Log In / Join Now

13 Don't-Miss Chicago Restaurants for Wine Lovers

Dive into the Windy City's exciting dining scene with these stellar wine lists
Photo by: Del Frisco's Double Eagle Steak House
Choose from over 1,600 wine selections at Del Frisco's Double Eagle Steak House in Chicago.

Posted: April 6, 2015

Updated April 27, 2017

In recent decades, the Second City has ascended to the top tier of innovation and excellence in American dining, powered by imagination in the kitchen from chefs like Michael Kornick, Paul Kahan, Grant Achatz and, of course, the late Charlie Trotter. Today's scene is as vibrant as ever, with world-class wine lists and cuisine, both fine and fun, from steak to Italian to the less conventional.

If you're in town for Wine Spectator's Chicago Grand Tour on May 9—or just catching Lake Michigan in springtime—here are some restaurants you can't go wrong trying. To check out more wine and food destinations, see Wine Spectator’s more than 3,500 Restaurant Award–winning picks, including our 83 Restaurant Award winners in Illinois' Chicago metro area and the 87 Grand Award recipients worldwide that hold our highest honor.

Do you have a favorite you’d like to see on this list? Send your recommendations to restaurantawards@mshanken.com. We want to hear from you!


Tru

676 N. St. Clair St.
Telephone (312) 202-0001
Website www.trurestaurant.com
Open Dinner, Tuesday to Saturday
Grand Award

Tru
Wine director David Murr oversees one of the most expansive wine programs in Chicago.

Tru has become known for its signature "Coral Caviar," a decadent plating of 10 different caviar scoops presented in a molded piece of coral. The dish, along with other menu options such as spiced Cervena venison and aromatic mussel velouté, is a perfect representation of the push and pull between tradition and modernity that frames the entire dining and wine experience at Tru, orchestrated by executive chef Anthony Martin. The wine program, led by wine director David Murr, boasts a 1,400-bottle Grand Award–winning list, with strengths in Burgundy, the Rhône, California, Bordeaux and Italy.


Acanto

18 S. Michigan Ave.
Telephone (312) 578-0763
Website www.acantochicago.com
Open Dinner, daily; lunch, Monday to Friday
Best of Award of Excellence

Kira Anderson
Beverage director Jon McDaniel previously worked at Los Olivos Wine Merchant & Café in Santa Barbara, Calif., and Chicago's the Purple Pig.

Steps from Millennium Park and along Chicago’s Cultural Mile, Acanto provides a refined yet approachable Italian dining experience. Beverage director Jon McDaniel, who also manages the wine programs at Acanto's four sister restaurants, oversees a wine list spanning 20 regions in Italy for pairing with executive chef Christopher Gawronski's classic Italian dishes. Stop by on "Three Liter Thursdays" for by-the-glass specials poured from 3-liter bottles.


Benny's Chop House

444 N. Wabash Ave.
Telephone (312) 626-2444
Website www.bennyschophouse.com
Open Lunch and dinner, daily
Best of Award of Excellence

Benny's Chop House
For those seeking steak alternatives, the pork chop at Benny's is sure to satisfy.

For a classic steak-house experience in this classic city, head to Benny’s Chop House, located just off of Grant Park, Chicago's "front yard." With 1,700 selections, the restaurant’s Best of Award of Excellence–winning wine list is strong in California, Bordeaux, Burgundy, Italy and Spain, and curated to pair well with the restaurant’s 100 percent USDA prime beef cuts or high-end surf offerings like Dover sole and Ora King salmon. Benny’s adds ambience with live jazz during the evenings from Wednesday to Saturday.


Cherry Circle Room

Chicago Athletic Association, 12 S. Michigan Ave., Second Floor
Telephone (312) 792-3515
Website www.lsdatcaa.com
Open Lunch and dinner, daily
Best of Award of Excellence

Overlooking Millennium Park and the Art Institute of Chicago at the historic Chicago Athletic Hotel, Cherry Circle Room is a cozy retreat from the city’s hustle and bustle. Settle into a plush leather booth or sit at the expansive bar, and browse chef Peter Coenen’s menu of house specialties such as veal cavatelli, natural-aged lacquered duck, and axe-handle prime rib steak. With an abundance of sparkling options, including more than six dozen grower Champagnes and a hearty selection of grande marque Champagnes as well, wine director Andrew Algren’s list is well-suited for festivities. The 1,175-selection list also offers depth in Burgundy, California, Italy and Germany, earning it a Best of Award of Excellence in 2016.


City Winery Chicago

1200 W. Randolph St.
Telephone (312) 733-9463
Website www.citywinery.com/chicago
Open Lunch and dinner, daily
Best of Award of Excellence

City Winery Chicago
City Winery Chicago is a restaurant, concert venue and working winery all in one.

City Winery Chicago's focus is, naturally, wine, so it comes as no surprise that executive chef Andres Barrera's menu—largely comprising shareable plates such as crispy risotto balls and braised duck tacos—is designed around the Best of Award of Excellence–winning list. Visiting the West Loop restaurant is sort of like a choose-your-own-adventure experience: Have a casual meal in the main dining room, enjoy a secluded private dinner surrounded by wine barrels, or rock out in the concert venue on the premises, where full food and drink service is available. Regardless of where you hang out, you'll be treated to a selection of 555 wines, including more than 20 City Winery offerings vinified in-house.


Del Frisco’s Double Eagle Steak House

58 E. Oak St.
Telephone (312) 888-2499
Website delfriscos.com
Open Dinner, daily
Best of Award of Excellence

Led by executive chef Javier Fuentes, Del Frisco’s Double Eagle Steak House Chicago turns out a range of steak styles and cuts, as well as succulent seafood. Wine director Amy Lutchen oversees the 1,650-bottle Best of Award of Excellence–winning list, which has strengths in California, Bordeaux, Italy, Burgundy, Spain, the Rhône, Washington, Oregon and Australia.


Les Nomades

222 E. Ontario St.
Telephone (312) 649-9010
Website www.lesnomades.net
Open Dinner, Tuesday to Saturday
Best of Award of Excellence

Since executive chef Roland Liccioni and his wife, general manager Mary Beth Liccioni, acquired Les Nomades in 1993, it has evolved from a private club into a welcoming bastion of civilized French dining. Liccioni's prix fixe menu offers four courses, with dishes like smoked salmon tartare roulade and Alaskan king crab leg with Meyer lemon puree to start, and a duo of slow-roasted veal and lamb loin with eggplant for the main. The Best of Award of Excellence–winning wine list is extensive, with 1,000 selections and strengths in Burgundy, Bordeaux, California, the Rhône and Champagne.


Spiaggia

980 N. Michigan Ave., Second Floor
Telephone (312) 280-2750
Website www.spiaggiarestaurant.com
Open Dinner, daily
Best of Award of Excellence

Spiaggia
Spiaggia has a sizable cheese selection in its caves.

Under the guidance of James Beard Award winner and Top Chef Master Tony Mantuano, executive chef Joe Flamm crafts modern cuisine that has kept Spiaggia at the forefront of Italian fine dining in Chicago. Pastas are handmade, service is solicitous, the views of Lake Michigan are gorgeous, and the Italy-focused, Best of Award of Excellence–winning wine list is a delight to peruse. Managed by beverage director Rachael Lowe, the 750-selection program is particularly strong in bottles from Piedmont and Tuscany. After dinner, choose from several Italian dessert wines, as well as grappas and amari.


Avec

615 W. Randolph St.
Telephone (312) 377-2002
Website www.avecrestaurant.com
Open Dinner, daily; lunch, Monday to Friday
Award of Excellence

Originally a wine bar, Award of Excellence winner Avec keeps wine at its core. Wine director and owner Eduard Seitan oversees the program, which features 110 selections focused on France, Spain, Italy and Portugal. Inspired by the wine list, the cuisine is Mediterranean with a Midwestern spin, using ingredients sourced from local purveyors. A unique array of French, Italian and Belgian beers bolsters the impressive beverage program.


Blackbird

619 W. Randolph St.
Telephone (312) 715-0708
Website www.blackbirdrestaurant.com
Open Dinner, daily; lunch, Monday to Friday
Award of Excellence

Executive chef and owner Paul Kahan, a recent winner of the James Beard Award, grew up in Chicago at a time when fine dining meant crowded steak houses awash in maroon leatherette. His own Blackbird is more sleek and modern, and as hip as the West Randolph neighborhood it anchors, delivering hearty food with verve. Kahan's cuisine is an urbane, seasonal take on the earthy flavors of the Midwest, while the wine list has a particularly strong focus on France and California. Kahan also owns favorite Chicago spots like Nico Osteria, the Violet Hour, the Publican and Big Star.


Osteria Langhe

2824 W. Armitage Ave.
Telephone (773) 661-1582
Website www.osterialanghe.com
Open Dinner, daily
Award of Excellence

In Chicago's Logan Square neighborhood, Osteria Langhe offers a traditional taste of Piedmont. Reflecting the menu—which is full of favorites from the northern Italian region, including house-made pasta with meat sauce and prosciutto-wrapped rabbit loin with truffle jus—the Award of Excellence–winning wine list is Piemontese through and through.


Prime & Provisions

222 N. Lasalle Dr.
Telephone (312) 726-7777
Website www.primeandprovisions.com
Open Lunch, Monday to Friday; dinner, Monday to Saturday
Award of Excellence

Nathan Michael
The 12,000-square-foot steak house sits on the border of two popular Chicago areas, River North and the Loop.

Chicago has no shortage of steak houses, and Prime & Provisions can stand with the best of them. The first Chicago steak house to source only USDA all-natural prime heritage Black Angus beef, the restaurant takes pride in its hormone- and antibiotic-free meat. The wine program, helmed by wine director Adam Sweders, is exactly what you'd expect from a classic steak house, with 350 selections, largely from California and France.


The Purple Pig

500 N. Michigan Ave.
Telephone (312) 464-1744
Website www.thepurplepigchicago.com
Open Lunch and dinner, daily
Award of Excellence

The Purple Pig, the brainchild of executive chef Jimmy Bannos Jr., executes classic Italian, Southern French and Spanish dishes, nearly all of them involving pork, with simplicity and directness. The compact, well-selected Award of Excellence–winning wine list of 225 wines is heavy in Italy, France, Greece and Spain, featuring names such as Famille Perrin and Numanthia-Termes.

Jaimey Sexton
Chicago, IL —  April 6, 2015 5:12pm ET
What about Salpicon? Any restaurant with over 20 vintages of Vega Sicilia Unico and Stony Hill Chardonnay is certainly worthy of inclusion.
Donald C Young
Des Moines,Iowa,USA —  April 7, 2015 4:03pm ET
GT Fish, Balinea, Boka
Scott Eagle
New York, NY —  April 7, 2015 4:36pm ET
Del Frisco's...really??? You mean I can't find the same unimaginative, over-priced wine list at every other Del Frisco's or big-chain steakhouse?

Would you like to comment? Want to join or start a discussion?

Become a WineSpectator.com member and you can!
To protect the quality of our conversations, only members may submit comments. Member benefits include access to more than 315,000 reviews in our Wine Ratings Search; a first look at ratings in our Insider, Advance and Tasting Highlights; Value Wines; the Personal Wine List/My Cellar tool, hundreds of wine-friendly recipes and more.

WineRatings+ app: Download now for 340,000+ ratings.