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Travelers' Choice
RATINGS
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Location and contact

North Side
1.0 miles from Lincoln Park Zoo
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MICHELIN Guide's Point of View

Chef Grant Achatz continues to burst with novel ideas at this ingenious, substantive, and festive temple. Dining here is part theater and pure pleasure...
Read more on MICHELIN Guide
Three MICHELIN Stars: Exceptional cuisine, worth a special journey!
PRICE RANGE
$150 - $1,000
Special Diets
Vegetarian Friendly, Vegan Options, Gluten Free Options
Meals
Dinner, Late Night
CUISINES
American, International
FEATURES
Reservations, Private Dining, Seating, Valet Parking, Wheelchair Accessible, Serves Alcohol, Full Bar, Accepts Credit Cards, Table Service
Reviews (1,571)
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Reviewed 3 weeks ago via mobile

Where to start..Alinea has been on my foodie hit list for the better half of its existence and we were so excited to secure a Salon reservation in June. Each course was timed perfectly and flowed from one to the next, like a story. The...food was inventive, delicious, and surprising, but most of all - it was fun. We were not expecting such entertainment and a meal full of boisterous laughter. After all, you're in a supposed prissy 3-Michelin star establishment! We were pleasantly surprised by how hilarious the servers were and really played into our jokes and playfulness. The service and the servers themselves were half the reason the meal was so good and so memorable. I'm terrible and cannot remember our main server's name, but she was so so much fun and you could tell this was her genuine personality. I do recall the Floor Manager's name, Stuart - who was also hilarious and fed into our overly enjoyable meal. This was truly not just a dinner, but an emotional experience. We will remember some of these dishes vividly for years to come and the laughter that ensued our entire meal. The dessert painting at the end, though artistic and beautiful, I found the least tasty, but that's just personal preference. The Trampoline Papillote was a personal favorite due to creativity and taste, but really every course was enjoyable and an experience. We were offered 3 levels of wine pairings and even the basic tier was quite good. Don't worry about remembering every course, you will be handed a detailed menu at the end. We can't wait for another opportunity to be back at Alinea!More

Date of visit: June 2022
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Reviewed June 28, 2022 via mobile

We had dinner at Alinea on a Monday night. We sat in the Salon area and were on the second floor. The wait staff was very professional and attentive. They made us feel comfortable and were very informative about each dish. Each course was given...a brief description while it was served. After we would finish, they would describe the dish in more details. Each course was an experience in itself and left me wondering what would happen next and what the chef was imagining when he put it together. The flavors we experienced were some I had never enjoyed before and I will not forget. It was delicious, interactive and fun. The chef and staff made this an evening we will always remember.More

Date of visit: June 2022
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Reviewed June 13, 2022

We have been planning to go here for several years now. I'd have to say the restaurant lived up to my expectations. Each dish is a unique presentation and theater of the unexpected. The dessert finale was a great ending, if you still have the...appetite to eat it. Overall thoughts... 1. The service is tremendous. The wait staff knows every detail on the courses and wines. 2. The menu is preset and unknown until you arrive. Hence, you better not be a picky eater. 3. Not going into detail on any dish as it changes. However, each is unique. There is some twist, the unexpected, or unique about its taste/presentation 4. Hence, you might lose some of the surprise when you see other tables seated near you. 5. I'd say the only negative a few of the dishes were on the salty side to my taste. Nevetheless, worth it as a one time experience at least for some very very special occassion. Book 3 months in advance!More

Date of visit: June 2022
Helpful?1  
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Reviewed June 9, 2022

I'm not sure I would call Alinea a restaurant. It was more accurately culinary theater. So many things were done to evoke surprise. It's an impressive experience, especially for a blowout occasion, and some of the stuff was magnificent - the best to me was...an arctic char that had been smoked until about half the moisture was gone, concentrating the flavor. Service is excellent without being stuffy, and that contributed to the enjoyment. You won't like this restaurant if you aren't willing to have the meal Alinea prescribes, the way they want you to experience it. If you're not in the mood to be dictated to, even politely, don't waste the money. Alinea is all about molecular gastronomy and transformations - if your aesthetic of great food is beautifully sourced ingredients presented to take natural advantage of them, Alinea will make you crazy. My companion loves "tricky food" and even she wondered why they had to freeze dry and then shred the osetra caviar. Because they could. It didn't taste better. If you're not in the mood for that kind of pushy showmanship, it's a waste of money. Even if you love the idea, Alinea was not perfect - which frankly at the price they charge, you have a right to demand. The biggest mistake (and why you might want the Gallery, where service is communal over the Salon). In the Salon, they staggered service, so unless you deliberately hid your eyes, you saw what they were going to do at another table - so the surprise they worked so hard for was sometimes given away. That's just dumb in a restaurant that sweats so many details - and charges a fortune. If I had to use only a single word for the food - Essential. Everything was concentrated or distilled to an extremely strong flavor. Extremely. In the char, that was magnificent. But everything was salty, sour or intense, with flavors dialed to 11. The kitchen was referencing Thai and Mexican spices and flavors, that gives you an idea of the mindset. CHILI! CHOCOLATE! FISH PASTE! It sometimes felt like spending an evening with someone talking loudly without modulation the whole time. I would have loved one subtle course that let the ingredients do the talking. Did I have a great time? Yes, when I sat back and enjoyed the show. Would I go again? Probably no need. Once was enough.More

Date of visit: June 2022
Helpful?3  
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Reviewed May 30, 2022 via mobile

This was a really fun and enjoyable evening. The service was top notch, with the service being very friendly, and attentive. The ambience and dim setting has created a very firm memory of a beautiful evening for me and my partner. The food was very...interesting and tasty, well presented and spanned different parts of the globe, the type of variety we enjoy. The wine pairings were well done and the sommelier was a wealth of information. One minor quibble was that the Salon was fairly cool. I was comfortable in my blazer, but my partner was cold in her short sleeves. In the last minute, we did have some recent dietary restrictions and even with the short notice, they did their best to accommodate. All in all, it was a wonderful evening and worth the high ticket price.More

Date of visit: May 2022
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Reviewed May 30, 2022

I've had the good fortune to have eaten at some of the top restaurants in the world. Alinea certainly deserves its place among them. Each dish was an experience, but more importantly each was incredibly delicious and equally innovative. Each course unfolded and built upon...the last to create a wonderful whole. Service was as exceptional as the food. Yes, it isn't cheap, but if you want an unforgettable experience that transcends a mere meal, then this is the place.More

Date of visit: May 2022
Helpful?2  
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Reviewed May 19, 2022

I have been to Alinea 3 times over a number of years on visits to Chicago (I live in San Francisco) and this meal was the best of the three. The first time I went, which was near when it opened, I was blown away...by the uniqueness and surprise of each dish. But the second time I felt the use of special "molecular" techniques was overdone. While I was full when I left and the courses tasted very good, I oddly felt that I hadn't eaten real food as almost everything was altered in some way. However on this visit I thought the use of "molecular" techniques and more classical approaches was well balance and very satisfying. The presentations are amazingly creative and the quality of each dish was very good to excellent. The only dish I did not care for was a squash served with a mole sauce, which to me was too salty and not very nuanced, in contrast to all the other courses (however one of my dining companions loved it). Highlights were a caviar course, an arctic char, a thai influenced king crab, a Japanese influenced portobello mushrooms with razor clams and an amazing desert which is actually made directly on the table and when finished resembles a painting by Jackson Pollack; this dessert consists of butter pecan, dark chocolate, a liquid nitrogen prepared ice cream and various sauces spread out in an array of colors and textures. We had the highest tier of wine pairings (they offer 3). The wines were good to excellent on their own but with a few exceptions were not particulary good matches to the food, which led me to give the restaurant 4 rather than 5 stars. The service was excellent, efficient without being intrusive. The wait staff and the sommelier gave rather extensive descriptions of the preparation and ingredients of the food and wine. I have eaten at a number of Michelin 2 and 3 start restaurants around the world and of those meals this meal would rank it among the best. Of course this meal was expensive, but not the most expensive I have had at similarly acclaimed restaurants.More

Date of visit: May 2022
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Reviewed May 11, 2022 via mobile

I hate to admit that this long anticipated restaurant experience was completely subpar. This was the dinner we were looking forward to the most in Chicago and it was by far our worst dinner and least hospitable experience. We had the salon tasting menu and...immediately got yelled at for using flash photography (we weren’t advised otherwise until snapped at). The first course tasted like French onion chip dip on a crepe… 90% of the dishes were room temperature and seafood forward. The best dishes were the beef and dessert. Don’t let the hype of the experience sucker you into paying for this overhyped and overpriced dinner! Also, they do not serve cocktails and you basically eat in the dark.More

Date of visit: May 2022
Helpful?1  
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Reviewed April 12, 2022

I never felt cheated out of 1k USD before. I've eaten at four 3 stars in Paris and in Bangkok. I went here, and I disliked half the courses. Come on guys.

Date of visit: April 2022
Helpful?5  
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Reviewed March 19, 2022

Disgusting— should have left without paying. There is a reason you prepay! Hands down the most overhyped restaurant in the world! The food is all pre-made. Assembly line delivery of total garbage.

Date of visit: March 2022
Helpful?5  
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Reviewed February 23, 2022

First and foremost -- and I believe this goes without saying -- the overall experience at Alinea was above average. This review is based solely on my humble comparison of Alinea to other 3 star Michelin restaurants I have experienced. Unfortunately, Alinea does NOT deliver...what one would expect from a $1000 dinner, 3 star Michelin restaurant. To begin, there is no signage to indicate where this restaurant is located. I entered Boka next door only to be directed to the correct location. Minor issue, no big deal. My immediate thought when brought to the upstairs salon area was disappointing. The area is unwelcoming and small and cramped - not intimate or luxurious at all. My overall thoughts on the menu was unimpressive and disappointing. Perhaps this is due to the "salon" menu I experienced, so I cannot speak to the other menus offered. The salon tasting menu was confused, overly salty, and mediocre at best. The chef attempted to combine too many culinary cuisines together that simply made the dining experience confusing. One moment you are in Mexico consuming an overly salty squash mole and gold hoja; the next course you are in Southern France with a tiny piece of scallop with bouillabaisse and nicoise; the next you are in an American diner eating the only remotely memorable course of the evening -- a flavorful piece of wagyu (although, even this course was suboptimal as the wagyu was literally buried deep and hidden in a sea of subpar cheaper bresaola, which my partner and I did not end up eating anyways). The arctic char was overcooked and quite literally tasted "charry" such that my partner and I could barely finish it. At the end of our meal, we were handed a flimsy, tiny menu. We were not given a tour of the kitchen as requested for my partners birthday. No personalized dinner menu for her. When I visited Per Se in NYC a few years ago, I mentioned in passing to my server that I am celebrating my birthday, and was handed at the end of my meal an oversized menu with my name and "happy birthday Sean" on it with Corey Chow's signature, AND, a private tour of his kitchen and a photo with his staff. This is the type of exceptional service I expected from Alinea, particularly after requesting a tour of the kitchen before hand. Again, Alinea was great, but not even close to 3-star Michelin, $1000 dinner great. I say all this humbly as someone who has dined at numerous 3 star Michelin restaurants around the world. Save your money and travel to NYC or San Francisco or DC for a better fine dining experience. Extremely disappointed and regretful of choosing to celebrate my partners birthday at Alinea.More

Date of visit: February 2022
Helpful?2  
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Reviewed February 13, 2022 via mobile

We dine all over the world at Michelin star restaurants and look for the best experiences possible. We have been very fortunate to experience many outstanding dinners, and have been to Alinea on numerous occasions since they opened. This used to be a 5 star...establishment. Sadly, food, service, experience has degraded to mediocre at best. Staff was fumbling. Environment has lost its polish. Food was not the work of a brilliant chef. One dish wasn't edible. Disappointing.More

Date of visit: February 2022
Helpful?2  
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Reviewed January 19, 2022

A party of 6, seated in the glass enclosed kitchen table. We chose our own wines to accompany our meal. Some interesting food choices, some odd & not so delicious choices. Definitely TOO MUCH food and incongruous parings. Staff is attentive, ( sort of have...to be) Decor is minimalist. I can never hear the Eurythmics song, Sweet Dreams, without thinking of Alinea's dessert presentation, again Too pricey, not my experience of a Michelin starred Resto: have been to many in France.More

Date of visit: January 2022
Helpful?1  
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Reviewed January 16, 2022

In the past Alinea has provided gourmet meals that you pick up and cook. They provide all of the ingredients and you cook the meal at home just like the Chefs on television. The most famous of these was the Christmas 2020 Dinner they provided...when all restaurants were closed. It was a true gourmet dinner and by far the best Christmas dinner ever. For their special Beef Wellington Dinner I expected the finest cut of beef in the puff pastry. Instead it was a greasy fatty short rib. The gourmet side dish was mashed potatoes. The pudding dessert reminded me of the dessert you get in a Swanson TV dinner. This dinner from the Alinea Group was more like what you get from your local greasy spoon diner.More

Date of visit: January 2022
Helpful?2  
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Reviewed December 13, 2021

I would disregard the three reviews below me from the same self-entitled table, sabotaging a fine institution because they didn't get a full refund on the night for their wine not being chilled. Like their ability with words, their tongue must be equally as poor,...or heart as bitter, to mislead others on a public forum. I'll write as much to assure you that nothing has changed about Alinea. Without giving away details to take away from your visit, what stood out for me the most was the mastery of flavor profiles; intense, deep, balanced. Like a good wine, the taste notes unravel itself to you in sequence, each one accentuated, not one undermining the other, all to bring you full circle on a small journey. You'll often find yourself puzzled and incapable of words simply from lack of precendence. But that's what I would hope you're here for, to be taken on a journey on the frontier. But most of all, keep a light heart and have fun. Enjoy!More

Date of visit: December 2021
Helpful?10  
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.
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TravelManiac2016
February 25, 2022|
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Response from agia | Reviewed this property |
No. Alinea is not a family restaurant for two main reasons. First, the menu does not present items most children would be familiar. Secondly, no children's portions so the price of the meal would be very expensive for a... More
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Frequently Asked Questions about Alinea

Alinea is rated accordingly in the following categories by Tripadvisor travelers:
  • Food: 4.5
  • Service: 4.5
  • Value: 4
  • Atmosphere: 4.5