One of the country’s preeminent dining cities gained just one new Michelin star this year amidst what the Red Guide called a “challenging culinary environment.” Michelin’s famously anonymous inspectors reserved that single star for the tasting menu-only Temporis in West Town. Four restaurants — Grace, Sixteen, GreenRiver, and Naha — were removed from the starred-rankings due to closures or overhauls.
Overall, Chicago has 22 starred restaurants for 2019, down three from 25 last year. Alinea is now once again the only three-Michelin-starred restaurant in the Windy City after Curtis Duffy’s Grace shuttered late last year. New York, by comparison, holds 72 stars, while San Francisco has 55; Washington DC has 16.
Just over 120 restaurants worldwide hold three stars, Michelin’s highest accolade, a category signifying “exceptional cuisine, worth a special journey.” Two stars mean “excellent cooking, worth a detour,” while one star means “high quality cooking, worth a stop.”
Despite the loss of stars, Michelin’s chief inspector believes the future of Chicago’s fine dining scene is still bright. “I think each year is different, and this is true for every city,” the anonymous chief inspector said. “I don’t think the fact that this year was quote-unquote challenging with the closure of four stars has any impact on what we can expect in the future for the city.”
Meanwhile, Temporis, which Michelin’s international director called “under-the-radar” in the release, is Chicago’s feel-good Michelin-star story for 2019. The venue, which opened in January 2017 on Ashland Avenue and charges $125 for its nightly menu, wowed inspectors more than any other new restaurant in Chicago.
“The experience [at Temporis] was consistently impressive and it revealed a meal that really had a mastery of technique,” the chief inspector said. “It had a really distinct personality that we saw come through.”
Beyond Temporis’ one-star addition and Alinea’s three stars, all the other restaurants from the 2018 guide retain their stars for 2019. That means Acadia, Oriole, and Smyth are still two-Michelin-starred, while Elske, Parachute, Topolobampo, and 14 others are still one-starred.
The Publican, One Off Hospitality’s Fulton Market icon, lost its Bib Gourmand but wasn’t elevated to a star either. The chief inspector said simply that it was too expensive this year to stay within the $40 affordability requirement to remain a Bib. “It’s really no reflection on quality,” he said. “It is a favorite of the city, it’s really an interesting establishment, and we will continue to look at it in the future.”
Sarah Grueneberg’s Monteverde, which Eater’s Bill Addison named one of America’s best restaurants, was left out of the starred ranks for a third straight year.
When asked which restaurants and chefs were considered for stars but didn’t quite make it, the chief inspector mentioned Bellemore, Mordecai, and S.K.Y. And they “definitely look forward to Curtis Duffy’s return,” he said.
Michelin’s Chicago 2019 Starred Selections: