Zagat GOOGLE INC Travel & Local

Free App on Google Play

View

Feature

Chicago's 100 Best Restaurants: #25-1

By Sarah Freeman
December 30, 2013

The end of the year is nigh, and that means it's time to look back on 365 days of eating and drinking. To commemorate, we're counting down the top 100 restaurants in Chicago, according to our 2014 Restaurant Survey. We already gave you the first 75 (100 to 76, 75 to 51, and 50 to 26), but today, let's take a look at the restaurants the rounded out the top 25. From punk rock burgers in Avondale to a fine French establishment, a wide array of cuisines and neighborhoods are represented in this blockbuster list.

  • No. 25: Everest

    Food: 27
    Decor: 27
    Service: 27
    Cost: $117

    "Incredible" views of the city are just one of the draws at this "high-class", high-elevation Loop dining room atop the Chicago Stock Exchange, where chef Jean Joho prepares "sublime" Alsatian-influenced French prix fixe menus augmented by a "wine list that includes wonderful offerings not found elsewhere"; the "gorgeous" room is matched by top service – no surprise it's a "favorite for celebrating the biggest events."

    440 S. La Salle St.; 312-663-8920

  • No. 24: Kuma’s Corner

    Food: 27
    Decor: 17
    Service: 18
    Cost: $22

    "All hail" this "legendary" Avondale "dive" (with a newer Lakeview double) where "gigantic, inventive" burgers "named after Judas Priest, Slayer and Metallica" come in "unusual" yet "well-balanced" combinations alongside "excellent beers on tap", "good whiskeys" and a side of "loud heavy metal blasting"; yes, service can be a "bit lacking", and "boy should you expect a wait", but fans say "who cares" when the "payoff" is that "rockin'."

    2900 W. Belmont Ave.; 773-604-8769

  • No. 23: Joe’s Seafood, Prime Steak & Stone Crab

    Food: 27
    Decor: 22
    Service: 26
    Cost: $66

    "If you can't get to Miami Beach", fans recommend this River North echo of the famed Florida original, where steaks are "cooked just right" and the "high-quality" seafood includes "not-to-be-missed" stone crab; it's all served by "charming, unpretentious" staffers in "bustling" dark wood–accented digs, and if the "special-occasion" tabs make some "crabby", well you can always go when "someone else is paying."

    60 E. Grand Ave.; 312-379-5637

  • No. 22: Mixteco Grill

    Food: 27
    Decor: 17
    Service: 22
    Cost: $30

    "Interesting, flavorful" fare, including "excellent moles", is what it's about at this midpriced Lakeview Mexican that pairs its "delicious" dishes with a BYO policy ("what could be better?"); the colorful modest space is decorated with framed art, and since it's small, it can get "crowded" fast.

    1601 W. Montrose Ave.; 773-868-1601

  • No. 21: Longman & Eagle

    Food: 27
    Decor: 21
    Service: 23
    Cost: $42

    "Expect the hipsters" at this "in-demand" Logan Square New American where a "clear affection for niche ingredients" results in "exciting", "absolutely delicious" fare, including an "especially decadent" brunch; a "ridiculous" whiskey list and "killer" cocktails are other reasons to go, but "come early or plan on waiting" as it doesn't take reservations; P.S. if you overindulge, you can get a room upstairs and "sleep it off while your liver mends."

    2657 N. Kedzie Ave.; 773-276-7110

  • No. 20: Arami

    Food: 27
    Decor: 22
    Service: 23
    Cost: $47

    A "favorite for sushi", this "hip, urban" West Town storefront delivers "fresh, imaginative" rolls alongside other highly rated Japanese dishes including small plates, noodles and robata grill items; service is "helpful" in the "relaxing" "spa"-like setting done up in bamboo and exposed brick, and prices are moderate.

    1829 W. Chicago Ave.; 312-243-1535

  • No. 19: MK

    Food: 27
    Decor: 25
    Service: 26
    Cost: $72

    Given the "inventive", "always changing" seasonal menu, "well-prepared" dishes and "excellent" wine list, regulars insist you "won't go wrong" at Michael Kornick's Near North New American; "professional" staffers work the "high-energy" space that's "elegant without being stuffy", so all in all it's a "special-occasion" "go-to" – with "special-occasion" tabs to match.

    868 N. Franklin St.; 312-482-9179

  • No. 18: Girl & the Goat

    Food: 27
    Decor: 24
    Service: 25
    Cost: $58

    "Believe the hype" say fans of this spendy West Loop "blockbuster" where "genius" Stephanie Izard takes diners on a New American "culinary adventure" courtesy of "mind blowingly interesting" small plates including "brilliant" nose-to-tail creations ("how is it possible for pig face to be so delicious?"); the "warm", "casual" digs have a "lively" (some say "noisy") buzz and service is "knowledgeable", so many are left with but "one wish" – to be able to "get in more often."

    809 W. Randolph St.; 312-492-6262

  • No. 17: Gaetano’s

    Food: 27
    Decor: 21
    Service: 24
    Cost: $58

    "Prepare for an experience" at this smallish Forest Park Italian, where the "talented" chef delivers "completely unexpected", praiseworthy dishes available à la carte or in "unbelievable" tasting menus; service earns strong marks too in the upscale-casual space, and while tabs aren't cheap, fans still consider it "affordable" given the quality.

    7636 Madison St.; River Forest; 708-366-4010

  • No. 16: Over Easy Cafe

    Food: 27
    Decor: 22
    Service: 25
    Cost: $16

    "Traditional and contemporary breakfast and brunch favorites" draw 'em in to this Ravenswood BYO, where the "wonderful" American eats feature "interesting", "gourmet" twists; the "inviting" space is small, and since it's "typically crowded on weekends" lines can be "long", but luckily the "attentive" staff works "fast."

    4943 N. Damen Ave.; 773-506-2605

  • No. 15: Courtright’s

    Food: 27
    Decor: 27
    Service: 27
    Cost: $69

    "Delicious" dishes and a "beautiful location" in the Willow Springs forest preserve help put this fine-dining American on the map; service gets high marks too, and while tabs are costly, at least you're assured a "memorable meal."

    8989 Archer Ave., Willow Springs; 708-839-8000

  • No. 14: Tru

    Food: 27
    Decor: 27
    Service: 28
    Cost: $150

    When you want to "splurge and impress", fans suggest this Streeterville "fine-dining" destination that "hits all the high notes", from Anthony Martin's "artistic, creative and sublimely delicious" contemporary French tasting menus to the "thoughtfully paced flow of courses" overseen by a "personable" staff; the "elegant" art-filled dining room (jackets required) further ups the ante, and while the cost may make it a "once-in-a-lifetime" meal for some, at least it's a "truly special" one.

    676 N. St Clair St.; 312-202-0001

  • Photo by: Anthony Thalier

    No. 13: Acadia

    Food: 27
    Decor: 25
    Service: 24
    Cost: N/A

    A "special-occasion place", this seafood-focused South Loop New American impresses with Ryan McCaskey's "imaginative", "delicious" prix fixe meals presented "beautifully" in a "sleek, modern" space with "natural accents"; "helpful" staffers "genuinely care", and while "expensive" prices match the "fine-dining" cuisine, you can always "stop by the bar" for a more affordable "spur-of-the-moment" meal.

    1639 S. Wabash Ave.; 312-360-9500

  • No. 12: Avec

    Food: 28
    Decor: 23
    Service: 24
    Cost: $48

    "Small plates at their best" can be found at this "energetic" West Loop Mediterranean, Blackbird's more "casual", less expensive sibling that's "still going strong" with "delicious" "elevated comfort food" (including "mandatory" chorizo-stuffed dates) dispensed by a "friendly, helpful" crew; the "teeny" space has a "festive", "lively" vibe, and while "social" communal seats "may not be for everyone" and "no reservations can mean a wait", it's still one of the "most consistently great" choices in town; P.S. it now serves brunch.

    615 W. Randolph St.; 312-377-2002

  • No. 11: Takashi

    Food: 28
    Decor: 23
    Service: 25
    Cost: $66

    Fans are "blown away" by "true master" Takashi Yagihashi's "inspired", "soulful" New American–New French dishes at this Bucktown destination, where the "beautifully" presented Japanese-tinged dishes are set down by a "courteous" crew; the "cozy" space has an "understated upscale" vibe, and "pricey" tabs go hand in hand with the "fine-dining" experience.

    1952 N. Damen Ave.; 773-772-6170

  • No. 10: Topolobampo

    Food: 28
    Decor: 24
    Service: 26
    Cost: $70

    "Tops in its category", Rick Bayless' "world-class" River North destination ranks as a "magnificent experience", offering "wow"-worthy, "high-end" "nuevo" Mexican meals made up of "innovative", "flavorful" dishes plus "don't-miss" margaritas and "excellent" wines; its "upper-crust" atmosphere ("totally different from Frontera next door") further explains the "premium" prices, while "welcoming, passionate" staffers are another reason to "keep going back" (if you can "snag a table").

    445 N. Clark St.; 312-661-1434

  • No. 9: Riccardo Trattoria

    Food: 28
    Decor: 21
    Service: 25
    Cost: $49

    It's "just like being in Italy" at this "cozy" Lincoln Park Italian that's "still one of the best after all these years" thanks to its "delicate", "simply wonderful" fare; service is "helpful" and the "relaxed" atmosphere is "romantic" enough for a date, and while it's not inexpensive, it's still deemed "reasonable" "given the quality"; P.S. when it's "hard to get in" you can try its newer enoteca sister across the street.

    2119 N. Clark St.; 773-549-0038

  • No. 8: Les Nomades

    Food: 28
    Decor: 26
    Service: 28
    Cost: $126

    "One of the last classic French white-tablecloth occasion restaurants", this Streeterville destination set in an "elegant" townhouse dispenses chef Roland Liccioni's "perfectly executed" plates paired with an "amazing wine list"; maybe it "costs a fortune", but "impeccable" service helps, and anyway, devotees swear it's "as good as it is expensive"; P.S. jackets required.

    222 E. Ontario St.; 312-649-9010

  • Photo by: Galdones Photography

    No. 7: El Ideas

    Food: 28
    Decor: 20
    Service: 26
    Cost: $189

    "Genius" chef Phillip Foss has "reinvented fine dining" at this Pilsen New American where he prepares an "original", "standout" tasting menu in "intimate" (read: tiny) digs with decor so simple it has a "kind of pop-up feel"; the open kitchen "allows you to interact with the chef", so "real foodies" shrug off big-ticket prices since it's "more like an experience" than a meal – just "bring some nice wine" as it's BYO.

    2419 W. 14th St.; 312-226-8144

  • No. 6: Schwa

    Food: 28
    Decor: 15
    Service: 23
    Cost: $143

    "Super high-end food without the attitude" describes Michael Carlson's "very small" Wicker Park BYO where a "hyper-creative", "well-executed" New American tasting menu is delivered by the chefs themselves; "less than minimalist" decor "fits the vibe", and it all adds up to a "singular dining experience", so even with spendy tabs, reservations are "nearly impossible to come by."

    1466 N. Ashland Ave.; 773-252-1466

  • No. 5: Ruxbin

    Food: 28
    Decor: 24
    Service: 24
    Cost: $45

    "Come early or be prepared to wait" at this Noble Square Eclectic, where Edward Kim puts together an "amazing" menu of "inventive", "high-end" "comfort food"; "small" digs lead to "crowded" conditions ("every inch of space is claimed"), and it doesn't accept reservations (except on Sundays), but service is "welcoming", and the BYO policy makes it an "incredible value"; P.S. don't forget to check out one of the "best bathrooms in the city."

    851 N. Ashland Ave.; 312-624-8509

  • No. 4: Alinea

    Food: 29
    Decor: 28
    Service: 29
    Cost: $273

    "Expect to be wowed" at Grant Achatz's "unrivaled" Lincoln Park New American, a "culinary experience of a lifetime" (and Chicago's Most Popular restaurant) where "transcendent flavors", "unforgettable, artistic presentation" and "mind-blowing technique" highlight a multicourse tasting menu that's akin to "going on a food safari"; "über-modern" decor is enhanced by "interactive, accommodating" staffers, and while you may need to "bring the Brink's truck" to pay, well, that might be the cost of "foodie heaven."

    1723 N. Halsted St.; 312-867-0110

  • No. 3: Next

    Food: 29
    Decor: 26
    Service: 29
    Cost: $175

    Part "foodie dinner theater", part "culinary adventure", Grant Achatz's West Loop Eclectic presents a "simply mind-blowing", often-changing themed tasting menu prepared with an "unmatched" level of detail and "impeccably presented" by an "exemplary", "professional" staff that earns top Service honors in Chicago; the modern, high-style space provides a fitting backdrop, and given the "stunningly good" offerings, sky-high prices barely register – just note you'll need to score a "hard-to-get" online ticket in order to go.

    953 W. Fulton Mkt.; 312-226-0858

  • No. 2: Vie

    Food: 29
    Decor: 25
    Service: 28
    Cost: $69

    City dwellers say this Western Springs New American is "worth the travel" to the 'burbs for Paul Virant's "exceptional" New American cooking that showcases "the season's best" ingredients in "outstanding" "fine-dining" dishes; the space is "warm and inviting but still elegant", and "impeccable" service further justifies the spendy tabs.

    4471 Lawn Ave., Western Springs; 708-246-2082

  • No. 1: Katsu

    Food: 29
    Decor: 19
    Service: 24
    Cost: $61

    "If you crave real Japanese sushi" (and "not Westernized maki rolls") fans say "don't miss" this Northwest Side stalwart where chef-owner Katsu Imamura makes use of "excellent-quality" ingredients in his "expertly prepared" fare ("one word: omakase"), earning it top Food honors in Chicago; "friendly" staffers work the minimalist space, and "expensive" tabs aren't a surprise given the highly rated offerings.

    2651 W. Peterson Ave.; 773-784-3383

  /  

Places Mentioned

Vie Restaurant

American • Western Springs

Food28 Decor24 Service27 Cost$74
 
 
 
Katsu Japanese Restaurant

Japanese • West Rogers Park

Food28 Decor21 Service25 Cost$57
 
 
 
Les Nomades

French • Streeterville

Food27 Decor26 Service26 Cost$172
 
 
 
Longman & Eagle

American • Logan Square

Food27 Decor23 Service24 Cost$41
 
 
 
Topolobampo

Mexican • River North

Food27 Decor25 Service26 Cost$85
 
 
 
Girl & the Goat

Seafood • West Loop

Food27 Decor25 Service26 Cost$65
 
 
 
Avec Restaurant

Mediterranean • West Loop

Food28 Decor24 Service25 Cost$48
 
 
 
takashi.

French • Bucktown

Food28 Decor23 Service25 Cost$95
 
 
 
Acadia

American • South Loop

Food26 Decor24 Service24 Cost$95
 
 
 
EL ideas

American • Lawndale

Food- Decor- Service- CostVE
 
 
 
Ruxbin

American • Noble Square

Food26 Decor20 Service24 Cost$47
 
 
 
Everest Restaurant

French • The Loop

Food26 Decor26 Service26 Cost$156
 
 
 
Tru

French • Streeterville

Food25 Decor26 Service25 Cost$160
 
 
 
Kuma's Too

Burger • Lakeview

Food27 Decor19 Service20 Cost$22
 
 
 
Arami

Japanese • East Village

Food27 Decor22 Service24 Cost$73
 
 
 
Schwa Restaurant

American • Wicker Park

Food25 Decor18 Service24 Cost$142
 
 
 
MK

American • River North

Food27 Decor25 Service26 Cost$69
 
 
 
Kuma's Corner

Avondale

Food27 Decor19 Service20 Cost$22
 
 
 
Alinea

Lincoln Park

Food28 Decor27 Service28 Cost$293
 
 
 
Next Restaurant

Eclectic • West Loop

Food27 Decor25 Service27 Cost$293
 
 
 
 
Stay in-the-know with our weekly Chicago newsletter.
 
comments powered by Disqus