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Chicago’s Industry Experts Share Where They Loved to Eat in 2018

These were their top restaurant standbys of 2018

Lula Cafe was a favorite among the writers for 2018

It’s time to look back on 2018 with Eater’s annual series where Chicago’s food writers and critics weigh in on the year’s dining scene. First off, the restaurants which were their top standbys for the year.

Mike Sula, Chicago Reader: Aroy Thai, Rainbow, House of Wah Sun, D’Candela, Jet’s Pizza, Café Marie Jeanne, Bad Apple, Jeri’s Grill, Taqueria Asadero, Jimmy’s Pizza Café, Morena’s Kitchen, Birrieria Zaragoza, Khan BBQ, La Chapparrita, J.P. Graziano, Nhu Lan Bakery, Psistaria,

Ariel Cheung, CS Magazine: Living in Bridgeport means you can usually find me at Maria’s, Skylark, the Duck Inn, Pleasant House or Marz Brewing. If I’m straying outside that neck of the woods, Coco Pazzo, ēma and a lot (read: way too much) of Revival Food Hall for lunch.

Audarshia Townsend, Managing Editor for Restaurant Inc. Magazine; regular contributor for WGN Morning News: I entertain a lot of people from out of town, plus I need to take in consideration my audience for WGN Morning News. Crowd pleasers are always the type of places that make all feel comfortable, so I’d have to say the steakhouse is always a winner, a top standby. My particular favorites are two that opened in the latter part of 2017, yet were all the rage in 2018: Steak 48 and Gibsons Italia. For obvious reasons, the steak offerings are phenomenal, the crowds are mature and sophisticated, and when it comes to service, these places are top notch. Additional favorite steakhouses: GT Prime, Prime & Provisions and Swift & Sons.

Michael Nagrant, Rainbow Thai, Lee’s Chop Suey, Tempesta Market, Rosie’s Side Kick, Taco Bell

Chandra Ram, Plate: I will always be an Avec hound. Ditto for Lula Café, Bar Biscay, Fat Rice and Red & White. Also, I ate more pizza from Bebu than was probably necessary.

Titus Ruscitti, ChiBBQKing: Home Cooked Dominican at Morena’s Kitchen, Tacos at La Chaparrita, Combo (sweet and hot) at Johnnie’s Beef, Thin Crust Sausage at Pat’s Pizza, Double Cheeseburger and or Hot Dog at Redhot Ranch, Dry Chili Fish Filet at New China Station, Home Cooked Mexican at Minna’s, Chengdu Street Food at A Place by Damao.

Morgan Olsen, Time Out Chicago: Lonesome Rose, Taqueria Mazamitla, Mini Mott, Sushi-San and Lula Cafe.

Michael Gebert, Fooditor: I felt like I was on a hamster wheel going to new places this year. So where, even, did I go twice? I kept taking people for lunch at Frunchroom. Anytime I ate nearby, by which I mean most of Cook County, I swung by Pretty Cool Ice Cream after, or Ava’s italian Ice (but never both on the same day, I don’t believe in excess). I wrote a piece about the folks at Xocome Antojeria, just to have an excuse to drive back down that far and try more of their stuff. And I swear people can’t see Cà Phê Đá for Hai Sous being there, but I love that eggy custard coffee thing, the Cà Phê Trứng, and take anybody I can to go have one.

Matt Kirouac, What Should We Do: Split-Rail, Cafe Marie-Jeanne and Spinning J made it very easy to not leave my neighborhood. I continued to visit Owen & Engine a lot (best burger in the city), and the Fat Rice bakery is my absolute favorite place.

GT Prime

707 N Wells St, Chicago, IL 60654 (312) 600-6305 Visit Website

Gibsons Italia

233 North Canal Street, , IL 60606 (312) 414-1100 Visit Website

Redhot Ranch

3057 North Ashland Avenue, , IL 60657 (773) 661-9377 Visit Website

Fat Rice

2957 West Diversey Avenue, , IL 60647 (773) 661-9170 Visit Website

The Duck Inn

2701 South Eleanor Street, , IL 60608 (312) 724-8811 Visit Website

Johnnie's Beef

7500 West North Avenue, , IL 60707 (708) 452-6000 Visit Website


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

Pretty Cool Ice Cream

709 West Belden Avenue, , IL 60614 (773) 697-4140 Visit Website

Birrieria Zaragoza

4852 South Pulaski Road, , IL 60632 (773) 523-3700 Visit Website

Lonesome Rose

5310 North Clark Street, , IL 60640 (773) 654-1365 Visit Website

Marz Brewing

3630 S. Iron Street, Chicago, IL Visit Website

Tempesta Market

1372 West Grand Avenue, , IL 60642 (312) 929-2551 Visit Website


4042 North Milwaukee Avenue, , IL 60641 (773) 853-2160 Visit Website

Prime & Provisions

222 North LaSalle Street, , IL 60601 (312) 726-7777 Visit Website


2500 West Chicago Avenue, , IL 60622 (773) 697-4413 Visit Website

Aroy Thai

4654 N Damen Ave, , IL 60625 (773) 275-8360 Visit Website


1132 W Grand Ave, Chicago, IL 60642 (312) 624-8363 Visit Website

Swift & Sons

1000 West Fulton Market, , IL 60607 (312) 733-9420 Visit Website

mini mott

3057 West Logan Boulevard, , IL 60647 (773) 904-7620 Visit Website

La Chaparrita

2500 South Whipple Street, , IL 60623 (773) 254-0975 Visit Website


63 West Grand Avenue, , IL 60654 (312) 828-0575 Visit Website

Nhu Lan Bakery

2612 West Lawrence Avenue, , IL 60625 (773) 878-9898

Cafe Marie-Jeanne

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


3089 16th Street, , CA 94103 (415) 621-9294 Visit Website

Lula Cafe

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

Revival Food Hall

125 South Clark Street, , IL 60603 (773) 999-9411 Visit Website

Bar Biscay

1450 West Chicago Avenue, , IL 60642 (312) 455-8900 Visit Website

Coco Pazzo

300 West Hubbard Street, , IL 60654 (312) 836-0900 Visit Website

Owen & Engine

2700 North Western Avenue, , IL 60647 (773) 235-2930 Visit Website

Steak 48

260 South Broad Street, , PA 19102 (215) 552-4848 Visit Website