445 N. Clark St. 312-661-1434
These sibling restaurants are the creations of celebrity chef/Mexican cuisine king Rick Bayless, and while Frontera is more rustic and regional in cuisine, Topolo skews toward fine dining. For a taste of Bayless’ expert take on Mexican street food, get in line for tortas (sandwiches), caldos (soup) and oh-so-addictive churros at no-reservations Xoco (449 N. Clark St. 312-334-3688).
217 W. Huron St. 312-624-9975
The baby-faced “MasterChef” judge and Lollapalooza culinary ambassador puts his own spin on fine-dining in the form of an 8- and 14-course tasting menus. A few blocks east, Elliot’s sandwich shop Grahamwich (615 N. State St. 312-265-0434) serves truffle popcorn, soft-serve ice cream and one ridiculously rich grilled cheese sandwich stuffed with prosciutto and cheese curds.
500 N. Clark St. 312-321-6242
James Beard Foundation Award-winning chef Carrie Nahabedian channels her Armenian roots to add a Mediterranean accent to her always-seasonal fare. The menu changes often, but in the past has featured dishes such as scallops with vanilla bean and grapefruit or braised chicken tagine with chickpeas, mint-laced yogurt and Turkish apricots.
Sable Kitchen & Bar
505 N. State St. 312-755-9704
Heather Terhune from “Top Chef: Texas” runs the kitchen at this sleek bar/restaurant combo inside the Hotel Palomar. Here, she serves the same kind of American-with-a-twist fare that she competed with on the TV show, including shrimp with cheddar grits and pineapple upside-down cake with coconut sorbet.
Heaven on Seven
600 N. Michigan Ave. 312-280-7774
If you don’t recognize Cajun chef extraordinaire Jimmy Bannos for his TV appearances or cookbooks, you will remember him for his gumbo, jambalaya and fried catfish. His restaurant also features one of the largest hot sauce collections you’ll ever lay eyes on.