Alex Garcia/Chicago Tribune
Beginning in September 2011, a good many luxury hotels in Chicago decided that a high-priced dining room was a luxury they could no longer afford. Peninsula said goodbye to Avenues (though it upgraded The Lobby), the Waldorf Astoria Chicago closed Ria, Four Seasons (having already closed the Ritz-Carlton Dining Room) shuttered Seasons and turned its lobby lounge into the far more affordable Allium. Even NoMI, inside the Park Hyatt, cut prices and adopted the folksier name NoMI Kitchen. But Sixteen, inside the Trump International Hotel & Tower, bet big the other way, hiring top talent like general manager Will Douillet (since departed for California) and adding the culinary team of executive chef Thomas Lents (Everest, Joel Robuchon in Las Vegas) and pastry chef Patrick Fahy (Blackbird, Cafe des Architectes). The result is dining bliss, ably abetted by flawless service and sommelier Nathan Cowan's imaginative beverage pairings. Yes, the price tag is as eye-popping as its magnificent view. But the best always costs, and Sixteen's team has demonstrated that it belongs at that level.
Sixteen, 401 N. Wabash Ave. Chicago; 312-588-8030
— Phil Vettel