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All of Chicago’s Past James Beard Award Winners

Where to find every James Beard Award-winning Chicago chef and restaurant on a map

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Chicago has hosted the James Beard Foundation Awards — aka the “Oscars of the food world” — since 2014, aside from a two-year hiatus in 2020 and 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic and a swirl of controversy. But in 2022, the Beards came back, and Chicago’s restaurants and chefs are once again among elite company, cultivated throughout the years by the prestigious awards.

The following is a map of all Chicago-area JBA recipients from the past 15 years — at least those that are still open. This latest update adds 2022 Best Chef: Great Lakes Erick Williams, chef and owner at Virtue.

Disclosure: Some Vox Media staff members are part of the voting body for the James Beard Awards.

For updated information on coronavirus cases, please visit the city of Chicago’s COVID-19 dashboard. Health experts consider dining out to be a high-risk activity for the unvaccinated; it may pose a risk for the vaccinated, especially in areas with substantial COVID transmission. The latest CDC guidance is here; find a COVID-19 vaccination site here.

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Note: Restaurants on this map are listed geographically.
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1. Lettuce Entertain You (Rich Melman, Lifetime Achievement Award, 2015)

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5419 N Sheridan Rd
Chicago, IL

Chicago’s largest and most successful restaurant empire started out four decades ago as a local neighborhood eatery. Since opening R.J. Grunts in 1971, Lettuce Entertain You owner Rich Melman expanded across the city and then the country with dozens of concepts that span various themes, trends, and price points. From the casual—such as M Burger and Wow Bao—to fine dining stalwarts like Tru and Everest, the company has left no need unmet in its vast lineup. In honor of Melman’s accomplishments, the James Beard Foundation presented him with a Lifetime Achievement Award in 2015.

Rich Melman of Lettuce Entertain You
Lettuce Entertain You [Official Photo]

2. Sun Wah BBQ (America’s Classics, 2018)

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5039 N Broadway St
Chicago, IL 60640
(773) 769-1254
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This famed BYO Chinese restaurant, well known for its massive Beijing duck spread that’s carved tableside, was honored by the Beard Foundation as an America’s Classic in 2018.

Sun Wah’s signature Beijing duck spread
Sun Wah BBQ [Official Photo]

3. Arun's (Arun Sampanthavivat, Best Chef: Midwest, 2000)

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4156 N Kedzie Ave
Chicago, IL 60618
(773) 539-1909
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Arun Sampanthavivat has been setting the standard for Thai food in Chicago for more than three decades. His Albany Park restaurant has received numerous accolades for its upscale prix fixe menus of elevated Southeast Asian staples. Though the dining room was remodeled in 2017, little else has changed over the years and Sampanthavivat continues to impress diners with the skills and techniques that have made him a Chicago legend.

Arun’s [Official Photo]

4. Parachute (Beverly Kim and Johnny Clark, Best Chef: Great Lakes, 2019)

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3500 N Elston Ave
Chicago, IL 60618
(773) 654-1460
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Beverly Kim and Johnny Clark opened their Korean American smash hit Parachute in Avondale in 2014 and quickly accumulated an armload of awards and accolades, including recognition from Eater, Bon Appetit, the Jean Banchet Awards, and Michelin. The James Beard Foundation named the restaurant a finalist several times before awarding it a medal in 2019. Parachute recently reopened after taking a year off for renovations.

A smiling woman and a man in formalwear.
Beverly Kim and Johnny Clark of Parachute on the 2022 James Beard red carpet.
Barry Brecheisen/Eater Chicago

5. North Pond (Bruce Sherman, Best Chef: Great Lakes, 2012)

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2610 N Cannon Dr
Chicago, IL
(773) 477-5845
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For years, Chicagoans beat a path to this intimate dining spot for Bruce Sherman’s beautiful farm-to-table fare. The Michelin-starred restaurant situated on the edge of Lincoln Park’s North Pond is arguably the most romantic spot in town with an array of seasonal and locally-sourced dishes that redefine Midwestern flavors. Sherman left the restaurant in 2019 — Cesar Murillo is now the executive chef — but fans continue to flock to North Pond for excellent food and delightful views.

A white male chef in a chef’s coat.
Bruce Sherman of North Pond
Marc Much/Eater Chicago

6. Alinea (Outstanding Restaurant, 2016; Outstanding Service, 2010; Grant Achatz, Outstanding Chef, 2008 and Best Chef: Great Lakes, 2007)

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1723 N Halsted St
Chicago, IL
(312) 867-0110
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Widely recognized as one of the best restaurants in the world, Alinea is no stranger to critical acclaim. The three-star Michelin restaurant, where science and food meet to create mind-bending dishes, is at the top of the culinary bucket list for Chicagoans and visitors alike. In addition to taking home the coveted top prize in 2016, Grant Achatz was also named Best Chef: Great Lakes in 2007 and Outstanding Chef in 2008, while his team was honored for Outstanding Service in 2010.

Critics deem Alinea one of the best restaurants in the world
Matthew Gilson [Official Photo]

7. The Violet Hour (Outstanding Bar Program, 2015)

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1520 N Damen Ave
Chicago, IL
(773) 252-1500
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One Off Hospitality Group forever changed drinking in Chicago when it opened this mysterious craft cocktail mecca almost a decade ago. Long before egg white cocktails were in vogue, the Violet Hour was spurring on the mixology movement with never-before-seen techniques and concoctions. Today, it remains one of the most beloved bars thanks to an expansive menu and Wonderland-ish atmosphere hidden in plain sight behind a mural on Milwaukee Avenue. And no, guests are still not permitted to use their phones in the dimly-lit rooms.

The Violet Hour is known for innovative cocktails and creative techniques
The Violet Hour [Official Photo]

8. NoMI (Louey/Rubino Design Group, Inc, Outstanding Restaurant Graphics, 2001)

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800 N Michigan Ave
Chicago, IL 60611
(312) 239-4030
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Perched on the seventh floor of the Park Hyatt Chicago, NoMI touts seasonal, ingredient-driven cooking with French influences. The space, which recently reopened after a five-month closure for renovations, includes three different entities — restaurant, lounge, and rooftop bar — with scenic views of the Mag Mile. The restaurant was also a Michelin star recipient before shifting to a more casual experience.

NoMI [Official Photo]

9. Brindille (Bureau of Architecture and Design, Outstanding Restaurant Design, 2015; Carrie Nahabedian, Best Chef: Great Lakes, 2008)

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534 N Clark St
Chicago, IL
(312) 595-1616
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It took a bit of time but Carrie and Michael Nahabedian followed up on the success of Naha (which sadly closed in March 2018) with Brindille, a swanky Parisian-style restaurant with modern touches and an intimate atmosphere. Carrie Nahabedian reigned over all other chefs in the Great Lakes region in 2008 and her follow-up restaurant took home a Beard in 2015. From the silverware to the décor, Brindille is unified by the concept of “brindille,” the French word for twig. For guests, it’s welcoming and scenic escape in the heart of River North.

The James Beard Foundation recognized Brindille for both its chef and design
Barry Brecheisen/Eater Chicago

10. The Purple Pig Restaurant (Jimmy Bannos Jr., Rising Star Chef, 2014)

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444 Michigan Ave
Chicago, IL 60611
(312) 464-1744
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The Mag Mile’s “cheese, swine, and wine” spot isn’t just popular because of its location. Its success can be largely attributed to Rising Star Chef winner Jimmy Bannos Jr., who comes from a long line of restaurateurs and was mentored by his father Jimmy Bannos (Heaven on Seven). His approachable and inventive shareable plates evoke the Mediterranean region and guests often wait hours for a table. In 2019, the restaurant relocated down the street from its original home, but its reputation remains: Tourist trap, the Purple Pig is certainly not.

A man poses, smiling, while wearing a white chef’s jacket and bandana headband.
Jimmy Bannos Jr. won a Beard in 2014.
The Purple Pig

11. Publican Quality Bread (Greg Wade, Outstanding Baker, 2019)

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1759 W Grand Ave
Chicago, IL 60622
(312) 605-1618
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One Off Hospitality’s Publican Quality Bread launched in 2014. Under the leadership of baker Greg Wade, it runs bread programs for all of the group’s restaurants, including the Publican, Avec, and Dove’s Luncheonette. Its breads are also sold wholesale and served in more than 50 restaurants across Chicago. The James Beard Foundation nominated Wade for Outstanding Baker three times and he finally took home a win in 2019. Earlier this month, Wade and his team opened a bakery and small cafe in West Town.

A white man in a bandana picks up a pastry with tongs.
Greg Wade opened a PQB bakery and cafe in 2022 in West Town.
Barry Brecheisen/Eater Chicago

12. Topolobampo (Outstanding Restaurant, 2017; Rick Bayless, Best Chef: Midwest, 1991)

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4682, 445 N Clark St
Chicago, IL 60610
(312) 661-1434
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Chef and owner Rick Bayless’s seemingly endless list of accolades — including a Michelin star — got even longer when the fine-dining sister restaurant to Frontera Grill won the Beards’ top honor for restaurants in 2017. Topolobampo’s tasting menu changes seasonally with an array of creative Mexican concepts.

A dimly lit dining room with shelves full of trinkets.
Topolobampo is Rick Bayless’ esteemed fine-dining Mexican restaurant
Topolobampo [Official Photo]

13. Frontera Grill (Outstanding Restaurant, 2007; Rick Bayless, Humanitarian of the Year, 1998; Outstanding Chef, 1995)

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445 N Clark St
Chicago, IL
(312) 661-1434
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Rick Bayless’s name has become synonymous with Mexican cuisine and 30 years after it first opened, his flagship restaurant still operates at the consistently high level that diners have come to expect. Frontera focuses on a contemporary style of cooking driven by traditional ingredients. Bayless’ salsas, seasonings, and marinades have also been so popular that they’ve spawned a line of retail products, while the Frontera empire continues to expand with no sign of slowing down.

Frontera Grill
Outside Frontera Grill
Barry Brecheisen/Eater Chicago

14. The Publican (Design Bureaux, Inc., Outstanding Restaurant Design, 2009)

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837 W Fulton Market
Chicago, IL
(312) 733-9555
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Pork isn’t just confined to the menu at the Publican: it permeates the beer hall-style dining room. Pigsty-style booths keep diners fenced in while swine-themed artwork adorns the walls. Long communal tables also help generate a lively environment where anyone can make friends with a neighbor. 

The Publican’s popular communal tables
One Off Hospitality [Official Photo]

15. The Aviary (Outstanding Bar Program, 2013)

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955 W Fulton Market
Chicago, IL
(312) 226-0868
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Grant Achatz and Nick Kokonas’ impact on the culinary world extends beyond food. At the Alinea Group’s cocktail temple, which won a Beard in 2013, the talented team behind the bar practice alchemy to create mesmerizing and awe-inspiring libations that are unlike anything else in Chicago. The downstairs speakeasy, the Office, serves classic drinks and vintage spirits.

A stunning cocktail bar from Alinea’s Grant Achatz and Nick Kokonas
Barry Brecheisen/Eater Chicago

16. Next (Dave Beran, Best Chef: Great Lakes, 2014; Best New Restaurant, 2012)

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953 W Fulton Market
Chicago, IL
(312) 226-0858
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Grant Achatz and Nick Kokonas’ highly-anticipated follow-up to Alinea arrived in 2011 amid much buzz for several reasons. First is its unique concept: the entire restaurant changes its theme every “season,” offering a completely new menu and design three times a year. Secondly, diners have to prepay upfront for the cost of the meal by purchasing tickets on Kokanas’s reservation system, Tock. Despite the massive expectations, the restaurant managed to live up to the hype and was deemed the Best New Restaurant in 2012. Former executive chef Dave Beran followed that up with a Best Chef: Great Lakes win in 2014 and his successor, Jenner Tomaska (who opened his own restaurant, Esmé, last year with his wife Katrina Bravo, another Alinea Group veteran), was nominated for 2018’s Rising Star Chef award.

A private dining room inside Next
Next [Official Photo]

17. Boka Restaurant Group (Kevin Boehm and Rob Katz, Outstanding Restaurateur, 2019)

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820 W Lake St #200
Chicago, IL 60607
(312) 238-9896
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The Chicago restaurant empire Boka Restaurant Group includes acclaimed spots like Girl & the GoatMomotaro, and Bellemore, and is regarded by critics as one of the most exciting and dynamic groups in the city. Boka, the group’s flagship restaurant, first opened in 2003. Katz and Boehm lured Charlie Trotter’s chef de cuisine Giuseppe Tentori into Boka’s kitchen in 2007, and the restaurant received its first Michelin star three years later. The James Beard Foundation nominated the owner duo for Outstanding Restauranteur four times, and in 2019 they finally snagged the prize.

Kevin Boehm and Rob Katz
Barry Brecheisen/Eater Chicago

18. One Off Hospitality Group (Donnie Madia, Outstanding Restaurateur, 2015)

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808 W Lake St
Chicago, IL 60607

With powerhouses such as Avec, the Publican, and the Violet Hour under its umbrella, it’s not hard to see why One Off Hospitality Group is one of the preeminent restaurant players not just in Chicago, but the country. One of the main men behind it all, Donnie Madia, planted the seeds for the company back in 1997; for his work, Madia received the James Beard Foundation’s highest honor for restaurateurs in 2015, the same year Chicago hosted the gala for the first time.

Donnie Madia of One Off Hospitality
One Off Hospitality [Official Photo]

19. Avec (Koren Grieveson, Best Chef: Great Lakes, 2010; Thomas Schlesser Design, Outstanding Restaurant Design, 2005)

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615 W Randolph St
Chicago, IL
(312) 377-2002
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The Mediterranean-inspired wine bar from One Off Hospitality Group has been a runaway hit since day one due in large part to the efforts of Koren Grieveson. She helped open the hugely popular spot and developed the small plates menu full of crowd-pleasers such as chorizo-stuffed dates, housemade focaccia, and slow-roasted pork shoulder. Grieveson left the company for New York in 2012, but Avec hasn’t missed a beat under its new leadership. In 2021, Avec opened a second location in River North in the former home of One Off’s Beard Award-winning Pacific Standard Time; the kitchen is now run by Dylan Patel.

Koren Grieveson of Avec
Nick Solares [Official Photo]

20. Girl & the Goat (Stephanie Izard, Best Chef: Great Lakes, 2013)

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809 W Randolph St
Chicago, IL
(312) 492-6262
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Since winning season four of Top Chef in 2008, Stephanie Izard has been one of the city’s most popular chefs. It’s still tough to get reservations at her original restaurant, Girl & the Goat where fans continue to flock in to try bold, signature dishes like oven-roasted pig face and goat empanadas. Izard capped off her quick rise to fame with a Best Chef: Great Lakes award in 2013. She’s since expanded her footprint with acclaimed restaurants Duck Duck Goat, Little Goat Diner, and Cabra and bakery Sugargoat, plus an LA location of Girl & the Goat and a line of condiments sold in grocery stores.

Stephanie Izard of the Girl & the Goat, Duck Duck Goat, and more
Photo by Dave Kotinsky/Getty Images for NYCWFF

21. Sepia (Robert Louey Design, Outstanding Restaurant Graphics, 2008) 

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123 N Jefferson St
Chicago, IL
(312) 441-1920
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Andrew Zimmerman’s Michelin-starred restaurant has been a paragon of excellence over the last 10 years. To showcase the lauded chef’s New American plates, Robert Louey Design helped transform a 1890s print shop into a warm and inviting room featuring art nouveau flooring and hand-crafted millwork. It’s a striking design that exudes modernity while preserving the space’s history.

Sepia’s award-winning space
Sepia [Official Photo]

22. Cherry Circle Room (Land & Sea Dept., Outstanding Restaurant Design, 2016)

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12 S Michigan Ave
Chicago, IL
(312) 792-3515
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When the historic Chicago Athletic Association Hotel was renovated in 2015, Land & Sea Dept. restored Cherry Circle Room to its former glory and then some. The design pays homage to the past with wood-accented walls and cabinets, leather booths, and velvet chairs. The result is a stunning room that feels like a hideaway from the bustle of Michigan Avenue.

Intimate booths at the Chicago Athletic Association Hotel’s Cherry Circle Room
Marc Much/Eater Chicago

23. Monteverde (Sarah Grueneberg, Best Chef: Great Lakes, 2017)

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1020 W Madison St
Chicago, IL 60607
(312) 888-3041
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Sarah Grueneberg rose to fame when she became a Top Chef finalist in 2012 when she was still running the kitchen at Italian icon Spiaggia. After she opened her West Loop Italian restaurant Monteverde, which is continually rated as one of Chicago’s best restaurants and toughest reservations, Grueneberg won a Beard in 2017.

Sarah Grueneberg of Monteverde
Monteverde [Official Photo]

24. The Berghoff (America’s Classics, 1999)

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17 W Adams St
Chicago, IL 60603
(312) 427-3170
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One of the oldest restaurants in Chicago is a timeless landmark that offers traditional German fare and beer brewed in-house. The Berghoff, which originally opened as a saloon in 1878 and started serving meals during World War I is notable for snagging the the first liquor license the city issued after Prohibition and also for operating a men’s-only bar until 1969. The historic 45,000-square-foot building closed briefly in 2006 during a transition in ownership but has since returned to its role as a reliable spot for a Reuben or schnitzel in the downtown area.

The Berghoff Barry Brecheisen/Eater Chicago

25. Tufano's Vernon Park Tap (America’s Classics, 2008)

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1073 W Vernon Park Pl
Chicago, IL
(312) 733-3393
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It doesn’t get more old school than this mom-and-pop Italian joint. Owned and operated by the DiBuono family since 1930, Tufano’s hasn’t changed a bit over the years. It’s cash-only, the menu is posted on chalkboards on the wall, and regulars drop in often for hearty Italian red sauce dishes and classics such as house-made eggplant Parm and lemon chicken. For its enduring spirit, the restaurant was feted by the James Beard Foundation in 2008.

The DiBuono family has owned Tufano’s for nearly 90 years
Tufano’s Vernon Park Tap [Official Photo]

26. Virtue Restaurant (Erick Williams, Best Chef: Great Lakes, 2022)

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1462 E 53rd St
Chicago, IL 60615
(773) 947-8831
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When Virtue debuted in 2018 in the Hyde Park neighborhood, it was the realization of a longtime dream for veteran Chicago chef Erick Williams. His celebration of Black culture through the lens of upscale Southern cuisine has made the restaurant a destination for both locals and tourists (including then-President Obama), and earned national acclaim from Eater, the Jean Banchet Awards, and Michelin. Williams was a finalist for the Best Chef: Great Lakes award in 2020, and two years later, he took home the prize.

A Black man in a suit poses, smiling, with his James Beard Award medal.
Erick Williams brought home Chicago’s sole culinary award from the foundation in 2022.
Barry Brecheisen/Eater Chicago

27. Calumet Fisheries (America’s Classics, 2010)

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3259 E 95th St
Chicago, IL
(773) 933-9855
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For almost seven decades, this no-frills South Side roadside shack has been treating diners to some of the city’s finest seafood. The menu runs the gamut from fried shrimp to smoked salmon and trout. Guests often eat in their cars or on the curb because of the limited seating, but that’s no deterrent for the restaurant’s loyal fans. The James Beard Foundation recognized Calumet Fisheries in 2010 and declared it a timeless American Classic.

Calumet Fisheries
Calumet Fisheries hosted the crew from iconic Chicago movie The Blues Brothers in the summer of 1979
Eric Allix Rogers/Flickr

1. Lettuce Entertain You (Rich Melman, Lifetime Achievement Award, 2015)

5419 N Sheridan Rd, Chicago, IL
Rich Melman of Lettuce Entertain You
Lettuce Entertain You [Official Photo]

Chicago’s largest and most successful restaurant empire started out four decades ago as a local neighborhood eatery. Since opening R.J. Grunts in 1971, Lettuce Entertain You owner Rich Melman expanded across the city and then the country with dozens of concepts that span various themes, trends, and price points. From the casual—such as M Burger and Wow Bao—to fine dining stalwarts like Tru and Everest, the company has left no need unmet in its vast lineup. In honor of Melman’s accomplishments, the James Beard Foundation presented him with a Lifetime Achievement Award in 2015.

5419 N Sheridan Rd
Chicago, IL

2. Sun Wah BBQ (America’s Classics, 2018)

5039 N Broadway St, Chicago, IL 60640
Sun Wah’s signature Beijing duck spread
Sun Wah BBQ [Official Photo]

This famed BYO Chinese restaurant, well known for its massive Beijing duck spread that’s carved tableside, was honored by the Beard Foundation as an America’s Classic in 2018.

5039 N Broadway St
Chicago, IL 60640

3. Arun's (Arun Sampanthavivat, Best Chef: Midwest, 2000)

4156 N Kedzie Ave, Chicago, IL 60618
Arun’s [Official Photo]

Arun Sampanthavivat has been setting the standard for Thai food in Chicago for more than three decades. His Albany Park restaurant has received numerous accolades for its upscale prix fixe menus of elevated Southeast Asian staples. Though the dining room was remodeled in 2017, little else has changed over the years and Sampanthavivat continues to impress diners with the skills and techniques that have made him a Chicago legend.

4156 N Kedzie Ave
Chicago, IL 60618

4. Parachute (Beverly Kim and Johnny Clark, Best Chef: Great Lakes, 2019)

3500 N Elston Ave, Chicago, IL 60618
A smiling woman and a man in formalwear.
Beverly Kim and Johnny Clark of Parachute on the 2022 James Beard red carpet.
Barry Brecheisen/Eater Chicago

Beverly Kim and Johnny Clark opened their Korean American smash hit Parachute in Avondale in 2014 and quickly accumulated an armload of awards and accolades, including recognition from Eater, Bon Appetit, the Jean Banchet Awards, and Michelin. The James Beard Foundation named the restaurant a finalist several times before awarding it a medal in 2019. Parachute recently reopened after taking a year off for renovations.

3500 N Elston Ave
Chicago, IL 60618

5. North Pond (Bruce Sherman, Best Chef: Great Lakes, 2012)

2610 N Cannon Dr, Chicago, IL
A white male chef in a chef’s coat.
Bruce Sherman of North Pond
Marc Much/Eater Chicago

For years, Chicagoans beat a path to this intimate dining spot for Bruce Sherman’s beautiful farm-to-table fare. The Michelin-starred restaurant situated on the edge of Lincoln Park’s North Pond is arguably the most romantic spot in town with an array of seasonal and locally-sourced dishes that redefine Midwestern flavors. Sherman left the restaurant in 2019 — Cesar Murillo is now the executive chef — but fans continue to flock to North Pond for excellent food and delightful views.

2610 N Cannon Dr
Chicago, IL

6. Alinea (Outstanding Restaurant, 2016; Outstanding Service, 2010; Grant Achatz, Outstanding Chef, 2008 and Best Chef: Great Lakes, 2007)

1723 N Halsted St, Chicago, IL
Critics deem Alinea one of the best restaurants in the world
Matthew Gilson [Official Photo]

Widely recognized as one of the best restaurants in the world, Alinea is no stranger to critical acclaim. The three-star Michelin restaurant, where science and food meet to create mind-bending dishes, is at the top of the culinary bucket list for Chicagoans and visitors alike. In addition to taking home the coveted top prize in 2016, Grant Achatz was also named Best Chef: Great Lakes in 2007 and Outstanding Chef in 2008, while his team was honored for Outstanding Service in 2010.

1723 N Halsted St
Chicago, IL

7. The Violet Hour (Outstanding Bar Program, 2015)

1520 N Damen Ave, Chicago, IL
The Violet Hour is known for innovative cocktails and creative techniques
The Violet Hour [Official Photo]

One Off Hospitality Group forever changed drinking in Chicago when it opened this mysterious craft cocktail mecca almost a decade ago. Long before egg white cocktails were in vogue, the Violet Hour was spurring on the mixology movement with never-before-seen techniques and concoctions. Today, it remains one of the most beloved bars thanks to an expansive menu and Wonderland-ish atmosphere hidden in plain sight behind a mural on Milwaukee Avenue. And no, guests are still not permitted to use their phones in the dimly-lit rooms.

1520 N Damen Ave
Chicago, IL

8. NoMI (Louey/Rubino Design Group, Inc, Outstanding Restaurant Graphics, 2001)

800 N Michigan Ave, Chicago, IL 60611
NoMI [Official Photo]

Perched on the seventh floor of the Park Hyatt Chicago, NoMI touts seasonal, ingredient-driven cooking with French influences. The space, which recently reopened after a five-month closure for renovations, includes three different entities — restaurant, lounge, and rooftop bar — with scenic views of the Mag Mile. The restaurant was also a Michelin star recipient before shifting to a more casual experience.

800 N Michigan Ave
Chicago, IL 60611

9. Brindille (Bureau of Architecture and Design, Outstanding Restaurant Design, 2015; Carrie Nahabedian, Best Chef: Great Lakes, 2008)

534 N Clark St, Chicago, IL
The James Beard Foundation recognized Brindille for both its chef and design
Barry Brecheisen/Eater Chicago

It took a bit of time but Carrie and Michael Nahabedian followed up on the success of Naha (which sadly closed in March 2018) with Brindille, a swanky Parisian-style restaurant with modern touches and an intimate atmosphere. Carrie Nahabedian reigned over all other chefs in the Great Lakes region in 2008 and her follow-up restaurant took home a Beard in 2015. From the silverware to the décor, Brindille is unified by the concept of “brindille,” the French word for twig. For guests, it’s welcoming and scenic escape in the heart of River North.

534 N Clark St
Chicago, IL

10. The Purple Pig Restaurant (Jimmy Bannos Jr., Rising Star Chef, 2014)

444 Michigan Ave, Chicago, IL 60611
A man poses, smiling, while wearing a white chef’s jacket and bandana headband.
Jimmy Bannos Jr. won a Beard in 2014.
The Purple Pig

The Mag Mile’s “cheese, swine, and wine” spot isn’t just popular because of its location. Its success can be largely attributed to Rising Star Chef winner Jimmy Bannos Jr., who comes from a long line of restaurateurs and was mentored by his father Jimmy Bannos (Heaven on Seven). His approachable and inventive shareable plates evoke the Mediterranean region and guests often wait hours for a table. In 2019, the restaurant relocated down the street from its original home, but its reputation remains: Tourist trap, the Purple Pig is certainly not.

444 Michigan Ave
Chicago, IL 60611

11. Publican Quality Bread (Greg Wade, Outstanding Baker, 2019)

1759 W Grand Ave, Chicago, IL 60622
A white man in a bandana picks up a pastry with tongs.
Greg Wade opened a PQB bakery and cafe in 2022 in West Town.
Barry Brecheisen/Eater Chicago

One Off Hospitality’s Publican Quality Bread launched in 2014. Under the leadership of baker Greg Wade, it runs bread programs for all of the group’s restaurants, including the Publican, Avec, and Dove’s Luncheonette. Its breads are also sold wholesale and served in more than 50 restaurants across Chicago. The James Beard Foundation nominated Wade for Outstanding Baker three times and he finally took home a win in 2019. Earlier this month, Wade and his team opened a bakery and small cafe in West Town.

1759 W Grand Ave
Chicago, IL 60622

12. Topolobampo (Outstanding Restaurant, 2017; Rick Bayless, Best Chef: Midwest, 1991)

4682, 445 N Clark St, Chicago, IL 60610
A dimly lit dining room with shelves full of trinkets.
Topolobampo is Rick Bayless’ esteemed fine-dining Mexican restaurant
Topolobampo [Official Photo]

Chef and owner Rick Bayless’s seemingly endless list of accolades — including a Michelin star — got even longer when the fine-dining sister restaurant to Frontera Grill won the Beards’ top honor for restaurants in 2017. Topolobampo’s tasting menu changes seasonally with an array of creative Mexican concepts.

4682, 445 N Clark St
Chicago, IL 60610

13. Frontera Grill (Outstanding Restaurant, 2007; Rick Bayless, Humanitarian of the Year, 1998; Outstanding Chef, 1995)

445 N Clark St, Chicago, IL
Frontera Grill
Outside Frontera Grill
Barry Brecheisen/Eater Chicago

Rick Bayless’s name has become synonymous with Mexican cuisine and 30 years after it first opened, his flagship restaurant still operates at the consistently high level that diners have come to expect. Frontera focuses on a contemporary style of cooking driven by traditional ingredients. Bayless’ salsas, seasonings, and marinades have also been so popular that they’ve spawned a line of retail products, while the Frontera empire continues to expand with no sign of slowing down.

445 N Clark St
Chicago, IL

14. The Publican (Design Bureaux, Inc., Outstanding Restaurant Design, 2009)

837 W Fulton Market, Chicago, IL
The Publican’s popular communal tables
One Off Hospitality [Official Photo]

Pork isn’t just confined to the menu at the Publican: it permeates the beer hall-style dining room. Pigsty-style booths keep diners fenced in while swine-themed artwork adorns the walls. Long communal tables also help generate a lively environment where anyone can make friends with a neighbor. 

837 W Fulton Market
Chicago, IL

15. The Aviary (Outstanding Bar Program, 2013)

955 W Fulton Market, Chicago, IL
A stunning cocktail bar from Alinea’s Grant Achatz and Nick Kokonas
Barry Brecheisen/Eater Chicago

Grant Achatz and Nick Kokonas’ impact on the culinary world extends beyond food. At the Alinea Group’s cocktail temple, which won a Beard in 2013, the talented team behind the bar practice alchemy to create mesmerizing and awe-inspiring libations that are unlike anything else in Chicago. The downstairs speakeasy, the Office, serves classic drinks and vintage spirits.

955 W Fulton Market
Chicago, IL

Related Maps

16. Next (Dave Beran, Best Chef: Great Lakes, 2014; Best New Restaurant, 2012)

953 W Fulton Market, Chicago, IL