What was your best restaurant meal of 2016?
Chris LaMorte, UrbanDaddy: My dinners of fried chicken and wagyu at Roister and caviar spooned over soft, creamy scrambled eggs at The Blanchard were tough to top, but celebrating my father's 80th birthday at Traverso's in Orland Park with good South Side pizza and heaping trays of sausage and peppers will never be forgotten.
Michael Gebert, Fooditor: I really liked how Hanbun's tasting menu (which I hear is booked through April now) did Korean-Alinea fusion with real delicacy and yet, at the same time, didn't wuss out on real Korean flavors. At the same time, though, it's pretty tough to argue with Giant's batting average at the table—maybe my favorite experience was taking first-timers, telling them they had to have the eggplant, seeing them go Eggplant, really? and then, ROWR OMFG THAT'S GOOD.
Anthony Todd, Chicagoist: In March, when I gave my soon-to-be-husband his engagement ring (he'd already proposed previously), we had an enchanted meal at Cherry Circle Room, which continues to be one of my standbys. Every single dish was perfect (order the beef tartare) and the thoughtful blend of caring service and giving us just enough time alone shows how much energy that place spends on the guest experience. The visit to Milk Room and crashing in a room upstairs probably didn't hurt either.
Lisa Shames, CS: As evidenced from my lengthy list of top restaurant newcomers this is going to be tough. On the fine dining end, I'd say Oriole and Smyth. On the more casual side, it would be El Che Bar, Monteverde and Giant.
Morgan Olsen, RedEye: Roister. My fiancé and I celebrated our anniversary there earlier this year, and I distinctly remember wanting to freeze-frame that moment in time just to savor it a little longer. Every dish was better than the last, and the service was impeccable. Though we were totally stuffed, we ordered dessert and coffee just to prolong our visit.
Matt Kirouac, Zagat: I really really loved Ēma. It's exactly the type of food I want to eat, and eat a lot of. The dish that resonates as probably the best thing I ate all year was the stracciatella on baked manouche of mushroom and za'atar.