Squab breast Photos: Jeff Marini

From the get-go, everything about the experience at Oriole feels unique and special. Diners enter through an inconspicuous door on a narrow West Loop side street, where they’re greeted by Cara Sandoval, the GM, who takes them through a freight elevator into a comfortable 28-seat space with crisp linens and a timbered ceiling. In the back of the room, her husband, executive chef and owner Noah Sandoval, oversees a small staff in a gleaming open kitchen.

A meal at Oriole is spellbinding. The 15-course, $195 menu weaves luxury ingredients—osetra caviar, A5 wagyu beef, Hudson Valley foie gras, Périgord truffles—in and out of remarkable, mischievous dishes featuring counterintuitive flavor pairings, impeccable technique, and hidden treasures. Tricky combinations might include, say, a Beausoleil oyster soaking in a meaty jamón mangalica consommé with finger limes alongside a lobe of that same miraculous jamón accompanied by black walnuts, egg yolk, and quince. It’s clever, brilliant food that never feels precious or overproduced. And the staff is forever in lockstep, especially sommelier Aaron McManus, who effortlessly pairs both wine and sake with Sandoval’s creations. No wonder that, a mere seven months into its existence, it earned two Michelin stars.

Changes have been afoot at Oriole—most recently the amicable departure of pastry chef/founding partner Genie Kwon and chef de cuisine Tim Flores—but Noah Sandoval, who promoted sous-chef Mariya Russell and pastry sous-chef Courtney Kenyon, assures diners that Oriole will stay the course, and we have every reason to believe him. Oriole has been flying ridiculously high for two years, and it’s all but impossible to imagine it existing at any other altitude.

Lamb belly
Alaska king crab
Japanese A5 wagyu beef
Jamón mangalica