As we put a cap on 2013, Eater surveyed a group of critics, writers, and all around experts for their take on the past year. We asked them eight questions: from Top Standbys to Top Newcomers, from Best Meals to Restaurants Broken Up With. All answers will be revealed—cut, pasted, unedited and unadulterated—by the time we pop the cork on 2014.
Au Cheval was a winner yet again. [Photo: Kari Skaflen]
Q: What was your restaurant standby this year?
Steve Dolinsky, ABC7: I spent way too much time at Au Cheval, mostly taking out-of-towners, but also to satisfy my sick craving for a double cheeseburger, no bacon or egg.
Chris LaMorte, Urban Daddy: Chez Moi. My friendly neighborhood bistro. I love a French restaurant that you actually hear the table next to you actually speaking French.
Michael Nagrant, RedEye: A double combo of Au Cheval and Little Goat. I work nearby and I found myself at these two repeatedly, which rarely happens for restaurants of that caliber. I can't afford to go to places once I've reviewed them because I gotta review new ones. Au Cheval's perfect burger and hash browns is creeping its way up on the desert island meals, as is the Asian Breakfast Thingy at Goat.
Penny Pollack, Chicago Magazine: Dillman's.
Nick Kindelsperger, Serious Eats: I can't seem to get enough of L'Patron in Logan Square. It's there whenever I need my steak taco fix.
Lisa Shames, CS: Three Aces. Never had a bad meal or experience there. Plus, I still love that I can get great great food and service in what's pretty much a punk rock bar.
Audarshia Townsend, 312 Dining Diva: Blackbird, always. It never fails me year after year and I can always count on getting a great meal from beginning to end. The service is also quite exemplary and every time I recommend it to someone else, they are never disappointed.
Amy Cavanaugh, Time Out Chicago: I live in East Lakeview and DryHop Brewers became my new brunch spot, beer spot and burger spot all in one. The burger has this ancho chile-tomato jam and a dollop of soft cheddar that work perfectly together and the French toast is crusted with Cap'n Crunch, so there's great texture. Plus everyone who works there is so nice.
Sarah Freeman, Zagat: I found myself sitting at the bar at Embeya on more than one occasion this year. The team, as well as the restaurant, evolved a lot during its first year. My experience there improves each time I visit, because of chef Thai Dang's execution of clean, simple flavors in elegant dishes.
Mike Gebert, The Reader/Serious Eats: For the second year in a row, when anybody asks me where to go or where to take out of towners, the first word out of my mouth is "Vera."
Sean Cooley, Thrillist: I keep finding myself at Au Cheval, for a phenominal burger and mille-feuille dessert, as well as Antique Taco, was very pleased with their new scotch & soda glazed pork taco.
Chandra Ram, Plate: Lula Café — I could eat there every day for the breakfast burrito and chickpea tagine. And the kale, always the kale.