Alinea experiments with textures, temperatures and distinctively unique flavors. The modern cuisine mixes ingredients from different cultures and American, like the miso mayo or a take on Vietnamese “chao turn” to the favorite ravioli with black truffle. All dishes are works of art. The prix fixe menu—for two to six guests—features seasonal dishes between 12 and 14 courses.
Alinea, 1723 N Halsted St Chicago, IL 60614 312-867-0110
High-end French restaurant Tru is a progressive showcase for the culinary specialties of fine modern cuisine, and they are known for their caviar menu with 10 hand-selected options. There are also museum-worthy contemporary art pieces making a gallery of sorts, and the dishes are beautifully plated.
Tru, 678 N St. Clair St Chicago, IL 60611 312-202-0001
This sleek, contemporary space confidently shows off the prowess of New American cuisine. The duck, charred baby octopus and other seafood dishes are standards, and the dessert menu gets rave reviews, as does the personalized service.
MK Restaurant, 868 N Franklin St Chicago, IL 60610 312-482-9179
Located in Westloop, Blackbird is still one of Chicago’s most iconic restaurants. The seasonal menu has astounding blends of seasonal pairings, and layers of duality here make the dishes. Pastry Chef Dana Cree has a list of cheese plates that are a must-try, as is the endive salad with potatoes and a poached egg.
Blackbird, 619 W Randolph St Chicago, IL 60661 312-715-0708
Girl & the Goat
This is a modern global menu paired with steps outside of the box – like the roasted beet salad with green beans, white anchovy and avocado creme fraiche with bread crumbs on top. An inspiring, creative desert is the miso-butterscotch budino with bacon toffee, glazed pineapple and candied cashews. Girl & the Goat is a fun, lively experience that serves plates family-style. Also, the rustic environment is relaxed, with a comfortable lounge area as well as standard tables.
Girl & the Goat, 809 W Randolph St Chicago, IL 60607 312-492-6262
Mixed with the creativity of Alinea and presentation of other worthy upscale restaurants, EL Ideas is a BYOB haven for experimental dishes. Foodies and adventurers diners will love the menu that ranges from items ingredients from french fries with ice cream to vinegar foam. An unlikely Michelin-starred restaurant, it is a fun experiment that is at the forefront of defining the atmosphere of Chicago fine dining.
EL Ideas, 2419 W 14th St Chicago, IL 60608 312-226-8144
Chef Iliana Regan serves an altogether different experience at Elizabeth. Her ‘new gatherer’ cuisine is served like a whimsical, upscale Thanksgiving dinner. Rotating menus have included deer, sea peas and woodlands. If you’re able to, take advantage of the wine pairings for an extra $100, which are spot on with generous pours. However, best to save up for this, because most patrons spend around $300-$500 here, and it’s well worth it. Call for the latest menu options.
Elizabeth, 4835 N Western Ave Chicago, IL 60625 773-681-0651
Schwa only has room for 30 diners in its tiny interior and everyone needs to have reservations weeks in advance. The menu changes frequently, but with chef Michael Carlson, you’ll experience art as food. A large community of chefs communicates with each other and guests to create the most satisfying menus. Dishes range from rare snails harvested from France to Midwestern vegetables.
Schwa, 1466 N Ashland Ave Chicago, IL 60622 773-252-1466