Chicago’s restaurant scene should be just a shadow of its former self. Even in 2019 it seemed to be floundering, reeling from the loss of several notable establishments, including Grace, one of the city’s two Michelin three-star restaurants. The following year was, of course, a terrible time for fine dining all around the world. In 2020 and 2021, Chicago lost two classic restaurants we have recommended for decades, Everest and Spiaggia. As of this writing, dining rooms have been able to operate at full capacity for mere months. Now should be a historically bad time for Windy City gourmands.
And yet. Chicago’s dining scene has weathered the worst (hopefully) of the pandemic and emerged, improbably, as wonderful as it ever was. If the Michelin star count is any indication, it’s even better. In 2019, Chicago earned a total of 27 stars. Now it has 30. Considering the times, this is an incredible achievement.
When we visited this summer, hotel rooms in Chicago were easier to come by than restaurant tables. It proved impossible to secure (prepaid) reservations at Ever, the new venture by Michelin three-star chef Curtis Duffy. Likewise the two-star Dining Room of Moody Tongue. Even so, we dined splendidly. Often I find at least one restaurant that doesn’t live up to its hype, but this time, there wasn’t a single disappointment. Against all odds, now is a historically good time for Windy City gourmands.