Chicago's First Michelin Guide 2011: A Sneak Peek at 46 Chicago Gems Designated Bib Gourmands.

Chicago's First Michelin Guide 2011: A Sneak Peek at 46 Chicago Gems Designated Bib Gourmands.

Chicago Arrives on the Michelin Map.
The Michelin men and women have been slinking around the  Chicago Restaurant landscape for the past two years, eating their way through old and new for the November 18 release of Chicago’s first  ever “Big Red Book”–the Chicago Michelin Guide 2011. These anonymous, professional inspectors are all Michelin employees. They are American men and women, who are paid to eat lunch and dinner in restaurants daily.  In a sneak preview of “the big release day” event, Michelin has announced it’s 46 Bib Gourmands with chalk men drawn in front of each establishment.  These little guys will remain visible until weather or foot traffic cause them to fade away.

A Unique List.
The Bib Gourmands are all about good food for good value.  The restaurants chosen must be able to provide a two course meal plus wine or desert for $40 or less.   The list includes more than 20 different types of cuisines serving up an  everyman’s go-to list for dining.

Ethnically speaking, it seems the Mexican restaurants came out on top with Rick Bayless’ Frontera Grill, West Loop’s De Cero, Pilsen’s DeCOLORES, Los Nopales in Lincoln Square, Chef Carlos Caytan’s  Mexican (with a French twist) Mexique on West Chicago Avenue, along with Raul Arreola’s (former Frontera Grill chef) holy mole at his Lakeview Mixteco Grill all receiving the coveted character on their front walkways.  The Indian and Thai delegations were well represented with the likes of Wicker Park’s Cumin, Jaipur and Veerasway in the West Loop, along with Opart Thai House, Thai Village and Raj Darbar all on the list–however no sign of Uptown’s Marigold. Two Italian establishments made the list: Spacca Napoli and Riccardo Trattoria.  One lone Chinese restaurant, Hon 202 in Bridgeport made the cut with their five course dinner for $20 a real bargain.  Chicago’s large Polish population will want to sample the kielbasa N. Elston Avenue’s Smak-Tak.  The French contingent includes Hyde Park’s La Petite Folie, Bistro 110 and Lincoln’s Parks La Creperie.  Newbies, seasonal, organic, and vegetarian and American winners include, the Gilt Bar, Ritz Carlton’s deca, Kith & Kin on Webster, Browntrout, Green Zebra, Nightwood, Perennial and Publican.

MichelinMexique .jpg

Mexique interior.

Chicago’s future in the commodities market looks good with pork bellies on the rise in many pig related dining establishments including Jimmy Bannos’ The Purple Pig leaving longtime favorite Bannos’  Heaven on Seven in the dust; the Belly Shack, the Girl and the Goat’s “Roasted Pig Face,”  Lula Cafe’s “suckling pig,” and moto sibling Otom’s pork belly and oyster starter all winners.

Some long time Chicago favs getting the nod include:  Ann Sather, Frances’ Deli, and Twin Anchors.  The relatively new Smoque BBQ was another winner. For a complete list go to www.facebook.com/MichelinGuides.
The Stars.
The stars come out on November 18, 2010 when Michelin releases the names of Chicago spots that will receive the coveted one, two or three star ranking.  The Bib Gourmand picks can not receive a star–a restaurant can’t be on both lists, so heavy hitters like the The Publican and Frontera Grill will remain starless this year.  The buzz has Avec and Blackbird as likely star bearers along with Topolobampo.  The MICHELIN Guide Chicago 2011 goes on sale November 18 for $18.99.

Although Chicago is only the third city in the U.S. to have its own guide, guides for restaurants are available for  23 countries on three continents. The collection of 26 MICHELIN Guides includes more than 45,000 addresses. Chicago joins New York and San Francisco as the only three U.S. cities with current guides.

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