Eating Your Way Around the Windy City

Thanks to Travel and Leisure, we get to take a look at the hottest spots to dine at in Chicago. As Janet Franz points out in her article Chicago Heats Up, “the city hasn’t quite been able to edge past the dining capitals on the coasts. But that’s all changing. This city in America’s heartland is peppered with young chefs who are blending straight-from-the-farm food with inventive technique.” Sounds delicious.

Alinea Grant Achatz has been igniting the most sparks on Chicago’s restaurant scene lately. He takes food to a new dimension at Alinea, where diners can choose a 12-course tasting or a 24-course grand tour—and should plan on staying for at least three hours. Achatz likes to atomize, spindle, and otherwise manipulate food, so expect flavor-packed combinations of powders, foams, and globules—and custom-made pins and prongs with which to consume them.

Butter Any chef who lists the French Laundry on his résumé is bound to turn some heads, and Ryan Poli is doing just that at Butter. With its expansive front windows and illuminated bar, this airy spot in the West Loop is a sexy backdrop for the handsome 29-year-old’s imaginative New American menu.

Custom House Known for working his magic with fish (at Spring) and veggies (at Green Zebra), 2006 James Beard Award winner Shawn McClain finally sinks his teeth into red meat at Custom House. While steaks are the stars here—crusty pan-roasted prime sirloin with salt-and-vinegar fingerling potatoes—the chef’s penchant for showcasing organic ingredients from small purveyors (Grimaud Farms, Morning Fresh Dairy) is also evident.”