1. AlineaChef/Owner Grant Achatz is a culinary wunderkind and is pushing the envelope with food ingredients and presentation -- think truffle-juice ravioli with melted leek and bison with multiple preparations of Iranian pistachios. Chef Achatz's 24-course tasting menu (which takes 5 hours to complete) has quickly become legendary.
- Cuisine: Contemporary American
- Address: 1723 N. Halsted St.
- Phone: 312-867-0110
- Transportation: CTA Red Line to North/Clybourn
- Average tab per diner: $200
2. EverestThe service, food, and prices are as high as this restaurant's location on the 40th floor of the Chicago Stock Exchange. Chef Jean Joho's seven course tasting menu can feature items like roasted Maine lobster, medallion of venison, and imported Russian caviar.
- Cuisine: French
- Address: 440 S. LaSalle St.
- Phone: 312-663-8920
- Transportation: CTA Blue Line to LaSalle
- Average tab per diner: $165
When some of the best chefs in the world have a craving for the most expertly prepared piece of fish, they take a trip to Chicago's Lincoln Park to visit L20. Described by Travel + Leisure as a "seafood temple," diners certainly worship at the altar of delicate and flavorful dishes, inspired by Laurent Gras before his departure from the restaurant in 2010.
- Cuisine: Seafood/Contemporary
- Address: 2300 N. Lincoln Park West
- Phone: 773-868-0002
- Transportation: CTA 151 Bus to Stockton/Fullerton
- Average tab per diner: $150
4. MotoWhen you realize that the waiters are chefs, and the phrase "molecular gastronomy" is being bantered about, you know you're in for an intense culinary experience. Your magnetic cutlery may be a clue, too. A word to the hungry -- Moto takes contemporary portions to a whole new level of small.
- Cuisine: Global/Fusion
- Address: 945 W. Fulton St.
- Phone: 312-491-0058
- Transportation: Cab or car recommended
- Average tab per diner: $180
5. NahaChef Carrie Nahabedian delivers the goods with her creative and complex dishes that live up to her impressive resume. Naha also might be the only fine dining restaurant that offers a hamburger on its lunch menu (to be expected, it's insanely good). Her cousin Michael Nahabedian, also a culinary veteran, heads up operations.
- Cuisine: American Contemporary/Fusion
- Address: 500 N. Clark St.
- Phone: 312-321-6242
- Transportation: CTA Red Line to Grand
- Average tab per diner: $70
When the folks bringing your food are the same ones preparing it in the kitchen, you know there's some serious pride and accountability on the line when that plate is set down. And Schwa does not disappoint -- Chef Michael Carlson has been described by some as "quirky" (his downright frustrating reservation system is one example), his high level of talent and inventiveness in the kitchen is unquestionable. Schwa is BYOB.
- Cuisine: American Contemporary
- Address: 1466 N. Ashland Ave.
- Phone: 773-252-1466
- Transportation: CTA Blue Line to Division, .25 mile walk north
- Average tab per diner: $110
7. Spiaggia"Four star Italian cuisine" may seem like an oxymoron in the United States, but Chef Tony Mantuano will convince you otherwise in this Magnificent Mile hotspot. Entrees like braised lobster and strip steak with 50-year-old balsamic vinegar entice, as well as these two words: cheese cave.
- Cuisine: Italian
- Address: 980 N. Michigan Ave.
- Phone: 312-280-2750
- Transportation: CTA Bus #146/147 to Delaware/Michigan
- Average tab per diner: $100
8. TruOriginally the brainchild of the formerly married team of Chef Rick Tramonto and Pastry Chef Gale Gand, Tru was planned and designed from the ground up to be the ultimate sacred ground of fine dining. The "collections" (tasting menus), whose composition is decided on by the kitchen when you order, are a gastronomical delight and have continued to be a Chicago fine dining mainstay.
- Cuisine: French, Global/Fusion
- Address: 676 N. Saint Clair St.
- Phone: 312-202-0001
- Transportation: CTA Red Line to Chicago Ave
- Average tab per diner: $160