From Trotter to Gras to Achatz, Chicago has a long legacy of game-changing tasting menus. Into that bedrock of Windy City superstars, we’re ready to carve a new name: Noah Sandoval. Here is a chef with gob-smacking vision, who convinced us in the space of 16 sublime courses that the country’s best new fine-dining experience can be found up a freight elevator at the end of a West Loop alleyway. Noah’s high-wire wanderings toggle confidently between Japan, Italy and beyond: hamachi with yuzu kosho topped with genmai, crispy puffs of grain; rye capellini with white truffle and yeast butter; a mid-meal bread course of exquisite sourdough, slathered with whipped butter, wheat berries and caraway. Noah owns the restaurant with his wife, Cara, who is also the GM. Their pal Genie Kwon earns her own raves on the pastry station. Genie’s dating another cook in the kitchen. All of which is to say that Oriole is a family affair—the Fleetwood Mac of restaurant teams—and it has that all-in energy you get when, quite literally, everything is on the line.

© Sammy Faze Photography

If you’re looking for restaurant and bar recommendations in Chicago, just ask Noah Sandoval, the chef behind Oriole.

Elyse Inamine
October 13, 2017

Chef Noah Sandoval is a big fan of his new hometown. The Virginia native—and 2017 Best New Chef—shared his essential restaurants, where you'll find him when he’s off the clock, in our November issue, and he's detailing more of his haunts around town. Here's where you’ll find him eating and drinking in the Windy City.

The Charleston

“Mike Simmons, the chef-owner of Café Marie-Jeanne introduced me to this neighborhood bar in Bucktown. The sound system is unmatched, and I always get pints of Guinness and whiskey.”

The Charleston, 2076 North Hoyne Avenue, 773-489-4757

Elizabeth

Iliana Regan’s creativity is off the charts. At this Lincoln Square restaurant, she uses floral components that add a tons of depth to her dishes. She’s truly one of the most intelligent people that I know.”

Elizabeth, 4835 North Western Avenue, 773-681-0651

© Iliana Regan

Gold Star Bar

“This West Town bar has a great juke box and a competitive pool table. My drink of choice is a High Life.”

Gold Star Bar, 1755 West Division Street, 773-227-8700

Grace

Curtis Duffy is a legend. He—along with Grant Achatz—set the standard in Chicago dining. At his West Loop restaurant, you’ll understand: The progression of courses in the tasting menu is timed correctly and all taste brilliant. The crab dish is a stunner, and the service is impeccable.”

Grace, 652 West Randolph Street, 312-234-9494

© GRACE

High Five Ramen

“Industry friends told me about this ramen-ya in the West Loop. The noodles are perfect—I always get the shoyu ramen, half spice, with a big can of Asahi. The environment is really fun, too, and run by an efficient and cool waitstaff.”

High Five Ramen, 112 North Green Street, 312-754-0431

Lula Cafe

“When I moved to Chicago about 10 years ago, everyone told me that Lula was the best spot in Logan Square. They were absolutely right. You know there’s a lot of care that goes into the food from chef Jason Hammel. It’s apparent in every dish, from pasta ‘yiayia’ to everything on the farm dinner menus.”

Lula Cafe, 2537 North Kedzie Avenue, 773-489-9554

The Matchbox

“I essentially spent all my money at this River West bar for years—it was halfway between my home and my work, C-House. It’s extremely intimate, and the cocktails, like the ginger gimlet and sidecar, are perfect and served with zero pretension.”

The Matchbox, 770 N Milwaukee Avenue, 312-666-9292

Rainbo Club

“When Mike Simmons heard that I lived in Wicker Park, he suggested I check this place out. I was 27 then, and it was perfect. The drinks are cheap (Malort!), the music is spot-on and the bartenders are the coolest.”

Rainbo Club, 1150 North Damen Avenue, 773-489-5999

Rootstock Wine & Beer Bar

“The menu at this Humboldt Park restaurant is constantly evolving and always delicious. My friend was the chef here three years ago, and it’s been an instant hit then and now with Jeffrey Pikus currently at the helm of the kitchen.”

Rootstock Wine & Beer Bar, 954 North California Avenue, 773-292-1616

Skylark

“This Pilsen bar is a block away from my apartment, and it’s my favorite in all of Chicago. Outfitted with a pinball machine, it’s also got great burgers, tater tots and a fantastic tap list.”

Skylark, 2149 South Halsted Street, 312-948-5275

The Whistler

“Multiple people told me that Paul McGee was the best cocktail maker in Chicago, so I had to see for myself. The Whistler has since changed head bartenders, but it still holds high standards. The atmosphere is fun, and the drinks are killer.”

The Whistler, 2421 North Milwaukee Avenue, 773-227-3530