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22 Michelin-starred restaurants in Chicago

Take the guesswork out of dining when you nab a table at one of these Michelin-starred restaurants in Chicago

Acadia
Photograph: Neil Burger Acadia
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When it comes to dining out, we are positively spoiled. As of 2019, the city is home to 22 Michelin-starred kitchens that range from one of the best Mexican restaurants in Chicago to an experimental tasting menu that breaks all the rules. One of the fanciest breweries in Chicago even made the list—the first of its kind for Michelin. The best part? You don't have to drop an entire paycheck to enjoy Michelin-starred restaurants in Chicago—there are a handful of affordable (and very approachable) options on this year's lineup.

So, how does it all work? The Michelin Guide assesses the best restaurants in Chicago on a number of criteria, but the coveted stars are awarded based on quality of food alone. Inspectors look for top-notch ingredients, mastery of flavor and cooking techniques, the personality of the chef in his or her cuisine, overall value and consistency. One star represents high quality cooking that's worth a stop; two stars indicate excellent cooking that's worth a detour; and three stars denote exceptional cuisine that's worthy of a special journey. With all of that in mind, take a look at the Chicago restaurants that earned Michelin stars for 2019.

Three stars

Restaurants, Contemporary American

Alinea

icon-location-pin Lincoln Park

Chef Grant Achatz’s three-Michelin-starred institution (the only one of its kind in Chicago) is a total sensory experience. In 2016, the Lincoln Park stalwart underwent a massive renovation, swapping its dark, sexy interior for an airy, timeless space. Though Alinea’s tasting menus will set you back $190 to $395 a person, every course is a theatrical masterpiece delivered with flawless service: Prepare for lots of dry ice, exotic fruits and playful servingware. End the evening with one of Achatz’s signature helium taffy balloons, which fill the dining room with smiles and high-pitched laughter.

Two stars

Acadia
Photograph: Anthony Tahlier
Restaurants, Contemporary American

Acadia

icon-location-pin Near South Side

Serving New American dishes inspired by coastal Maine, Acadia is the brainchild of chef Ryan McCaskey, who opened this consistently great fine-dining establishment in the South Loop in 2011. Over the last handful of years, Acadia has garnered praise from the Michelin Guide (rising from one to two stars in 2015) as well as the Jean Banchet Awards and area critics. Guests can dine a la carte at the bar or opt for the eight-course tasting menu. The latter goes for $185 and includes a lineup of rotating dishes inspired by McCaskey's upbringing in Maine. The current menu features dishes like A5 Miyazaki with charred pineapple yuzu kosho and uni mayonnaise as well as a strawberry mousse with duck yolk crema.

Restaurants, Contemporary American

Oriole

icon-location-pin West Loop

Chicago is home to oodles of fine dining experiences—from big names like Alinea to newcomers Smyth and Elske. But no foodie's checklist is complete without Oriole, a West Loop restaurant from Noah Sandoval. The $215 14-course menu (with a few additional treats tossed in) is filled with clever, beautiful, indulgent bites that allow guests to be swept up in the experience. If we may offer just one piece of advice, it's this: Don't peek at the menu before visiting; allow each plate to be a surprise, as the kitchen intended.

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Restaurants, American creative

Smyth

icon-location-pin West Loop

John Shields and Karen Urie Shields’s two-for-one special in the West Loop offers elevated tasting menus upstairs and the city’s best burger (yeah, we said it) in the dark, sultry basement. But we're here to talk about what's happening on the ground floor, at Smyth, where diners can book three different experiences, including the reasonably priced $95 tasting menu. The offerings change daily based on the couples' trips to a 20-acre farm located south of the city. The stunning and delicate dishes on offer incorporate fresh, seasonal produce, making every experience feel very, very special.

One star

Bars, Breweries

Band of Bohemia

icon-location-pin Lincoln Square

Make note: This Ravenswood spot is the first-ever Michelin-starred brewpub, which means you should start with a beer (Jasmine Rice is our go-to). There's a $75 tasting menu, but you can just as easily piece together a stellar lineup from the à la carte offerings. If you can, grab a seat at the chef's table, where you can watch the culinary team plate lobster-ricotta ravioli and build intricate desserts. Return for brunch on Saturday and Sunday, when you can tuck into caviar crepe cake and a Croque Madame dripping with caramelized onions.

Restaurants, Contemporary American

Blackbird

icon-location-pin West Loop

Celebrating the big 2-0 this year, the unshakable Blackbird set down roots in the West Loop before it was the place to be for restaurants. One look at the menu and it's not hard to see why—roasted rohan duck with artichoke, marinated mussels with yuzu, and kampachi crudo with roasted potato dashi. But the best deal can be yours over the lunch hour: $28 for a high-end three-course tasting menu. For that price, you can afford to throw in a bottle of wine.

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Boka
Photograph: Huge Galdones
Restaurants, American creative

Boka

icon-location-pin Lincoln Park

In its 15 years on Halsted Street, Boka has racked up a trophy case worth of accolades, including one long-standing Michelin star and a handful of Jean Banchet Awards. But we prefer to let chef-partner Lee Wolen’s impeccable techniques—on everything from chilled beef tartare and grilled octopus to ricotta dumplings—do the talking.

Fruit loop donut at Dusek's
Photograph: Clayton Hauck
Bars, Gastropubs

Dusek's Board and Beer

icon-location-pin Lower West Side

If you're scouring the Michelin list for something very approachable, Dusek's in Pilsen is a great place to start. The come-as-you-are atmosphere makes an excellent backdrop for brunch, lunch, dinner, late-night eats and cocktails with friends. Start with an order of beef fat fries before moving into small plates like the black truffle and foie gras fondue and the shishito hush puppies. No trip is complete without the Juicy Lucy, a burger that's stuffed with American cheese and topped with red onion-bacon marmalade, tomato and lettuce.

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El.Venue.jpg
Photograph: Jason Little
Restaurants, Contemporary American

EL Ideas

icon-location-pin Little Italy, UIC

The self-proclaimed "most unlikely of Michelin-starred restaurants," EL Ideas is situated in Douglas Park and offers set, group-based seatings Tuesday through Saturday. The crew here aims to take the stuffiness out of the fine-dining experience and removes the barrier between diners and chefs through an open floor plan. Think of it like a dinner party at a new friend's home—if that friend served 10-plus courses and charged you $155 for a seat.

Restaurants, Contemporary American

Elizabeth

icon-location-pin Lincoln Square

Whimsy is the name of the game at Iliana Regan’s Lincoln Square restaurant, which is equal parts fascinating and adorable. The plates here are works of art and culinary prowess, combining unlikely ingredients like stone fruit, mushroom and pepita. Or foie gras, caramel corn and bubblegum ice cream. Look out for Regan's brilliantly themed menus, such as Dr. Seuss and Wes Anderson.

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Restaurants, Contemporary American

Elske

icon-location-pin West Loop

Translating to love in Danish, Elske is an appropriate name for a venture from husband-and-wife team David and Anna Posey. Take the guesswork out of the experience and order the semi-affordable tasting menu, priced at $90 per person, then sit back and prepare to be wowed by the unbelievably precious New American fare. Best to save room for Anna’s delightful desserts, like a sunflower seed parfait with sour honey, licorice and bee pollen.

Restaurants, American creative

Entente

icon-location-pin River North

So you’re new to the whole fine-dining thing, eh? This Lakeview spot is a good place to start. Helmed by owner Ty Fujimura and chef Brian Fisher, Entente drops pretension in favor of approachability, offering a curated menu of rotating appetizers and entrées plus food-friendly wines and cocktails. The easygoing dining room, which is often bumping Run the Jewels and Kendrick Lamar, doesn’t hurt either. Day-one favorites include the wedge salad—a halo of iceberg lettuce filled with creamy green-goddess dressing and topped with chunks of bacon, tomato puree and gobs of Cambozola cheese—and the Carolina Gold, a warm hug of a dish that’s topped with shaved truffles, pea tendrils, Parmigiano-Reggiano and a duck egg.

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Goosefoot.venue.jpg
Photograph: Martha Williams
Restaurants, Contemporary American

Goosefoot

icon-location-pin Lincoln Square

Owners Chris and Nina Nugent preside over this intimate 30-seat, BYOB-friendly Lincoln Square destination that incorporates classic French techniques with modern, playful touches. The multi-course menu goes for $145 a head (did we mention the BYOB policy and the fact that they don't charge a corkage fee?) and lasts for approximately three hours. Diners can expect wildly creative platings and intensely seasonal ingredients like summer truffle, English peas, meyer lemon and fennel.

Restaurants, French

Everest

icon-location-pin Loop

For years, Everest has lived up to its name for those looking for a lavish experience, and in the process it has become the pinnacle of high-end French dining. Atop the Chicago Stock Exchange, it is still the height of elegance, with views of the rooftops that made the city famous. Chef Jean Joho’s $165 tasting menu starts with an oceanic lobster salad paired with a smooth-as-silk cauliflower purée. From there, it’s on to carefully executed dishes such as wild Alaskan halibut, Colorado lamb and Midwestern cheese, each given some sort of Alsatian flair or French accent. If you’re looking for fancy, you found it.

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