Since 1969, restaurant, hotel, travel & other witty reviews by a handpicked, worldwide team of discerning professionals—and your views, too.


1723 N. Halsted St. (Willow St.) Send to Phone
312-867-0110 | Menu
ALINEA IS TEMPORARILY CLOSED FOR RENOVATIONS AS OF JANUARY 2016. Evocative, small-bite molecular arrangements from chef Grant Achatz help keep Chicago firmly planted on the culinary map.

• For more about Alinea, read's Blog
• Check out GAYOT's review of chef Grant Achatz's cookbook, Alinea

Your Opinion
Add your own review

Local Deals: 120 * 90

Dinner Wed.-Sun.

* Click here for rating key

  • 5.0 star rating
5.0 rating over 9 reviews
Dining room at Alinea, Chicago, IL

Alinea Restaurant Review

: ALINEA IS TEMPORARILY CLOSED FOR RENOVATIONS AS OF JANUARY 2016. The name says it all. In the course of history, an “alinea” would mark the arrival of a new idea or philosophy. If the concept flies, it could mark the beginning of a different way of thinking or a new practice. The restaurant Alinea situates itself in that sphere and in a forthcoming age that succeeds all the inns, taverns and bistros as we’ve known them. So be prepared: Alinea is a restaurant like no other in America, period. The experience begins at the doorstep when one enters into a post-post-modern, bare set-up, evocative of a museum of modern art. Tables are over-size, widely spaced and free of distracting tablecloths. All of this is to focus our attention on the food and nothing else. Waiters dressed like bank executives in grey suits move smoothly on the carpeted floor, delivering solemnly to the tables miniscule cups, small glasses, mini plates and mysterious decorative objects symbolic of an esoteric food that needs to be deciphered before eaten. The dinner, composed of approximately 16 to 20 courses, is concocted with dozens of components and in an order and a fashion revealing the art of Grant Achatz. This all may have a disconcerting effect if one is not prepared. So staff pop up to explain and guide one’s approach to the odd presentations, such as at the tip of a metallic skewer or on a steel string swing. Achatz constantly invents new preparations, changing combinations that he dubs with a concise description, such as Dungeness crab, squash blossom, cardamom, saffron, or veal cheeks, lapsang souchong, pine, blackberry. In this whirlwind of creativity, you’d think the dessert simply named “chocolate” would be a mainstay given its uniqueness. Achatz unrolls a plastic-coated cloth on your table and pours the ingredients of his chocolate dessert over the cloth, then gathers and kneads the contents. It is the most sophisticated and paradoxically simple “pastry” you can think of; the most spectacular as well. The dishes are ever evolving but the precision and level of excitement remains constant. The wines are as splendid as they are classic and the wine pairing is a total success, especially considering the peculiarity of the food. An online ticketing system transacts restaurant reservations, and the menu price ranges from $210 to $275, which does not include the cost of wine and other beverages and service. Do not forgo the experience of dining at Alinea. You may like it or you may not, but do come to witness what could be a milestone and a landmark in gastronomy.

User Ratings & Reviews for Alinea
Average rating    5
Reviews 1 - 1 of 11
Visit another world at Alinea
by robertjpeterson on Tue Jul 12, 2011 10:03 am
Eating at Alinea was like having a meal on the spacecraft of a race of benevolent extra-terrestrial foodies.

There's no actual "menu" to speak of. You either choose the 14- or the 22-course extravaganza, which is served to you by a succession of bookish men and women -- all of whom, you'll discover, are culinary school grads earning their stripes. (Even the sommelier was a culinary school grad, although his chef days were behind him.)

The courses themselves were elaborately prepared plates or mouthfuls, and all of them spectacular -- a Thai-themed dish looked like a plate full of gold. The wine pairings were also great, although I didn't quite have the constitution for all the drinking.

Highly recommended.
Reviews 1 - 1 of 11
Discover new restaurants in Chicago like mfk.
New Restaurants in Chicago
Find all the Chicago restaurants that have opened recently with GAYOT's round-up.

See What's New in Chicago!


Sign up to receive the 2016 edition of GAYOT's Annual Restaurant Issue, which will feature the Top 40 Restaurants in the U.S. and more.