GQ: Chicago is the Best Restaurant City in America

May 24 2006 - 11:21 PM

ChitownI guess if GQ says it than it’s so. The focus of the press release was Moto, Alinea and Avenues. Three chefs from Trotter’s and three restaurants I have yet to try.

The irony is that I’ve been saying Chicago is the best restaurant city all along for another reason. I can’t think of another city that has such diversity and authenticity of ethnic restaurants. Almost more importantly, I can’t think of any other city where there is nothing better to do than eat. New York has inflatable obstacle course art and theatre, L.A. has the movies, Boston has colleges, New Orleans has the French Quarter and while that definitely includes restaurants it’s very specific restaurants. Closer to home, Milwuakee has bars, Indianapolis has the raceway but what does Chicago have? I’d say restaurants. You could start to name them. Start with A – Alinea and Avenues sure, but there are 26 letters in the alphabet.

Alinea, Avenues and Moto are all on the short list but they’re also on the short list of international eaters. Grant Achatz from Alinea says,

say 50 percent of our customers are from out of state, and we get a lot
from London, Spain, and Japan.  We have become a destination city for

The big competition is NYC. GQ’s Alan Richman writes

Wylie Dufresne, chef-owner of wd-50, a New York restaurant that
features creative cooking similar to what’s percolating in Chicago
says, “Why does it seem an easier road for the Chicago boys?  I don’t
have an answer.  Maybe my food sucks and theirs doesn’t.”  The more
likely answer, Richman writes, is that New York landlords are making
spontaneity unaffordable, New Yorkers seem unresponsive to innovation,
and too many successful new restaurants project an image that is the
very opposite of mechanical bull for sale inventive.  Bowles points out, “If we have it in
Chicago, we support it.  We want people to succeed.  New York wants to
crush you.  Nobody has it easy in New York. There it’s about kicking
the oven door closed and slamming the lid down on the pot.  It’s all

I could agree with that. It definitely fuels the “New York City as
Myth” idea. I would consider an alternate possibility. Chicago has a
large group of diverse eaters who are more interested in tasty food
than good looking food, glamourous food. Being seen is cool but not the
reason most of us go out. In New York I’d guess that people are out on
a weekend fantasizing about being a star. Out on the town in New York
City. The City IS myth. You go out at night and that night the city
owns you. What show did you see? Who was in it? I saw them in the
village las year… blah blah blah. Wow this food is pretty.

In Chicago when people go out they fantasize about the food. Out on the
town in Chicago, you’re seeing a play? Great! Where’d you go for
dinner? Congrat’s on your birthday/anniversary! Where’d you go for
dinner?  New York city may be myth but Chicago is food.