I am an avid foodie. Whenever I visit a new city, I, first of all, explore the culinary scene there. The last time I was heading to Chicago, I did the same.
So, I have made a list of the top 16 Michelin star restaurants in Chicago to enjoy the best culinary delights of the city.
However, before I share this list, it is better to understand what a Michelin star restaurant is and how restaurants get these ratings.
What Is Michelin Star Restaurant?
Michelin star restaurants are those which have been awarded at least one star by the Michelin inspectors.
Michelin inspectors are undercover individuals who judge restaurants before awarding them a star if they deserve it. These inspectors will visit the restaurant at least 3 to 4 times before deciding whether it deserves a star or not.
A restaurant can earn anywhere between one to three stars. The number of stars denotes the following:
- One star restaurants are worth a stop.
- Two star restaurants are worth taking a detour.
- Three star restaurants are worth making a special trip. Needless to say, three stars is the highest accolade.
How Are These Restaurants Rated?
Michelin inspectors judge on different parameters like:
- Quality of food
- Cooking technique
Michelin inspectors are trained to judge restaurants. Apart from the three-star categories highlighted above, there is another award named “Bib Gourmand.” It is awarded to restaurants serving excellent quality food at affordable prices.
Michelin star restaurants Chicago serve modern cuisine and desserts with a French twist. They offer unique dishes like black sea bass, eggplant caponata, and chicken-liver mousse. It is time to look at the top restaurants in Chicago.
Top Michelin Star Restaurants in Chicago
1. Acadia Chicago
Official site: https://acadiachicago.com/
Michelin-star restaurants are considered some of the best in their respective cities, and they're looked at as top-tier establishments that offer a unique dining experience with luxury cooking techniques and ingredients.
The Michelin stars are awarded based on three criteria: quality of products, cooking mastery, and value for money. Ryan McCaskey's award-winning Acadia Chicago has a two-Michelin-starred status. It is known for its exceptional cuisine and fine dining experience.
The ocean and its bounty have always inspired the world's best chefs. In the case of Chef Ryan McCaskey, the owner of Acadia Chicago, he was inspired to create his restaurant that would showcase his love for seafood with a twist of creativity, flair, and style.
Official site: https://www.alinearestaurant.com/
This is the only three-star restaurant in Chicago. It goes by the name of Alinea.
The man behind the restaurant is Chef Grant Achatz. Under his patronage, the restaurant has earned three Michelin stars and retained them. The chef is known for culinary delights involving exotic fruits, dry ice, and unique serving ware.
It's the Helium Taffy balloons, the signature dish that has made this restaurant famous. Do not forget to try it!
With timeless interiors and fantastic food, it is the best Chicago has to offer.
Official site: https://www.ever-restaurant.com/
You did probably expect the best from a two star Michelin restaurant. You are right because Ever doesn't disappoint.
With an 8 to 10 course menu on offer, you are sure to surprise your taste buds. Couple that with a variety of protein sources from sea and land.
Good food needs to be coupled with a Good ambiance. That is why; the dining room is designed by Award-winning architect James Beard.
If you are in the mood to go the full course, visit the Michelin star restaurant.
Official site: https://www.oriolechicago.com/
Oriole is another 2 star Michelin restaurant offering unique contemporary American cuisine. The restaurant is famous for its 14-course menu.
Noah Sandoval is the chef behind the restaurant. His 14-course menu is what has made this restaurant. However, the right approach is to not check out the menu in advance and instead let it be a surprise.
Official site: https://www.smythandtheloyalist.com/
Very few restaurants can claim to put a unique twist to traditional American cuisine. Smyth is one such restaurant that does so. For the same, it has attained 2 Michelin stars.
Arguably, it offers the best burger in the city and an elevated tasting menu.
It even stands out as compared to other Michelin star restaurants. It is because it offers three different experiences.
With a tasting menu starting below $100, it is one of the most affordable Michelin star restaurants.
The restaurant does not forget to include seasonal offerings, which always gives it a unique twist.
All these culinary traits certainly make it a must-visit.
6. Moody Tongue
Official site: https://www.moodytongue.com/
How about a 2 Michelin star brewery spread across 28,600 sq ft?
Moody tongue is not only a spread-out restaurant but also one which offers a 12-course tasting menu. The man behind the idea is brewmaster Jared Rouben. When you match the 12-course menu with craft beer, it is a match made in heaven.
Across its wide area, it offers two different experiences. To gain an idea, you can even view the restaurant virtually on the official website above.
If you love beer and food, do not miss this restaurant.
Official site: http://www.elizabeth-restaurant.com/
Iliana Regan mixes art with culinary delights at Elizabeth. The restaurant likes experimenting with unique ingredients like pepita, stone fruit, etc. Consequently, it offers unique delights like caramel corn, bubblegum ice cream, and so on.
The restaurant offers not only regular menus but also birthday-themed menus or special days menus.
If you are looking for a restaurant that has something unique to offer every time you visit it, Elizabeth won't disappoint you.
Official site: https://goosefoot.net/
Goosefoot is an intimate 2 star Michelin restaurant that mixes French cooking techniques with contemporary American classics.
A multi-course menu is available for under $200 per person, which also makes it a value-for-money restaurant.
The entire course is pretty intense and offers many creative delights like Summer truffle and Meyer lemon.
Even among Michelin star restaurants, the amalgamation of French and American cuisine is considered unique. That makes the restaurant worth a visit.
Official site: https://www.makochicago.com/
Mako is a restaurant famous for its 25 courses. Apart from that, the omakase cuisine it offers brings some uniqueness to the culinary scene in Chicago.
The best thing about Mako is its change of menu according to the seasons. Of course, you might expect sushi in an omakase restaurant, and this one does have a sushi counter. The only issue is, it offers 12 seats at this counter, and there is a time limit of 2 hours. However, the unique sushi offerings and the incredible speed will undoubtedly satisfy you.
Official site: https://www.nextrestaurant.com/
The culinary offerings of Chicago are so diverse that there is even a 2 star Michelin restaurant offering themed menus. Not only that, the chefs change their menu every four months.
It might offer you tapas at the start of the year, whereas the restaurant might offer French cuisine a few months down the line. The changes, however, do not lead to any deterioration in quality and taste. That is why it has bagged 2 Michelin stars.
The presentation, taste, and quality ingredients will help you have a memorable experience.
Official site: https://www.bokachicago.com/
BOKA has been around for 16 years. It is one of the oldest restaurants to bag 1 Michelin star and retain it.
Lee Wolen, the chef behind the restaurant, is known for precise cooking techniques that have revolutionized American cuisine. On a visit to the restaurant, you would find the menu decked with unique offerings like grilled octopus with ricotta dumplings.
Every option in the menu is a mix of surprise and innovative thinking. For that alone, you shouldn't miss this restaurant.
Official site: https://www.sepiachicago.com/
The amalgamation of Southeast Asian, Korean, and American cuisine has made Sepia famous. Chef Andrew Zimmerman takes usual delicacies like Gnocchi and gives it an all-new taste and look.
Desserts like toffee coconut cake might sound simple, but with precise cooking, the chef has indeed made each delicacy special.
While the menu might not appear unique, the unique twists make this restaurant worthy of a Michelin star and a stop.
13. North Pond
Official site: http://northpondrestaurant.com/
Lincoln Park is home to multiple Michelin star restaurants, and North Pond is one among them.
Bruce Sherman's restaurant is famous for its innovative delicacies made predominantly with local produce. There is a twist to his offerings; they change rapidly.
Every time you visit the restaurant, you are sure to find something delicious and unique like Alaskan Halibut, Gulf shrimp, and so on.
The ambiance deserves mention since you can catch a sight of the pond from the window.
With this restaurant, you are coupling great food with great views.
14. EL Ideas
Official site: http://www.elideas.com/
EL Ideas is the opposite of fine-dine Michelin star restaurants. It offers group seating from Tuesday to Saturday. Not only that, it closely places diners and chefs since it has an open floor plan.
Here, the aim is to make diners feel like they are having a meal at a friend's place.
When you couple all this with precise cooking and delicious ingredients, you get the recipe of a single Michelin star.
With 10+ courses, you are sure to indulge in culinary delights of various types.
Official site: https://www.parachuterestaurant.com/
Seldom will you find a restaurant offering the mix of Korean and American cuisine on the Michelin one star list. Parachute has broken ranks to earn a place on the list.
Johnny Clark and Beverly Kim, the husband and wife duo, make sure you have a homely meal when you visit their restaurant.
The predominantly Korean menu coupled with locally sourced ingredients ensures that you have a great platter every time to satiate your hunger. With legendary delicacies like bing bread or shrimp beignets, you have plenty to choose from at this restaurant.
16. Schwa Restaurant
Official site: https://schwarestaurant.com/
From the outside, this restaurant seems like a dive bar. However, the real magic is inside.
Chef Micahel offers a 9 course tasting menu. His culinary prowess is such that the restaurant has earned a one star. Right at the start, the restaurant has a "Welcome to Schwa" drink which makes it amply clear that the offerings here are out of the box.
With carefully sourced ingredients for each delicacy, both quality and taste are at par with Michelin standards.
How to Choose Between These Michelin Restaurants?
I understand that it is not easy to choose between so many top Michelin star restaurants in Chicago. That is why; I will help you with the same.
The best way to judge a restaurant is on its cuisine. A Michelin star restaurant can certainly change your opinion about a cuisine, but you will enjoy your meal to the fullest when you opt for a restaurant offering the cuisine you already like.
Number of Michelin Stars
Of course, you need to prioritize the restaurants with a higher number of stars. When you have a three star Michelin restaurant offering a cuisine you like, there is no point in going with the one star Michelin restaurant offering similar cuisine.
Looking at the signature dishes is also an excellent way to filter a restaurant and shortlist the best one from my list above.
Judging restaurants on these three criteria will help you determine the best restaurants in Chicago from the list above.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. Which is the highest-rated Michelin restaurant?
There are numerous 3 star Michelin restaurants globally. Arguably, the most famous are Central in Peru, Alinea in Chicago, and Per se in New York city.
2. How much does Alinea Chicago cost?
Depending on the menu you choose at Alinea, it can cost you between $190 per person to $390 per person.
3. When did Michelin come to Chicago?
2011 was the first time the company started awarding Chicago restaurants with stars. Ever since then, the Michelin inspectors have visited the city numerous times.
4. What city has the most Michelin star restaurants?
Tokyo is the city with the most Michelin star restaurants. There are over 200 Michelin-star restaurants in Tokyo.
5. Who has the most Michelin stars in history?
Joël Robuchon is the chef with the highest Michelin stars at 31.
6. how many michelin star restaurants in chicago?
There There are a total of 24 Michelin-star restaurants in Chicago till 2021.
Chicago has a considerable number of Michelin-starred restaurants globally, and many are frequently opening. It is slowly becoming a foodie destination, with many new restaurants opening each year.
This place has a wide variety of restaurants to choose from, and Chicagoans are spoiled for choice when it comes to dining out. So with such a high amount of options, what's a Chicagoan to do?
Now you know what to do the next time around; you are in Chicago. Merely choose a restaurant from this list of top Michelin stars restaurants in Chicago and have an experience you will remember for life.