Dining

Where Chefs Ate, Snacked and Drank in Chicago for the James Beard Awards

There was a whole lot of fried chicken to go around
Where Chefs Eat in Chicago
Photo: Chloe List

If you dined out at a hot restaurant in Chicago in the past 72 hours, there's a good chance you spotted chefs like David Chang, Andrew Zimmern and Daniel Boulud sitting at a table next to you. Chefs, writers and other members of the food world descended upon Chicago for the James Beard Awards and amid a slew of events and parties managed to sneak out for some outstanding meals. We asked some of our favorites about their best meals. Here's what they had to say.

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"I just had it [at Roister]. It's just really good. My favorite was the fried chicken sandwich."  —David Chang, founder of the Momofuku restaurant group

"Even though we only ate at one restaurant on our trip, it didn't fail to leave me with an incredible sense of astonishment. From the moment we arrived at Oriole, the attention to service and detail were unparalleled. The dishes were an orchestra of flavors and emotions. Not only were they impeccably executed, but the pairings framed the experience like paintings in a gallery. Chef Noah Sandoval, Cara, Genie and the rest of the team left me speechless!" —Rico Torres, chef of Mixtli in San Antonio and Food & Wine winner for Best New Chef

"Dove's Luncheonette. We had the fried chicken twice. We're going to try to steal that recipe." —Stephen Starr, James Beard winner for Outstanding Restaurateur

"Deep-dish pan pizza at Pequod's. Finally a deep-dish pie I can love. And the arroz gordo at Fat Rice. Loved it. Still thinking about it." —Mitchell Davis, VP of the James Beard Foundation

"Momotaro. We ate there last night, and it was breathtaking. We had an amazing time, and Chef did Wagyu beef with a scallop on top of sushi rice. It came out like nigiri with seaweed wrapped around it. It was super tasty." —Alon Shaya, chef and owner of Shaya restaurant in New Orleans and James Beard winner for Best Chef South

"I went to Monteverde last night with a whole crew. We ate everything on the menu . . . The red fish in tomato sauce was beautiful. I'm not normally a fish-in-tomato-sauce person. I also went to visit Dana Cree at Publican. We approach ice cream in the same way. We think like a molecule. I tried the orange blossom and burnt honey." —Jeni Britton Bauer, founder of Jeni's Ice Cream

"I wish I could have gone to loads of places, but we went to Scofflaw after the Chef's Night Out event to unwind with some good food and great drinks. It's a staple of the Chicago bar scene and industry late-night hangout." —Pamela Wiznitzer, president of the U.S. Bartenders' Guild and creative director of Seamstress in NYC

"Monteverde. Sarah [Grueneberg] has these pork skewers and wok-fried clams with the best butter and ramps. The best part is you're watching this old lady make the pasta. . . . And The Purple Pig is always inspiring." —JJ Johnson, chef of Minton's in NYC and James Beard semifinalist for Rising Star Chef

 

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"Cocktails at Swift & Sons. The vibe of that place is conducive to drinking brown spirits on a cold, rainy day. And Roister. I loved the chicken. I'm not a spicy person, but that [sunchoke habanero] hot sauce added brightness." —Sabato Sagaria, chief restaurant officer of Union Square Hospitality Group

"GT Fish. We had these amazing waves of seafood platters and huge sea urchins. For dessert: Avec had a pop-up from Sofra. They gave us so many treats, like this little cookie with halva paste. I loved the flavors." —Ghaya Oliveira, pastry chef at Daniel in NYC and James Beard winner for Best Pastry Chef

"Best meal was breakfast at Dove's Luncheonette. Pork posole with crispy pigs ears and house made almond, sesame guajillo salsa." —Ken Oringer James Beard Award winner, chef and owner of Uni, Boston

"My favorite meals when I was in town were Smyth and Elske. For Smyth, John Shields was the guy I always looked up to while I was at Alinea. I drove all the way to West Virginia to eat his food when he was at Townhouse.  It was a no brainer to go to Smyth when I was in town. For Elske, David Posey is my culinary brother, we worked the line together at Alinea and when I opened Olmsted he came and helped me out the first few nights. He make the tastiest food, and his new spot Elske is so beautiful." Greg Baxtrom, James Beard chef and owner of James Beard nominee Olmsted  

"I got in today, and I didn't eat anywhere. I've got to get back to work." —Marco Canora, chef of Hearth in NYC and James Beard winner for Best Chef NYC

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