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Michelin names 46 "good-value" Chicago restaurants

A week before the Michelin Guide to Chicago comes out, Michelin has named what it calls 46 good value Chicago restaurants, including the Girl and the Goat, Frontera Grill, Belly Shack, Publican and Browntrout. What's not included in the list may give us an idea of what will receive Michelin stars.

Speculation? Talk among yourselves.

See the list here.
http://www.chicagobusiness.com/articl...

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  1. >> What's not included in the list may give us an idea of what will receive Michelin stars.

    I do not get that impression from the article, although some individuals in it speculate that this effect occurs. I guess we'll find out for sure next week.

    EDIT: My impression is wrong, since the Michelin folks state clearly in the article in the link provided by ms. mika that "You can’t have a Bib Gourmand and a star."

    5 Replies
    1. re: nsxtasy

      Here's another interview that discusses it- the restaurants named on this list will not receive any stars.

      http://www3.timeoutny.com/chicago/blo...

      I thought this was interesting input from some of the Chicago chefs on their chances as well.

      http://chicago.timeout.com/articles/r...

      1. re: ms. mika

        >> Here's another interview that discusses it- the restaurants named on this list will not receive any stars.

        You're right, they state so flat out. Thanks for the link!

        1. re: ms. mika

          quote from the article:
          "TOC: Everyone knows that you love Hot Doug’s. So why no Bib Gourmand? JN: Why no Bib Gourmand? That’s a good question. Umm, I mean, we have quite a few different….I don’t think we have one for Hot Doug’s, you’re right. The quality is really an important thing, and we had some very good—don’t get me wrong—hot dogs there. But Bib Gourmand is not a star, and it’s not two stars—it’s a different meaning. It’s really saying: This is a place where I’ll take you on my day off being an inspector, and take my family there, or take my friends, because it’s a good deal. And that’s really what it is. Good deal, good value, good money."

          This answer confuses me. Is he saying that Hog Doug's quality/value is not good enough, or is he saying that Hog Doug's may have a star rather than having Bib Gourmet designation?

          -----
          Hot Doug's
          3324 N California Ave, Chicago, IL 60618

          1. re: mountsac

            >> This answer confuses me. Is he saying that Hog Doug's quality/value is not good enough, or is he saying that Hog Doug's may have a star rather than having Bib Gourmet designation?

            Sounds to me like he is being intentionally ambiguous.

            Of course, we'll find out next week whether or not Hot Doug's has a star.

            1. re: nsxtasy

              Doug's with a star would sure be something. I wonder if there is some encased meats type place in Germany that ever got a star. I'd have to think it'd be a first.

              I gave up on trying to make too much of BG lists a while ago. On one hand, there are certain upscale restaurants (A.O.C. in LA, Incanto in SF) that are getting some sort of concession for being among the "0.50-0.75 star" rejects (I'm guessing Girl in the Goat would be the example here). Then you have the 'cheap' places that actually go along with the 'good value' claim. And then they'll bring places COMPLETELY out of the air for this "$40 or less" list... like Asia de Cuba in NY.

              Makes no sense.

      2. Am I the only one who was surprised by some of the names that made even this list? Otom and Ann Sather both jumped out at me.

        And there were some restaurants I don't even know - - undoubtedly more of a reflection on me than Michelin, but still.

        11 Replies
        1. re: chicgail

          >> Am I the only one who was surprised by some of the names that made even this list?

          No, not at all. And for all kinds of reasons, too. Some of them seem to flaunt the alleged $40 price limit, and some of them are just... pedestrian, really ordinary places. Of course, with lists like this, there are always going to be places that appeal to them and just don't appeal to me, and other places I would have liked to see on the list. If I had to choose one or two French bistros, one or two Italian places, one or two Thai places, etc, my choices would definitely NOT be the ones they chose. OTOH it's nice to see some deserving places on the list, including Hopleaf, Lula, M. Henry, Mexique, and Mixteco Grill. It also seems like they went out of their way to include places with the biggest buzz over the past year, which sometimes does and sometimes doesn't represent quality and consistency.

          >> And there were some restaurants I don't even know - - undoubtedly more of a reflection on me than Michelin, but still.

          Actually, since I have the same reaction, and I think both of us are quite aware of restaurants here, even ones we haven't been to but have heard a lot about, I think it's more of a reflection on Michelin than on either of us. It truly seems like they picked some of them out of a hat, real head-scratchers.

          1. re: chicgail

            The Thai places seem very random. I'm surprised that Spoon Thai, TAC, or Sticky Rice didn't make the list.

            -----
            Spoon Thai
            4608 N Western Ave, Chicago, IL 60625

            Sticky Rice
            4018 N Western Ave, Chicago, IL 60618

            1. re: lbs

              >> The Thai places seem very random. I'm surprised that Spoon Thai, TAC, or Sticky Rice didn't make the list.

              True - and you could make the same argument about a lot of the places (why Bistro 110, Le Petite Folie, and of all places La Creperie, rather than La Sardine/Le Bouchon or Kiki's Bistro? why Riccardo Trattoria rather than Cafe Spiaggia, Coco Pazzo Cafe, Piccolo Sogno? etc)

              1. re: nsxtasy

                Some of the places omitted may be destined to receive a star. You cannot get both under the Michelin system.

                1. re: masha

                  Yes, you have a point, except that these affordable places are not likely to get a star. I know, a place does not need to be expensive to get a star (and being expensive doesn't guarantee a star), but these are places where the atmosphere is significantly more casual than even those awarded one star. I would be shocked (although pleasantly so) if any of these received a star.

              2. re: lbs

                The speculation about this makes me wonder about process. Does any one know how many restaurants the MIchelin team visits in a city, how they choose the restaurants that they do visit and how many times they dine somewhere before making a determination?

                1. re: chicgail

                  The article in Time Out, link above, says that any rated restaurant is visited at least twice by different reviewers. However, it doesn't say anything about how many restaurants they visit or how they choose them. With almost 20,000 restaurants in the greater Chicago area, I'm sure they don't visit every single one - not even close - but gee whiz, how they narrow them down seems inscrutable, given some of the ones designated with the Bib Gourmand award.

                  1. re: nsxtasy

                    I've always wondered how many restaurants there are in Chicagoland. I've seen stats for the City that it's about 6000. Where did you read the number for the greater Chicago area?

                  2. re: chicgail

                    "Does any one know how many restaurants the MIchelin team visits in a city ... and how many times they dine somewhere before making a determination?"

                    There's an article in this week's Newsweek which says the Michelin guide will cover 300 restaurants in Chicago.

                    Also in the article Grant Achatz is quoted as saying he "'firmly believes' there are four three-star restaurants (in Chicago) but refuses to name names." The article says Charlie Trotter's "will almost certainly" be included.

                    Four sounds a bit too optimistic to me, but I guess we'll know in a week.

                    As for the number of visits, I read the book "The Perfectionist: Life and Death in Haute Cuisine" about Bernard Loiseau, a French chef who killed himself in part because he thought his restaurant was losing a Michelin star, and the book said that while details about things like # of visits are kept secret that former Michelin reviewers said they preferred at least four visits before dishing out two or three stars to make sure the restaurant was consistent.

                    -----
                    Charlie Trotter's
                    816 W. Armitage Ave., Chicago, IL 60614

                    1. re: willyum

                      I sincerely doubt that Mr. Achatz is correct - while I think the Chicago dining scene is the most dynamic in the country I just don't see them giving 3 stars to four places on the first guide.....that is more than LA/LV/SF/Napa combined and rivaling NYC in a single issue of the guide.

                      Having been to most of the US 3-stars (excluding MASA and The Restaurant at Meadowood) I personally feel that Alinea, L2o, and Trotter's deserve three while Everest and TRU could easily warrant two. The food at Schwa could certainly qualify for 2-3, but the obscure reservations, interior, and loud music may put people off............then again, Ko got two with equally bizarre fashionings and (IMO) worse food at a higher pricetag.

                      http://uhockey.blogspot.com

                      -----
                      Alinea
                      1723 N Halsted St, Chicago, IL 60614

                      1. re: uhockey

                        Perhaps Grant Achatz, because his restaurant is most likely to score 3 stars, is being generous towards the other top chefs in town. I was just at Trotters and, while it was excellent, IMO, just didn't have the spark that Alinea had.

                        I, like many of you, am looking forward to next week's list. I'm sure we'll all have a lot to say about it.

              3. Very interesting list. From Lula, to M. Henry, to Han 202 - seems that Michelin is going for representing the diversity in the city. Although I wonder if Michelin ventured outside of the city limit.

                6 Replies
                1. re: mountsac

                  >> From Lula, to M. Henry, to Han 202 - seems that Michelin is going for representing the diversity in the city.

                  That much is obvious, from the fact that they designated 1-3 Thai places, 1-3 French bistros, 1-3 Italian places, etc.

                  >> Although I wonder if Michelin ventured outside of the city limit.

                  My guess is no, based on the fact that they did not designate a single place in the suburbs, despite plenty of worthy places like Campagnola, Inovasi, Walker Brothers, Bistro Bordeaux, etc.

                  1. re: nsxtasy

                    I agree about going outside of the city limits. The NY guide covered only places in NYC. The SF guide seemed more unusual in being more a regional guide.

                    1. re: rjka

                      Does that mean the star-list will also be within the city limit? Because if that's the case, then the inclusion of worthy contenders such as Michael, Vie, or Tallgrass would be out of the question.

                      -----
                      Tallgrass Restaurant
                      1006 S State St, Lockport, IL 60441

                      1. re: mountsac

                        The Michelin guide rankers probably couldn't afford the 2 hour traffic battle to get to Vie to only be told they'd "sold out" of two menu items (in a 90% empty restaurant) by a surly server :-)

                        http://uhockey.blogspot.com

                        1. re: mountsac

                          >> Does that mean the star-list will also be within the city limit?

                          Probably.

                          >> Because if that's the case, then the inclusion of worthy contenders such as Michael, Vie, or Tallgrass would be out of the question.

                          Yes, and that's too bad.

                          >> the 2 hour traffic battle to get to Vie

                          In the evening commuting hours on a weekday, you can get to Vie from downtown Chicago in as little as 25 minutes by Metra train. And if it's not the evening commuting hours, you can usually drive there in about the same time.

                          1. re: nsxtasy

                            Well gracious - had I gone after the "evening commuting hours" they'd have likely been sold out of 90% of the menu.

                            http://uhockey.blogspot.com

                  2. In none of the other cities have bib gourmand spots received stars.

                    That noted - good list, though if Spotted Pig and Casa Mono get a star in NYC there is no reason in the world Girl and the Goat did not - perhaps too new, but a stellar experience.

                    http://uhockey.blogspot.com

                    1. Has anyone on here tried Gilt Bar, which is on this list? My brother and I have a reservation there for 12/11.

                      4 Replies
                      1. re: Bob W

                        Haven't been there myself but a very food savvy friend counts is as one of her favorites and some coworkers thought it was great for drinks.

                        Looking forward to hearing what you think.

                        1. re: Bob W

                          It's a trendy and happening place. It feels more like a wine lounge than a restaurant. Drinks are very good. I went in thinking that it was a lounge type place, so my impression of the food was quite favorable. I'm not sure how I'd feel if I went in thinking it as a fine-dining restaurant, though. But overall it was a positive experience.

                          1. re: Bob W

                            I went to gilt for a date night a few months ago and the food was awesome...definitely worth the trip...cocktails are great as well but the food is worth the trip alone. It is trendy and loud and busy...be warned...

                            I remember having a yellowtail sashimi that was great and the bone marrow, which was awesome, very big portion. The desserts were a little lacking...I don't think they have a pastry chef...but I'm not a big dessert fiend anyway.

                            1. re: Bob W

                              Thanks everyone! We're also going to Lou Malnati's and Portillo's, so a little trendiness is ok with us. In fact, being an outer suburbanite (DC area), I could use it!

                            2. The lack of pizza places on the menu is perplexing to me - Great Lake definitely qualifies and I'd say at least a few of the deep dish spots would also work.

                              Nice to see m.henry on this list and the same with Lula, but I'd wonder why Southport Grocery Cafe and Hearty are absent.

                              http://uhockey.blogspot.com

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: uhockey

                                Spacca Napoli, a thin crust pizza place made the list. It is really good, but I haven't been to Great Lake yet, so I can't compare.

                                -----
                                Spacca Napoli
                                1769 W Sunnyside Ave, Chicago, IL 60640

                                Great Lake
                                1477 W Balmoral Ave, Chicago, IL 60640

                              2. This list is beyond me. It will be interesting on the follow-up. There are many great restaurants not on the list which presumably will not get a star which would make this list suspect. Let's wait and see.

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: igorm

                                  Katz making it in NYC but no Hot Doug's in Chicago? Perhaps they'll give Doug a star - that'd be pretty fantastic.

                                  http://uhockey.blogspot.com

                                  -----
                                  Hot Doug's
                                  3324 N California Ave, Chicago, IL 60618

                                2. Missing Sun Wah on this list is a huge oversight. It's one of the best restaurants in the city. And, nothing against Ann Sather, but I really don't understand it's place on the list. There are some great places I'm glad to see recognized here (Hopleaf, Smoque, and Opart among others are some of my faves), but I find some of the collection a little perplexing.

                                  -----
                                  Sun Wah Bar-B-Que
                                  1134 W Argyle St, Chicago, IL 60640

                                  1. I'm eager to see the list of "starred" restaurants, but what has come out so far has left me questioning the Michelin system as I never have before. So many restaurants that I consider first rate, if not star-worthy have been left out and so many odd choices included on the Bib Gourmand list that I have serious doubts about how Michelin chooses and rates restaurants. I am eager to see the rest of the list.

                                    8 Replies
                                    1. re: chicgail

                                      It is purportedly "food only" but given that fact it makes no sense to me how Manresa has not gotten a third star in the SF guide..........I contest there are a lot of politics at play.

                                      http://uhockey.blogspot.com

                                      1. re: chicgail

                                        I agree 100 percent with chicgail. I am not at all troubled by the debate over which restaurants receive two stars vs three stars - either one is quite an honor - but some of those choices on the Bib Gourmand list are absolutely inscrutable to those of us familiar with the Chicago dining scene. And it's not so much the new restaurants on that list, as it is places that have been around for quite a while and are just not that good, and not representative of the best Chicago food OR food values. I mean, seriously - La Creperie, Thai Village, Twin Anchors??? I just don't know what they could possibly be thinking!

                                        1. re: nsxtasy

                                          And look at some of the places that are missing: Sola, Browntrout, Sticky Rice, Le Sardine, La Bouchon, Bistro Campagne, Mercat a la Planxa, Uno, MIrai, Japonaise and so many more that I'm not even naming -- they're all going to get stars? or are they overlooked?

                                          1. re: chicgail

                                            I doubt that many, if any, of them will get stars. I can only believe that many of the best restaurants in Chicago will be overlooked. Which is not really surprising, considering just how many there are. Think about it. Michelin gave out 39 one-star and 5 two- and three-star awards to restaurants in San Francisco, and they included those well away from the city. Chicago's restaurant scene is bigger (and IMHO better) than San Francisco's, but even if they gave awards to twice as many restaurants here as there, they would still be overlooking quite a few good ones.

                                            Too bad you and I don't make the star decisions, huh? :)

                                            1. re: nsxtasy

                                              If you go to the Mchelin website and look at the history of SF and NYC guides, you'd see that the Bib Gourmet portion gains many new places each year. So maybe it is true that Michelin overlooks many good candidates at the beginning and keeps addding to the list as the guide evolves over the years.

                                            2. re: chicgail

                                              @chicgail:

                                              I think the three French places you mentioned are definitely worthy places that could have been included in the bib gourmet. But since it's a French guide, they might be a bit tougher on French food?

                                              Mercat might be a little too expensive to qualify as a Bib Gourmet restaurant, considering that the portion is not the same as a traditional course. Mercat might be able to get 1 star, though.

                                              For Uno, I think it has great food. But the spirit of Bib Gourmet is "good value." Uno's tab is cheap, but so is the experience of dining there. The settting feels cheap, bathroom is cramped and a bit dirty, service is horrible, and other than the pizza, many items on the menu are not that great. So while I love the deep dish at Uno (just like I love the foie gras dog at Hot Doug's), I wouldn't really call it a "good value" bib gourmet restaurant.

                                              Mirai, IMO, is quite mediocre. If the standard of the Chicago guide is comparable to that of the New York guide, then Mirai and most of the sushi places in Chicago (city proper) don't stand a chance.

                                              -----
                                              Hot Doug's
                                              3324 N California Ave, Chicago, IL 60618

                                              Mirai
                                              2020 W. Division St., Chicago, IL 60622

                                              1. re: mountsac

                                                >> I think the three French places you mentioned are definitely worthy places that could have been included in the bib gourmet. But since it's a French guide, they might be a bit tougher on French food?

                                                They included two French bistros, La Creperie and La Petite Folie, so they're not afraid to include French restaurants in their Bib Gourmand selections for Chicago. I haven't been to La Petite Folie so I don't know what to make of it, but La Creperie is a real head-scratcher; you can get far better food and better value at many French bistros around town: La Sardine/Le Bouchon, Kiki's Bistro, Bistro 110, Mon Ami Gabi, and Bistro Campagne, just to name a few.

                                                1. re: nsxtasy

                                                  I've never been to the two French places on the Bib Gourmet list (while I've been to all the ones that you mentioned, and enjoyed them all), so I can't really comment on what they did include. Suffice to say that what THEY deem as a good-value French bistro is very different from what WE think!

                                        2. Hey Ya'll new to this board. (Life long Chicagoan). Enjoying this thread and the Chicago banter overall. Agree with many that the inclusion of Twin Anchors is curious at best. What I'm most excited about is what will happen with Schwa, 1 star would be acceptable, 2 stars would be great imho. I do think we have an outside shot at getting the highest number of 2 star restaurants in the country-which will basically mean there will be a few disappointed owners in this city-Everest,Charlie,Spiaggia,Avenues.. Haven't been to Spiaggia in about 8 years but at the time it was the best meal that I've ever had in this city. Sounds like it has gone down hill a little... Cheers!

                                          2 Replies
                                          1. re: La Canasta

                                            Agree that Schwa is in a class by itself, but the restaurant's service and reservation eccentricities may well disqualify it from a Michelin star. We shall see.

                                            1. re: chicgail

                                              Ko got two.....if they ignore Schwa then I'll largely consider their "guide" lacking much guidance.

                                              http://uhockey.blogspot.com

                                          2. Not sure if anyone else saw this - but Grant Achatz just tweeted this:

                                            http://312diningdiva.blogspot.com/201...

                                            3 Replies
                                            1. re: uhockey

                                              If this is true, then what a small list! I thought we'd at least have more than SF... Les Nomades not even one star is kind of surprising. Yes Vie but no Michael? L2O getting 3-star would be interesting, given the uncertaintly of the future fate of the restaurant. Seasons getting one star is also kind of surprising (not that great IMO). Cuisines other than Contemporary American and French / Fusion French are basically non-existent. One Italian, one Mexican, and no other ethnic food. Talk about diversity.

                                              Let's hope the actual list is bigger and better represents Chicago's diversity!

                                              -----
                                              L2O
                                              2300 Lincoln Park West, Chicago, IL 60614

                                              Les Nomades
                                              222 E Ontario, Chicago, IL 60611

                                              1. re: mountsac

                                                Topolobampo is ethnic. :-)

                                                L2o absolutely deserves 3 stars when compared to the other 3s I've been to (all but Meadowood and MASA)

                                                That is just a reviewer list - no idea if it is true - but as much as I like Chicago I never figured they'd top San Francisco in their first guide.

                                                Overall their feelings mirror mine, though I'd have expected TRU to get 2 and Coco Pazzo to get one. Personally, I think Girl and the Goat deserved a star, as well.

                                                http://uhockey.blogspot.com

                                                -----
                                                Topolobampo
                                                445 N Clark St., Chicago, IL 60610

                                                Coco Pazzo Cafe
                                                636 N St Clair, Chicago, IL 60611

                                                1. re: uhockey

                                                  Lol, I realized that after I posted and have since corrected my original post =)

                                            2. Dish has compiled the predictions of various reviewers as to 2 & 3 star recipients:

                                              http://www.chicagomag.com/Chicago-Mag...

                                              1. I for one feel totally validated to see Los Nopales on this list. If you guys haven't been you should go, their camerones a la diablo are to die for! :)

                                                1 Reply
                                                1. re: mlipps

                                                  And Taste of Peru! Love Michelin for both of those!

                                                  -----
                                                  Taste of Peru
                                                  6545 N Clark St, Chicago, IL 60626

                                                  1. re: lbs

                                                    A) I've said all along that L2o was on par with the best in the country.
                                                    B) I've said all along that North Pond's food did not justify it's high praise on this site.

                                                    Congrats to all - especially Blackbird, Bonsoiree, and Schwa.

                                                    http://uhockey.blogspot.com

                                                    -----
                                                    Bonsoiree
                                                    2728 W Armitage, Chicago, IL 60647

                                                    North Pond
                                                    2610 North Cannon Drive, Chicago, IL 60614

                                                    1. re: uhockey

                                                      I think you're right that North Pond is overrated and over priced but their Brunch justifies * alone IMHO.

                                                      -----
                                                      North Pond
                                                      2610 North Cannon Drive, Chicago, IL 60614

                                                      1. re: La Canasta

                                                        I've not been for brunch - I'd consider it as I've heard good things - but then again, the Chicago brunch scene is potentially the strongest in the country so 'tis good to try new things.

                                                        http://uhockey.blogspot.com

                                                  2. Michelin has moved up their "official" announcement to today FWIW- sounds like the leak was in fact right on the money. My initial impression is that Tru will not be please with *, and that Avec, North Pond, and One Sixty Blu, will not be pleased with um not making the list. Also, some very solid suburban places obviously were not in play- Michael, Carlos', and a few others. Consider this a first rough draft the SF and NYC guides have expanded as the years have passed .

                                                    -----
                                                    Avec Restaurant
                                                    615 W Randolph St Ste A, Chicago, IL 60661

                                                    North Pond
                                                    2610 North Cannon Drive, Chicago, IL 60614

                                                    1 Reply
                                                    1. re: La Canasta

                                                      It's pretty funny that Michelin has to move up the announcment because of a Yelp post! I imagine somebody is getting fired right now.

                                                      But still- nice to see that Michelin is generating such buzz among chefs and diners in Chicago. I think the guide overall will improve Chicago's global recognition and food tourism. I have no doubt that Michelin will expand their reach into the suburbs in the coming year. I mean Vie has already paved the way.

                                                    2. I m surprise there is not a single chinese restaurant on the list.

                                                      1 Reply
                                                      1. re: Xellosw2099

                                                        I was not surprised. While I feel that there should be more Chinese restaurants on the bib gourmand list, I didn't think there's any Chinese restaurant in Chicago that is star-worthy. The level of refinement is just not there. Shanghai Terrace may have a shot in the future if it raises the authenticity and focus of its cuisine. The service, setting, ingredients, and exeuction are already there.

                                                        -----
                                                        Shanghai Terrace
                                                        108 E Superior, Chicago, IL 60611