Chicago’s Alinea, considered by many as the best restaurant in the city, was named No. 37 on this year’s World’s 50 Best Restaurants list. The ranking was released today from Singapore. The Lincoln Park restaurant, the only one in the city with a full three stars from Michelin, also dropped in the rankings last year. In 2018, Alinea ranked No. 34.
The show’s host, Australian journalist Annabel Crabb, called Alinea “a staple of this list and a reference in the global food scene.”
“At the forefront of modern creativity, Grant Achatz and team design dishes spiked with emotion from that ultra-famous floating balloon to sophisticated riffs on a peanut butter and jelly sandwich,” Crabb said after revealing Alinea’s ranking.
Achatz and Alinea Group Nick Kokonas didn’t attend Tuesday’s reveal in Singapore. Kokonas said they sent Alinea executive chef Simon Davies and Devin McKinney, director of service for the Alinea Group.
The list is going through a transition after criticism for its lack of diversity. In a sea of rankings and awards from Michelin from to the James Beard Foundation, Kokonas still sees value in the World’s 50 Best. It’s unique as it doesn’t compete with other awards lists due to its global nature. Therefore, the ranking still carries influence, according to Kokonas.
“I don’t really think there is such a thing as the ‘best restaurant in the world.’ But it’s nice to be considered among the best and part of the larger community of restaurants that are striving to innovate and produce excellence within the largest industry in the world,” Kokonas wrote via email.
The high watermark for Alinea was in 2011 when it ranked No. 6. This year, two American restaurant followed Alinea. New York’s Le Bernardin ranked right in front of Alinea at No. 36. San Francisco’s Atelier Crenn followed at No. 35. Cosme in N.Y. was the highest-rated American restaurant at No. 23.
Alinea is the only Chicago representation on the 2019 list. Alinea is also the most expensive restaurant in the city. It will have competition next year when former Grace chef Curtis Duffy returns with his new restaurant, Ever.