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Jan 13, 2013 08:12 AM

Best tasting menu?

Hello all.

I will be in Chicago for a week and I am trying to figure out which restaurants should I visit. So far the only reservation I made is for Alinea.

I need to choose 3 other restaurants that offer great tasting menus. From what I could gather from other posts, these seem to be the best:

- L2O
- El Ideas
- Tru
- Grace
- mk
- Moto

Am I missing any? Which ones should I choose?


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  1. Goosefoot definitely deserves to be on a list of best Chicago tasting menus. MK is good, but not in the same realm as the others on your list. Additional venues to consider include Elizabeth, Backbird, Everest and Sixteen. If short tasting menus are taken into consideration also look at Boka, Topolobompo and North Pond. For best variety I'd recommend lumping Alinea and Moto into one group (both modern, molecular gastronomy focused), Tru, Blackbird, MK, Grace, Boka and North Pond and Sixteen into a category (high end contemporary American) and El ideas and Elizabeth in a category (casual fine dining with lots of interaction with the chefs). L2O s Hugh end seafood, Everest is traditional French fine dining and Topolobampo upscale modern Mexican. Spiaggia (Italian fine dining) is yet another option. The best views are at Sixteen, Everest and North Pond.

    8 Replies
    1. re: Gonzo70

      Thanks for the reply! Yeah, I forgot to put Goosefoot in that list. I tried to get a reservation, but couldn't...

      So, right now we have:

      - Alinea
      - Moto

      - Tru
      - Blackbird
      - MK
      - Grace
      - Boka
      - North Pond

      - El Ideas
      - Elizabeth

      - L2O

      - Everest
      - Sixteen

      I took out Topolobampo since we are going to Frontera Grill (which I know isn't the same, but we only have so much time....).

      Of all those, which 3 do you think I shouldn't miss?

      1. re: deknor

        Since Alinea is Chicago's only 3 Michelin Star venue, I would choose them over Moto (as much as I love Moto).

        I have not yet been to Grace (am going next weekend) but have been to all the others in the second group and while they are all excellent, I feel that Tru is the best. For the third venue it is probably a good idea to do something different/more laid back - so either El Ideas or Elizabeth;both are great choices and I like them both equally. If you will be in town on a Sunday, North Pond has an outstanding brunch, so that might be a good way to squeak in one more venue - and North Pond is absolutely beautiful to dine at in the daytime.

        1. re: Gonzo70

          Thanks a lot for the reply. I will try to make reservations for Tru and El Ideas.

          Now if I can only get tickets for Next... French Laundry is starting to sound like a piece of cake compared to Next.

        2. re: deknor

          >> Of all those, which 3 do you think I shouldn't miss?

          TRU, definitely. It's the second best restaurant in Chicago, after Alinea. Everest is excellent. Both are high-end restaurants - expensive and dress-up. I'd also add Naha, Acadia, and North Pond, which are not as expensive or as formal.

          I haven't been to El Ideas, Elizabeth, or Grace, or L2O under their current chef. I've been to Blackbird, MK, Goosefoot, Next, Boka, and Sixteen, and while all of these were pretty good, none impressed me as much as those mentioned in the previous paragraph.

          1. re: nsxtasy

            Thanks for the input. So far we have reservations for Alinea, TRU and L2O (wife loves seafood). And we will go to North Pond for brunch and Naha for lunch.

            And darn, the Acadia menu looks real good. I don't know how I will fit all these restaurants in only 7 days.

            Any suggestions for lunch?

            1. re: deknor

              >> Any suggestions for lunch?

              Well, Naha, which you're already down for, is probably the best lunch in town. Blackbird may be second. However...

              If I may, I'd just like to point out something. Right now, with the sole exception of Frontera Grill, your entire itinerary consists of contemporary American restaurants. Not that they are identical; they are certainly not. But there isn't a lot of variety in your itinerary, either. So adding in more contemporary American lunches isn't going to add much diversity to your itinerary. Now, maybe this doesn't matter to you, and if so, by all means go for it. But just in case you'd like to get away from still more contemporary American food (or, if you have enough additional lunches to consider), here are some lunch suggestions that are not contemporary American, and are worthy of your trip. You could grab some deep-dish at Lou Malnati's or Pizano's. Or go to Portillo's on Ontario for Italian beef and Chicago-style hot dogs. Since your wife likes seafood, the small plates at GT Fish & Oyster would be a good choice for lunch. The Purple Pig has small plates of Mediterranean-influenced cuisine; they don't take reservations and waiting times to be seated at dinner are ridiculous, but they're not as bad at lunchtime and they serve the same menu all day. Mercat a la Planxa has the best tapas in town. We have classic French bistros such as La Sardine. Getting away from downtown, you could go south to Chinatown for Lao Sze Chuan, or north to Argyle Street for Tank Noodle (Vietnamese), or north to Andy's Thai Kitchen for Thai, or west to Greek Town. You could go to one of our best breakfast-focused restaurants (e.g. Jam, M. Henry, M. Henrietta, Bongo Room, Southport Grocery) for a brunch-type lunch. (With the exception of the breakfast-focused places, all of the above also serve dinner, if you decide you want to slip a bit more variety into your dinners as well.) Again, nothing wrong with doing all contemporary American if that's the way you want to go, but adding more variety may be something worth considering.

              Also, most of the suggestions here thus far have been focused on downtown Chicago and surrounding neighborhoods. If you're staying somewhere other than downtown - outlying city neighborhoods or in the suburbs - let us know where, as there are some excellent restaurants in those parts of the Chicago area too.

              1. re: nsxtasy

                Yeah, I was trying to get a few other kinds of restaurants in there, especially for lunch.

                So far I have The Purple Pig, Mercat a la Planxa, Frontera Grill and GT Fish & Oyster. Will take a look at your other suggestions.

                Thanks a lot.

                1. re: deknor

                  One of my favorite places for lunch is Big Jones, located in the Andersonville neighborhood. It is about 8 miles from the Loop, but is well served by public transportation. Great Southern/low country food with excellent ingredients. They offer a 'Boarding House Lunch' special that's a real steal.

                  Andersonville is a great neighborhood for walking around and shopping. Be sure to check out The Galleria - a mini-mall of sorts, with ~90 stalls by local artists/jewelers/print makers, etc.