MICHELIN Guide Inspectors spend all year on the road uncovering the best restaurants to recommend—and what they've found is too good to keep a secret. Whet your appetite with a sneak peek of the 2023 MICHELIN Guide Chicago—eight new additions spread across the Windy City.
From a food stall turned Filipino restaurant staple to no nonsense Mediterranean cuisine, these 8 new additions to Chicago's dining scene are keeping our Inspectors well-fed with a myriad of menus. Bon appétit!
This Lincoln Square boîte has always blended in with its humble surrounds, but enthusiasts know that it’s the inside that counts and where culinary excellence has long thrived. In full view of the dining room, Chef Christian Hunter and his team chart new waters, ever determined to make their own mark on this intimate space. Working quietly and seamlessly, the kitchen delivers a carefully calibrated tasting menu supported by nearby farms and packed with flavor and originality. Familiar dishes like marinated beets, pimento cheese and Caesar salad arrive remodeled and refined, astutely seasoned, and never a leaf or morsel out of place. Hope that the warm clam chowder with lamb bacon and chive oil is still available. It’s a total showstopper.
The intoxicating, unmistakable aroma of garlic fills the narrow room every time someone opens the rice cooker. This rice is the foundation of all things that are good at this homey Filipino restaurant that started out as a food stall. To begin, the crispy pork belly hash is an impressive starter that could very well double as an entrée. Pork, in fact, is all over this small menu, arriving as crispy belly or marinated with herbs and spices or presented as sausage. Tender filets of steelhead trout swimming in a burnt tomato and tamarind broth offer a delicate reprieve from the meat. Dessert is a must: A creamy plantain comes wrapped as a spring roll, dusted in brown sugar and deep fried. It’s as close as you’ll ever get to a handheld crème brûlée.
Cellar Door Provisions
Some restaurants try very hard to impress and dazzle their customers. This sunny corner of Logan Square is not one of those restaurants. In a recently refreshed, breezy dining room, Cellar Door Provisions is perfectly content with itself. And why shouldn’t it be? This is an honest restaurant with unfussy, no-nonsense cooking where the plates are warm, the seasoning is spot-on and the flavors are clear. No tweezers, no fancy wine glasses, no military-grade kitchen brigade— just good eats, found in a plate of tender runner beans with garlic confit or a smooth scoop of duck liver mousse paired with just-warmed country bread. You could come here on a quiet date or wander in off the street and snag a counter seat. You’ll be happily greeted either way.
GG's Chicken Shop
Despite the downhome digs, the kind and caring staff are incredibly professional, elevating an already enjoyable experience. Bright and contemporary, this utterly charming spot from Chef Lee Wolen is named for his mother. It's casual, an order-at-the-counter-style spot, and as the name suggests, it's all about chicken. Rotisserie chicken is available by the quarter, half or whole, along with chicken sandwiches (fried and rotisserie) and sides like creamy broccoli slaw with golden raisins and crunchy almonds or chicken drippings smashed potatoes that will have you hoarding your portion. The comforting menu is rounded out with a few nostalgia-inducing desserts including oatmeal cream pies and a dirt cup topped with gummy worms that makes you feel like a kid again.
Located in Lakeview, Itoko occupies a modern, sleek space. Guests are welcomed into this bright space with plenty of natural light, hardwood floors and wood detailing on the ceiling with pops of gray and cream throughout. Meanwhile, the large izakaya and sushi menu offers plenty to consider. From hot and cold appetizers to handrolls, sushi and robata, the items display creative combinations with skilled execution. Start with a tom yum hand roll with sweet diced shrimp tossed in a fiery tom yum sauce or the seared mackerel, then opt for the decadent gyoza or the "slider" skewer with beef tsukune wrapped in bao buns and finished with a line of tangy miso mustard. Dessert is a dynamic finish, as in the donatsu, a donut with a donut hole for dipping in matcha semifreddo.
Kyoten Next Door
Chef Otto Phan’s latest omakase is something of a gem. Located next door to his flagship counter, which costs exponentially more, this 10-seat experience serves only nigiri and offers both style and substance. The cost is reasonable when you consider the expense of twice-weekly shipments from Japan and the length of the meal. Cut large, scored deep, sauced readily, and then pressed onto generous mounds of rice, the fish make for hearty pieces. Fun quirks include avocado wrapped inside a tuna handroll or an entire Japanese scallop set on an equally-large bed of rice. To finish, the tamago is a silky sensation. The chic space and kindly-priced beverage list add to the swagger of a counter that cares about quality but never takes itself too seriously.
The aquamarine tones create a light and airy setting, but don't mistake the pastel tones for something less than serious. Score one of the front tables for a view of the glass-enclosed kitchen, though the wood-crafted banquette is ideal for settling in. Yao Yao pickled fish is the signature dish here, and it comes in three sizes (extra-large feeds up to six people!). Fiery and potent, this plate delivers a one-two punch with a funky seafood quality and the sharp tang of sour greens. Choose the "two flavored pickled" for a taste of Yao Yao pickled fish and boiled beef in a spicy Szechuan sauce. There are also a slew of sides, ranging from celtuce and dry bean curd skin to seaweed knot and konjac noodles to round out the meal.
French bistros are hardly known for restraint, but this River North arrival takes lavishness to another level entirely. On a quiet corner, duck and foie gras run up and down a menu that draws on hearty French classics spanning from pâté en croûte to steak frites to squab pithiviers. Far from rote, everything is made in-house and executed with refreshing clarity. The boisterous, sun-soaked dining room is a sign of equally happy guests, all of whom happily rise to the occasion as seafood platters and bottles of wine grace tables with unusual regularity. If stopping by for brunch, do not expect light fare: foie gras Monte Cristo, anyone? And if possible, save room for dessert. House-made ice creams and excellent, warm pastries await at the finish line.
Hero image: Courtesy of Kyoten Next Door
Thumbnail: Courtesy of Kyoten Next Door