What newer restaurants and bars will stand the test of time and become classics? That was the question Eater posed to many chefs, restaurateurs and bartenders, and the array of responses highlight the fickle nature of success in the restaurant business.
"I consider (classic) a VERY high bar," Alinea, Next and Aviary partner Nick Kokonas wrote. "What's a classic now? Ed Debevic's? Al's Italian Beef? Old Town Ale House? How can you predict that?"
Still, the unpredictability of the restaurant and bar industry didn't stop many of Chicago's food and drink elite from taking a stab at the question. Read on to see the seven places that garnered the most votes, and check back in a couple decades to see which ascend to that lofty position of being a classic.
Paul McGee's brand new tiki paradise in Logan Square drew the most responses, from an eclectic group of restaurateurs, chefs and bartenders. "There's a quality about Lost Lake that feels like it has existed forever," La Sirena Clandestina chef/owner John Manion says. "I can imagine myself as a senior citizen in plaid trousers and a ridiculous hat ordering tiki drinks to take me far away from another cold January night far in the future. That is to say that it feels like part of the fabric of the city already."
The Tex-Mex soul food diner from One Off Hospitality is the second most popular choice, which is little surprise given the team behind it combined with its twist on a lamented dying concept. "(Dove's) is bringing back the diner look and will only become warmer with a little wear and tear," Mike Sheerin says, "not to mention the food is great."
The heralded cocktail bar from Heisler Hospitality draws inspiration from its predecessor of the same name, and its throwback neighborhood tavern feel and acclaimed beverage program made it the third most popular pick. "When you walk in everybody knows your name," Publican chef Cosmo Goss says. "It has a new age approach with a very dive bar feel, which I love, and I think that is a recipe for success."
Media and customers alike have piled accolades on Brendan Sodikoff's take on a diner since it opened in February 2012, and Chicago's industry elite piled on more accolades during this poll. "Their pickle back shots with whiskey are legendary amongst restaurant industry folks," Acadia chef/owner Ryan McCaskey says. "Of course their burger is consistently on the top 1-3 of every burger list. And lastly, because of proximity; a central haven to the West Loop scene. I don't see that place slowing down in years to come."
Eater Chicago's 2014 Restaurant of the Year is also a popular pick of fellow chefs, restaurateurs, and bartenders. "They're going to be the foundation for that neighborhood to bloom," Spiaggia chef Chris Marchino says of Beverly Kim and John Clark's Korean-American restaurant in Avondale.
Not only do the Boka Group partners believe that their recently-opened monument to Japanese cuisine will become their crown jewel, Chicago chefs and notables believe it will become a crown jewel among all Chicago restaurants. Tony Mantuano is one of them, saying "I think it will stand the test of time. They do Japanese food better than most places in Chicago. They have a great design, great hospitality and have all the makings to be a classic."
THE DUCK INN
It's a homecoming and throwback neighborhood homage for chef/owner Kevin Hickey, and his peers in the local restaurant scene predict it will indeed become a Bridgeport cornerstone and Chicago classic. "Kevin comes from the neighborhood and is invested in the neighborhood," Pat Sheerin of Trenchermen says. "It's where he lives so there's a connection, it's already got this great lived-in feel as well as it has history."