When we reached out to more than 176 critics, food and lifestyle writers, and bloggers to help compile our list of the 101 Best Restaurants in the country, what we received back was a wealth of knowledge and insight. Our list of 202 nominees, whittled down from 303 before being narrowed down even further into our final 101, ranked restaurants nationwide according to location, style of cuisine, and other categories including budget, classic, and serious dining. Seventeen of the 202 restaurants were located in Chicago, and of those, seven made it to the final 101.
One of our most important voting criteria was the fact that panelists couldn’t vote for a restaurant unless they had eaten there. This way, someone who has never been to Chicago couldn’t decide to put in a vote for Spiaggia just because they heard it was good. This makes our list, which we’ve whittled down here to the top Chicago restaurants, dependable and reflective of the opinions of some of the region's culinary leaders. Here’s the list of the panelists who participated in the voting process.
A quick look at the list of Chicago's top seven restaurants reveals that the vast majority aren't in the "fancy" camp. Sure, there's the classic Spiaggia, run by chef Tony Mantuano, but other restaurants, including The Publican and Girl & The Goat, are anything but white tablecloth, and Grant Achatz's Next and Alinea are downright avant-garde. That certainly says a lot about the city, and the adventurous palates of its diners.
To find out which other restaurants from around the country made it into the top 101, you can find the full list here.