> Acadia

The clean, sophisticated look of the dining room at Acadia signals a meal that’s going to be luxurious and, accordingly, expensive. But in fact, there are deals to be had at this South Loop restaurant. The lobster roll is chef Ryan McCaskey’s homage to childhood summers in Maine; available in the lounge, it goes for just $14. But whether you’re eating that or the $32 deconstructed lobster pie in the dining room, you’ll find the biggest steals are on sommelier Jason Prah’s wine list, which features oodles of unusual wines from small producers (Erzetic Rebula from Slovenia; Dme. Schreyer Edelswicker; a grenache blanc from Spain’s Vinas del Vero), many of which hover below $40.
—David Tamarkin

Acadia, 1639 S. Wabash Ave. Chicago; 312-360-9500, (reviewed W&S, 04/12)

> Autre Monde

When it comes to food, the industrial Chicago suburb of Berwyn has been known for Italian beef sandwiches (if it’s been known for anything at all). But over the summer, four fine-dining veterans opened Autre Monde—and in doing so quite literally created for Berwyn, as the name suggests, another world. In this warm, neighborhoody space, Beth Partridge and Dan Pancake (both disciples of chef Tony Mantuano) send out handmade pastas and Mediterranean-style dishes like bacalao-stuffed piquillo peppers. John Aranza and his wife Christine Tully Aranza (vets of Spiaggia) handle the front of the house, pouring from a list John has piled with a quirky array of organically and biodynamically grown wines. Start with the little-seen crémant from Camille Braun in Alsace; move on to assytriko from Santorini, posip from Korcula or a grenache-roussanne blend from Tensley in Santa Barbara. The red selection is just as wild. Almost as wild as opening a restaurant of this caliber in Berwyn.
—David Tamarkin

Autre Monde, 6727 W. Roosevelt Rd., Berwyn, IL; 708-775-8122, (reviewed W&S, 02/12)

> The Bristol

What happens when three restaurateurs team up on "value"? Thankfully, nothing involving frozen chicken cutlets. John Ross, Phillip Walters and chef Chris Pandel created The Bristol, a glowing, pubbish spot in Chicago's Bucktown neigh-borhood. By dividing the menu into snacks, medium and large dishes, the trio makes it hard to spend money on food you won't eat. The content of the menu, however-dill-and-sea-salt monkey bread, roasted bone marrow with red wine jam, roast chicken with mustard spätzle-means that you'll probably eat too much anyway. Also bingeworthy: The staggering beer list, which offers everything from Miller to Trappist ales, and the thoughtful wine program, which offers glasses of Argentine torrontés and Illinois claret. All in all there's nothing about this experience that says "budget." And yet there's not a single bite over twenty bucks.
—David Tamarkin

The Bristol, 2152 N. Damen Ave., Chicago; 773-862-5555, (reviewed W&S 4/09)

> Bin 36 Lincolnshire

Bin 36 Lincolnshire brings partners Dan Sachs, Brian Duncan and David Schneider's wildly successful downtown wine bar/restaurant/market to suburbanites northwest of the city. As in the downtown location, they pour fifty wines by the glass, flight or taste from an ever-changing list of boutique picks. On the educational front, monthly wine classes and tastings are offered along with wine suggestions for each American bistro dish. One addition the location inspired: milk and juice flights for the kids.
—Laura Levy Shatkin

Bin 36 Lincolnshire, 275 Parkway Dr. (City Park), Lincolnshire, IL; 847-808-WINE;

> Osteria Via Stato

Osteria Via Stato brings seasonal ingredients with Italian flare to Chicago's River North. Visit the enoteca for cicchetti (small plates) and a choice of 40 wines by the quartino or mezzelitre, or settle in for the $36 fixed price menu of the night. Wine Director Belinda Chang (formerly of Charlie Trotter's and Fifth Floor) gracefully navigates the 300 bottle all-Italian list to accent the parade of antipasti and pasta courses that precede your selected entrée. Tell Chang, "Just bring me wine," and you'll get an expertly paired flight of three four-ounce pours available at $15 ("special"), $28 ("very special") or $50 ("sommelier's choice").
—Christine Blumer

Osteria Via Stato, 620 N. State St., Chicago, IL; 312-642-8450,

> Reno

The idea behind Reno sounds simple: coffee and bagels by day, pasta and pizza by night. But because Reno is owned by a team that also owns some of Chicago's best wine bars (notably Telegraph, which is right next door), everybody expected the spot to be a little bit... more. And it is: The flat and crispy bagels are baked every morning in a wood-fired oven, the pastas are made in-house and tossed with lamb neck ragús, and there's a wine list that is both remarkably unusual and a ordable, too. With the guiding principle of selling "maverick" wines—that is, wines that buck the rules of their appellations— sommelier Jeremy Quinn is able to offer finds like the juicy côt from Marc Ollivier of Domaine de la Pépière in Muscadet and Cederberg's fl oral, fruity bukettraube, a cross of sylvaner and schiava grossa–all of them under $40 a bottle. Or, if you want to take the bottle to go (yes, to go), under $30.
—David Tamarkin

Reno, 2607 N. Milwaukee Ave., Chicago; 773-697-4234, (reviewed W&S, 04/13)

> Rootstock

Located on a block in the Humboldt Park neighborhood that is, frankly, a little sketchy, Rootstock is a small, glowing respite in a city full of more "traditional" (read: boring) wine bars. Simmering with hushed jazz, idiosyncratic wines, artisanal beers and a brilliant menu by chef Remy Ayesh, the place evokes the debauchery of the '20s more than the cabernet worship of the '90s. So even though pairing wine and cheese is old hat, this place somehow makes drinking the 2007 Leitz Eins Zwei Dry Riesling with some aged goat cheese and Earl Grey-soaked figs feel revolutionary again.
—David Tamarkin

Rootstock, 954 N. California Ave., Chicago; 773-292-1616, (reviewed W&S 12/09)

> Taxim

Chicago's no stranger to Greek food, but Taxim brings Greek wares the likes of which this city has never seen. Instead of spanakopita, try rampopita—housemade phyllo stuffed with ramps, goat feta and dill. And instead of meat carved from a spit, roasted duck and walnut-yogurt mousse fills Taxim's gyros. Simple mezedes (fresh fava beans tossed with crispy bits of lamb confit) and perhaps the city's best Greek wine list (Boutari Skalani, Sigalas, Skouras and Tselepos, to start) are helping pack this place. But the best part is what's not here—notably guys in blouses shouting "opa!"
—David Tamarkin

Taxim, 1558 N. Milwaukee Ave., Chicago; 773-252-1558, (reviewed W&S 8/09);