a person pouring sauce into a bowl of food
Copyright: Michael Muser for 'Ever' Chicago.

23 and Chicago have a special relationship, am I right? One word: Jordan. Now, there’s another meaningful number 23 in Chicago. Yes, it’s food.

There are plenty of ways to find an incredible meal without consulting a guide, but when you’re coming to an unfamiliar city, or want something almost guaranteed to be great, the Michelin Guide can be quite handy.

If Chicago is calling, you’ve got a handful of newly recognized Michelin Star options and more than a handful of classics who have held onto their elusive accolades. The windy city picked up 23 Michelin Starred spots in the latest guide.

The secret inspectors behind the guide put these restaurants through their paces and the idea is that if they make it through the secret tests, Michelin Stars may await on the other side.

Stars can be life changing for restaurants coming out of the pandemic, but can also carry so much weight that chefs ask to be removed from the hallowed guide, due to the overwhelming demand. Regulars don’t often love making reservations months in advance, or waiting on lines.

Here’s a look at Chicago’s Michelin dining scene, a few ways to help secure a table and why you might want to do that sooner than later.

a person pouring sauce into a bowl of food
Copyright: Michael Muser for ‘Ever’ Chicago.

Chicago Is Getting Well Deserved Dining Credibility

Chicago, arguably, was put on the global culinary map by Grant Achatz. Some would say other names like Rick Bayless or Stephanie Izard, but Achatz three Michelin starred Alinea made it “Netflix” big.

As a star on the first season of the Netflix show “Chef’s Table”, Achatz inspiring story of cancer survivor turned not one, not two, but three Michelin starred chef brought major eyeballs to this long budding Midwest culinary scene.

And yes, Rick Bayless and others were crushing the Chicago dining game long before the show, but nothing shines a light quite like streaming services these days. With that new light, places like Stephanie Izard’s ‘Girl And The Goat‘ started to finally get the cred they long deserved. Michelin started taking a more granular look at this wonderful city.

4 New Michelin Starred Chicago Restaurants

Alinea achieved what few are able to in the 2022 Michelin Guide, holding onto its hallowed place on the list with the top rating of three Michelin Stars. Plenty of other Chicago area restaurants, 19 in fact, held onto stars as well, with four newcomers.

Yep, four “new” restaurants picked up their first stars, signaling an even more delicious future for the city. Buzzing spots like Kasama, Claudia, Esme and Galit all won their first stars, adding to the Chicago footprint.

Refined spots including ‘Oriole‘, ‘Smyth‘, ‘Moody Tongue‘ and ‘Ever‘ also earned two Michelin Stars, which is a massive achievement. Chicago now has a total of 18 one star restaurants, which should nicely spread out the interests. Many new spots also picked up ‘Bib Gourmand’ listings, just short of a star, but very worthy of a meal.

From experience, Bib Gourmand spots can be a sweet spot. Easier reservations and hunger to earn that star create a magical proposition for diners.

Chicago had 24 Michelin Starred spots on the last Michelin Guide, but on the hardcourt theme, that number is better suited in Los Angeles. 23 and Chicago just go really well.

a group of chefs in a kitchen
Chef Jose Andres

Tips For Getting Michelin Starred Restaurants Tables

The $20 bill doesn’t go too far these days in US restaurants, but something else in your wallet might. Hint: it’s plastic, or metal. It’s also rectangular.

Amex, Capital One and Chase have entered intense dining battles in recent years, with each card issuer acquiring dining reservation companies and foodie partnerships to add value to cardholders. If it makes it easier to grab reservations, why not, right?

Amex bought Resy and now has the ‘Platinum Dining’ collection. This duo unlocks top tables at top spots. Not to be outdone, Capital One partnered with the Michelin Guide directly and created its own Capital One Dining, powered by SevenRooms. Capital One also launched partnerships with the James Beard Foundation, to corner the market.

And with Capital One Dining, Capital One cardholders have tables set aside at over 300 restaurants nationwide, curated by celebrity chef Jose Andres. For what it’s worth, the Michelin Guide partnership also provides exclusive access to tastings and events with the chefs behind many of these meals.

Chase is quickly gaining share as well, with the ‘Tock’ platform behind Chase Dining. Members can earn points and unlock exclusive experiences and delivery from top places. During the pandemic, that even included to-go boxes from ‘Masa’ one of the greatest sushi spots in the world. Albeit, one of the most expensive too.

Chicago Sounds Delicious Right Now

As the world gets back to travel, unique dining experiences can bring some of the best memories. Chefs at this level want to showcase the most unique regional ingredients, techniques or history and that in itself is art.

If you’re trying to secure a Michelin Starred table, these partnerships are definitely the best way to go. With 23 Michelin Starred spots to choose from in Chicago, put on your best Jordan’s and come hungry.

Gilbert Ott

Gilbert Ott is an ever curious traveler and one of the world's leading travel experts. His adventures take him all over the globe, often spanning over 200,000 miles a year and his travel exploits are regularly...

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