Chicago’s restaurant writers dish on their biggest surprises of 2019 as part of Eater’s ongoing tradition of polling the city’s experts for their year-end takes.
Jeff Ruby, Chicago: I’m totally in the minority on these, but I thought Flora Fauna had tons of great ideas and flavors, and I thought Good Fortune was a whole lot of nothing. Also, Bruce Sherman leaving North Pond.
Michael Nagrant, michaelnagrant.com: Hermosa’s fabulous sandwiches.
Titus Ruscitti, ChiBBQKing: Tie: The return of In-On-Thai. Arguably the city’s best Thai restaurant. Real deal Cuban sandwiches and Sinaloan seafood found in Elk Grove Village (Cubano Bros, El Rodeo Restaurant).
Morgan Olsen, Time Out Chicago: I was blown away by the number of new omakases that nabbed Michelin stars for 2020. We’re so lucky to have intimate, thoughtful dining experiences like Kikko, Mako and Omakase Yume. I’d be remiss if I didn’t also mention Carlos Gaytán’s triumphant return to Chicago with three impressive concepts. (Seriously, have you tried the conchas at Panago?!)
Chandra Ram, Plate: I thought the current administration had fully demonstrated that human cruelty has no bottom, but when a chef who physically abused his wife sues her for talking about the abuse, that’s a new low.
Ariel Cheung, Plate, Chicago, Time Out Chicago, Block Club: It should not have come as a surprise, but I was blown away by the fascinating range of Chicago chefs doing fun, creative, delicious food at Time Out Market. Our food hall scene is oversaturated, but Time Out Market still managed to do something awesome and original.