As 2010 comes to a close, Eater surveyed a number of industry types, writers, eaters and more. We asked the group eight questions, everything from Restaurant Standbys and Top Newcomers to Single Best Meal and Headline for 2011. Everything will be revealed—cut, pasted, unedited and unadulterated—by the time we check out on Thursday to ring in the New Year.
Q: What are the top restaurant newcomers of 2010?
Natasha Liberman, a la card: Kith & Kin, Arami, Chizakaya, Ruxbin, Longman & Eagle
Penny Pollack, Chicago: Davanti Enoteca, Arami, Bistro One West, Due Lire
Chris LaMorte, Urban Daddy: Davanti Enoteca, Chizakaya, Vincent, Chicago Cut Steakhouse, Henri, Girl & the Goat, Dough Boys
Heather Sperling, Tasting Table: Girl & The Goat, The Purple Pig, Ruxbin (I haven't been since soon after it opened, but in theory it's exactly what this city needs more of: small and chef-owned, with creative design and an ambitious, personal menu.), Kith & Kin (It had its kinks, but David Carrier created a menu that was at once soulful, accessible and gutsy. I have high hopes for new chef Andrew Brochu.)
Julia Kramer, Time Out Chicago: My top 10 places TOC reviewed for the first time in 2010 (Ria & Purple Pig opened at the tail end of 2009): Ria, The Purple Pig, Longman & Eagle, Cumin, Ruxbin, Black Dog Gelato, Girl & the Goat, Arami, Floriole, Franks N Dawgs
Nick Kindlesperger, Grub Street Chicago: It’s totally not a surprise, but Stephanie Izard really outdid herself with Girl & the Goat. That could have been just a solid opening, but it’s turned a destination.
David Tamarkin, Time Out Chicago: Ruxbin, Girl & The Goat
Liz Grossman, Plate: Girl & the Goat, Arami, The Purple Pig, Belly Shack
Rodrick Markus, Rare Tea Cellar: Girl & The Goat, Kith & Kin, Purple Pig, Big Star
David Hammond, LTHForum, Sun-Times: I’m putting aside the obviously hot and deservedly hyped places like Girl and the Goat, Lillie’s Q and Owen & Engine. I was most excited by a simple dinner at Franks n’ Dawg’s, where the creative hot dog, as reinvented at the seminal Hot Doug’s, is brought to another level with “chef-driven” creations, served on beautiful buns that are full-bodied enough to stand up to the wiener and all its accoutrements. In the realm of the off-radar, we loved Chilapan, especially the Budin Azteca ( a layered construction of feathery, flakey tortillas filled with chicken, cheese); Lockdown, in particular the hideously named “Cruelty to Animals” (a juicy hamburger, crowned with chorizo, prosciutto and bacon on a pretzel bun, garnished with arugula and red onion); and Big and Little’s (foie gras fries – and, yeah, you want Little to empty that pan of hot liver grease all over the spuds before serving).
Mike Sula, Chicago Reader: Girl & the Goat, Balsan, Arami, Henri, Kith & Kin, Branch 27, Saigon Sisters, Vincent, and a special shout out to Gaztro-Wagon and the Meatyballs Mobile for being pioneers.
Michael Gebert, Sky Full of Bacon: At the high-ish end, well, there's no denying the confidence and accomplishment of the Girl & The Goat, which is to Scylla what Fargo is to Blood Simple. And as I said, Longman & Eagle. But I think if there's a new place I truly loved, it was Ruxbin, no big concept, no hype, just a cozy, young-feeling little neighborhood place where they're working hard to make beautiful, exciting food. Even when it doesn't come off, its failures are those of youth, which means it will only get better. At the low end, sometimes you feel like the scene of a particular cuisine like middle eastern is stuck in the same old same old, but then a new place will come along and just do everything better-- like Taza Bakery at Devon and Albany, where they're pumping out fresh breads and spinach pies and making great tasty shawerma and there are all these women there working their butts off rolling out dough every time you go in, making all the other places serving that food look lazy.
Michael Nagrant, New City: Next and Aviary—oh wait, my crack team of elves, err fact researchers just told me they’re still not open. My bad.
Chandra Ram, Plate: Girl & the Goat, The Southern, Cumin
Emily Fiffer, Daily Candy: Chilam Balam; Balsan; Ria; Arami; Cumin; City Provisions; Ruxbin
Carly Fisher, The Feast: Girl & The Goat, Chizakaya, Arami, Ruxbin, obviously.