Crain’s Chicago Business | Dalton Barker | September 26, 2019
25 spots earned stars this year, up from 22 last year. Alinea retains its three-star rating, remaining the only spot in Chicago to earn that top honor.
Twenty-five Chicago restaurants earned a prestigious Michelin star in the 10th edition of the local guide.
That’s an increase from last year’s total of 22, with five new restaurants earning one-star status. The one-star list includes Kikko (chef Noah Sandoval’s new place), Mako, Next, Omakase Yume and Yugen, all in the West Loop, reinforcing the neighborhood’s reputation as a top culinary destination and reinforcing Japanese omakase as a dining trend.
Alinea retained its top Michelin rating of three stars, with Alinea chef Grant Achatz and partner Nick Kokonas adding Next to their list of Michelin-awarded restaurants. Next is known for its revolving menu with multiple themes throughout the year. It’s been a puzzling omission from the Michelins for many years.
“Our inspectors are especially impressed by the high-end Japanese cuisine available in the West Loop,” said Gwendal Poullennec, international director of the Michelin Guide.
Crain’s restaurant reviewer Graham Meyer noted the absence on the list of omakase restaurant Kyoten in Logan Square. “The chef at Kyoten has said baldly in interviews that he moved from Austin to Chicago because Chicago has a Michelin guide and he wants at least one star and probably two,” Meyer said. “He got zero. Restaurant critics Phil Vettel (of the Chicago Tribune) and Jeff Ruby (of Chicago magazine) have said they think Kyoten is the best of the omakase places. Why no star? I have no theories.”
Created more than a century ago by French tire manufacturers, the red Michelin guides select the best restaurants in 30 countries and four U.S. cities. Besides Chicago, Michelin reviews spots in New York, San Francisco and Washington, D.C.
In Chicago, Acadia, Smyth and Oriole (where Noah Sandoval is executive chef) all retained their two-star status. Dusek’s and Alinea Group’s Roister both lost their one-star ratings.
The chief North American Michelin inspector said a demotion occurs when a starred restaurant has negative marks from two individual inspectors.
Compared to other cities, Chicago typically outpaces Washington in overall restaurant quality but lags San Francisco and New York. Last year, 76 New York restaurants were deemed Michelin-worthy. The 2020 New York selections will be announced next month. The Michelin guide is online here.
“There is an energy and creativity that is very particular to Chicago,” said the chief inspector, who requested to remain anonymous.
Here is the complete list of Chicago restaurants recognized by Michelin (first-time Michelin winners denoted by an asterisk).
Alinea – Lincoln Park
Acadia – South Loop
Oriole – West Loop
Smyth – West Loop
Band of Bohemia – Ravenswood
Blackbird – West Loop
Boka – Lincoln Park
El Ideas – Pilsen
Elizabeth – Lincoln Square
Elske – West Loop
Entente – Lakeview
Everest – Loop
Goosefoot – Lincoln Square
*Kikko – West Loop
*Mako – West Loop
*Next – West Loop
North Pond – Lincoln Park
*Omakase Yume – West Loop
Parachute – Avondale
Schwa – Wicker Park
Sepia – West Loop
Spiaggia – Gold Coast
Temporis – Noble Square
Topolobampo – River North
*Yugen – West Loop