[updated July 2021]
This article is your guide to 2020’s Michelin star restaurants in Chicago.
Chicago is an incredible city with so much history, culture, and cuisine to experience. It’s a cultural and culinary melting pot —a hub for creative artists and innovators. The fine-dining scene in Chicago is especially exceptional. There are nearly a dozen Michelin star restaurants in Chicago! Let’s explore them.
PRO TIP: Winter is the perfect time to indulge at Chicago’s best restaurants. Not only are they a great refuge from the brutal winters, but there’s an event that goes on every winter that you should not miss…Chicago Restaurant Week.
Chicago Restaurant Week takes place every year between the end of January and the beginning of February. If you’re lucky enough to be able to visit Chicago during this time, you absolutely must take advantage!
During Chicago Restaurant Week, restaurants create special menus that highlight their most celebrated dishes. These are often 3 or 4-course price-fix menus that allow you to choose an appetizer, an entree, and a dessert. You’ll get to sample more dishes & get the feel of a particular restaurant.
Looking for other date night ideas in Chicago besides dining out? Check out these incredible date ideas.
10 Michelin star-rated restaurants in Chicago
COVID UPDATE: Temporarily closed. Tentative reopening scheduled for September. You can support this restaurant by purchasing their Bing Back Cookbook (available for sale on the website).
Avondale’s Parachute restaurant gained a Michelin star in 2020. It’s a hip Korean-American fusion joint offering a distinctive and carefully sourced menu.
Parachute is unique in the Michelin star space because they offer shared plates. Also, a large portion of their seating is communal–some of which are first-come, first served. Overall, this makes Parachute’s dining room very accessible and unpretentious.
Parachute has made a name for itself since opening in 2014. It stands out as being a small, independent, family-owned restaurant. The geniuses behind Parachute are a husband and wife duo, Beverly Kim (who appeared on Top Chef) and Johnny Clark.
In 2019, this dynamic couple triumphed at the James Beard Awards (basically the Oscars of the culinary world). They won Best Chef in the Great Lakes Category, quite an impressive feat.
If you like Parachute, you’ll also love this family’s second restaurant Wherewithall. It offers a contemporary American menu that changes seasonally.
COVID UPDATE: Open. Be sure to make a reservation in advance.
Boka is the unequivocal star of the Boka Restaurant Group. Since opening in 2003, Boka has received a Michelin Star every year! Boka has also received a 4 Diamond AAA rating every year since 2011, and 3 stars from Chicago Magazine. I could go on about their awards, but you get the point.
Boka’s menu features seasonally inspired American food and is located in the heart of Chicago’s Lincoln Park neighborhood. It’s the type of place where you can expect to enjoy an amuse-bouche. Boka offers two different menu experiences. You can either choose from items à La Carte or experience their eight-course tasting menu.
Besides Boka, you’ve probably heard of other impressive restaurants in the Boka Restaurant Group. They include names like Girl & The Goat, Bellemore, Momotaro and GT Prime. Recently, they’ve added Cira and Lazy Bird (2019). They’re also responsible for some of Chicago’s favorite rooftops including The J. Parker and Devereaux.
For more restaurants, check out my guide to the best outdoor dining in Chicago!
COVID UPDATE: Open.
Alinea is probably the most important restaurant on this list! It’s one of only a handful of restaurants in the U.S. to hold the coveted Michelin 3-Star rating. It’s been named ‘Best Restaurant in America’ three times.
Alinea doesn’t just serve food, they take you through a unique experience of modernist cuisine. It’s meant to be delicious, but also fun and provocative. It’s also the most expensive restaurant on this list.
Alinea offers three distinct dining experiences. You can choose from the Kitchen Table, the Gallery or the Salon. The Salon experience is easiest to book, you can enjoy it with parties of 1, 2, 4 or 6. This is the cheapest experience and it takes place on the second-floor saloon.
I recommend the first floor Gallery experience. You can book this for parties of 2 or 4. Alternatively, the Kitchen Table is also excellent. This one is the most costly and most intimate. You, and your party of 4 or 6, will get a private kitchen table on the first floor adjacent to the kitchen.
Use your Chase Sapphire Reserve card for early access to tables for 2 at Alinea. Otherwise, you can make reservations online. Tables are released on the 15th of every month at 11:00 AM for spots months in advance. If you can’t snag a table right away, add yourself to the wait-list. On occasion, spots open up.
I can’t mention Alinea without discussing it’s sister bar— the Aviary. The Aviary is Chicago’s most impressive cocktail bar. The bartenders are essentially chefs that carefully concoct awe-inspiring cocktails and delicious drink tasting menus.
COVID UPDATE: Closed.
Spiaggia is an excellent Michelin-rated restaurant located on Chicago’s Magnificent Mile. Spiaggia serves modern Italian cuisine from an exceptionally elegant location.
Spiaggia isn’t only regarded for food. It was given the “Best Award of Excellence” by Wine Spectator and has frequently been listed under “America’s 100 Best Wine Restaurants” by Wine Enthusiast. Spiaggia’s wine collection includes over 700 bottles that thoroughly represent Italy’s most impressive wine regions.
Spiaggia offers an excellent monthly wine event. This event includes guided tasting lead by master Sommeliers as well as paired small bites.
The dining room features exquisite high ceilings and floor to ceiling windows. All around, you’ll enjoy breathtaking views of Chicago skyscrapers (including views of the famous John Hancock building).
Spiaggia’s menu features hearty Italian favorites, and their seasonal truffle dishes are to-die-for! If you are looking for a slightly more accessible option, you can also check out their sister restaurant —Cafe Spiaggia.
5. North Pond
COVID UPDATE: Open. Reservations only.
North Pond is another Michelin star-rated restaurant in Chicago’s Lincoln Park neighborhood. In fact, the location of this restaurant adds dramatically to its charm.
North Pond is located right on the edge of a pond, nestled in the park, and perfectly positioned to appreciate spectacular views of the Chicago skyline. The building itself is historic, as it was originally established in 1912. At the time, it was used as a warming shelter for ice skaters. It’s been since renovated to its traditional glory and unique style.
North Pond does American food in a classic and refined way. Although, their menu also features some mouthwatering healthy options as well. The entire menu is crafted from locally sourced farms and organically grown staples.
Unlike many of the other restaurants on this list, the North Pond also offers brunch. At a fraction of the cost of dinner, you can enjoy the exceptional flavors of North Pond on your weekday morning or afternoon.
COVID UPDATE: Open.
Oriole also tops the list of Chicago’s best restaurants. It’s one of only two restaurants in Chicago to receive the 2-Michelin star designation. It also boasts a AAA 5 Diamond rating.
Oriole is located in Chicago’s bustling West Loop neighborhood. Their dining room exudes nothing but ultimate exclusivity, offering only 28 seats. It’s intimate, refined and unforgettable!
Oriole only offers one dining option — their carefully prepared 15-course tasting menu features original recipes and impeccable flavors. You must elect to add on the wine pairing!
COVID UPDATE: Open for dine in and curbside pickup. Outside seating available at the Loyalist.
Besides Oriole, Smyth is the other 2 Michelin star-rated restaurant in Chicago. Smyth can also be found in the West Loop. It’s New American food at its best with exceptional wine pairings and an incredible ambiance.
The creators of Smyth’s menu have over 30 years of experience at Chicago’s leading restaurants. Their vision was to express, “farm on a plate” conceptually. To make this dream come true, they’ve created a partnership with a 20-acre farm just south of Chicago.
Therefore, Smyth prides itself on sourcing its produce, herbs, and flowers seasonally. They also ferment, pickle and cure their harvests annually adding another dimension to their resources. You can find out more about what’s grown at their farm on the website.
Interestingly, Smyth shares real estate with The Loyalist. Smyth is upstairs, and The Loyalist is downstairs. The Loyalist is a more relaxed and unpretentious New American restaurant. It’s an easier reservation to make, and an excellent, less costly, alternative.
COVID UPDATE: Open.
Sepia earns another Michelin star in 2020. It’s as refined as it is rustic, combining both vintage and contemporary elements.
Sepia is built inside a 19th Century pint shop. While you dine, you can appreciate unique, antique, memorabilia from another era. Notice the custom floor tiles built in the Art Nouveau style.
The menu at Sepia is designed to support artisan farmers and encourage traditional practices. All of the ingredients used are natural, organic and sustainably sourced. The pastas, chutneys, and jams are made in-house.
COVID UPDATE: Open.
Elske is another newcomer to Chicago’s fine dining scene. It opened in 2016 in Chicago’s West Loop neighborhood and earned its first Michelin star in 2018. Elske’s menu is distinctly American with an interesting Danish flair. Elske means “love” in Danish.
The dining room at Elske is meant to inspire minimalist vibes with a clean, soft and simple aesthetic. You can choose from their tasting menu with wine pairing, or enjoy the a la carte menu options.
Want more restaurant recommendations? Check out my ultimate guide to my favorite restaurants in Chicago.
COVID UPDATE: CLOSED after 22 years in Chicago 🙁
As a mini-tribute, we’re keeping Blackbird on our list. Blackbird was an excellent Michelin star rated restaurant in Chicago. It was another American restaurant set in an iconic modern space. In fact, the atmosphere won a James Beard Award for “Best Restaurant Design” in 2002.
Blackbird was an iconic staple in Chicago for over 20 years. It was brought to us by the One Off Hospitality group. You might know some other One Off Hospitality Group establishments like Avec, the Violet Hour and Publican. More recently, they’ve brought us Pacific Standard Time and The Laurel Room.
Blackbird’s celebrated Chef and partner, Paul Kahan, is famous for having won the James Beard Award for “Outstanding Chef” in 2013. He was also named “Best Chef in the Midwest” in 2004.
One of the things that set Blackbird apart from the other restaurants on this list is …lunch. Blackbird was known as one of the best places in Chicago for a business lunch.
Valentina Djordjevic writes at Valentina’s Destinations. Her blog was born from her obsession with meticulously researching, organizing and planning travel itineraries. Originally from Serbia, she grew up in Chicago. Valentina loves hunting down local restaurants, unique experiences and hidden gems.