As 2011 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 2012. Everything will be revealed—cut, pasted, unedited and unadulterated—by the time we check out on Friday to ring in the New Year.
Q: What was Chicago's Best Dining Neighborhood in 2011?
Chandra Ram, Plate: West Loop/Meatpacking District: between Vera, Next, Aviary, and the soon-to-open Izard, Kahan, Duffy, Van Camp and Sodikoff spots, my 'hood rules.
Penny Pollack, Chicago: Logan Square
Lisa Arnett, Metromix: Outside of River North, which always sees a lot of openings, our staff spent a lot of time in Logan Square checking out Yusho, Telegraph, Jam, Letizia's Fiore, Dante's Pizza and Masa Azul, plus others we haven't had the chance to make it to yet, including Eclipse, Mitad del Mundo and Rewster's. Lincoln Park also had sort of a second-coming in the cool department with Morso, Barrelhouse Flat, 2 Sparrows and Butcher & the Burger, plus Dale Levitski launching his super buzz-worthy brunch at Sprout.
Ellen Malloy, Restaurant Intelligence Agency: LOGAN SQUARE!
Joe Campagna, Chicago Food Snob: River North
Michael Nagrant, Sun-Times: West Loop
Julia Kramer, Time Out Chicago: West Loop
Natasha Liberman, a la card Chicago: West Loop/Fulton Market
Lisa Shames, CS: Return of Randolph Street/Fulton Market
Mike Sula, Chicago Reader: Chinatown/Bridgeport
Kate Bernot, BlackboardEats.com: Still gotta give it to the Fulton Market corridor: Next, The Aviary, Publican, Vera, and more to come. Now, if only something affordable would move in, I could hang there without pawning half my possessions.
Heather Sperling, Tasting Table: The Fulton Market and Randolph St. renaissance has no rival. And there's so much more on the way. Nellcote, RM, Little Goat, Grace, Graham Elliot's restaurant.
Jeff Ruby, Chicago: don’t know if it even counts as a neighborhood anymore, but who knew that Randolph Street would resurrect itself in the past few years? I assumed that with the demise of all those Kleiner-y places, the neighborhood would look like one of those sad closed amusement parks with all the weeds and rusted equipment. Didn’t happen. A whole new generation populates that stretch, and does it with as much as action as the first generation did.
Mike Gebert, Grub Street: I think I said Chinatown in a conceptual sense last year, but this year, you'd kind of have to say it really happened in the real one-- Lao Hunan, Cai, Ming Hin, all these great new places down there helping bust Chinese dining out of the eternal '50s it's stuck in.
Emily Fiffer, Daily Candy: : West Loop
Nick Kindelsperger, Serious Eats Chicago: I used to feel guilty about picking my own neighborhood, but with Telegraph, Jam, and Yusho all opening in the past six months, I'm a little more confident about Logan Square.
Carly Fisher, The Feast: West Loop. What didn't open there this year?