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Restaurant Experts Remember the Biggest Dining Surprises of 2015

As 2015 fades into 2016, 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 2016.

Cantina 1910 was full of surprises in 2015
Cantina 1910 was full of surprises in 2015
Marc Much

What was the biggest dining surprise in 2015?

Phil Vettel, Chicago Tribune: The continued appeal of Bohemian House. Fine-dining Czech drawing crowds in River North? Who knew?

Michael Gebert, Fooditor: 1) Cantina 1910 turning out to be the world's most expensive pop-up. 2) Josh Ozersky going to Dolo after I wrote about it (at least that's how I choose to interpret the facts; prove me wrong!) 3) Chicago children rising up against cafeteria lunches at CPS. The next generation of foodies, raging against the machine!

Chandra Ram, Plate: Homaro Cantu's suicide was such a horrible shock, and a gut-check for a lot of people in the industry who are under incredible pressure to succeed. We don't know why he took his life, but I think about his wife and children and the hole he left in their lives.

Peter Frost, Crain's: That a place that made the best pastries in Chicago closed and almost nobody noticed. Pilsen's Beurrage will be missed.

Chris LaMorte, UrbanDaddy: The Angry Crab.

Michael Nagrant, RedEye: That Cantina 1910 owners parted ways with Diana Davila, who is one of the city's most talented chefs.

Penny Pollack, Chicago Magazine: Arbor.

Sarah Freeman, Zagat: Bars gave restaurants a run for their money in terms of offering quality cuisine. Food at Broken Shaker, GreenRiver, and Pub Royale is just as, of not more, satisfying as the drinks. I'd take an order of buttered paneer and Pimm's Cup at the bar of Pub Royale over a sit-down meal any day.

Jeff Ruby, Chicago Magazine: Salero, De Quay, and Sink|Swim.

Anthony Todd, Chicagoist: Intro, hands down. I will be totally honest—I was a skeptic when I heard that Lettuce Entertain You was going to open a rotating concept restaurant. It seemed like a Next ripoff, and I didn't quite believe that the notoriously polished LEYE crowd would let chefs mess around and play the way they'd have to in order to make such a concept compelling. I was dead wrong, and it's now one of my absolute must-dos every time they switch up the menu.

Sean Cooley, Thrillist: So, Wiener's Circle is expanding...!? Still perplexed since the news came out, can you really build a national franchise on 3 a.m. insults? It's a fun novelty in Chicago—I've had the honor of being called an "Aaron Carter-looking motherf*cker" while being handed cheese fries—would hate to see the product watered down.

Amy Cavanaugh, Time Out Chicago: I was surprised when Nightwood closed earlier this year, and last week when Bom Bolla announced its closure. It was easily one of my top spots in 2015, so it was a bummer.

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