What are Chicago’s hottest restaurants?

Answers from Our Experts (2)

Shanghai Terrace is The Peninsula Chicago’s pièce de résistance in the realm of Shanghainese and Cantonese cuisine. The Terrace is casual and contemporary, refined and relaxed, and, without question, the pinnacle of Chinese cuisine in Chicago.

I would, of course, be remiss if I failed to mention Alinea, the worthy recipient of a host of accolades. Alinea is the undeniably forward-thinking, deconstructed and hypermodern creation of chef/owner Grant Achatz. In league with Per Se, The Fat Duck and Pierre Gagnaire, Alinea is as cutting-edge and hot as it gets.

Lauren Viera

The list is long but varied both in cuisine and location—good news if you’re interested in trying a few on your next visit.

At the top is Grace, perhaps the most anticipated opening of the past year. At Grace’s helm is chef-owner Curtis Duffy, whose resume reads like a punch card of the top restaurants in Chicago’s culinary history (Charlie Trotter’s, Trio, Alinea, Avenues), and who has since risen to recognition as one of the top chefs in the country.

Selling itself as “new gatherer” cuisine (everything is foraged, whether from forests or farms or really good provisioners elsewhere), Elizabeth opened last fall and has been met with fondness among the local dining elite. Reservations are handled via a ticket system—the same one used by Grant Achatz’s nonpareil restaurants Next and Alinea—and dining experiences are staged based on the number of desired courses.

Brindille (pronounced brawn-DEE) is the follow-up to renown chef and restaurateur Carrie Nahabedian’s Naha, which over its decade in business has not faltered with Chicago’s increasingly discerning tastes. In the same neighborhood is Nahabedian’s just-opened French bistro, a sexy yet refined addition to the white-tablecloth dining scene.

Chicago is no longer wanting for Macau cuisine thanks to Fat Rice. A blend of its owners’ heritage—Chinese and Portuguese, the same cultures celebrated in this special far-eastern region—Fat Rice was the sleeper hit of last fall’s new-openings season, and has become a destination dining room on a busy corner in Logan Square.

A kind of a sequel to chef Ryan Poli’s Tavernita, the Gold Coast’s Little Market Brasserie is the new go-to for casual bistro fare in a neighborhood overrun with white tablecloths and lounges. Deviled eggs and charged cocktails—housemade sodas mixable with spirits of your choice—present win-win choices.

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