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Friday, Dec. 09, 2011

Choosing two restaurants to stand for all that is great about eating out in Chicago is impossible,
says Jeff Ruby, the chief dining critic for Chicago magazine ( After all, this
is home to many top chefs and star-rated restaurants – not to mention it’s also where you can
take a deep-dish pizza walking tour.
But, after a small food fight, Ruby agreed to chop his picks down to three. (Consider it a bonus
and a reason to do a lot of strolling between courses.) Together, he says, these restaurants
exemplify the scene’s innovation, tradition and playfulness. “Chicago is a world-class dining
city because of its crazy versatility,” he says. “Chicago chefs can take more chances than, say,
New York or San Francisco chefs … where the rent is astronomical and the bottom line is king.”
So, drum roll, please:
• Alinea ( “Grant Achatz’s ultramodern spot in Lincoln Park
showcases the most creative food in North America right now – ‘woolly pig with
fennel, orange and squid?’ – without an ounce of pretentiousness,” Ruby says. Called
the greatest restaurant in America by Restaurant magazine and recipient of three
Michelin stars, this unique kitchen presents beautiful food in a four-hour, 20-course
prix-fixe menu. Prepare to be satiated.
• Gene & Georgetti ( The long-running classic steakhouse in
River North has attracted celebrities since the days of Frank Sinatra. “It doesn’t get
more Chicago-y than a gruff waiter serving you a crusted prime T-bone still sizzling
from its trip in a Vulcan broiler,” Ruby says. Expect shrimp cocktails, Caprese salad,
veal chops and an Old World Italian atmosphere.
• Hot Doug’s ( The “Sausage Superstore and Encased Meat Emporium” is
a fun, chaotic place for lunch, Ruby says. “The line will be long, but totally worth it,
especially if you get a Brigitte Bardot andouille sausage dog and duck-fat fries. This is
the best hot dog in a town full of them.”

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