We could not stop by Chicago without checking out dinner at Alinea – Chicago’s three-Michelin-starred restaurant. With its avant-garde, innovative and gastronomic approach to fine dining, Alinea is the only restaurant in Chicago with three coveted stars. It definitely elevated Chicago’s status as a foodie scene.
Reservations are available on the 15th of every month, up to 2 months in advance – tickets can be purchased here
Reservations to Alinea are fairly difficult but they do use a ticketing system which, if you time it right, makes it convenient to purchase seats to the tables. They offer three unique and distinct experiences (Gallery, Salon, and Kitchen Table). The Kitchen Table is only available for parties of 6. All tickets are paid in advance and can be transferred if needed.
One cool aspect of Alinea was their menu – it’s a search word puzzle where words you find dictate the course. It’s a pretty fun way to pass the time and creates a sense of anticipation of what’s next.
Dining at Alinea was an interesting experience – there were some aspects that I thought were pretty clever but I think my friend and I both agreed that the Salon experience (which cost $327.81 per person) was a little underwhelming. I think the Gallery is probably more worth writing home about, which makes the entire thing a bit inconsistent. I understand why the restaurant reached the status that it did because it changed the dining experience in Chicago through its innovation. However, now, some parts of it felt more “gimmicky” than being of true creativity (although, I did enjoy the cotton candy balloon).
But one thing I can’t complain about is the service – it was top-notch. One of the servers actually mentioned that he was going to be in NYC researching some of our matcha cafés to open up his own pop-up store in Chicago. As a result, my friend and I listed out a few of our favorite places that he should check out that are quite popular. In return, he actually served us some matcha to enjoy in-between courses, which was honestly such a kind and generous gesture.
While I felt that the experience was a bit underwhelming, I don’t regret dining here at all and will not discourage others from dining here because each experience is to their own. The service was great and I got to try some new things and the best part was just leaving after we finished eating since everything was already paid for in advance!