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, michaelnagrant.com: 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.