As the curtain falls on 2012 (and the world has not ended) Eater surveyed a group of critics, writers, eaters, and more. We asked the group eight questions: everything from Top Standbys to Top Newcomers, from Best Meals to Restaurants Broken Up With. Everything will be revealed—cut, pasted, unedited and unadulterated—by the time the curtain raises for 2013.
Q: What were your top restaurant newcomers of 2012?
Penny Pollack, Chicago Magazine: Found, Grace, Carriage House, Bavette's.
Mike Gebert, Grub Street: Besides Vera and PQM, I just hit Allium again for my birthday and some I plan to hit again sooner than later include Fat Rice, La Sirena Clandestina, and Table, Donkey and Stick. One I plan to hit more often than I should: Phil's Last Stand.
David Tamarkin, Time Out Chicago: The Lobby (is that new?), Bavette's, Balena.
Carly Boers, Chicago Magazine: Bavette's, Kai Zan, Fat Rice.
Catherine De Orio, Culinary Curator: La Sirena Clandestina, Au Cheval, Tortoise Club, Sixteen (not new, but new chef and that made all the difference), Grace and Elizabeth.
Joe Campagna, Chicago Food Snob: Tavernita, Barcito, Belly Q, Vera, Autre Monde, and Urban Union.
Steve Dolinsky (The Hungry Hound), ABC 7: Yusho, Bavette's, Cai, Embeya.
Julia Kramer, Time Out Chicago: Au Cheval, Bavette's, Bang Bang Pie, Trenchermen, Kai Zan, Balena, Fat Rice.
Jeff Ruby, Chicago Magazine: The obvious answer is Grace, where Curtis Duffy finally has the freedom and resources to reach his huge potential, and he's not blowing it. This restaurant has everything in place—at the exact moment when Duffy hits his prime—to become a Chicago legend.
Chris LaMorte, Urban Daddy: Chez Moi, Nellcote, Publican Quality Meats, Ada Street, La Sirena Clandestina, Two, Carriage House, Bavette's.
Sarah Freeman, Zagat: Carriage House nailed it and I could not be happier for chef Mark Steuer and the team. It requires zero effort to have a wonderful time. The roast beef sandwich at Publican Quality Meats made me stop mid crew and deeply contemplate every flavor happening that bite. Who knew a sandwich could be so thought provoking? Ada Street is a clandestine escape with simple food and cocktails.
Daniel Gerzina, Eater Chicago: Au Cheval, Vera, Antique Taco, Bang Bang Pie Shop.