Charlie Trotter's, Chicago, Illinois
Concierge.com's insider take:
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 shell out $145 per person to sample his seven-course tasting menus made with globally available organic ingredients. Plan way ahead for a table at this Lincoln Park town house (three months for weekends). Sample dishes include poached skate wing with red curry, 20-hour braised fennel, razor clams and herb oil, lamb loin with quinoa and black cardamom mole, and organic pears with caramelized endive and burnt-hickory-syrup ice cream. Trotter still tends the stoves, despite his culinary fame (including seven awards from the James Beard Foundation); watch him in action from the Kitchen Table (one of the most coveted spots in the house—it's set right inside the kitchen). And be prepared to linger; dinner here can take up to three hours. Sample the cuisine without the cost at Trotter's to Go.
Seatings Tuesdays through Thursdays from 6 to 6:30 pm and 9 to 9:30 pm, Fridays and Saturdays from 5:30 to 6:30 pm and 8:30 to 9:30 pm.