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Chicago Restaurant Experts Recall Their Single Best Meals 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.

Many people had great meals at The Blanchard in 2015
Many people had great meals at The Blanchard in 2015
Nick Fochtman

What was your single best meal in 2015?

Jeff Ruby, Chicago Magazine: In terms of pure pleasure, catching up with old friends over cold beers and perfect tilapia ceviche with homemade tortilla chips at Ixcateco Grill was pretty hard to beat.

Amy Cavanaugh, Time Out Chicago: Picking up Honey 1 BBQ from its new location in Bronzeville and eating it beside the lake—it was such a mess, but reminded me that where you are and who you're with is just as important as what you're eating.

Michael Gebert, Fooditor: The Blanchard. I like classic French food, don't worship it, but some of that is because it's on autopilot much of the time—steak frites is the cheeseburger and fries of France. From the moment the meal began at The Blanchard, admittedly aided by a beautiful vintage champagne a table-mate brought in, French food felt vital and magical again.

Penny Pollack, Chicago Magazine: Having it tonight at Moon Palace: hot and sour soup, pot stickers, scrambled eggs with shrimp, complimentary almond cookie.

Michael Nagrant, RedEye: Boeufhaus. I'd finally welcome more steakhouses if they had spirit and execution like this.

Sean Cooley, Thrillist: Girl & The Goat, had a 12-course feast there including confit goat belly, chickpea fritters and a sneaky peak at possible Duck Duck Goat dishes. I was warned not to fill up on bread (bacon and gouda), I did anyway, I regret nothing.

Chandra Ram, Plate: I'm torn between Intro under Aaron Martinez, which renewed my hope in tasting menus, and Central Provisions in Portland, Maine, where we ordered and ate almost the entire menu because we just couldn't stop eating Chris Gould's incredible food.

Peter Frost, Crain's: The Bistro menu at Next. Not one bad bite. Not one bad drink. Perfect pacing. Expert service.

Sarah Freeman, Zagat: Jason Paskewitz, with the Alba white truffle, for the win.

Anthony Todd, Chicagoist: I have to admit (and this makes me the least trendy food writer in Chicago) that my single best meal in 2015 wasn't in Chicago—it was on the Disney Cruise Line at their fabulous Italian spot, Palo. Between the antipasto carts filled with aged parm and antique balsamic, the bottled water menu (filled with sparkling gems from around the world) and the perfect service, it was a (forgive me) magical dinner. If i had to stick to Chicago, a memorable, decadent night at the Cherry Circle Room in the first blizzard of the year which started with caviar and ended with cocktails on a rooftop balcony is certainly my pick.

Phil Vettel, Chicago Tribune: Momotaro. Surprises and delights at every turn.

Chris LaMorte, UrbanDaddy: The Blanchard.

Honey 1 BBQ

746 East 43rd Street, , IL 60653 (773) 285-9455 Visit Website

Ixcateco Grill

3402 West Montrose Avenue, , IL 60641 Visit Website

Moon Palace Restaurant

216 West Cermak Road, , IL 60616 (312) 225-4081 Visit Website

The Blanchard

1935 North Lincoln Park West, , IL 60614 (872) 829-3971 Visit Website

Next Restaurant

953 W Fulton Market, Chicago, IL 60607 312 226 0858 Visit Website

Girl & the Goat

555-3 Mateo Street, , CA 90013 (213) 799-4628 Visit Website

Intro Chicago

2300 N. Lincoln Park West, Chicago, IL 60614 (773) 868-0002


1012 North Western Avenue, , IL 60622 (773) 661-2116 Visit Website

Cherry Circle Room

12 South Michigan Avenue, , IL 60603 (312) 792-3515 Visit Website


820 West Lake Street, , IL 60607 (312) 733-4818 Visit Website