Best of Chicago: Food & Drink

The Editors | January 5, 2017 | Feature Features

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

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


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