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Michelin Announces Chicago's 2018 Stars

By Anthony Todd in Food on Oct 20, 2017 6:03PM

Veal sweetbreads at Elske, one of the new restaurants to be awarded a star this year. Photo by Kailley Lindman.

Michelin day is sort of like Christmas morning for restaurants; the ones that did well end up with a stocking full of presents, the naughty folks end up with nothing, and all the gifts are dispensed by a foreign gentleman in a strange puffy suit. Well, the Chicago results are in: how did we do?

The announcement of the 2018 guide is probably the least climactic Michelin day in the eight years since the guide launched. Why? Practically nothing changed. As I said on Bib Gourmand day last week, the inclusion of Longman & Eagle on that list almost certainly meant that they'd lost their Michelin star, and that was confirmed; they aren't on the new list. No one else dropped off, which is a relief for Dusek's, which many foodies thought might lose its star.

In addition, no restaurants went down in the rankings. All the previous three-stars stayed the same, as did all the two-stars; despite fears that Sixteen might not measure up under new chef Nick Dostal, the restaurant kept both of its stars.

The only changes on the list? Smyth, as many predicted, went from 1 star to 2 stars. This is less of a real change than a correction, as the restaurant had only been open for about five minutes when last year's stars came out and hadn't quite hit its stride. Two new restaurants made the one star list: Entente and Elske. Elske was a total no-brainer, and Entente serves the sort of brainiac food that Michelin seems to love.

Let's talk numbers: 2018 sees Chicago with 33 stars, a slight dip from the 35 we had last year, but still up from the 29 we had in 2016 and the 31 in 2015. As usual, being a 2-star restaurant is apparently the kiss of death: 42 Grams and Tru, both 2-star spots on the 2017 list, closed, as did L20 before them. Every 2-star restaurant from the original Michelin list in 2011 is now gone.

If we want to compare our stars with other cities, DC has 17 stars, so at least we beat them, but Chicago pales by comparison with New York (a whopping 99 stars in 2017) and San Francisco (73 stars in 2017). Somehow, despite Chicago being acclaimed for having the best food scene in the nation, according to Michelin we are approximately 1/3 as amazing as New York.

For me, the most astonishing thing about the Chicago Michelin guide is its utter stability. Since 2010, hundreds (thousands?) of acclaimed restaurants have opened and closed. But if you look back at the original Michelin list, the one star list will look surprisingly familiar. 8 of the restaurants from that original list are still on the list today. The rest have mostly closed.

Here's the complete list:

Three Stars

Two Stars

One Star

Band of Bohemia
EL Ideas
North Pond