With popular restaurants sprinkled across the country, renowned chef David Burke certainly knows the secret to success. Primehouse, Burke's Rush Street hot spot, proves that the formula also works in the Windy City.
Inside The James Hotel, Primehouse’s executive chef Rich Gresh culls seasonal and organic ingredients to create decadent steakhouse fare, some of it with a slight twist. He starts by dry-aging USDA rib-eye inside a Himalayan salt-tiled aging room—located in-house—for anywhere between 28 and 75 days. Not surprisingly, the 75-day-aged cut has received much approval from critics including Rahm Fama of the Food Network, who dubbed the steak as the best ever.
Yet, Gresh doesn’t stop at steaks. He redefines gourmet go-tos, layering foie gras over bourbon-glazed apples and drizzling scallops with a hazelnut vinaigrette. He serves bacon, kobe corn dogs, and octopus on sticks, and lets bites of steak and ahi tuna cook tableside over a hot Himalayan-salt stone. During lunch, Gresh offers creamy lobster bisque, tempura-fried green beans, and one of Chicago Magazine’s favorites: the 40-day-aged prime steak burger.
Food critic Phil Vettel of The Chicago Tribune recommends trying the oysters and calls the riverside patio “one of the most sought-after destinations in town.” Michigan Avenue Magazine savors the sleek eatery's prime bacon cheeseburger, blanketed by Wisconsin white cheddar, crispy onions, and a Boursin aioli sauce. Whether customers are in it for the surf, the turf, or the view, Fulton’s on the River caputures the attention of all with upscale seafood and steak enjoyed amid a downtown view. At lunch chefs plate grilled tenderloin sandwiches, buried beneath caramelized onions and horseradish cream, alongside jumbo lump crab cakes. But, as the sun sets over the river, they bring out the dinner menu, which exchanges the sandwiches for wild cold-water lobster tails, seared scallops, and 16-ounce New York strip steaks. Yet, the meal doesn’t end until after a dessert of house-made banana cream pie or fresh-fired crème brulee.
Chef Edward Kim is a restless soul. Born and raised in the north suburbs of Chicago, he left home to become a lawyer in New York but somehow found his way to the opposite coast, where he enrolled at the renowned Le Cordon Bleu in Los Angeles. After spending several years honing his craft in locales as far-flung as Seoul, South Korea, Kim returned to his native city to open a restaurant that would draw on his Asian heritage and penchant for gastronomical globetrotting.
Just like its chef, Ruxbin is the product of a hodgepodge of competing influences. To its credit, the BYOB bistro doesn’t try to hide this fact—its 32-seat dining room is built entirely from salvaged and repurposed materials. Chef Kim’s seasonal menu reflects his own restless nature, and dishes are liable to change as soon as they reach the height of their popularity. This willingness to take risks has attracted a host of devotees, including GQ , which named Ruxbin one of its Ten Best New Restaurants in America in 2012.
Carmichael's Chicago Steak House pushes and pulls at its Chicago identity. The restaurant’s menu and décor pay homage to the classic Chicago steak house, an institution as iconic and as dear to the city as the skyscraper, the lakefront, or the rivalry between the North and South Side baseball teams’ mustaches. Twenty-four-ounce porterhouses and marbled and aged tenderloin hark back to the city's past as the country’s foremost meat producer.
Outside on the patio is another story. Mature trees, potted plants, and the occasional strain of live music push against the urban bustle of the West Loop. Carved out of reclaimed warehouses, this outdoor oasis transports diners from the traffic and road construction that descend on the city in summer. Under a red canopy or against the glow of lamplights, these alfresco meals add an air of tranquility and romance rarely experienced without having to stretch on a yoga mat scribbled with sonnets.
From the minds behind Chicago restaurants Las Tablas and Tango Sur, Folklore serves the meat-centered cuisine definitive of Argentina in a cozy, dimly lit space. Wrapped in a flaky shell, ground beef empanadas shine beneath house-made chimichurri sauce, while super-authentic 'lengua a la vinagreta' consists of poached tongue marinated with vinegar, garlic, and peppers. Grill selections include both imported, lean, grass-fed cuts and fatty domestic steaks, though the restaurant doesn't only deal in carnivorous helpings?the Chicago Reader called their baked eggplant layered with spinach and cheese "one of the highlights of the meal."
When the first Carson's opened its doors in 1977, it was far from the only barbecue joint around. Yet the quality of its tasty, smoky barbecue is proven by the fact that it?s still gaining accolades from the press more than 30 years later.
The menu remains as it has always been?offering tender cuts of barbecued meat. Churning out everything from baby-back ribs and barbecued shrimp to grilled prime new york strip or prime rib, Carson's grills and smokers never stop working. In fact, the barbecued-beef sandwiches boast brisket that simmers in flavorful smoke for a whole 24 hours.