The Chicago food scene is ready for its close-up. On Tuesday, Michelin introduced its first-ever guide to the Windy City, an endeavor two years in the making that encompasses 342 restaurants and 39 hotels. Chicago joins New York City and the San Francisco Bay Area as the only U.S. cities to attract the attention of the prestigious foodie standard.
Of course, the real buzz goes out to those select establishments that earned coveted Michelin stars. In the guide’s first go-around, just two restaurants – Alinea and L20 – garnered the highest rating of three stars. Three others – Avenues (pictured), Charlie Trotter’s, and Ria – took home two stars, and 18 earned one star each (among them ShermansTravel.com picks Sepia and Sixteen).
For comparison’s sake, as of the 2011 editions New York has 57 Michelin-starred restaurants and San Francisco has 44, the majority in both cities in the one-star category.
It’s not all about the impossible-to-get-a-reservation standard bearers, however. Diners on a budget can rejoice in Michelin’s 46 Bib Gourmand designations, announced last week, for restaurants that offer an exceptional three-course meal for $40 or less (before tax and tip). The guide also includes over 100 restaurants with meals for under $25.
For general trip-planning information, see our Chicago Travel Guide.