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Chicago restaurants

The abiding cliché regarding dining in Chicago—that it is the quintessential meat-and-potatoes town—should have been laid to rest more than a decade ago. While there are still plenty of sirloins to go around, an especially innovative generation of chefs has earned Chicago a reputation for risk-taking, high-flying food. In 1988, Charlie Trotter got things rolling with his New American cuisine. He's since been followed by chefs such as Homaro Cantu and Grant Achatz, who consistently turn out taste bud–stimulating, chemistry-lab creations—with ambitious prices to match. You'll find most of these designer kitchens clustered around the Gold Coast, River North, and the Loop. The other noteworthy trend in Chicago restaurants involves luxe renditions of global cuisine, especially at theatrical Michigan Avenue and River North dining rooms. Rick Bayless's sister kitchens, Frontera Grill and Topolobampo, have turned Chicagoans on to upscale Latin dishes, while Shanghai Terrace at the Peninsula finds a coherent seam in pan-Asian food.

Of course, there's also a wealth of cheap eats and soulful ethnic restaurants. Head to Bucktown or Wicker Park for intimate cafés, Andersonville for heartland Scandinavian food, or Devon Street for a surplus of authentic Indian restaurants. And don't leave the city without chowing down on a supremely meaty hot dog from the Wiener's Circle.

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Alinea, Chicago

Rising star and culinary rocket scientist Grant Achatz (formerly of Trio and Napa's French Laundry) raises the bar on New American cooking at his techno-chic...more

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Big Star, Chicago

This Wicker Park crowd-pleaser follows all the rules of a down-home honky-tonk (albeit a fake one). It doesn't take reservations, the decor approximates a dive...more

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Blackbird/Avec, Chicago

The neighborhood surrounding it continues to gentrify, but Paul Kahan's Mediterranean-inspired restaurant remains refreshingly simple. The service is friendly...more

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Café Spiaggia, Chicago

While the more formal Spiaggia is one of the restaurants that helped turn the Gold Coast into an haute buffet line, its Trumpified dining room (all soaring...more

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Charlie Trotter's, Chicago

Celebrity chef and local hero Charlie Trotter's shrine to "New American" cooking is still the hottest dining ticket in Chicago. Foodies from all over gladly...more

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Custom House, Chicago

Local favorite Shawn McClain is known for tinkering with tradition. His Spring adds a subtle Asian accent to seafood, and the homely vegetable won a glamorous...more

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David Burke's Primehouse, Chicago

Celebrity chef David Burke's Primehouse (part of the James Hotel) is a playful and more sophisticated interpretation of the classic steak house formula....more

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Everest, Chicago

Top-of-the-world views and nosebleed prices match Chef Jean Joho's lofty Alsatian creations at this restaurant on the 40th floor of the Chicago Stock Exchange....more

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Frontera Grill/Topolobampo, Chicago

Locals and tourists line up for gourmet Mexican fare at these lively River North twins (Topolobampo's the upscale one). Rick and Deann Bayless have been wowing...more

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Girl & the Goat, Chicago

When Stephanie Izard won season four of Top Chef, the victory was a tribute to her faultless sense of style as well as seamless cooking. Both skills pay off,...more

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Information may have changed since date of publication. Please confirm details with individual establishments before planning your trip.

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