As the country sees more urban growth and consumption, cities are getting more attention for their flourishing food scenes. It seems that there are hundreds of incredible high-end restaurants and delicious holes-in-the-wall in any major metropolis. I wanted to focus on one city whose restaurant industry has undergone quite a rapid transformation: Chicago.
Famous for its deep-dish and Chicago dogs, the windy city has lots more to offer than those two wonderful–if plumping–comfort foods. The Chicago fine dining scene has seen a monumental evolution over the past few years. Previously known for its ornate institutions requiring formal attire, the city has seen a huge rise in quick, convenient, and customizable restaurants; a “casualization” of fine dining, if you will. These include spinoffs of high-end institutions such as Buzz Bait Taqueria, as well as transplants from other cities like NYC’s Halal Guys. Despite this new emerging market, however, Chicago remains a phenomenal destination for fine dining–often with a casual twist. Here are some of my favorites.
Featuring a single, seasonally driven tasting menu of between 18 and 22 courses, the New American restaurant is one for the bucket list. Now something of a Chicago institution, it offers a “delicious, fun, emotional, and provocative” dining experience. It is the only restaurant in Chicago to have earned the coveted Michelin 3-star rating. Alinea is famous for the presentation and creativity of its dishes, impeccable dishes, and delicious food. Though it’s currently closed for renovations, I would highly recommend planning a trip there pronto–if you can stomach the hefty price tag.
Husband and wife Jake Bickelhaupt and Alexa Welsh started the now-critically acclaimed 42 Grams as a “guestaurant” in their own apartment. Eventually, they were lucky enough to find a chicken place that had just closed right underneath their apartment, and the restaurant was born. 42 Grams puts a strong emphasis not only on the food, but a good connection with the chef and the front of the house. An evening at the restaurant is much like attending a private dinner party at a friend’s home–if the friend was a Michelin 2-star fine dining chef.
Goosefoot is a Chicago fine dining restaurant that endeavors to create an aesthetic that mirrors the food and service philosophies of the space: modern, smart, elegant and approachable. Featuring 8- and 12-course prix fixe menus filled with elegant and brilliant concoctions AND a BYOB policy, Goosefoot offers its patrons a truly wonderful experience.