Gourmet magazine anointed Alinea the No. 1 restaurant in the country. What’s all the fuss? Chef/mastermind Grant Achatz serves food the likes of which you’ve never seen. Sit back and enjoy the show, a well-orchestrated ride that plays with textures, temperatures and notions of “normal” cuisine, while somehow remaining grounded in season, flavor and flawless execution. Past menu stunners have included the black truffle explosion with romaine and parmesan, and the hot potato, cold potato served with black truffle and butter. But you never know what dish will steal the show when you’re in the audience.
Matthias Merges (Yusho, Billy Sunday) expanded beyond Logan Square and opened A10, helmed by Billy Sunday chef John Vermiglio. The cuisine melds Italian and French ingredients and influences, and it's inspired by Merges' travels in the region. If the perfect pastas, inventive desserts and great cocktails are any indication, Merges must be an ideal travel companion.
Bill Kim's Korean barbecue spot is a delicious mix of traditional dishes and contemporary techniques. There are grill tables to cook up your own Korean barbecue, or order off the a la carte menu—Thai-style fried chicken is habit-forming, not just for its crunchy fry but for the supremely juicy and flavorful meat that’s tucked inside the triple-battered exterior, and the soft serve ice cream is a must-order dessert.
Who would have guessed longtime Trotter's chef Matthias Merges would find his calling checking IDs at the door of a Logan Square bar? Granted, his is not just any bar: Here, barkeep Alex Bachman combines his penchant for unusual ingredients (a syrup made from maidenhair ferns, say) with an uncanny sense of balance, turning out creations that both pay homage to and defy tradition—often simultaneously. Though Billy Sunday is squarely a bar, the food is a worthy companion to the drinks: Don't miss the banana pudding.