The luxury hotel and restaurant from Nobu Hospitality will open in Chicago in 2016
Nobu Chicago is set to open in 2016.
Nobu Hospitality has announced plans to open a Nobu Hotel and Restaurant in Chicago by early 2016. The boutique hotel will be located on the corner of Randolph and Peoria Streets, less than two blocks from Soho House, which is set to open this summer. The Nobu Hotel will feature 155 luxury rooms, a Nobu Restaurant inspired by Nobu Matsuhisa, and a special indoor and outdoor bar.
Nobu, which counts actor Robert De Niro as one of its investors, currently has 28 locations worldwide, 11 of which are in the United States.
Nobu Chicago is part of the hospitality group’s “overall growth strategy of expanding with other properties to 24-hour gateway cities, both in the U.S. and internationally,” said Trevor Howell, chief executive of Nobu Hospitality.
"Chicago's tourism industry continues to see record growth because renowned venues like Nobu are investing in expanding options for Chicagoans and tourists," said Mayor Rahm Emanuel. "This hotel and restaurant build on the city's great hospitality and culinary offerings to further cement Chicago's role as a world-class city."
Karen Lo is an associate editor at The Daily Meal. Follow her on Twitter @appleplexy.
Why Chicago’s West Loop Is The Hottest Restaurant Neighborhood In America
If you ask any Chicagoan where to head for dinner, they’re bound to make remarks on at least one restaurant in the West Loop. After all, many of the city’s most lauded chefs and restaurateurs have chosen the neighborhood for their projects, from local stalwarts Girl & the Goat and Au Cheval to newcomers Soho House and Salero. The majority of those come complete with stellar reviews and hours-long waits, so a venture on these streets is a good bet — even if it didn’t always seem that way.
Restaurateur Donnie Madia and chef Paul Kahan took a chance on the area back in 1997 when they opened Blackbird, their very first restaurant together. “There was a lot of restaurant action going on on the west side of Halsted on Randolph Street, but nothing on the east side,” recalls Madia. “We found ourselves on this little island almost.” That little island would eventually become home to some of the city’s most talked-about restaurants, including Salero, Sepia, Embeya and their own Avec, which opened in 2003. Meanwhile, on the other side of Halsted Street, the restaurant action continues with wood-fired pizzas at Parlor and bowls of noodles at High Five Ramen on Green Street and acclaimed Alinea chef Grant Achatz’s innovatively “ticketed” second restaurant Next on Fulton Market.
On Monday, May 2, the national spotlight will descend on this hub of culinary excellence when the esteemed James Beard Foundation holds its annual awards gala — often described as the “Oscars of food” — at the Lyric Opera of Chicago. The splashy black-tie event draws chefs and restaurateurs from across the country. Afterparties and other related events are planned at restaurants throughout the neighborhood.
For one night, the West Loop will seem like the epicenter of the entire food universe, if it didn’t already.
“The great neighborhoods are built on the backs of great restaurants.”
Neighborhood pioneers Donnie Madia and Paul Kahan opened Blackbird at 619 W. Randolph St. back in 1997. (Photo: Blackbird Chicago/Facebook.)
Lately, the hottest pocket of restaurant development in the neighborhood has been Fulton Market, located two blocks north of Randolph Street. This is where Madia and Kahan’s company, One Off Hospitality, has planted two more restaurants, the Publican and Publican Quality Meats. “Location is very important, but it’s also important to our philosophy to not follow a trend but to create a trend,” Madia says. “We felt that one day Fulton Market would be incredible, and we felt that Randolph east of the expressway would be incredible.”
The most recent project to hit Fulton Market is Duck Duck Goat, a restaurant showcasing Chinese fare from acclaimed chef Stephanie Izard. It’s the sixth restaurant that Izard’s partners at Boka Group have opened in the West Loop since 2010, when her vaunted Girl & the Goat first graced Randolph Street. “About a year after we opened that, things just started to happen,” notes Boka Group cofounder Kevin Boehm. “It was a bit of a brush fire.”
Chef Stephanie Izard’s celebrated restaurant Girl & the Goat opened at 809 W. Randolph St. in 2010.
Six years later, the craze continues in big-name form. Come early May, prolific restaurateur Rick Bayless will unleash his latest on Randolph and Peoria: Leña Brava, an all-wood-fired kitchen serving up dishes inspired by the cuisine of northern Baja. It’s the fifth Chicago venture from Bayless, who decided on a West Loop location at the onset of the project. “If you want to be accessible to all of the people who live here and come through here for conferences and tourism, then it’s the place to be,” he says. “It’s an inexpensive cab ride from any hotel, and there are massive amounts of people who live downtown, so it can become their local restaurant.”
For Bayless, it was the neighborhood’s recent restaurant resurgence — the one that brought the likes of the Publican, Girl & the Goat, Au Cheval and so on — that further solidified his choice of location. “The more the merrier,” he notes. “We were the pioneers of River North, and if you’re the only people doing it, like we were for a long time, it’s really hard,” he says. Madia agrees. “We enjoy our company, and we like that they’re there because they bring more people to the neighborhood and more opportunities for all of us to flourish.”
In the past year alone, that momentum has brought with it a number of high-profile newcomers, including an Italian concept from Top Chef alum Fabio Viviani (Bar Siena), a fried chicken favorite (Gus’s World Famous), a colossal steak house (Swift & Sons) and the latest from Alinea’s Grant Achatz and Nick Kokonas (Roister). “Usually restaurants come first, then you have hotels and then you have retail,” notes Boehm.
Designed by Anthony Tahlier, the upscale steak house Swift & Sons is among several newcomers to Chicago’s Fulton Market.
If his theory is right, then the West Loop is just getting started. Soho House seems to be the first of several other hotel undertakings, including an offshoot of the trendy Ace Hotel chain and a forthcoming concept from Nobu Hospitality. This year’s arrival of new commercial tenants, including Google and WeWork, only helps, Boehm points out. “It’s not just about happy hour and dinner anymore — now it’s about lunch, too.”
“I think the great neighborhoods are built on the backs of great restaurants,” says Boka Group cofounder Kevin Boehm. (Photo: Eric Kleinberg.)
Additionally, the neighborhood is seeing an influx of high-rise residential buildings at every corner, showcasing a demand for the area like never before. “They’re closing in on the last little bits of real estate and building 10- and 20-story apartment buildings for more residents,” notes Madia. “The West Loop is pulsating — it’s the hottest neighborhood in the country right now.”
But could that shift all be pegged back to the food that’s driving the scene’s business? Boehm thinks so. “I think the great neighborhoods are built on the backs of great restaurants,” he says. “A neighborhood gets its identity based on the restaurants that are there — they’re the landmarks that people can point to.”
It seems like a win-win for chefs looking for a spot to open shop, and according to Boehm, there’s a lot of opportunity — until there isn’t. “It’ll reach its tipping point at some point, and that has to do with how expensive real estate gets,” he says. “But based on the amount of people living and working here, and with hotels on the way, I think there is still a ways for it to go.”
Bayless agrees. “There’s really a lot of property and so many opportunities that can be had over there,” he says. “It’s really got a lot of potential to continue on, and I think it will.”
Best rooftop bars in Chicago
1. Rooftop at Nobu Hotel
The crown jewel of this luxury hotel in the West Loop is the Rooftop at Nobu, a sprawling outdoor terrace located 11 stories above the street. Complemented by east-facing skyline views, the rooftop's design is streamlined and minimalistic, with modern Japanese touches that are equally stylish and intimate. The menu includes a selection of shuko, or small snacks, like nori tacos, black cod lettuce wraps and lamb and chicken kushiyaki. Guests will also be able to order the hotel's signature hotel's signature yellowtail and black cod. On the booze front, expect a menu of wines by the glass and bottle, specialty cocktails and a wide range of sake.
A rooftop bar on the third floor of a Renaissance hotel? It doesn't sound very exciting, but you shouldn't underestimate Raised, a stunning oasis perched above Wacker Drive in the Loop&mdashan area that has been torn up by giant robots and monsters in various blockbusters. The garden-themed bar offers unique views of the Chicago River and the surrounding skyline, with clear shots of the Wrigley Building, Marina City and the Michigan Avenue Bridge.
Even when it's a little chilly outside, this beautiful rooftop bar at the Kimpton Gray Hotel feels like a tropical paradise. You'll find comfortable couches and small tables set under a gigantic retractable glass roof that lets in some fresh air when the weather is nice. The menu here highlights South American flavors in drinks like the In the Morning, I'll Be Better, an addictive blend of plantain-infused Scotch, black walnut bitters, tiki bitters and smoke. Pair it with an order of the fan-favorite empanadas, which are stuffed with chicken, aji panca and aji amarillo salsa.
When friends ask us where to take cocktail-loving out-of-towners, one spot always leads the pack: Cindy's. The rooftop restaurant and bar at the Chicago Athletic Association Hotel offers unparalleled views of the city, with an expansive look at Millennium Park and the Lake. But the real draw is a roster of excellent cocktails and clever spirit-free elixirs.
5. Reggies Rooftop Deck
You've probably gone to Reggies to see a rock concert or catch a shuttle to a White Sox game, but this South Loop club also boasts a rooftop bar lined with tables and umbrellas. Take a seat, enjoy the views across State Street and dig into the usual menu of wings, burgers, quesadillas and other pub grub while you sip a cold beverage under the sun.
With 36,000 square feet of indoor and outdoor space to roam with a cocktail in your hand, Navy Pier's Offshore is the largest rooftop bar in the world. (Really.) The all-seasons venue includes a glass-enclosed bar where you can order a cocktail and some oysters, as well as an expansive outdoor terrace outfitted with fire pits and a stage for live performances.
7. Cerise Rooftop
Head to the 26th floor of the Virgin Hotel and you'll find Cerise, an indoor-outdoor rooftop where you can get lunch, dinner or a late-night drink. You can grab a burger or eat a salad before ordering a mezcal Old Fashioned or some sparkling wine to enjoy while gazing out at the city. On Fridays and Saturdays, you'll typically find a DJ spinning records in the evening&mdashyou'll probably want to make a reservation to ensure you get a table.
8. Kennedy Rooftop
Unlike the expressway of the same name, Chicagoans will actually want to hang out at the Kennedy Rooftop, located on top of the Hyatt Place Chicago in Wicker Park. Here, guests are afforded unobstructed skyline views that stretch from the John Hancock to the Willis Tower in addition to 7,500 square feet to roam. A lineup of craft cocktails pays homage to past presidents, like Reagan&rsquos Orange Blossom with botanical vodka, orange juice, lemon, orange bitters and club soda. Access to the rooftop is first come, first served, so you'll need to show up early if it's an extra-beautiful day.
9. The J. Parker
If you haven't crossed the J. Parker off your Chicago bucket list, grab a glass of sparkling rosé and get to work. With its mesmerizing views of the city and Lincoln Park, this year-round rooftop bar with a retractable glass roof is a must for entertaining out-of-towners. On particularly beautiful summer days, arrive early and be prepared to wait for a seat to open&mdashreservations aren't accepted here. It's worth it, promise!
10. Utopian Tailgate
Utopian Tailgate, a rooftop deck perched atop the Second City in Old Town, spotlights the many joys of tailgating&mdashcomplete with tableside coolers of beer, stadium seating and cornhole. The 10,000-square-foot space comes from the Fifty/50 Restaurant Group (the folks behind the Sixth, Homestead on the Roof and Apogee) in partnership with the famed Chicago comedy institution. The sprawling all-year space is decked out in greenery, bright colors and plenty of flatscreen TVs.
11. LH Rooftop
In a city full of sweeping views, everyone wants to be on top. But this tri-level venue is the tippy top of all rooftop bars. Located on the 22nd floor of LondonHouse Chicago, LH Rooftop affords guests stunning vistas of the architecture along the Chicago River and Michigan Avenue. Currently, the only way to secure a spot on the roof is by making a reservation. Once you're there, you can order a glass of bubbly and soak in the views.
12. The Up Room
It's hard to find towering rooftop bars on the city's North Side, but the Up Room (set atop Wicker Park's Robey hotel) is one of the few spots where you can sip a drink and look out over the city. Settle in 13 floors above the busy intersection of Milwaukee, Damen and North Avenues and order a tropical cocktial, a flight of whiskey or a local craft beer. Tables are first come, first served&mdashif you're lucky, you might be seated inside the building's prominent spire.
13. Upstairs at the Gwen
From the fifth floor of the Gwen Hotel in River North, you can enjoy some unique views of the city, including plenty of the skyline's architectural highlights. Hotel guests and visitors fill the terrace patio for breakfast, lunch and dinner, ordering everything from Belgian waffles to lobster fettuccine. The bar is the highlight of the space on the weekends, serving creative cocktails, local beer and a variety of wine.
Not to be confused with the bath house River West, Aire is perched atop the 24th story of the Hyatt Centric hotel in the Loop, offering a spot where you can sip a cocktail while enjoying a 360-degree view of the surrounding architecture. Small groups can take a seat on couches or chairs beneath an umbrella and order shared small plates alongside cocktails, wine and beer. It's not a cheap spot for a drink, but you're paying for the high-above-the-streets sights.
15. Lonesome Rose
The rooftop at Lonesome Rose isn't very large, but there's enough room to share some drinks, tacos and truck stop nachos with a few friends. Owned and operated by Land and Sea Dept. (the folks behind Parson's), this Logan Square spot specializes in Tex-Mex fare, margaritas and some affordable brews. Just make sure you snag a reservation if you're hoping to sit on the rooftop, otherwise you may shed a few tears in your beer.
16. VU Rooftop Bar
True to its name, the views at VU are epic from 22 stories above street level. Once you've secured a seat, order from a selection of classic cocktails (including large format options such as Adult Lemonade) before ordering a few bites for the table. With three bars and two patios spread across 13,000 square feet, there's plenty of room to spread out and relax in the sun.
Etta's Bucktown location is know for its weekend brunch service and tasty wood-fired pizzas, but it's not a bad place to sit down for a drink if you're able to snag a seat on the roof. You can get solid takes on classic cocktails, peruse an expansive wine list or simply have a beer.
18. I|O at the Godfrey Hotel
There's not a bad seat in the house at this sprawling year-round rooftop bar (complete with a retractable roof), which affords everyone a front-row seat to a postcard-worthy skyline view. Take in the vistas while sipping a cocktail, a glass of wine or a selection from the impressive mocktail menu. As the sun sets, refuel with wagyu beef sliders, spicy tuna rolls and chocolate lava cake.
The loungey, greenery-lined setup at this West Loop restaurant makes it easy to relax&mdashand the sights of the surrounding neighborhood don't hurt either. Order a few Medditeranian dishes from the menu (the spicy hummus, whipped feta dip or the big eye tuna carpaccio are all surefire hits) and then explore the cocktail menu. Even the drinks with the cheekiest names are worth a try&mdashour favorite is the favorite Aloe? It's Me with mezcal, aloe, green juice, lime and jalapeño.
20. Whiskey Business
You don't have to walk far to find a bar on this stretch of Milwaukee Avenue in Wicker Park, but Whiskey Business is the only spot to offer a sprawling rooftop space. You'll find party-ready drinks like Red Bull vodka as well as a slightly more refined selection of whiskey cocktails (it's in the name). Stop by on Monday and Tuesday nights to watch a movie on one of two gigantic screens on the rooftop.
21. Joy District
There's no getting around it: Joy District is a scene. The perfectly manicured rooftop terrace is buzzing with bottle service, glasses of frosé and buckets of White Claw. If you're looking for something a bit more low-key, show up for brunch early on the weekends and if you're hoping to turn up, you'll find what you're looking for anytime after 5pm.
22. ROOF on theWit
While the ROOF on theWit was once best known as a nightclub, it has changed its tune a bit over the past few years. Now, you'll find couches and small tables set under the retractable glass roof, plus a small open-air terrace with a view (and the most in-demand seats). The menu includes small plates, pizzas and lots of cocktail, beer and wine options. And though the late-night scene here may not be as raucous as it once was, you can still get a bottle of champagne for the table.
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Great menus don’t just happen—they’re thoughtfully and precisely designed. We believe food is the essence and soul of all great restaurants. Our goal in developing your menu is to create food, which is visually appealing, possessing bold global flavors and is crave-able. We know how to maximize every detail to create delicious (and profitable) menu food that results in brand loyalty and outstanding sales performance for years to come.
When you’ve only got a few months to prove yourself, you need decades of experience. The only way to get that in such a short time is through trusted restaurant consultants. Gilkey Restaurant Consulting has a proven track record launching successful restaurant and hospitality concepts. From feasibility studies to business plans, to Culinary and Brand Development and more, our team of restaurant consultants is ready to help you get your concept off the ground.
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Bombshell filing details FBI's two-year probe of alleged corruption by Ald. Daniel Solis
A bombshell court filing made public Wednesday shows the FBI spent more than two years investigating alleged corruption schemes by longtime Ald. Daniel Solis, secretly listening in on thousands of phone calls as the alderman solicited everything from campaign donations to sexual services at a massage parlor.
The 120-page search warrant affidavit was filed under seal in May 2016 and made public after the Chicago Tribune successfully argued in court for its release. It was first obtained in January by the Chicago Sun-Times after it was inadvertently left on the public docket because of a mix-up by the clerk’s office.
The document lays out in exhaustive detail a laundry list of alleged federal crimes the FBI had compiled against Solis by the time he was confronted and agreed to cooperate with the investigation.
In exchange for official action or promises, Solis solicited a “steady flow of personal benefits,” including Viagra pills and prostitution services from a political operative who represented a company seeking an exemption from the city’s water ordinance, the affidavit alleged.
As the powerful head of the Zoning Committee, Solis directed a legislative aide to keep a running list of those he sought campaign contributions from, along with what official action each contributor wanted from him, the affidavit alleged.
The document also lays out Solis’ financial difficulties — including the foreclosure of his home — at the time the FBI was listening in on his phone calls. Solis allegedly had borrowed from friends, developers and his campaign fund, including $15,000 he used in 2012 to pay off an Internal Revenue Service debt.
The affidavit named a series of politicians, power brokers, lobbyists, friends and developers who were recorded as they sought assistance from Solis during the investigation. None has been publicly charged in the nearly three years since the affidavit was written.
Among them was a developer who allegedly provided Solis with the use of a farm once owned by Oprah Winfrey for a graduation party for Solis’ son a political operative for former Mayor Richard M. Daley who allegedly chided Solis for not steering more business his way and a clout-heavy lawyer and lobbyist who allegedly steered money to Solis in exchange for the alderman’s support on various development projects.
The affidavit also detailed an alleged effort by Solis to send legal work to Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan from an undisclosed businessman seeking to develop a hotel in Chinatown.
Madigan has previously denied any wrongdoing.
The affidavit was filed in support of warrants to search Solis’ City Hall office, ward office, home and other locations, but those never took place because of Solis’ quick cooperation.
As part of his cooperation, Solis wore a wire for the FBI for two years, recording numerous conversations with powerful Ald. Edward Burke at City Hall, the Tribune has previously reported. Burke was charged Jan. 3 with attempted extortion for allegedly trying to shake down two businessmen seeking to renovate a Burger King restaurant in the 14th Ward.
Soon after the affidavit became public Wednesday, Solis, who has not been seen publicly since it was first revealed two months ago that he’d worn a wire, confirmed his cooperation in the federal investigation in a statement issued through his attorney.
“Mr. Solis has decided to cooperate with the federal government to continue to serve the city of Chicago’s best interests,” the statement read. “Because his cooperation is part of an ongoing federal investigation, Mr. Solis cannot comment on the allegations against him or on those contained in the recently unsealed affidavit that is part of the federal investigation.”
Allegations of sexual favors
The affidavit’s most sensational details centered on allegations that Solis accepted erectile dysfunction drugs and sexual services in exchange for the alderman’s help with official city business.
According to the document, federal authorities captured several conversations in which Solis sought Viagra — including once before a trip to Taiwan — from political consultant Roberto Caldero, who at the time was representing a street sweeping company that was looking for a financial break from the city.
Calling the pills “the blue medicine” in reference to their signature color, Solis asked Caldero for the drug on at least four different occasions, according to the affidavit.
2008 F&W Best New Chefs
Jim Burke, 34, is the owner and chef of James, a seasonally-focused, modern Italian restaurant in the Bella Vista neighborhood. Before opening James with his wife, Kristina, in 2006, Burke worked with top Philadelphia chefs Marc Vetri of Vetri (a Best New Chef 1999) and Vince Alberici of The Marker. He later headed the kitchen at Stephen Starr’s Angelina. He also did a stint at the Michelin-starred Ristorante Frosio in Almè, Italy.
The chef and owner of Niche and the adjoining Veruca Bakeshop & Café, Gerard Craft, 28, began his career washing dishes in a pool hall in Salt Lake City. His love of cooking led him to take a job at Bistro Toujours, one of the city’s top restaurants, under Bryan Moscatello (a Best New Chef 2003). Craft held positions at Chateau Marmont in Los Angeles under Mohammad Islam and the Metropolitan in Salt Lake City under Perry Hendrix. He moved to St. Louis in 2005 to open Niche, which is in a converted warehouse in the Benton Park area. Menu standouts are a on and Eggs” sandwich of braised pork belly, buttery brioche and an oozing poached egg.
Tim Cushman, 55, a Boston native, is chef and co-owner of O Ya, a contemporary New England restaurant with Japanese influences. With over 25 years of experience in the restaurant industry, Cushman has apprenticed at hotels and restaurants around the world, including the Mandarin Oriental Hong Kong and Hostellerie de la Poste in France. He also worked with top Japanese chefs including Nobu Matsuhisa and Hiro Urasawa, and served as corporate chef at Lettuce Entertain You Enterprises under founder Rich Melman. Cushman owns a restaurant consulting business called Ideas in Taste.
Jeremy Fox, 31, is the first Food & Wine Best New Chef to head a vegetarian restaurant, Ubuntu. Fox, who studied at Johnson & Wales University, started his career at Anson in Charleston then he traveled the world working in high-profile restaurants such as Michelin two-star De Snippe in Belgium Gordon Ramsay in London Rubicon and Charles Nob Hill in San Francisco and Manresa in Los Gatos, California. A carnivore himself, Fox and his wife, pastry chef Deanie Hickox Fox, create Ubuntu’s vegetarian menu with produce from the restaurant’s own gardens.
Influenced by the cuisine of Europe’s wine regions, South African-born chef Koren Grieveson, 36, helped launch the wine bar Avec in October 2003 with her mentor, chef Paul Kahan (a Best New Chef 1999). Grieveson, who lived in Angola, Iran, England and Brazil as a child, was a caterer for the entertainment industry and a solider in the United States Army for nine years before attending the Culinary Institute of America. Prior to opening Avec she worked with Kahan for five years as sous chef at his restaurant Blackbird and also worked at San Francisco’s Aqua under chef Michael Mina.
Growing up on Long Island as a first-generation American child in a Greek family, Michael Psilakis, 38, learned about the flavors and techniques of traditional Greek cooking from his mother. Today he has three Manhattan restaurants: Anthos, Kefi and (his newest) Mia Dona. Psilakis earned a degree in accounting and finance before a job as a waiter at T.G.I. Friday’s led him to reconsider his career path. Psilakis worked his way up from waiter to owner of the trattoria Ecco on Long Island. He then opened his own Greek restaurant, Onera, in New York (later reinventing it as Kefi) and partnered with long-time friend and restaurateur, Donatella Arpaia, for Anthos and Mia Dona.
Simple flavors and fresh ingredients are the mantra of Ethan Stowell, the chef and co-owner of Union. In addition to Union, a five-year-old American bistro with a menu that changes daily, the self-trained, 33-year-old chef also co-owns two other Seattle restaurants, the year-old Tavolàta and How To Cook A Wolf, which opened in November 2007. He has worked with several Seattle chefs, including Tim Kelley of The Painted Table. Stowell owns over 600 cookbooks and claims to have read them all.
As a boy, Giuseppe Tentori helped out on his grandmother’s farm in a small town outside of Milan. At the age of 19, while at Antica Osteria la Rampina in Milan, he was invited by chef Gabriel Viti (a Best New Chef 1991) to work at Carlos’ in Highland Park, Illinois. He went on to become sous chef at the Metropolitan in Salt Lake City and chef de cuisine at Chicago’s Charlie Trotter’s before becoming executive chef at Boka in March 2007. Tentori, 35, has created an innovative menu revolving around seasonal ingredients. Tentori’s eclectic, multi-layered dishes include smoked trout and squid stuffed with baby spinach, spicy pineapple and black tapioca.
Eric Warnstedt, 32, is executive chef and co-owner of Hen of the Wood at the Grist Mill, a historic site specializing in seasonal Vermont cooking using the best local ingredients (such as the namesake hen of the wood mushroom). A native of Fort Lauderdale, Florida, Warnstedt worked in the kitchens at Wildwood Restaurant in Portland, Oregon Mark’s in Fort Lauderdale and Shelburne Farms in Shelburne, Vermont. He opened Hen of the Wood with co-owner Craig Tresser in October 2005.
A graduate of The Culinary Institute of America, Sue Zemanick has a passion for seafood that’s reflected in her menu at the French/Creole Gautreau’s. Zemanick apprenticed under chef Rick Moonen at Oceana in New York before moving to New Orleans and taking a job at Commander’s Palace. She eventually found her way to Gautreau’s, where she worked under chef Mat Wolf (a Best New Chef 2004). She became executive chef in 2005.
The winners will be fêted tonight at a party in New York City. Twenty former F&W Best New Chefs, including Daniel Boulud, Tom Colicchio, Wylie Dufresne, Dan Barber and Todd English, will be creating signature dishes and Level™ Vodka cocktails in honor of the milestone anniversary.
In addition to the 20 former F&W Best New Chefs, Hung Huynh, winner of the third season of “Top Chef” on Bravo, will also be preparing tastings for the celebration. Sponsors of the evening are Beringer, Chrysler, FIJI, and Level. Special thanks to Kerrygold and Riedel.
The 2008 F&W Best New Chefs will prepare an exclusive tasting dinner at the 26th annual Food & Wine Classic in Aspen, June 13 to 15.
The F&W Best New Chefs are chosen as part of a six-month selection process. The magazine works with trusted restaurant critics and food writers around the country to identify outstanding chefs who have been in charge of a kitchen for less than five years. Then the editors travel, incognito, to taste the food themselves.
In the Know: SWFL restaurants that opened in 2016
If the comings and goings of local restaurants in 2016 have made your head swim, you are not alone. The revolving door this year has had a dizzying effect.
We looked back last week at area eateries that closed this year. This week, enjoy this flashback of new options for dining out.
Mykonos Kuzina Greek restaurant opened this month in the former space of Tuscany Osteria near U.S. 41 and Wiggins Pass Road in North Naples. (Photo: Tim Aten/Naples Daily News)
A few newcomers this month to the local restaurant scene have not been reported yet.
These include Mykonos Kuzina, an authentic Greek restaurant that recently moved into the North Naples space vacated by Tuscany Osteria at 13510 U.S. 41 N. The menu of Mediterranean cuisine includes gyro plates, moussaka, kebabs, tabouli, dolmades, saganaki, spanakopita, baklava, and chicken, pork and lamb souvlaki.
Although Crispy Seafood & Wine Bar opened in March in the former space of the Popcorn Cellar in downtown Naples, its owners temporarily closed it this fall, expanded into the adjoining space of a luxury pet boutique and reopened this month with a new name, look and concept. The new bar-centric South Avenue Restaurant & Bar, 651 Fifth Ave. S., looks more like a South Beach nightclub now.
Skillets opened its sixth breakfast-lunch venue Dec. 21 in Stock Plaza at Grand Lely Drive and Collier Boulevard. (Photo: Tim Aten/Naples Daily News)
Skillets opened its sixth and largest location Dec. 21 in the newly developed Stock Plaza, 7711 Collier Blvd., just outside the Lely Resort entrance at Grand Lely Drive. The breakfast-lunch venue is open 7 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. daily.
Also just before Christmas, Burrito Fresco debuted in the former space of Moe’s Southwest Grill in Coastland Center mall’s food court. The new Naples eatery offers a menu of made-to-order burritos, bowls and tacos.
On Dec. 15, Pinchers Crab Shack opened its 12th location and its first on Marco Island. The local family-operated seafood restaurant, 591 S. Collier Blvd., is just outside the Marco Walk Plaza in the former space of O'Donoghue's Bar and Grill and Cathy O'Clarke's Irish Pub & Grill.
Chef Art Smith opened 1500 South restaurant this year in Naples Bay Resort. (Photo: Michael A Caronchi)
Tip of the toque
Two celebrity chefs upped the prestige factor this year in Southwest Florida. Chef Art Smith launched 1500 South in Naples Bay Resort, and Chef Michael Psilakis debuted Teatro in the new Southwest Florida Performing Arts Center in Bonita Springs.
Florida native Smith, best known as Oprah Winfrey’s former personal chef, salutes Southern cooking with an international flair at his waterside restaurant. Psilakis, known for recipes and restaurants celebrating his Greek roots, serves upscale Italian cuisine here in a vibrant venue.
Chef Michael Psilakis created Teatro, an ultra-modern Italian restaurant, at the new Southwest Florida Performing Arts Center in Bonita Springs. (Photo: Luminaire Foto)
Peruvian pile on
In January, Ceviche 41 joined an already impressive regional lineup of Peruvian restaurants with its fine-dining option in Bonita Springs. In May, Lima Restaurant and Pisco Bar opened in Golden Gate with traditional and creative Peruvian food and drinks.
Amanda and Dario González-Zúñiga opened Lima Restaurant and Pisco Bar in May in the retail center on the northwest corner of Collier Boulevard and Golden Gate Parkway in Golden Gate. (Photo: Tim Aten/Naples Daily News)
This fall we saw the migration south from Lee to Collier County of two other restaurants that are part of the local Peruvian revolution. Aji Limon launched on the edge of Golden Gate, while El Gaucho Inca served up Peruvian and Argentinian dishes in North Naples.
Of course, Komoon Thai Sushi Ceviche also makes the list with its triple play of Thai, Japanese and Peruvian cuisines. This summer, Komoon opened its third area spot in North Naples.
Ocean Prime opened Dec. 19 in the former space of Avenue5 at the Inn on Fifth in downtown Naples. (Photo: Tim Aten/Naples Daily News)
Chain of events
A few highly anticipated upscale restaurants from boutique chains splashed down in the region this year.
These include Cooper’s Hawk Winery & Restaurant in North Naples, Rodizio Grill Brazilian steakhouse in Coconut Point in Estero, and Ocean Prime upscale restaurant and lounge on Fifth Avenue South in downtown Naples. Tommy Bahama also delivered its new concept, The Marlin Bar, a casual restaurant and full bar, connected to its retail store at Coconut Point.
Sushi-Thai Too in Bonita Springs’ Prado moved a short distance in the same shopping center to the former freestanding space of Big Al’s City Sports Grill. (Photo: Tim Aten/Naples Daily News)
A few local restaurants simply relocated this year for various reasons.
Last Friday, Sushi-Thai Too in Bonita Springs’ Prado moved a short distance in the same shopping center to the former freestanding space of Big Al’s City Sports Grill. The move triples the size of the restaurant.
Meanwhile, redevelopment plans for its longtime space in Courthouse Shadows in East Naples forced Szechuan Chinese Restaurant to move across the East Trail to Naples Towne Centre. Henning’s Chicago Kitchen relocated north from Naples Outlet Center in East Naples to a more visible, centralized spot in Pine Ridge Crossing.
The Bowl moved out of the space it shared in North Naples to its own digs in a former Pita Pit off Pine Ridge Road. Subway in E’s Country Store at Oil Well Road in Golden Gate Estates relocated a short distance away to the Mobil station on Randall Boulevard after E’s closed for a new 7-Eleven.
Midtown Kitchen + Bar launched June 3, 2016, in the former space of TGI Friday’s, 2110 U.S. 41 N., in Naples. (Photo: Tim Aten/Naples Daily News)
Many other local restaurants took the place of other well-known eateries.
Deep Lagoon Seafood and Fish Market replaced the longtime Randy’s Fishmarket Restaurant in North Naples. Midtown Kitchen + Bar transformed the former TGI Friday’s in Naples. St. Germain Steakhouse took over the longtime Stoney’s Steakhouse at Naples Bayfront.
Catch 41 Bar 'n' Grill recently replaced Jimmy's Bait-N-Tackle Pubgrille at the Ramada Inn on U.S. 41 in Naples. (Photo: Catch 41)
Other Collier area eateries that moved into existing dining venues include Catch 41 Bar ‘n’ Grill, Pate’s Island Club and Mimosa in Naples The Coupe, Duffers Sports Bar, EatStop, I Burnt Mine Barbecue, Whiskey Park and Waterside Caribbean Café in East Naples Café Gourmand, Thai Thai Noodle Bar and Vodka Bar & Grill in North Naples Kane Tiki Bar & Grill and Mermaid Blues on Marco Island and The Rusty Putter in Ave Maria.
Likewise, in Lee County, moving in were Sharky’s Pizza Pub, The Garden Café, Purple Spoon, Twisted Tangle Cafe and Palladio Trattoria in Bonita Springs Tasteria European Bistro in Estero Luigina’s Pizza & Grill, Meade’s BBQ and 41 Diner in San Carlos Park and EO Burgers in south Fort Myers.
Pizza, pasta and sandwiches at the new Mino pizzeria, ristorante and bar at 1100 Sixth Ave. S., near Tin City in Naples. (Photo: Tim Aten/Naples Daily News)
In Naples, Latitude 26 restaurant and lounge launched this year in the new Hyatt House hotel in Naples, Mino Pizzeria Bar & Ristorante redeveloped space in Dockside Boardwalk near Tin City, and Moura Bistro brought Lebanese cuisine to a newly developed unit in Meridian Marketplace. Motor City Coney Island Grill and Bone Hook Brewing Co. were two local newcomers this month to the new Creekside Corners retail center in North Naples.
The Crust Pizza’s second home is next to LongHorn Steakhouse near the southeast corner of U.S. 41 and Vanderbilt Beach Road in North Naples. (Photo: Tim Aten/Naples Daily News)
Many local eateries piled on locations to an existing base here.
Delicious Raw juice bar opened additional locations in Coconut Point and North Naples and added an expanded food menu to its beverage options. Cafe Luna created locations in Naples and North Naples, and Napoli on the Bay added pizzerias in East Naples and Marco Island.
Proving that it’s OK to enjoy second helpings, The Crust Pizza grabbed a larger piece of the pie with another location practically across the street from its first, Brooks Gourmet Burgers & Dogs opened another location in North Naples, Thai Udon Café doubled down in downtown Naples, Tacos & Tequila Cantina expanded to North Naples, and New York Pizza & Pasta spawned a twin in Golden Gate Estates.
Jimmy P's Hangover Burger features double Wagyu beef patties, pastrami, a fried egg, bacon and cheddar. (Photo: Michael Caronchi/Caronchi Photog)
A couple of noteworthy spinoffs include Jimmy P’s Burgers & More in North Naples from the longtime Jimmy P’s Butcher Shop in Naples, and Shea’s at Lansdowne Street in downtown Naples from the creators of Lansdowne Street in Bonita Springs.
The Butcher’s Son food truck, co-owned by Jon Wagner of Naples, serves hot dogs, brats and veggie sandwiches April 18, 2016, to golfers during Caddy Appreciation Day at The Old Collier Golf Club in North Naples. (Photo: Tim Aten/Naples Daily News)
Truck stops here
Food trucks were on a roll this year in the Naples area.
Organically Twisted food truck added a bricks-and-mortar restaurant to its eatery on wheels. Parmesan Pete’s Little Pete’s Food Truck took to the streets earlier this year, as did The Butcher’s Son food truck, which has a link to Johnsonville Sausage.
Blackjack Pizza opened this year in Askar Center, a retail strip along the eastern edge of U.S. 41 south of Bonita Beach Road in Bonita Springs. (Photo: Tim Aten/Naples Daily News)
Restaurant companies served up many new fast-casual options this year or launched additional outlets in the area.
This month, Colorado-based Blackjack Pizza launched its first Florida location in a new strip center outside Springs Plaza on U.S. 41 in Bonita Springs just north of the Lee-Collier county line. Others new to the region are Chicken Salad Chick, PrimoHoagies and Philly Pretzel Factory in North Naples, and Fuzzy’s Taco Shop in Fort Myers. Fuzzy’s is scheduled to open its North Naples location Monday.
Todd Guller and Katherine Petrone opened Firehouse Subs this year in Riverchase Plaza on the northeast corner of U.S. 41 North and Immokalee Road in North Naples. (Photo: Tim Aten/Naples Daily News)
Both Firehouse Subs and Smoothie King returned to North Naples after years away. McAlister’s Deli also returned to the region with a North Naples location, and a Nathan’s Famous hot dogs and Arthur Treacher’s fish and chips combo touched down near Page Field in Fort Myers.
Serving up seconds, thirds or more were Zaxby’s in Gulf Coast Town Center, Duffy’s Sports Grill in Fort Myers, Marco’s Pizza and Culver’s in Bonita Springs, BurgerFi and Domino’s in North Naples, Beefstro’s Gourmet Beefs and Dunkin Donuts in Oasis 41 in East Naples, Five Guys Burgers & Fries near Lely Resort, Pollo Tropical in Restaurant Row, and Starbucks in Cameron Commons and Restaurant Row.
Kunjani Craft Coffee & Gallery opened in early February at 780 Seagate Drive, across the street from the entrance to Waterside Shops in Naples. (Photo: Kunjani)
Coffee & dessert
Other new coffee shops this year in Naples include Kunjani Craft Coffee & Gallery near Waterside Shops and Catalina Café in Naples Bay Resort.
New shops satisfying sweet tooths include Mitch’s Cookie Café and Royal Scoop Homemade Ice Cream in East Naples, and Sweet Melissa’s Homemade Ice Cream & Key Lime Pie in Bonita Springs.
Nobu Hotel and Restaurant is Headed for Chicago in 2016 - Recipes
the restaurant at L'Auberge Carmel We are happy to announce that we are open for outdoor dining once again in our interior courtyard. Dine among the geraniums and bougainvillea of our expertly curated gardens, with the peace of mind of knowing that we have implemented a wide range of procedures in order to be able to welcome you back safely. Please find further information on our measures by clicking here.
We will continue to provide a variety of to-go options that change on a weekly basis from Executive Chef-Director Justin Cogley and Pastry Chef Yulanda Santos so that we can help you celebrate every week with Aubergine at home.
Executive Chef-Director Justin Cogley, a Relais & Châteaux Grand Chef, and Pastry Chef Yulanda Santos prepare skillful, ingredient-driven cuisine that celebrates the bounty of the region.
The award-winning restaurant Aubergine is located at L’Auberge Carmel, a Relais & Châteaux in the heart of Carmel-by-the-Sea. Chef Cogley’s cuisine showcases the finest ingredients with a razor-sharp balance of deference and innovation. The menu served five nights per week highlights the best ingredients of the season, enhanced by skillful technique and an eye toward varied textures and flavors. Desserts, masterfully prepared by Chef Santos, are irresistible complements to Cogley’s savory courses.
The daily changing eight course Tasting Menu is an of-the-moment celebration of seasonality and creativity. An impressive 2,500-bottle wine cellar offers renowned and undiscovered selections from famed wine regions around the world, with a particular focus on wines from Monterey County and France. For a supplement, course-by-course wine pairings are available to enhance your experience.
Under the direction of Chef Cogley and his team, Aubergine has enjoyed substantial acclaim. In 2016 & 2015 they were nominated for James Beard Foundation awards including Best Chef, West and Outstanding Service. 2016 & 2015 saw Aubergine earn Wine Spectator's Best of Award of Excellence and Forbes Travel Guide’s highest Five-Star rating recognizing excellence in restaurants. Also in 2014 L’Auberge Carmel was named Travel + Leisure’s World's Best Awards as a Top 100 Hotels Overall and one of the Top Resorts in the Continental United State. In 2013, Cogley was awarded the prestigious title of Grand Chef Relais & Châteaux, joining an esteemed list of internationally celebrated chefs and Food & Wine magazine named Justin Cogley “Best New Chef”.
In 2019, Aubergine earned a coveted star in the 2019 Michelin Guide.
oyster, yuzu emulsion, cucumber gelee
artichoke tart, white anchovy, honeycomb, mint
uni, sweet soy, potato
tomato, lemon thyme, caviar
ayu, potato squash, meyer lemon, trout roe
shiro dashi, fava beans and shoots, lobster
morels, chicken jus, ramps
ribeye, kohlrabi, sunflower miso
strawberry cremeaux, pistachios, olive oil cake
chocolate brownie, marshmallow fluff, cocoa nibs
the menu • 205 dollars per person
a twenty percent service charge will be added to each guest check
Executive Chef-Director – Justin Cogley
Pastry Chef - Yulanda Santos
Please note that our menu changes daily and this is only a sample of a recent menu for consideration.
The intimate, 9 table Aubergine restaurant features an underground wine cellar constructed beneath the inn’s courtyard to house the restaurant’s 2,500-bottle collection. The wine list features numerous great wines from around the world with a particular focus on wines from Monterey County and France.
155 dollars for the Sommelier Wine Pairing
250 dollars for the Reserve Wine Pairing
Download the Wine List Here
Please note that our wine list and availability of specific selections changes frequently this is only a sample list for consideration. If you have a bottle, producer, or vintage that you wish to order, contact us ahead of your visit to speak with one of our sommeliers who can assist with your request.
65 dollars per 750ml bottle with a 2 bottle maximum (or 1 magnum with a 1 bottle maximum)
Dinner served Wednesday through Sunday 5 - 8 p.m.
Press & team
If you are on assignment and would like to stay at L'Auberge Carmel or dine at Aubergine, we would be pleased to assist with your press trip. For further information, photography or to answer questions, please contact: [email protected]
Food & Wine
2019 Michelin Guide
RELAIS & CHATEAUX
Executive Chef-Director Justin Cogley - Grand Chef
Justin Cogley joined Aubergine restaurant in January 2011. As Executive Chef-Director he oversees Aubergine and all of L’Auberge Carmel’s culinary programs.
Cogley comes to Carmel by way of Chicago, Illinois, where he was instrumental in opening the Elysian Hotel’s new kitchen as Executive Sous Chef. He previously worked at Charlie Trotter’s critically acclaimed restaurant for four years, claiming the position of Chef de Cuisine for the last two. As such, he was responsible for menu creation, special events, and extensive instruction and management of the culinary staff.
With delicate interplay between creativity, tradition, and respect for his ingredients, Cogley’s food is deeply unique. His style is a sophisticated balance between innovation and unwavering deference for the finest ingredients he procures. “If I had to describe my food,” Cogley says, “I would say each plate has a purpose.” Cogley’s goal is to inspire guests to enjoy a broad combination of flavors and textures. He may present a diner with a vegetable prepared three ways on his plate but Cogley says, “Each of the flavors will be unique and pure.”
Prior to his career as a chef, Cogley was a professional international figure skater performing with “Disney on Ice.” Traveling and touring with the show for four years in Asia, Australia and Europe, Cogley was exposed to new flavors and cuisines, as well as a myriad of food markets and international techniques. These culinary experiences confirmed his passion for food, travel, and good wine, and when he returned to the United States, he enrolled at the Western Culinary Institute and began working in select restaurants in Portland, Oregon. After graduating with top honors in 2005, he launched his culinary career on the team at Charlie Trotter’s.
Cogley recently became an avid triathlete and long-distance runner and competed in numerous West Coast races. He also created a culinary event: Rediscovering Coastal Cuisine where he invites talented chefs from around the country to come together and collaborate on a twelve-course tasting menu that explores and celebrates the unique biodiversity of California’s Central Coast.
Under the direction of Chef Cogley and his team, Aubergine has enjoyed substantial acclaim. In 2015 & 2016 they were nominated for two James Beard Foundation awards including Best Chef, West and Outstanding Service. 2014 & 2015 saw Aubergine earn Wine Spectator’s Best of Award of Excellence and Forbes Travel Guide’s highest Five-Star rating recognizing excellence in restaurants. Also in 2014 L’Auberge Carmel was named Travel + Leisure’s World’s Best Awards as a Top 100 Hotels Overall and one of the Top Resorts in the Continental United State. In 2013, Cogley was awarded the prestigious title of Grand Chef Relais & Châteaux, joining an esteemed list of internationally celebrated chefs and Food & Wine magazine named Justin Cogley “Best New Chef”.
After several years in the banking industry, Yulanda decided to follow her passion for baking. She went to Tante Maries Cooking School in San Francisco where she graduated from the baking and pastry program and she’s never looked back.
Her pastry knowledge expanded as she worked in many great kitchens and her passion for baking only grew stronger. Her career has brought her to the kitchens of One Market in San Francisco, Aqua and Aureole in Las Vegas, George’s at the Cove in La Jolla, California and Charlie Palmer’s Dry Creek Kitchen in Healdsburg, California.
Originally from San Diego, the opportunity to be the Pastry Chef at Post Ranch Inn in Big Sur brought her from wine country back to the California coastline.
Yulanda is currently the Pastry Chef at Aubergine at L’Auberge Carmel. Her desserts are inspired by her surroundings and fresh produce from local farmers.
Yulanda also enjoys traveling the world to gain new experiences and bring new flavor profiles to her menu. She plans on eating her way through the world…life couldn’t be sweeter.
Born in Incheon, South Korea, Ki grew his love for cooking early on from his grandmother. He watched her in the kitchen making some of the many traditional dishes of Korea that were no longer practiced and was intrigued. The recipes were passed down from her mother who was one of the Chefs of the Korean Royal Court. After he moved to the Bay Area and because his parents were working full-time, he had to learn to make food at home at a very young age to feed himself and his siblings. He found himself in a kitchen at a Chinese restaurant owned by his girlfriend’s parents to start learning the fundamentals of his cooking career. After graduating from high school he persisted and was accepted as a stage at the legendary French Laundry in Yountville in order to strengthen his chances of being accepted to the best culinary school in the world, The Culinary Institute of America. Upon being accepted, he spent a year in New York learning the program during the weekday and traveling to Manhattan to stage every weekend in order to learn at the best restaurants that the city had to offer. His need for education after school lead him to multiple stints across the world such as Manresa, Benu, The Fat Duck, and Jean George. Upon graduating, Ki joined the team at Commis restaurant in Oakland in his hometown as a Chef de Partie. During his time at Commis, he heard of the team at Aubergine and their unique style of cooking that showcases the land and the sea. He then moved to the Monterey county and has been working with the team to keep cooking and increasing his knowledge of the beautiful bounty that this part of the world has to offer. Ki currently works as Chef de Cuisine at the restaurant working with Executive Chef Justin Cogley to further innovate and develop the work at Aubergine.
Born and raised in Kalamazoo, Michigan, Trevor grew up in a family with a fondness for cooking. He always loved helping out in the kitchen or around the grill growing up, and decided to parlay that interest in to a culinary career by enrolling at Le Cordon Bleu in Miami, Florida. Trevor moved back to Michigan where he worked at Reserve Wine & Food, where he learned about whole animal butchery and the art of charcuterie, as well as bread baking.
In 2014, Trevor and his wife decided to pack their bags and head to California. Initially he worked at Jeninni Kitchen + Wine Bar as Chef de Cuisine until 2016, when the opportunity to work for Justin Cogley and his team at Aubergine was just too hard to pass up. When not in the kitchen, Trevor can usually be found with his wife and dogs exploring the beaches and hiking trails of the central coast.
Astrolab Condos Ready to Rock It
You can trade your pencils for pens on this one. The modest Near North condominium block marked down for 61 West Erie Street is a “go.” The Chicago Plan Commission recently gave it the green light. There were a few stumbling blocks along the way, but nothing that LG Development couldn’t be solve with a few more aggressive setbacks, and a fat sack of cash to help illuminate Erie Park and its riverwalk. We call it.
Famous Chicago restaurants
Chicago is a city known for its restaurants. There’s world-renowned fine dining, celebrity-chef helmed hot spots, and local favorites that have been around for more than a century. Not to mention all those Michelin stars and James Beard awards we’ve racked up over the years.
Here’s a primer on some of Chicago’s most famous restaurants, from revered classics to trendsetting hot spots.
Food is much more than food at Alinea. It’s interactive performance art — think an apple-flavored balloon that actually floats and gelatin bites that taste like a Chicago-style hot dog. Chef Grant Achatz has led the famed Lincoln Park establishment since 2005, earning the most elite accolades in the culinary world. Today, it’s one of 15 restaurants to hold three Michelin stars and is frequently named among the best restaurants on the planet.
Make a reservation way in advance for one of Alinea’s three experiences: The Salon, an approachable 10 – 12 course meal The Gallery, a multi-sensory 16 – 18 course menu and The Kitchen Table, an intimate and completely private dining experience. Each are guaranteed to change the way you think about going out to eat. 1723 N. Halsted St.
Craving a little local history (and maybe a cold beer)? Then head to The Berghoff, Chicago’s most famous German restaurant. The Berghoff was established in 1898, but you can trace its roots back to the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair, when Herman Berghoff set up a stand to sell his beers to the crowds. More than 100 years later, The Berghoff’s status as a Chicago icon was cemented with an America’s Classics award from the James Beard Foundation. Locals gather here for classic German dishes, like spätzle and Bavarian pretzels, in an old-world setting — plus steins of German-style beers that The Berghoff still brews themselves. 17 W. Adams St., Loop and O’Hare International Airport
Gene & Georgetti Steakhouse
Gene & Georgetti is Chicago’s oldest steakhouse, located in the heart of the River North neighborhood. Inside, you’ll find an old-school steakhouse setting with red leather chairs, white table clothes, and walls lined with photos of famous patrons. A Chicago institution since 1941, Gene & Georgetti is beloved for their traditional Italian dishes (like chicken vesuvio, eggplant parmesan, and homemade lasagna on the weekends) and, of course, their huge and flavorful steaks. 500 N. Franklin St., River North
Gibson’s Bar & Steakhouse
Here’s another Chicago steakhouse you shouldn’t miss. Gibson’s claim to fame? It’s the first restaurant group in the country to have its own USDA Certified Angus beef program, sourced from the Midwest. Their menu includes a long list of cuts, from the tender filet mignon to the massive tomahawk chop. You’ll also find salads, seafood, and the “Sandwich King”, a hamburger topped with crispy cherry peppers, jalapeno havarti cheese, and spicy mayo. 1028 N. Rush St., Gold Coast
Girl & the Goat
Girl & the Goat is the culinary home of Stephanie Izard, the first female chef to win the coveted title of Bravo’s Top Chef. The West Loop spot was an instant hit, earning a finalist slot for the Best New Restaurant in America at the 2011 James Beard Awards. And almost 10 years after it first opened, it’s still one of the hottest tables in town. The space is packed each night with diners enjoying the shareable plates and adventurous flavors, like the wood oven roasted pig face. You might even spot Izard herself in the bustling open kitchen. 809 W. Randolph St.
Manny’s Cafeteria & Delicatessen
The recipes at Manny’s have been passed down from generation to generation, and for good reason — their award-winning meats are top notch. While they offer a full menu of deli classics, Manny’s is famous for their corned beef. Try it piled high between slices of rye bread, tucked into eggs benedict, or served as an entree with potato pancakes. Enjoy your meal in the dining room, which is full of memorabilia from the deli’s 75-year history. 1141 S. Jefferson St., University Village
The Signature Room at the 95th
Photo by Ranvestel Photographic
Nothing beats the views from the Signature Room at the 95th. Perched on, you guessed it, the 95th floor of one of Chicago’s most famous skyscrapers, the Signature Room offers sweeping panoramas of the surrounding city and lake — so make sure to request a table by the window. The menu includes upscale options like seafood towers, roasted rack of lamb, and twin lobster tails, plus an extensive cocktail and wine list. One floor up, you’ll find the Signature Lounge with a more casual menu but equally stunning views. 875 N. Michigan Ave.
Now for another Top Chef winner — Joe Flamm, executive chef at Spiaggia. Flamm’s refined Italian dishes have earned Spiaggia numerous accolades, including a coveted Michelin star. The entire menu is tempting, but the Tasting Experience is a great way to try a seasonal selection of Spiaggia’s greatest hits. They also boast an acclaimed wine program more than 700 bottles deep. If you’re looking for a more casual experience, check out Cafe Spiaggia where you can try Flamm’s handcrafted pastas and small plates. 980 N. Michigan Ave., Magnificent Mile
This cafeteria-style establishment is known for their comfortable atmosphere and even more comforting food: mashed potatoes and gravy, patty melts, barbecue chicken, meatloaf, short rib, and more, all scooped up and piled high on your tray. You can also order one of President Obama’s favorites, like the steak and eggs with hashbrowns. Expect to stand in line with neighborhood regulars, students from the nearby university, and visitors who flock to this Hyde Park institution. Make sure to come hungry and bring cash. 1518 E. 53rd St.,Hyde Park
The Walnut Room
Step back in time at The Walnut Room, nestled on the 7th floor of Macy’s on State Street. It’s one of the city’s longest-running restaurants, and the first to ever open inside a department store. The space is covered in ornate touches, like wood paneling imported from Russia and glittering Austrian chandeliers. The menu is also a throwback, with dishes like Mrs. Hering’s Chicken Pot Pie that they’ve been serving since they opened in 1905. The best time to visit is during the holidays so you can see the famous 45-foot-tall, lavishly decorated Great Tree. 111 N. State St., Loop