Take a culinary tour around the heart of Chicago as we introduce you to its Michelin-starred restaurants, which are the city’s culinary treasures. Elevating dining to an art form, these establishments redefine excellence, showcasing innovation and mastery in every dish. From the allure of avant-garde cuisine to the timeless classics executed with precision, each Michelin-starred venue tells a unique story. Join us in this culinary exploration, where we delve into the exquisite world of Chicago’s Best Michelin Star Restaurants. Whether you’re a connoisseur seeking the epitome of fine dining or an adventurous spirit eager to discover, these culinary havens promise an unforgettable journey through flavors that define the pinnacle of Chicago’s culinary scene. Get ready to savor the extraordinary and experience the heights of gastronomic brilliance in the Windy City.
Located in Chicago’s beautiful Lincoln Park neighborhood, Alinea offers diners more than just a meal. Alinea is one of only fourteen restaurants in the country with three Michelin stars. The cuisine is whimsical and imaginative, and executive chef Douglas Alley frequently changes the multi-course tasting menu. Alinea’s menu is ever-changing, which is what makes the dining experience so continually alluring. My personal favorite dish is the Tomato Watermelon Parmesan. However, that’s not to say I haven’t frequently indulged in the Wagyu Rice Myoga or the Pork Belly Curry Banana.
Oriole is an unsuspecting restaurant tucked away in an alley in the West Loop neighborhood. Executive chef Noah Sandoval changes the fifteen-course tasting menu every two weeks, earning the restaurant both of its Michelin stars with contemporary cuisine. Oriole’s modern interior is warm and welcoming, and the knowledgeable staff creates a homey environment. While the tasting menu at Oriole rotates, the wine list typically skews white. So, I am more enthusiastic about the cocktails crafted by Julia Momose of Bar Kumiko. Spirit-free pairings are also available for those who prefer their beverages non-alcoholic.
Smyth is yet another West Loop gem, with an informal atmosphere and an open kitchen that allows you to watch chefs John and Karen Shields craft their modern cuisine. The frequently evolving menu takes inspiration from the Shields’ time in Smyth County, Virginia, and uses local, seasonal produce. Smyth has earned itself two well-deserved Michelin stars and offers delicious wine pairings. During our visit, the meal lasted about two and a half hours. The knowledgeable staff guided us through the entire experience while explaining each dish as it was served. The multi-course menu frequently evolves based on what local ingredients are available at the time, so you never know exactly what you’re in for, which is part of its lasting appeal.
EL ideas take its name from Chicago’s favorite form of public transit, the EL train. The seatings are pre-paid, encouraging patrons to linger and enjoy their full meal experience “Experience” is the only appropriate word for what Chef Phillip Foss provides. Chef Foss creates dishes that challenge conventional methods of preparing, presenting, and consuming foods. Courses may be inhaled, licked off the plates, or eaten by hand. The Michelin star restaurant has an open kitchen and a warm, friendly environment. The friendly staff explains every dish as it’s presented to you. The tasting menu at EL ideas is quirky and experimental. EL ideas are open from seven pm to ten pm, Tuesdays through Thursdays, seven pm to twelve am on Fridays, and 5:30 pm to twelve am on Saturdays.
Ever’s executive chef, Curtis Duffy, can’t stop winning Michelin stars. Every restaurant Duffy’s cooked at has earned Michelin stars before making Ever’s two. The eight to ten-course seasonal menu changes frequently and lasts between two and two and a half hours. This restaurant is so desirable, it releases reservations two to three months in advance. Multiple servers attended our table, making the service seamless. Ever has no dress code, and any dietary restriction communicated 72 hours in advance is accommodated, making the dining experience pleasant and welcoming. Carefully curated wine pairings are available.
Another Lincoln Park high-point, Goosefoot’s chefs, Chris and Nina Nugent, apply a French preparation technique to modern cuisine. Goosefoot works with local farmers to tailor their multi-course tasting menu. The seasonally inspired menu changes frequently. The one Michelin star restaurant is BYOB, but there is a liquor store conveniently located next door where you can pick up a bottle before your meal. The staff treats customers with extreme courtesy, making the environment deeply hospitable. Goosefoot offers three seatings: 5:45 pm, 7:45 pm, and 8:30 pm.
Mako’s chef, B.K. Park earned the restaurant its Michelin star by perfecting the omakase method of sushi preparation. The seasonal menu relies heavily on fish and seafood for both the sushi and cooked dishes. Chef Park has curated wine and sake pairings for each dish, but you can bring your own bottle for a corkage fee. Specialty cocktails are also available. With only twenty-two seats, Mako’s intimate setting in the West Loop neighborhood was warm and welcoming when we arrived. The small seating capacity allows staff to provide customers with ample individual attention. My favorite dish here is Zuwaigani, which is a masterful mashup of snow crab, kani miso, and tozazu jelly.
As the name suggests, Moody Tongue Brewing Company specializes in beer. Dining is available in the bar or the dining room. The bar offers a menu of elevated bar food, while Chef Jared Wentworth crafts seasonal, seafood-focused tasting menus for the dining room. Brewmaster Jared Rouben uses the sixteen draft beers to create pairings for the two to two and a half-hour meal experience. I found the restaurant to be warm and ambient. The bar is elegant and modern, with a vast library of vintage brewing books complete with a fireplace. The Michelin Guide named Moody Tongue Brewing Company one of the most romantic restaurants in Chicago, so dress to impress! A bottle of Smoked Applewood Gold beer accentuated my Alaskan Halibut perfectly. Ending the meal with Tres Leches Cake was almost too good to be true.
Next restaurant’s playful prixe fix menu has earned twenty-one four-star reviews. Chefs Grant Achatz and Nick Kokonas craft fun-themed meals which earned Next a Michelin star. The kind and knowledgeable staff provide insight into each dish as you eat in the minimalist, modern dining room. Wine and non-alcoholic beverage pairings are available. Affiliated with Alinea, Next is open from five pm to eleven pm on Wednesdays through Sundays.
North Pond is located in Lincoln Park on the edge of the titular pond and has a striking view of the Chicago skyline. Chef Cesar Murillo works with small farms to curate seasonal menus and accommodates communicated food allergies and dietary restrictions. The building was initially erected in 1912 as a warming shelter for ice skaters and now provides ambiance and atmosphere for both dinner and brunch. The dedicated staff explains every dish as they’re delivered. I ordered the Duck Cherries, a masterfully assembled dish made up of smoked and cured duck breast, spring mix, guinness mustard, Ellis Farm preserved cherries, quail egg, and candied pecans. The chocolate lavender cake might as well have been sent straight down from heaven.
Schwa’s head chef, Michael Carlson, earned the restaurant its Michelin star by re-imagining the ways chefs can present minimalist cuisine. The restaurant fuses simplicity with imagination, and every dish is administered by the chefs who prepare them. Much to my surprise, Schwa bumped old-school rap and hip-hop throughout our entire meal. I was immediately enamored with the basil julep, which is delicately served with a puff of basil-scented air. My best friend chose to dine on the wagyu, which builds its plate out with black garlic, smoked onion, and huckleberry.
Elske offers an ala carte and set menu created by executive chef David Posey. The restaurant has received many accolades for its seasonal dishes, including duck liver tart with buckwheat and pickled ramps. Elske is the Danish word for “love,” and its environment reflects that. The one Michelin star restaurant has an open patio and an open-air campfire. As soon as I saw a lamb dish pop off the menu, I couldn’t wait for it to arrive at our table. It was worth the wait, as the roasted lamb saddle and sausage is complemented with cauliflower, fennel, and smoked dates. The dark chocolate sorbet with ollebrod and hazelnut was just as amazing to top off the entire experience.
Boka’s been offering excellent American cuisine for eighteen years. Executive Chef Lee Wolen creates ala carte items and an eight-course seasonal tasting menu. Boka partners with local farms to craft the daily shifting tasting menus. Boka’s comfy interior and plush banquets earned the restaurant its Michelin star. Boka is open Sunday through Thursday, from five pm to nine pm and five pm to ten pm on Friday and Saturday. On Sunday evening I dined at Boka, a perfectly prepared grilled short rib found its way to my table. Completing the dish were spring onion, artichoke, and bordelaise. My sister-in-law went with the roasted chicken, which was filled out with asparagus, maitake, and sherry. With the perfect wine pairing, it was indeed a night to remember.
Claudia, named after executive chef Trever Teich’s mother, offers three tasting experiences. The Claudia is eight to ten courses over three hours, The Chef’s Table serves ten to fifteen courses over four hours, and The Bar at Claudia offers cocktails and an ala carte menu. The one Michelin star restaurant located in Bucktown has a relaxed, contemporary setting and is open from 5:30 pm to 11:30 pm Wednesday through Sunday. The bar and lounge cocktails might be worth the visit alone. I couldn’t get over how creative and imaginative the cocktail menu was. In particular, Forbidden Fruit caught my attention, a blend of malt whiskeys and fuji apples with a hint of madeira. Dreamcatcher was also fantastic, blending cognac and brown butter with the house horchata.
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When it comes to local restaurant recommendations, we pride ourselves on being a reliable and trustworthy resource. Our suggestions are not just based on our personal experiences, ensuring a more authentic and well-rounded perspective, but also on extensive online research. We diligently searched the internet and reviewed 6 credible sites and blogs, including Choosechicago.com and Guide.michelin.com.
We compiled all the findings in one location and sorted them by the frequency of mentions to ensure you receive top-notch recommendations. We strive to present you with a curated list of establishments that truly stand out, allowing you to enjoy the best dining experiences possible.
Interested in the sources we consulted? Check out the list of all 6 sites we referenced below this paragraph, offering transparency and an opportunity for our readers to explore further. Our commitment is to deliver trustworthy and unparalleled recommendations, helping you make informed decisions on your culinary journeys.