August 1, 2013
445 N. Clark St. 312-661-1434
Mexican cuisine king Rick Bayless presides over these sibling restaurants that share an entrance and bar; Topolo skews toward fine dining, while Frontera is more rustic and regional. For a taste of Bayless' expert flavors with less of a time commitment, get in line at no-reservations street food cafe Xoco (449 N. Clark St. 312-334-3688) for tortas (sandwiches) and caldos (soups) plus seriously tasty churros. All three restaurants serve a killer margarita.
Sable Kitchen & Bar
505 N. State St. 312-755-9704
"Top Chef: Texas" cast member Heather Terhune cooks comforting New American fare at this sleek bar and restaurant inside the Hotel Palomar. Shareable plates such as bacon jam-slathered baguette or truffle deviled eggs work just as well ordered alongside a cocktail or shared among friends as part of a full feast.
217 W. Huron St. 312-624-9975
"Master Chef" judge and Lollapalooza culinary ambassador Graham Elliot puts his own spin on fine dining in the form of 12- and 15-course tasting menus. For a taste of Elliot's fare at a fraction of the price, try his sandwich shop Grahamwich (615 N. State St. 312-265-0434), where lunch options include a decadent grilled cheese made with cheese curds.
534 N. Clark St. 312-595-1616
Award-winning chef Carrie Nahabedian is known for her Mediterranean-inspired fare at Naha (500 N. Clark St. 312-321-6242), but she recently expanded her mini-empire with this sophisticated French restaurant just a few steps north. Indulgent seafood—think lobster, oysters and king crab—and prime cuts of meat combine with seasonal vegetables to create dazzling special-occasion dishes.
51 W. Kinzie St. 312-595-1322
"Top Chef" fan favorite Fabio Viviani was born in Italy and lives in California, but he's spending plenty of time in Chicago lately after partnering with the owners of Bull & Bear and Public House on this Italian-inspired bar and restaurant. Dishes range from crudo (chilled raw seafood) to pizza to lasagna made with his mama's recipe.
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