Torali is on the lobby level, 12 floors up, in the Ritz Carlton. It's white and mirrored, not dim and stuffy as one might imagine an Italian and steak place might be in a venerable hotel like the Ritz. Sous Chef Lugo's hamachi crudo, beef tartare with black truffle or simple, cold oysters are a great light start. Torali hits all the steakhouse notes with hand cut, Prime and dry-aged steaks finished with house salt and extra virgin olive oil, and a choice of Torali Steak Sauce or Black Truffle-Garlic Butter. Pasta is made in house and a sure bet is the Linguine al Frutti di Mare featuring nubs of shrimp and scallops, plus clams, mussels, spicy 'nduja, all in a tomato fennel broth. For a steak house, there's an awful lot of non-steak options: Ora King Salmon, seabass and even cauliflower "risotto", with cashew cheese for vegans.
Recommended for Magnificent Mile's Best Restaurants because: Part of Water Tower Place's complex in the Ritz Carlton, Torali is an elegant yet unstuffy stop after shopping.
Jacky's expert tip: Climb up to The Rooftop at Torali during the warmer months for cocktails and a long list of rosés.
NoMI Kitchen is the kitchen one might imagine you hang out in while in heaven. The contemporary Midwest cuisine has classic French influences, plus a deep wine list and stunning views. Dine at NoMi Kitchen, the NoMi Lounge or the NoMi Garden, an outdoor rooftop terrace open roughly May through October. A new sushi bar, which overlooks Michigan Avenue and Lake Michigan from within NoMI Lounge, offers an omakase experience and sommelier Jillian Riley can provide accompanying pairings. Stop in for wine and cocktails in a relaxed atmosphere in the lounge and a date on the outdoor terrace dining by candlelight can't be beaten. Sweeping views place you in the heart of the Gold Coast along Michigan Avenue and Water Tower Square.
Recommended for Magnificent Mile's Best Restaurants because: With sophisticated cuisine and vibrant atmosphere, NoMI is a wonderful experience for breakfast, lunch, dinner or weekend brunch on the Mag Mile.
Jacky's expert tip: Ask for a table along the tilted window-wall, which overlooks Michigan Avenue and the historic Water Tower.
Another modern American restaurant and lounge opened in 2019, this one located in LondonHouse. Situated near the River Walk and where the Mag Mile begins (or ends, as it were) the restaurant serves weekday lunch and nightly dinner featuring a menu of fresh seafood, prime steak, cocktails and an extensive wine list. Executive Chef Jason Shelley helms the from-scratch kitchen that aims for simple, local and regional flavors. Expect pristine raw bar items; spins on appetizers like white truffle caviar deviled eggs; sushi; Prime steak; impressive seafood entrees; and more than a dozen sides (smoked Gouda tots and lobster mashed spuds). Even though the Ocean Prime concept has 15 locations in 12 states, this new location pays respect to Chicago in decor - the two-story lobby is wrapped with illuminated illustrations of Chicago's history - and the bar room's picture windows overlooking Wacker Drive and the Chicago river afford great views.
Recommended for Magnificent Mile's Best Restaurants because: This new contemporary American restaurant is known for impeccable service, country club atmosphere and fabulous seafood and Prime steaks.
Jacky's expert tip: Ocean Prime seats up to 350 guests with two bars and plenty of banquette seating, so chances are walk-ins will get a table.
This popular restaurant is the work of Jimmy Bannos Jr., Jimmy Bannos Jr., a fourth-generation restaurant guy who was raised in Chicago's Heaven on Seven. First timers rave about housemade charcuterie, roasted bone marrow with herb salad, fried pig's ear with crispy kale and fried egg and an extensive wine list. Locals return for the milk-braised pork shoulder with mashed potatoes While the smears, fried items, cured meats and cheeses and entrees are the big draws, it's worth saving room for desserts, like peanut butter and marshmallow fluff cake. The global wine list offers 50 wines under $50 and you can get many in 5oz and 8oz pours, or by the half bottle. The Purple Pig accepts diners on a walk-in basis only but parties of eight or more can email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Recommended for Magnificent Mile's Best Restaurants because: The lively, cheeky and porky place is as popular as ever despite waits and new quarters.
Jacky's expert tip: The no reservation policy means a wait, so get your name in early at the Michelin-starred eatery.
At street level set in the InterContinental Chicago Magnificent Mile, Michael Jordan's Steak House does about as alright as number 23 did on the court (insert superlatives here). Executive Chef Craig Couper adds just enough flourish to steakhouse favorites to make them distinctly delicious. For starters, treat yourself to the Nueske's Double Smoked Bacon with Burton's Maple Syrup or incredible garlic bread featuring Wisconsin Roth Kase blue cheese fondue. Seafood and chops rock but this is a steakhouse after all so go for M. J's Delmonico, USDA Prime, Dry-Aged 45 Days, served with ginger-balsamic jus. Join the legions who have Instagrammed the 23-Layer Chocolate Cake and then you might consider booking a room to rest the digestive system. Also in the Intercontinental, ENO Wine Room offers a seasonal patio, live music and wine tastings if you want to continue the fun.
Recommended for Magnificent Mile's Best Restaurants because: Michael Jordan officially took Al Capone out as the historic name most associated with Chicago - that and the food is spectacular!
Jacky's expert tip: Michael Jordan's beer expert partners with particular brewers to create several craft beers exclusively for the restaurant.
When you crave a Chicago style hot dog and your dining mate needs ramen, lobster roll, al pastor tacos or Nashville Hot Fried Chicken - get all that and more at Aster Hall, one of the newest food halls in Chicago. Enjoy stunning views in the airy space while supping upon one of the city's best burgers from Small Cheval; fresh rolls and bowls from Sushi Station; Italian beef at Chicago Char Dogs; or handmade pasta from the kitchen of Lil Boots. Head to the Bar & Study for cocktails, beer, wine and coffee. Those doing right by their diet should visit 3 Greens Market on the fifth floor, a self-serve salad bar with locally sourced and organic produce that you pay for by weight. The devil on your shoulder will pull you towards The Chocolate Bar serving pastries, ice cream, cakes and candy. Bring your laptop, family or friends.
Recommended for Magnificent Mile's Best Restaurants because: Suitable for shoppers, families and business people, Aster Hall's 16 vendors guarantee local food favorites as well as international dishes, healthy items, drinks and desserts.
Jacky's expert tip: Know that Aster Hall utilizes self-service order screens (with pictures) from which you choose your meal from the various vaults (vendors).
Sometimes you neither want nor need a plate of everything au courant - Brussels sprouts topped with pork belly, a fried egg, uni and cauliflower dust. When you envision a juicy, charred burger, steamy, creamy mac 'n' cheese, meaty wings, a hefty garbage salad or smoky barbecue and you're on the Mag Mile, stroll over to Jake Melnick's Corner Tap. The Today Show dubbed Jake's "the best chicken wing spot in the US" but we don't need them to tell us these are outstanding: jumbo flyers with any of 10 sauces. There's a burger, wing, beer and mac of the month plus brunch all day every day if the mitochondria ache for eggs or hair of the dog. Jake's serves plant-based "Impossible" sliders, too, and he's always having holiday based specials (Lent, National PB & J Day, Oktoberfest, etc.) Beer taps change daily and there's an expanded spirits selection.
Recommended for Magnificent Mile's Best Restaurants because: Brick-oven pizzas, barbecue, baskets of fries and starters that could double as meals, plus a brunch that rivals the dinner menu.
Jacky's expert tip: Happy Hour is every weekday 4 pm-6 pm and includes $5 select food and drinks.
How does Chef/Partner Tony Mantuano continue to crank out the most ethereal pasta, sophisticated antipasti and jaw-dropping second courses after all these years? He cooks from the head and the heart and is smart to hire simpatico creative chefs like Season 15 winner of Top Chef, Joe Flamm, a south sider making Chicago proud. Ideal for date night, Spiaggia offers Mag Mile and Lake Michigan views coupled with simple but expertly created dishes featuring seasonal produce and delicate, handmade pasta. Service is impeccable and desserts irresistible. Cafe Spiaggia, on the same floor, is a sweet European cafe with calming colors and an equally inviting menu. Wonderful shared plates include Emilia Romagna on a Plate (puffed fried gnocco, Prosciutto, fonduta and balsamico); or try fried peppers, fennel and smelt. Outstanding hand made pasta like lumache with lamb Bolognese and Parmigiano Reggiano make you a pasta amnesiac for all other noodles.
Recommended for Magnificent Mile's Best Restaurants because: Attention to detail, thoughtful cookery, fine wine and fetching views make the restaurant and cafe wholly memorable.
Jacky's expert tip: This is one of Chicago's finest restaurants, so be sure to reserve a table and don't overlook Cafe Spiaggia for lunch or dinner.