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11 Don't-Miss Chicago Restaurants for Wine Lovers

Dive into the Windy City's exciting dining scene with these stellar wine lists
Italian wine and food are the focus at Best of Award of Excellence winner Acanto in Chicago.
Photo by: Julia Ponce Diaz
Italian wine and food are the focus at Best of Award of Excellence winner Acanto in Chicago.

Posted: April 11, 2019

Updated April 11, 2019

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, Tony Mantuano, Rick Bayless 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 2—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 the Chicago metro area and the 91 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!


Acanto

18 S. Michigan Ave., Chicago, Ill.
Telephone (312) 578-0763
Website www.acantochicago.com
Open Lunch and dinner, daily
Best of Award of Excellence

Acanto
Acanto invites guests on a virtual tour of Italy through its 535-selection wine list.

Steps from Millennium Park and along Chicago’s Cultural Mile, Acanto provides a refined yet approachable Italian dining experience. Wine director Ryan Berry oversees a wine list spanning 20 regions in Italy for pairing with executive chef Christopher Gawronski's classic Italian dishes. The restaurant has four Award of Excellence–winning siblings: the Gage, Beacon Tavern, Coda di Volpe and the Dawson. Stop by Acanto on "Three Liter Thursdays" for by-the-glass specials poured from 3-liter bottles.


Benny's Chop House

444 N. Wabash Ave., Chicago, Ill.
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 Grant Park, Chicago's "front yard." With 1,500 selections, the wine list is strong in California, France (especially Bordeaux and Burgundy) and Italy (especially Tuscany and Piedmont), 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 in the lounge and bar during the evenings from Wednesday to Saturday.


Cherry Circle Room

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

Clayton Hauck
Complementing the wine list at Cherry Circle Room is a colorful, creative menu.

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 the menu of specialties such as dry-aged lacquered duck, cavatelli with sea bean and pecorino, and axe-handle rib steak. With an abundance of sparkling options, including more than six dozen grower Champagnes and a hearty selection of grandes marques, the 1,245-selection list is well-suited for festivities. The program also offers depth in Burgundy, California, Italy, Germany, the Loire, Oregon and Austria.


City Winery Chicago

1200 W. Randolph St., Chicago, Ill.
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 chef Mark Mendez’s menu—largely comprising shareable plates such as crispy risotto balls and braised duck tacos—is designed around beverage director Rebekah Mahru’s 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 615 wines, including numerous City Winery offerings vinified in-house.


Les Nomades

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

Les Nomades
The wine list at Les Nomades excels in a range of French regions.

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 $130 prix-fixe menu offers four courses, with dishes like smoked salmon tartare and artichoke terrine to start, and a duo of slow-roasted veal and lamb loin for the main. Overseen by wine director Nicholas Butera, the wine list is extensive, with 975 selections and strengths in France, especially Burgundy, Bordeaux, the Rhône and Champagne, as well as in California.


Maple & Ash

8 W. Maple St., Chicago, Ill.
Telephone (312) 944-8888
Website www.mapleandash.com
Open Dinner, daily
Best of Award of Excellence

Maple & Ash
Maple & Ash brings time-honored steak-house dining into the modern age.

Past and present unite at Maple & Ash, a stylish spot with traditional steak-house service. While there are many familiar items on the menu, including 16 different wood-fired meats, chef and co-owner Danny Grant showcases his creativity in starters like Sauternes-soaked foie gras and a butter lettuce–salad with king crab, charred avocado, mint and basil. The wine program similarly blends Old and New World, excelling in California, France (especially Burgundy), Italy and Spain. Wine director Amy Mundwiler has helped grow the list from 650 selections in 2017 to 1,300 today, and she’s planning to keep expanding.


Prime & Provisions

222 N. Lasalle Dr., Chicago, Ill.
Telephone (312) 726-7777
Website www.primeandprovisions.com
Open Lunch and dinner, daily
Best of 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, was promoted to Best of Award of Excellence in 2017. It’s exactly what you'd expect from a classic steak house, with 400 selections, largely from California and France.


Spiaggia

980 N. Michigan Ave., Chicago, Ill.
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 Top Chef Masters star Tony Mantuano, a menu of modern cuisine has kept Spiaggia at the forefront of Italian fine dining in Chicago. Pastas are handmade, 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 wine director Rachael Lowe, the 750-selection program is particularly strong in bottles from Piedmont and Tuscany, and also offers standouts from Champagne. After dinner, choose from several Italian dessert wines, as well as grappas and amari.


Vivere

71 W. Monroe St., Chicago, Ill.
Telephone (312) 332-4040
Website www.vivere-chicago.com
Open Lunch and dinner, Monday to Saturday
Best of Award of Excellence

Isabelli Media Relations
Vivere is the Capitanini family’s modern take on Italian dining.

The Capitanini family’s restaurant legacy traces back to 1927, and today, they own three Best of Award of Excellence winners in the same building: the Village, La Cantina Enoteca and Vivere. Each concept offers its own Italian dining experience in a distinct space. Vivere is the most contemporary of the group, with a menu by chef Emily Phillips that’s trend-conscious but built on traditional techniques. The Italian-heavy wine list is particularly impressive when it comes to Piedmont and Tuscany labels. Since he became wine director in 2016, Jared Gelband has been reshaping the program, determined to make it even more focused and interesting.


Boka

1729 N. Halsted St., Chicago, Ill.
Telephone (312) 337-6070
Website www.bokachicago.com
Open Dinner, daily
Award of Excellence

Eric Kleinberg
Warm hues and plush greenery set the scene at Boka.

Boka has been a mainstay in Chicago’s dining scene for more than 15 years. The restaurant is still among the city's gems for wine drinkers, thanks to wine director Alisandro Serna. The 290 selections focus on France, with sprinklings of international picks. Chef Lee Wolen’s menu is seasonal American with palpable Mediterranean influence in dishes such as grilled Spanish octopus and olive oil–poached cod. When it opened in 2003, Boka was the first restaurant from partners Kevin Boehm and Rob Katz, who also own local Award of Excellence winners GT Fish & Oyster, GT Prime and Somerset.


Osteria Langhe

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

Andrea Falcone Photography
Osteria Langhe is a neighborhood spot for fine food and wine in a relaxed environment.

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 ragù and prosciutto-wrapped rabbit loin with truffle jus—the wine director and co-owner Aldo Zaninotto’s list is Piemontese through and through.


Keep up with the latest restaurant news from our award winners: Subscribe to our free Private Guide to Dining newsletter, and follow us on Twitter at @WSRestoAwards and Instagram at @WSRestaurantAwards.

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?

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