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Noah Sandoval, Sarah Grueneberg and John Shields

Chefs Noah Sandoval, Sarah Grueneberg and John Shields are more than ready for their close-ups.


Best of Chicago: Food & Drink

By The Editors

Photo by Anthony Tahlier | Shot at River North’s Eggersmann USA


Here, the chefs, shows, shops and more that truly make Chicago shine—plus, smart selections from you, our readers, in categories from cute boutiques to stellar spas.

It’s no easy task for a new restaurant to stand out. These three chefs have not only quickly established a name for themselves—at their first solo Chicago projects, no less—but they all have a prominent local chef to thank for helping them get there. Let the love fest begin.

Before Monteverde’s Sarah Grueneberg worked at Spiaggia with chef Tony Mantuano, she didn’t know much about Italian cuisine. But after eight years at the fine-dining restaurant, it was a much different story. “I fell in love with Italy through Tony and Spiaggia,” she says. “Tony shaped who I am as a chef.” At her charming West Loop restaurant, she takes that knowledge and experience and translates it into some of the city’s best Italian-inspired dishes, including pastas worthy of their own Instagram account. Grazie, Tony. 1020 W. Madison St., 312.888.3014

When Oriole’s Noah Sandoval went to Schwa to stage for a day, he was terrified. “Michael [Carlson] is the nicest guy on the planet,” he says, “but he can be a bit intimidating.” Sandoval quickly got over that and counts the year he spent working for one of Chicago’s most innovative chefs as very influential in his own career, including at Oriole, where the impeccably made dishes at the tasting-menu restaurant have earned praise from every critic in town, us included. 661 W. Walnut St., 312.877.5339

John Shields, of Smyth, a stunning tasting-menu restaurant in the West Loop, had the good fortune to work with two of the city’s most respected chefs: Charlie Trotter and Grant Achatz. At Trotter’s, Shields learned the value of being spontaneous—if you hear him saying “Omaha” in the restaurant’s open kitchen, that’s code to his chefs he’s changing a dish midservice. Shields’ two years with Achatz at Alinea taught him “anything is possible and you’re only limited by your own imagination,” which, come to think of it, sounds a lot like Smyth. 177 N. Ada St., 773.913.3773


FLOUR POWER At Steadfast, breads are offered as their own course.

It’s not like it ever went away completely, but bread is back and, dare we say, better than ever. The meticulously crafted breads ($8 to $11) from Executive Pastry Chef Christopher Teixeira at Steadfast (120 W. Monroe St., 312.801.8899) take a global approach, including an orange sourdough and a tarte flambee-like flamiche. At Bad Hunter (802 W. Randolph St., 312.265.1745), Pastry Chef Emily Spurlin is so attached to her sourdough starter she’s named it Clint Yeastwood. We think you’ll become enamored too once you try her grilled sourdough with sunflower crema ($4).

United Airlines has introduced the first of its new United Polaris lounges at Chicago O’Hare International Airport. The reimagined lounge-to-landing experience offers a preflight dining menu developed by award-winning chef Art Smith, handcrafted cocktails designed by Chicago mixologist Adam Seger, a rotating menu of imported and local beers—including Revolution Brewing’s Anti-Hero IPA—and more. Ignore the snack cart once and for all. 

Steadfast photo by Anthony Tahlier

Mon Ami Gabi

OUR GOOD FRIEND Find all the decadent pleasures of the bistro at Mon Ami Gabi.

Ah, the classics: reassuringly consistent, legitimately authentic, excellent for out-of-town guests wanting local flavor and—over and over and over again—delicious.

1 The legendary Gene & Georgetti marked 75 years in business in 2016. All it had to do was offer great steaks, expert service and stiff martinis. In other words, Gene & Georgetti made it look easy. 500 N. Franklin St., 312.527.3718

2 A French-Vietnamese oasis in the midst of Gold Coast chaos, Le Colonial excels at both lunch and dinner with mannered service and delicious food—not to mention great people-watching. 937 N. Rush St., 312.255.0088

3 Few locations rival the home of Mon Ami Gabi, perched in the stately Belden-Stratford building. Fewer still are the places offering spot-on steak frites, escargots and other Gallic pleasures. 2300 N. Lincoln Park West, 773.348.8886  

Mon Ami Gabi photo by Anjali Pinto

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