Celebration and hot spots for dining

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Arun’s

  • Price band: 3/4

In 1985, Arun Sampanthavivat handed Chicago its first real taste of Thai food; in return, the accolades poured in. Today, the dining landscape insists that we hold Arun’s to one of two standards:

  1. 4156 N Kedzie Ave, (at Berteau Ave)
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Big Star

  • Price band: 1/4
  • Critics choice

One of this city’s most worshipped chefs opens a new place…and tells you not to pay attention to the food. He teams up with the folks who operate the Violet Hour and presents a volume-driven

  1. 1531 N Damen Ave, (between Wicker Park and Milwaukee Aves)
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The Bristol

  • Price band: 2/4
  • Critics choice

After three years, this popular Bucktown restaurant has matured, from its stronger-than-ever cocktail program to its desserts. We have a hard time moving away from Chris Pandel’s signatures, like

  1. 2152 N Damen Ave, (between Shakespeare and Webster Aves)
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Duchamp [Closed]

  • Price band: 2/4

Duchamp has all the elements of a great restaurant: a modern but cozy room, an incomparable patio in the warmer months and an established chef putting out French and American classics. The food lives

  1. 2118 N Damen Ave, (between Charleston St and Dickens Ave)
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Charlie Trotter’s [Closed]

  • Price band: 3/4

Trotter remains one of the best chefs in the country, proving nightly that not only did he train the younger talent in town, but he can still school them. À la carte doesn’t exist here, so go full

  1. 816 W Armitage Ave, (between Halsted and Dayton Sts)
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Mon Ami Gabi

  • Price band: 2/4
  • Critics choice

Gabi They say practice makes perfect, and the pitch-perfect bistro dishes here show years of rehearsal. The Epcot Center feel of some other Lettuce Entertain You restaurants is missing. Instead, you

  1. 2300 N Lincoln Park West, (at Belden Ave)
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Arami

  • Rated as: 5/5
  • Price band: 2/4
  • Critics choice

“Sushi is very simple.” B.K. Park interjects this repeatedly as we discuss Arami’s menu. You source the fish properly. You care for it properly. You cut it properly. You attend to the quality

  1. 1829 W Chicago Ave, (between Wolcott Ave and Wood St)
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Jam [closed]

  • Price band: 1/4

Jam is now closed. On the heels of the success of Chickpea, Jerry Suqi opened this charming American spot. This time, however, it’s not his mom in the kitchen but chef (and co-owner) Jeffrey

  1. 937 N Damen Ave, (between Walton St and Augusta Blvd)
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Frontera Grill

  • Price band: 2/4
  • Critics choice

Most chefs behind culinary empires branch to other cities, leaving the original back home to suffer. Rick Bayless kept close to the kitchen and chose to expand in other ways (packaged food line,

  1. 445 N Clark St, (between Hubbard and Illinois Sts)
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Cape Cod Room

  • Price band: 3/4

This seafood restaurant has been the flagship of the Drake Hotel’s dining program since 1933. Sea-blue tablecloths, uniformed waiters and nautical paraphernalia are all proudly presented without a

  1. 140 E Walton Pl, (between Michigan Ave and Seneca St)
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David Burke’s Primehouse

  • Price band: 3/4
  • Critics choice

David Burke’s name is on the door of this modern steakhouse, but make no mistake—chef Rick Gresh is the one in the kitchen. Under the duo’s jurisdiction, warm popovers stand in for bread,

  1. 616 N Rush St, (at Ontario St)
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Seasons

  • Price band: 3/4

Far above the hustle and bustle of Michigan Avenue lies the serene tranquility and decadence that is Seasons. Some of the dishes here are forever on the menu (so as not to disorient the power

  1. 120 E Delaware Pl, (between Michigan Ave and Rush St)
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avec

  • Price band: 2/4
  • Critics choice

This nationally acclaimed small-plates spot looks like a sauna, has communal seating, doesn’t take reservations and is loud as hell. But it remains the must-eat spot for foodies in the know. Chef

  1. 615 W Randolph St, (between Jefferson and Desplaines Sts)
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Girl & the Goat

  • Price band: 2/4
  • Critics choice

This West Loop restaurant from Top Chef Stephanie Izard is packed to the gills with diners seeking something more than the faddy pork-and-beer route. It’s refreshing that most of her menu goes the

  1. 809 W Randolph St, (at Halsted St)
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Davanti Enoteca

  • Rated as: 5/5
  • Price band: 2/4
  • Critics choice

Facts that hint at Davanti Enoteca being the second coming of the Purple Pig: (1) a menu listing lots of shared things to spread on toast (ricotta with honeycomb, chicken liver pâté), (2) an entire

  1. 1359 W Taylor St, (at Loomis St)
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Gabriel’s [Closed]

  • Price band: 3/4

For more than a decade, chef-owner Gabriel Viti has been the culinary darling of the North Shore. His eponymous restaurant is the flagship of his restaurant empire, and it is easy to see why. The

  1. 310 Green Bay Rd, (between Highwood and North Aves)
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Prairie Grass Café

  • Price band: 2/4

If you ever ate Sarah Stegner’s food during her much-lauded tenure as chef of the Dining Room at the Ritz-Carlton, you understand how happy we are that we don’t have to sell a kidney anymore to

  1. 601 Skokie Blvd
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Vie

  • Price band: 3/4
  • Critics choice

After putting Western Springs on the map with his 2007 Food & Wine best new chef nod, Paul Virant spread the gospel of canning and charcuterie in a cookbook and opened Perennial Virant in Lincoln

  1. 4471 Lawn Ave
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