Chicago’s essential destinations, from haute tasting menus to inventive street food

Number 18: Everest

Whether you consider it a relic, a civic treasure, or a mixture of both, there’s no denying that Everest is the last of its breed. Despite small efforts to lighten it up over its 32 years—goodbye, animal-print walls and leopard-spot carpet—Jean Joho’s grand love letter to Alsace on the 40th floor of the Chicago Stock Exchange will forever feel adamantly rooted in the ’80s. The traditions surrounding the place have solidified into lore—the multiple elevator rides, the wall of windows flaunting a twinkling cityscape view, the unabashedly Alsatian-focused wine list. So have the intricate foie gras preparations, the impeccable soufflés, and now-mythical creations such as the shirred eggs with osetra caviar in the shell, or the roasted Maine lobster in a mix of Gewürztraminer butter and ginger. The Zen-calm, unflappable servers still somehow manage to bring a sense of fun to the room’s hushed reverence. Everest may be among the oldest restaurants in this guide, but it stands as proof that there is still a place in Chicago for this lofty brand of special-occasion dining.

Number 27: RPM Steak

The options on this meat palace’s menu are so numerous that they can create temporary paralysis: Do you get the 90-day dry-aged ribeye? The three-ounce portion of wagyu? Béarnaise? Foie gras butter? Luckily, you can’t go wrong with any combination. RPM excels at old-school luxury, and treasures abound for those with the expense accounts to pony up for them. Chef Doug Psaltis revels in excess—like with the silky risotto showered in shaved truffles, or the chocolate cake flecked with edible gold flakes. On any given night, the cream leather banquettes are stuffed with Chicago power brokers wooing clients over hulking 24-ounce cowboy steaks as tuxedoed servers deftly ferry plates of luscious mayo-topped crab legs and clouds of cotton candy to VIPs. But you don’t have to be a big spender to feel special here—in fact, just about anyone can find some kind of satisfaction.