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 were your top restaurant standbys of 2010?
Carly Fisher, The Feast: Birchwood Kitchen, The Publican, Sun Wah, Nhu Lan, Jerry's. I really like sandwiches a lot, but mostly, I just don't eat prix-fixe menus on the reg.
Emily Fiffer, Daily Candy Chicago: Chilam Balam, Purple Pig, Big Star, Owen and Engine, Arami, Cumin, Ruxbin, Girl and the Goat
Mike Sula, Chicago Reader: Khan BBQ, Hai Woon Dae, Semiramis, VIP Restaurant, Honey One BBQ, Taqueria El Asadero, Jury's, Spoon Thai, Double Li
Chandra Ram, Plate: The Purple Pig (I ate there so much some Facebook friends thought I was an owner), Belly Shack, Province, Hopleaf, Veerasway, Piccolo Sogno, Ba Le
Michael Nagrant, New City: Big Star, Nhu Lan, Pequods, Saigon Sisters, Sprout, Kith and Kin
Julia Kramer, Time Out Chicago: I do not know how I would survive without Cafecito. Le Bouchon is my go-to place in my neighborhood.
Michael Gebert, Sky Full of Bacon: Longman & Eagle, because it got better every time I went. Edzo's, because I know a lot of people in Evanston who could use a good hamburger, and knowing somewhere to eat in Evanston is simply a matter of self-defense.
David Hammond, LTHForum, Sun-Times: Tamales Oaxaqueños at the Maxwell Street Market is the only restaurant I go to more than three times a year, and I’ve been going for years now. It’s not a conventional restaurant, but there are servers, tables and chairs. This tamale from the state of Oaxaca is a corn masa rectangle, filled with chicken, steamed in a banana leaf, doused with salsa verde and crema, the most satisfying breakfast or lunch I know. No one I’ve ever introduced this meal to has not proclaimed his or her love for it, spectacular in its simplicity. I once wrote a poem about these MSM tamales that was anthologized in a college creative writing textbook: the title was “Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Oaxaca Tamale.”
Penny Pollack, Chicago: The Portage, Moon Palace, Original Pancake House (on Bellevue), Davanti Enoteca, Pizano’s, Lillie’s Q, Portillo’s (drive through for an M.O.T. [editor's note: that's a mustard-onion-tomato] when I’ve worked late)
Rodrick Markus, Rare Tea Cellar: Kith & Kin, NAHA, Joe's Stone Crab, Big Star, Lao Sze Chuan
Liz Grossman, Plate: The Bristol, Big Star, Jam, Chickpea, The Purple Pig, Macku
David Tamarkin, Time Out Chicago: Purple Pig, Ruxbin, City Provisions Deli, the cafeteria in the basement of Chase Tower
Nick Kindlesperger, Grub Street Chicago: Longman & Eagle is basically my corner bar, so it makes sense that I’d go there the most. I tell myself that I’m just going just for a drink, but that usually turns into at least an appetizer. That pretzel is absolutely addictive. But I love submitting to a full dinner. The one dish I’ve probably eaten the most this year is probably a tie between the hot dog and fries from Red Hot Ranch and the Hot & Sour soup from Belly Shack. Bill Kim could build a whole soup empire on that dish alone.
Heather Sperling, Tasting Table Chicago: The downside of this line of work is that I rarely have the time (or stomach space) to return to places that I love. But the places I would go again and again, if I could, are Katsu and Arami (for sashimi and nigiri), Takashi on Sundays (for fresh soba), TAC (for crispy ong choy and a slew of things off the second menu), Taxim (for the lentils and the farmers' market trio), Shaw's Oyster Bar (for oysters and a lobster roll), Chilam Balam and Rootstock (because they remind me of Brooklyn).
Chris LaMorte, Urban Daddy Chicago: Kith & Kin, Taxim, Fred’s, RL, Pingpong, Rocks Lakeview, Wilde
Natasha Liberman, a la card: Lula Cafe and Avec have been standbys for years. NAHA. Kith & Kin has quickly become a new favorite. Tiny Lounge, Rootstock and Big Star are three bar/lounges putting out killer food, and where you'll find me often.
Ari Bendersky, Eater Chicago: The Purple Pig, Girl & The Goat, Anteprima, Sun Wah BBQ, Nightwood, Kith & Kin, Tiny Lounge, Big Star, Dib, Mixteco Grill