Neighborhood: Lincoln Park
Address: 1724 N. Halsted St.
Like gang wars and Oprah platitudes, food's long been a part of the city's fabric. But it wasn't until Grant Achatz opened the doors to Alinea in 2005 that the Chicago's culinary artistry started to take its modern form. The food at Alinea is gracefully minimalist, imaginatively deconstructed, and served in a smoldering test tube. Naturally. The avant-garde presentation of each course is enough to draw an Instagram banger from the most jaded of #FoodPorn cool kids. And the restaurant's ticket reservation system is blitzed with a panicked fervor Chicagoans usually save for accosting Bears lineman after a false start penalty.
Self-doubt is something "The Second City" will always struggle to manage, but—right now—Alinea is its Michael Jordan or skyline. It's a restaurant that, for better or worse, is fawned over and defended with absolute obedience. When it comes to shaking an Italian beef and pizza stigma, it's the city's knockout punch.