in 1906). Tickets, released online at random, are required.

Sarah Grueneberg

This Texas transplant moved to Chicago in 2005, to work under Tony Mantuano at Spiagga. She quickly rose through the ranks to Chef di Cucina, and has been making her mark on the local culinary community ever since. Nationally, she's known for being a fan favorite as a finalist on "Top Chef: Season 9".

Critics have been heaping accolades onto her West Loop restaurant, Monteverde Restaurant & Pastificio, since it opened in 2015. It was recognized as one of Food & Wine’s “America’s Best Restaurants,” a top 50 finalist in Bon Appetit’s “Best New Restaurants” list. In 2017, Sarah received her first James Beard Foundation Award for “Best Chef: Great Lakes.”

Curtis Duffy

Prestigious resumes make not an amazing dining experience but Chef Curtis Duffy does it all. Having worked in the famous kitchens of Grace, Charlie Trotter's, The French Laundry, Alinea and Avenues at The Peninsula Chicago, he spent years honing his craft. His new venture in the West Loop is set to open soon.

Graham Elliot Bowles 

Holding his own as a "MasterChef" judge on television — and always recognizable with his trademark glasses and upbeat personality — Graham Elliot Bowles has had his share of on-screen time (he was also on "MasterChef Junior", "Iron Chef America" and "Top Chef Masters". He also serves as the culinary director for the mega music festival Lollapalooza. But the kitchen is where he shines best, having been the youngest four-star chef to be named in a major U.S. city. His namesake restaurant, Graham Elliot Bistro, was a well-known West Loop spot before closing in 2016.

David Burke

After winning the Culinary Institute of American's "Escoffier Award," among others, David Burke decided to branch out from his Park Avenue Café in New York. His first stop was Chicago, with David Burke's Primehouse in The James Hotel. Sample his "culinology," an approach to food that combines the culinary arts with food technology.

Richard Sandoval

Latinicity Food Hall + Lounge located on the third floor of Block 37 is the concept of Richard Sandoval: celebrity chef, restaurateur, author, and television personality. In 2014, Richard was named the "King of Latin Fusion" by Modern Luxury Magazine. Now, with over 10 kitchens, a tapas restaurant, coffee café, full bar, market, and lounge, Sandoval brings a twist of Latin American, Spanish and Portuguese flavors to Chicago. Richard is also the chef behind the new restaurants in the Conrad Chicago Hotel: il tavolinoBaptiste & Bottle, and the upcoming rooftop dining spot Noyane.

Mindy Segal

For a little sweetness on your Chicago top chef tour, stop into Wicker Park restaurant HotChocolate, an urban cafe that marries contemporary food and desserts inspired by seasonal and local ingredients. Mindy Segal is no stranger to winning accolades and 2012 marked her first James Beard Award for "Outstanding Pastry Chef."

And if you still have any openings in your fine-dining agenda, a visit with the following would make for a perfect dip through Chicago's ever-expanding culinary universe:

Browse for more restaurants on and get the inside scoop on top foodie hotspots from our Chicago Like a Local blog.


Related Listings

Café Spiaggia
980 N. Michigan Ave.
Chicago, IL 60611
(312) 280-2750

616 N. Rush St.
Chicago, IL 60611
(312) 660-6000

500 N. Clark St.
Chicago, IL 60654
(312) 321-6242

Slurping Turtle
116 W. Hubbard St.
Chicago, IL 60654
(312) 464-0466

Nico Osteria
1015 N. Rush St.
Chicago, IL 60660
(312) 994-7100

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MICHELIN Guide Chicago 2015

Frontera Grill
445 N. Clark St.
Chicago, IL 60654
(312) 661-1434

Blackbird Restaurant
619 W. Randolph St.
Chicago, IL 60661
(312) 715-0708

123 N. Jefferson St.
Chicago, IL 60661
(312) 441-1920

1529 W. Chicago Ave.
Chicago, IL 60642
(312) 850-0288

Mindy's HotChocolate
1747 N. Damen Ave.
Chicago, IL 60647
(773) 489-1747

Latinicity Chicago
108 N. State St.
Chicago, IL 60602
(312) 795-4444

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