Chicago's West Loop neighborhood has seen quite the surge in restaurants over the past number of years. It offers a wide variety of cuisines, including American, Argentine, Asian, French, Italian, Japanese, Mediterranean and Mexican—just to name a few. Area favorites such as Au Cheval, Girl & the Goat and Monteverde all call the West Loop home. In a neighborhood with such a plethora of options, it can be hard to narrow it down. Well, look no further—here are the absolute best restaurants in Chicago's West Loop, all designated with Michelin stars.
What Our Inspectors Say: "In many ways, an acclaimed restaurant that opened in 1997 may seem like old news, but chef/owner Paul Kahan continues to enliven this Windy City original with fresh talent and new flavor. The interior is small but packed, right down to the last lunchtime bar stool. Everything feels glossy and white, accented with high-back leather banquettes and orange place mats that pop with color at the bar. Service is sharp, busy and handling it all very well. . . . Lunch is an astounding bargain."
What Our Inspectors Say: "A vivid blue neon sign marks the entry to stylish Elske, the hip and sophisticated offering brought to you by husband-and-wife chef duo, David and Anna Posey. He worked at Blackbird; she at The Publican—and what they do together in this restaurant (the name means “love” in Danish) is pure culinary magic. The spacious setting is equal parts minimal-cool and perfectly cozy, with concrete floors, exposed brick walls and open ductwork. . . . The chefs' deeply creative menu offers seasonal, responsibly sourced dishes rendered with impeccable skill-the flavors carefully woven together to produce irresistible profiles."
What Our Inspectors Say: "Welcome to one of Chicago’s greatest restaurants. The interior is mod yet industrial, with an open kitchen—filled with jovial professionals who look like they’re cooking for a dinner party—that takes up a good deal of the space. The fact that nothing feels stuffy should not surprise since Oriole is something of a family business. Crisp attention to detail is clear from every member of this team, who are all thoroughly versed in the intricacies of the rather complex menu. Oriole's tasting menu is stimulating and utterly contemporary; borderless with its interweaving of global flavors."
What Our Inspectors Say: "Unapologetically loud, laid-back, and lively, Roister is part of chef Grant Achatz's culinary campus, with Next and Aviary enjoying next-door status in these former warehouse spaces. Even the ambient design reminds one of its sibling restaurants, though the cooking here, courtesy of chef Andrew Brochu, is far more rustic. The kitchen is boldly incorporated into the dining room and serves as its main focal point, adding to the synergy between front and back of house. Even service is a collaboration here. The best seats are along the counter, before the kitchen’s blazing hearth that gives off a sexy glow. As expected, the food is creative and modern, but it is also soulful in incorporating the wood fire."
What Our Inspectors Say: "Housed within a historical 19th-century print shop, this urbane, stylish but unfussy dining room does a fine job mixing original details with modern touches. Muted tones in the exposed brick walls and custom tile floors complement newer elements like floor-to-ceiling wine storage and dramatic smoke-shaded chandeliers that drip with crystals. Though the décor may tip its hat to yesteryear, the ambience is decidedly inviting and chef Andrew Zimmerman’s cuisine is firmly grounded in the 21st century. Settle into one of their spacious tables and look forward to a meal that reflects the delicious amalgam of American cuisine, with hints of Southeast Asian, Korean and Mediterranean tastes."
What Our Inspectors Say: "The service staff is hospitable, down to earth and manages to keep the ambience relaxed despite chefs John Shields and Karen Urie's intense craftsmanship. Beyond, the open kitchen mixes white tiles and cutting-edge equipment with a roaring hearth fire. There is a 'come as you are' feeling among the crowd here, but everyone has dressed up a bit, as if in deference to the superb meal that awaits them. Original, and at times even pleasantly experimental, this kitchen's cooking has a clear vision that is sure to meet every expectation of its versatile diners."
Photo courtesy of Roister/Facebook.