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7 Essential Fine Dining Restaurants in Chicago

Chicago Restaurants + Bars
by Matador Creators Jan 25, 2023

By now, Chicago deep dish pizza is legendary. However, Chicago’s fine dining scene rivals even New York. With a decidedly working class history, and enclaves of progressive young people, Chicago is a city with a reputation for hard work and Midwestern hospitality – and you can see that in the legacy of its famed restaurants, from Alinea to Oriole, which are both Michelin-starred icons. Just as important as the food is the design – after all, Chicago is a famed destination for its architectural masterpieces. All you need to do is walk around the city to see what we mean.

Restaurant Row, on Randolph Street between Halsted and Ogden Avenue, is home to some of the most coveted tables in Chicago – you’ll find many of the restaurants on this list there. Here are seven essential Chicago restaurants to try on your next visit.



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From 2008 to 2018, Alinea appeared on the World’s 50 Best Restaurants list. For 12 years in a row, it’s been awarded three Michelin stars. Chef Grant Achatz is by now legendary for his modernist, experimental cuisine. Past dishes include edible balloons, and salad greens planted in a mound of mud. So yes, this is the epitome of fine dining – the tasting menu is about $700 per person – it’s also playful with a touch of whimsy.

Where: 1723 N Halsted St, Chicago, IL 60614

Price: $$$$

Girl & the Goat

Part of Restaurant Row, Girl & the Goat is all about the meat. Think roasted pig, glazed pork, crispy chicken, braised short ribs. There’s an entire section of the menu dedicated to goat – in all sorts of interesting iterations from goat cheese to goat liver mousse. This is a restaurant where you’ll be eager to linger over a glass of wine and good conversation with your friends.

Where: 809 W Randolph St, Chicago, IL 60607

Price: $$$

Purple Pig

The Purple Pig holds Bib Gourmand status from the Michelin Guide, and the focus is on Mediterranean food. Small plates that are meant to be shared at communal tables adds to the restaurant’s convivial atmosphere. The speciality is pork, cheese, and wine and the flavors will conjure visions of Italy, Greece and Spain. Crispy pig’s ear, smoked pork tongue, and sardines cured in house top the list of dishes worth trying.

Where: 444 Michigan Ave, Chicago, IL 60611

Price: $$



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The minimalist dining room at Avec interprets Mediterranean dishes for the midwestern palette. What does that look like in practice? Chorizo stuffed with dates, chicken shawarma, and swordfish tagine. However, Avec’s true strength lies in its extensive wine list highlighting boutique vineyards from around southwestern Europe, and prides itself on being affordable.

Where: 615 W Randolph St, Chicago, IL 60661

Price: $$$



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Rick Bayless crafted a colorful homage to Mexican cuisine at Frontera. The lively music playing over the speakers pairs well with the rich and spicy flavors of chilies and molés. Although the menu is constantly changing, classic dishes like enchiladas and sopes are prepared here, with a Chicago twist: all the produce is sourced locally.

Where: 445 N Clark St, Chicago, IL 60654-4683

Price: $$

Dear Margaret


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Dear Margaret calls itself a love letter to Midwestern ingredients, but all the cuisine is French-Canadian. What you’ll probably hear first about the  restaurant is that it serves the best pomme frites in Chicago. What will keep you coming back is the warmth of the restaurant’s atmosphere; it’s designed to feel as though you’re sitting down for dinner at a beloved relative’s house. The menu is all about comfort and indulgence, and that includes foie gras, duck leg cassoulet, and charcuterie.

Where: 2965 N Lincoln Ave, Chicago, IL 60657

Price: $$$



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Located in the West Loop neighborhood of Chicago, Oriole is a romantic, two Michelin star restaurant hidden in a discreet alley way. Excerpt ingredients like langoustine (similar to crayfish) and sablefish. The spacious dining room features sculpture, lantern-like light fixtures hanging from the ceilings, exposed brick, and white tablecloth tables.

Where: 661 W Walnut St, Chicago, IL 60661

Price: $$$$

Where to stay in Chicago

After exploring Chicago and eating your fill of luxury meals, you’ll be yearning for a stylish spot to put up your feet. You probably won’t beat an Airbnb for a cute budget stay, but these three Chicago hotels make for a much more memorable experience.

We hope you love the spaces and stays we recommend! Just so you know, Matador may collect a small commission from the links on this page if you decide to book a stay. Listed prices are accurate as of the time of publication.

The Guesthouse

You won’t find traditional guest rooms at The Guesthouse, but rather one, two, and three bedroom suites with full kitchens and balconies outfitted with grills. This is the place to stay in Chicago if you’re traveling with a group of friends, or multiple kids. Guests can take advantage of its convenient location near some of the city’s best attractions, such as Millennium Park, Art Institute of Chicago, Navy Pier, and Magnificent Mile.

Where: 4872 N Clark St, Chicago, IL 60640

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Hotel Lincoln


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Located in Lincoln Park, the Hotel Lincoln combines eclectic interior design – like colorful lamps, patterned rugs and throw pillows – modern touches like the J. Parker Rooftop Bar.  Most of the rooms feature expansive views of Lake Michigan, and there are two sushi restaurants tucked away inside the hotel. Nearby, you’ll find Lincoln Park Zoo, North Avenue Beach, and Wrigley Field.

Where: 1816 North Clark Street, Chicago, Illinois, United States, 60614

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Freehand Chicago


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Plush leather couches, comfortable blankets, and dark wooden interiors add to the warmth and comfort of this hotel. The guest rooms at the Freehand Chicago have a funky, vintage vibe that brings to mind a train car or an inviting living room from the 70s. The candlelit Broken Shaker bar has been called one of the best hotel bars in the country. Everything about this hotel, from the fireplace in the penthouse to the lush green plants in the lobby, exudes coziness.

Where: 19 E Ohio St, Chicago, IL 60611

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