Bib Gourmands Released: Up 8, 19 New, 11 Out, Maybe 1 or 2 To Be Promoted?

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Photo: Galdones Photography

The Bib Gourmand list, that strange dual-pupose list from Michelin that simultaneously honors modestly-priced gems and serves as a consolation prize-slash-subtle diss to places that don't measure up to Michelin's standards for a star, has been released. It has a total of 64 restaurants on it, an increase of eight. But the shift beyond that is that 19 new places have been named and 11 have been booted off the list though one or two of those might get promoted next week to a star. (It seems likely for Perennial Virant, a dimmer chance for Hopleaf, Mexique or Lula Cafe.) The dichotomy between the two parts of the list remains strange; the ethnic and neighborhood restaurants on the list plainly meet the good value part of the criteria (less than $40 for two courses plus dessert), and we're happy to applaud the likes of Chilam Balam, Jam, or instant sushi fave Kai Zan as new choices on that side of the list.

But the more upscale places on the list are an odd bunch which we think stretch the $40 limit; you could probably get out of Urban Union or Au Cheval for that, but we find it hard to believe The Pump Room belongs as a good value in either sense of the phrase. (Tourists!) In general, they seem awfully willing to honor things that are new and tourist-ready yet to our mind have not really proven themselves or built a following Balena, yes, but Untitled? The Savoy? City Tavern (which by sheer accident of timing lost its chef too late to suffer the fate Arami did)? Any one of those may deserve it, but to us you're missing the point of Chicago dining if middling sit down places as a class are virtually guaranteed a spot, yet there's no sign of a Publican Quality Meats or a Pleasant House Bakery (honestly, what's a better value than that in the whole city?). At some point endorsing an entire class of competent mid-range places starts to become protecting tourists from the real Chicago, rather than leading them to it.

And, well, we don't look to the French for advice on Thai food, Mexican or barbecue anyway (though the Chinese list, being entirely Tony Hu joints, is respectable). The full list is below.

2013 Bib Gourmands List

Ada Street
Ann Sather
Antique Taco
Au Cheval
Avec
Balena
Belly Shack
Bistronomic
The Bristol
Browntrout
Ceres Table
Chilam Balam
City Tavern
Cumin
Deca
De Cero
De Colores
Frontera Grill
Gemini Bistro
Gilt Bar
Girl & the Goat
Green Zebra
GT Fish & Oyster
Han 202
Jaipur
Jam
Jin Thai
Kabul House
Kai Zan
Lao Hunan
Lao Sze Chuan
La Petite Folie
Los Nopales
Maison
Marion Street Cheese Market
Maudes Liquor Bar
Mixteco Grill
Nana
Nightwood
Opart Thai
Owen & Engine
Paramount Room
The Publican
The Pump Room
Purple Pig
Q BBQ
Raj Darbar
Riccardo Trattoria
The Savoy
Sen
Slurping Turtle
Smak-Tak
Smoque BBQ
Sol de Mexico
Spacca Napoli
The Storefront Company
Twin Anchors
Untitled
Urban Belly
Urban Union
West Town Tavern
Wood
Xni-Pec de Yucatan
Yolo

New to the list: Ada Street, Antique Taco, Au Cheval, Balena, Chilam Balam, City Tavern, Jam, Kai Zan, Lao Hunan, Maison, Marion Street Cheese Market, The Pump Room, Q BBQ, The Savoy, Slurping Turtle, The Storefront Company, Untitled, Urban Union, Wood

Removed from last year's list: Arami, Fogon, Hopleaf, La Creperie, Lula Cafe, Mexique, M. Henry, Mundial Cocina Mestizo, Perennial Virant, Taste of Peru, Thai Village