Where to Eat in Chicago: JBF Award Winners
On Monday, May 4, for the first time in the program's 25-year history, the James Beard Awards will take place in the city of Chicago. This prestigious ceremony, known as the Oscars of the food world, will be held at Lyric Opera of Chicago. One of America's most innovative dining cities, Chicago boasts over 40 JBF Award winners, including four Outstanding Chef recipients. We’re thrilled to honor the best of the culinary industry in this world-class destination.
If you're visiting Chicago and looking for a place to dine, there's no better place to start than with the city's James Beard Award winners. Read on to see the best that Chicago has to offer. (For even more JBF-approved Chicago chefs, see our 2015 Restaurant & Chef award semifinalists.)
Known around the world as one of America’s most progressive chefs, multiple JBF Award winner Grant Achatz (he snagged Rising Star Chef of the Year, Best Chef: Great Lakes, and Outstanding Chef over the course of only six years) oversees the groundbreaking Alinea, as well as the shape-shifting Next, winner of Best New Restaurant in 2012 and home to 2014 Best Chef: Great Lakes winner, Dave Beran. Achatz’s innovative bar, the Aviary, took home the 2013 Outstanding Bar Program award.
Alinea (1723 North Halsted Street; 312.867.0110; alinearestaurant.com)
Next (953 West Fulton Market; 312.226.0858; nextrestaurant.com)
The Aviary (955 West Fulton Market; 312.226.0868; theaviary.com)
Jimmy Bannos, Jr.
Jimmy Bannos, Jr. is Chicago's most recent JBF medalist, taking home Rising Star Chef of the Year in 2014. Visit the Purple Pig for a taste of Bannos's acclaimed Mediterranean fare.
The Purple Pig (500 North Michigan Avenue; 312.464.1744; thepurplepigchicago.com)
Chicago’s first-ever Outstanding Chef winner (1995), and one of the country's authorities on Mexican cuisine, Rick Bayless remains a beloved chef among locals, while appearances on Top Chef Masters and a PBS show have made him a household name. Bayless’s Frontera Grill won the Outstanding Restaurant award in 2007.
Frontera Grill (445 North Clark Street; 312.661.1434; rickbayless.com/restaurants/frontera-grill)
Topolobampo (445 North Clark Street; 312.661.1434; rickbayless.com/restaurants/topolobampo)
Xoco (449 North Clark Street (Enter on Illinois); 312.661.1434; rickbayless.com/restaurants/xoco)
Xoco Bistro (1471 North Milwaukee Avenue; 312.661.1434; rickbayless.com/restaurants/xoco)
2013 Outstanding Chef winner Paul Kahan; 2012 Outstanding Pastry Chef winner Mindy Segal; 2012 Best New Restaurant winner Next
Gale Gand and Rick Tramonto
Fifteen years ago Rick Tramonto (Best Chef: Midwest) and Gale Gand (Outstanding Pastry Chef) opened the forward-thinking Tru, which helped to cement Chicago’s reputation as America’s most progressive culinary destination. Both chefs are no longer involved with the restaurant, but they remain highly active in the industry: Tramonto opened Restaurant R’evolution in New Orleans; while Gand has collaborated with other Chicago-area talent to open the casual Spritzburger.
Spritzburger (3819 North Broadway, 773.868.9866; spritzburger.com)
Tru (676 North St Clair Street; 312.202.0001; trurestaurant.com)
The first woman to win Top Chef, Best Chef: Great Lakes winner Stephanie Izard oversees the popular Girl & the Goat and its more casual spinoff, Little Goat. She plans to open a Chinese-inspired eatery in the West Loop later this year.
Girl & the Goat (809 West Randolph Street; 312.492.6262; girlandthegoat.com)
Little Goat (820 West Randolph Street; 312.888.3455; littlegoatchicago.com)
Located on the 40th floor of the Chicago Stock Exchange, the Relais & Chateaux–designated Everest isn’t just home to spectacular cities views, but also to 1995 Best Chef: Midwest winner Jean Joho, whose exquisite French cuisine is inspired by his Alsatian roots.
Everest (440 South LaSalle Street, 40th Floor; 312.663.8920; everestrestaurant.com)
Paul Kahan, who won the JBF Award for Outstanding Chef in 2013, oversees a celebrated family of fine and casual concepts throughout Chicago. The Publican is a perennial favorite, while Dove's Luncheonette, a Mexican diner, and Nico Osteria, an Italian seafood concept, both opened to wide acclaim last fall.
Avec (615 W Randolph Street; 312.377.2002; avecrestaurant.com)
Big Star (1531 N Damen Avenue; 773.235.4039; bigstarchicago.com)
Blackbird (619 W Randolph Street; 312.715.0708; blackbirdrestaurant.com)
Dove’s Luncheonette (1545 N Damen Avenue; 773.645.4060; doveschicago.com)
Nico Osteria (1015 N Rush Street; 312.994.7100; nicoosteria.com)
The Publican (837 West Fulton Market; 312.733.9555; thepublicanrestaurant.com)
Best Chef: Great Lakes winner Tony Mantuano is one of the most respected Italian chefs in the country. His flagship, Spiaggia, is a 2015 Outstanding Restaurant semifinalist and one of the city’s touchstones for fine dining. Its casual sister restaurant, Café Spiaggia, is also a local favorite.
Bar Toma (110 East Pearson Street; 312.266.3110; bartomachicago.com)
River Roast (315 North LaSalle Street; 312.822.0100; riverroastchicago.com)
Café Spiaggia and Spiaggia (980 North Michigan Avenue, Second Floor; 312.280.2750; spiaggiarestaurant.com)
Terzo Piano (159 East Monroe Street; 312.443.8650; terzopianochicago.com)
After racking up accolades at the acclaimed Trio and Spring, Best Chef: Midwest winner Shawn McClain now heads up Green Zebra Café, where adventurous, vegetarian small plates are the name of the game.
Green Zebra (1460 West Chicago Avenue; 312.243.7100; greenzebrachicago.com)
Accomplished Chicago restaurateur Richard Melman will receive this year's Lifetime Achievement award. As founder and chairman of Lettuce Entertain You Enterprises, Melman oversees more than 100 restaurants nationwide, and has mentored countless chefs and culinary professionals. (Lettuce Entertain You also benefits from the talents of 1997 Best Chef: Midwest winner Gabino Sotelino.)
Lettuce Entertain You Restaurants (leye.com)
Chicago native and 2008 Best Chef: Great Lakes winner Carrie Nahabedian opened the Mediterranean-inspired Naha to wide acclaim in 2000. Her second concept, Brindille, which opened in 2013, was praised as the city's best new restaurant by the Chicago Tribune.
Brindille (534 North Clark Street; 312.595.1616; brindille-chicago.com)
Naha (500 North Clark Street; 312.321.6242; naha-chicago.com)
Best Chef: Midwest winner Arun Sampanthavivat opened his eponymous restaurant in 1985 and remains at the helm of this authentic Thai eatery 30 years later.
Arun's Thai (4156 North Kedzie Avenue; 773.539.1909; arunsthai.com)
Pastry chef Mindy Segal has earned widespread acclaim for her innovative takes on classic desserts. She won the Foundation’s Outstanding Pastry Chef award in 2012, after five consecutive nominations. Her restaurant and dessert bar, HotChocolate, is a longtime Chicago favorite.
HotChocolate (1747 North Damen Avenue; 773.489.1777; hotchocolatechicago.com)
If you plan on visiting Lincoln Park, Chicago’s largest public park, be sure to visit North Pond, located within the grounds, for taste of Best Chef: Great Lakes winner Bruce Sherman’s lauded farm-to-table, New American cuisine.
North Pond (2610 North Cannon Drive; 773.477.5845; northpondrestaurant.com)
For Southern flavors and hospitality, head to Art Smith’s Table Fifty-Two. Smith, who formerly worked as Oprah Winfrey’s private chef, won the James Beard Foundation’s 2007 Humanitarian of the Year award for his work through Common Threads, a non-profit that educates children on cultural diversity, nutrition, and physical well being through cooking and the arts.
Table Fifty-Two (52 West Elm Street; 312.573.4000; tablefifty-two.com)
Sarah Stegner won the Foundation’s 1998 Rising Star Chef of the Year award for her cooking at the Ritz-Carlton. Today the Illinois native is drawing diners to Northbrook’s Prairie Grass Cafe, whose menu features ingredients sourced from sustainable Midwestern producers.
Prairie Grass Cafe (601 Skokie Boulevard, Northbrook; 847.205.4433; prairiegrasscafe.com)
Hailing from Mito, Japan, Takashi Yagihashi, known for his artful blending of Asian, French, and American cuisines, won the Best Chef: Midwest award in 2003. Head to Slurping Turtle to taste his take on Japanese comfort food.
Slurping Turtle (116 West Hubbard Street; 312.464.0466; slurpingturtle.com)
Chicago is home to three winners of the Foundation’s America’s Classics award, an honor given to regional establishments, often family-owned, that are treasured for their quality food, local character, and lasting appeal.
The Berghoff (17 West Adams Street; 312.427.3170; theberghoff.com)
Calumet Fisheries (3259 East 95th Street; 777.933.9855; calumetfisheries.com)
Tufano’s Vernon Park Tap (1073 West Vernon Park Place; 312.733.3393; tufanosrestaurant.com)