clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Chicago Food Writers Reveal Their Top Restaurant Standbys of 2016

As 2016 fades into 2017, 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 Saddest Closures. All answers will be revealed—cut, pasted, unedited and unadulterated—by the time we pop the cork on 2017.

Dove’s Luncheonette was a standby for more than one food writer in 2016
Marc Much

What were your top restaurant standbys in 2016?

Michael Gebert, Fooditor: In the past I've always said I can't have a favorite restaurant because I always have to try some place new, yet this year I ate at Giant three times, probably four times at The Loyalist, twice to El Che Bar in just the last few months—and I'm at Arbor for breakfast and to work with my laptop every other week.

Elizabeth Atkinson, Time Out Chicago: Red Hot RanchVeraRootstock.

Chandra Ram, PlateAvec, Floriole, Spacca Napoli and Found are still so strong after all of these years – I could eat at any (or all) of those places every day and be happy. Café Marie Jeanne is one of my new favorite places to lurk.

Anthony Todd, Chicagoist: Funny you should ask, I did the math. It revealed that my standbys continue to be great neighborhood places and restaurants where I feel incredibly safe and taken care of. These included Gather, Vera, Big JonesBistro Campagne and Yusho.

Morgan Olsen, RedEye: On any given weekend, there’s a 98 percent chance you’ll find me hunkered down at The Allis in Soho House. Needless to say, I was thrilled about the chic new expansion. My go-to for entertaining out-of-towners was Mott St, and I used any excuse I could to get to Left Coast for breakfast.

Penny Pollack, Chicago magazineBistronomic: My spot for a tête à tête with friends or lovers. Volare: When I want a simple pasta dish and old-school service. Moon Palace: Everyone knows I eat here at least once a month. Al's Beef: My favorite late-night guilty-pleasure drive-through. Italian beef, double-dipped, and extra green peppers. (Unless I want a hot dog—in which case it's Portillo's.)

Matt Kirouac, Zagat: I continue to be obsessed with Cafe Marie-Jeanne and Spinning J, both conveniently at the same intersection in my neighborhood. Love CMJ for a casual, delicious, thoughtful dinner and Spinning J has my favorite breakfast sandwich and peanut butter cookie ever.

Lisa Shames, CSRevival Food HallCherry Circle RoomLula CafeBilly Sunday.

Chris LaMorte, UrbanDaddy: My local sushi and noodle cabin, Kameya, is always waiting for me with a good bowl of ramen and warm welcome.

Michael Nagrant, RedEye: Dove's Luncheonette, Triple Crown Seafood.

Big Jones

5347 North Clark Street, , IL 60640 (773) 275-5725 Visit Website


840 North Wabash Avenue, , IL 60611 (312) 944-8400 Visit Website

Al's Italian Beef

1079 W Taylor St, Chicago, IL 60607 (312) 226-4017 Visit Website

The Loyalist

177 North Ada Street, , IL 60607 (773) 913-3774 Visit Website

The Allis

113 N Green St, Chicago, IL 60607 (312) 521-8000 Visit Website


4539 North Lincoln Avenue, , IL 60625 (773) 506-9300 Visit Website

Cafe Marie-Jeanne

1001 N California Ave, Chicago, IL 60622 (773) 904-7660

Bistro Campagne

4518 North Lincoln Avenue, , IL 60625 (773) 271-6100 Visit Website

Spacca Napoli

1769 W Sunnyside Avenue, Chicago, IL 60640 773 878 2420 Visit Website


954 North California Avenue, Chicago, IL 60622

Red Hot Ranch

3055 N Ashland Ave, Chicago, IL 60657 (773) 661-9377

Yusho Hyde Park

1301 E 53rd St, Chicago, IL 60615 (773) 288-1010 Visit Website

Volare Ristorante Italiano

201 East Grand Avenue, , IL 60611 (312) 410-9900 Visit Website


1631 Chicago Avenue, Evanston, IL 60201 (847) 868-8945 Visit Website


1023 W Lake Street, Chicago, IL Visit Website

Lula Cafe

2537 North Kedzie Boulevard, , IL 60647 (773) 489-9554 Visit Website

Cherry Circle Room

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


520 West Taylor St, Chicago, IL 60607 (312) 667-4560 Visit Website

El Che Bar

845 West Washington Boulevard, , IL 60607 (312) 265-1130 Visit Website

Billy Sunday

1115 North Brevard Street, , NC 28206 Visit Website

Dove's Luncheonette

1545 North Damen Avenue, , IL 60622 (773) 645-4060 Visit Website


615 W Randolph St, Chicago, IL 60661 (312) 377-2002 Visit Website

Moon Palace Restaurant

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


384 Hayes Street, , CA 94102 (415) 626-1211 Visit Website


3209 West Armitage Avenue, , IL 60647 (773) 252-0997 Visit Website


806 West Webster Avenue, , IL 60614 (773) 935-3474 Visit Website