When chef and restaurateur Gastón Acurio decides to open a restaurant in Chicago, people pay attention. And for good reason: Acurio is behind more than 30 restaurants worldwide, and his Astrid y Gastón in Lima, Peru, was recognized as the 14th best restaurant in the world and the No. 1 restaurant in Latin America, according to the prestigious World’s 50 Best Restaurants list. Tanta, his first foray into the Chicago dining scene, is carving out a reputation of its own; it’s a hip, fun restaurant rife with traditional Peruvian fare. “Peruvian food is influenced by many cultures — Chinese, Japanese, African — all showcased in our dishes,” says chef de cuisine Jesus Delgado.
Goose Island carved the path, Half Acre and Revolution Brewery paved the way, and in the last couple of years, our city’s craft brewing scene has exploded, with dozens of microbreweries — think 5 Rabbit, Pipeworks, OffColor, Argus, Lake Bluff Brewery and New Chicago Brewery — setting up shop, making Chicago a bona fide craft beer destination.
Although Sixteen in Trump International Hotel is undeniably fine dining, boasting both a Michelin rating and Forbes Five-Star status, executive chef Thomas Lents is working to redefine the concept. He believes in serving upscale, high-quality food, but he eschews the idea that elegance equals stuffy; instead, Lents says he aims to “make fine dining approachable, and break down the stereotypes.”
Vermilion may be approaching its 10th anniversary in December, but its concept remains as innovative and fresh as any of its newer River North counterparts. The brainchild of Ph.D.-turned-restaurateur Rohini Dey (left), the spot melds South American and Indian influences to create flavor-packed fusion fare.
If you’re not familiar with Mercadito’s (108 W. Kinzie) “Tacos For Strength” Campaign, here’s a quick refresher: For the past three years, the hotspot has hosted a different celebrity chef each month to craft a signature taco, ranging from Ryan Poli’s marinated grilled shrimp taco to Howard Kleinberg’s pulled pork taco. A portion of the proceeds from each culinary creation has gone to Share Our Strength, an organization that fights to end childhood hunger in America.
It’s an understatement to say that Graham Elliot is one of Chicago’s most celebrated chefs. He’s headed up his eponymous Michelin-starred restaurant since May 2008 (one of only 15 in the U.S. to have two stars), accumulated three James Beard award nominations, been inducted into the Chicago Chefs Hall of Fame and landed a coveted hosting gig on Fox’s “MasterChef.” Now, the culinary king has two new shows headed for primetime: “Junior MasterChef,” premiering Sept. 27, and “Covert Kitchen” airing in October.