Chicago’s restaurant writers dish on their most-visited spots in 2020 as part of Eater’s ongoing tradition of polling the city’s experts for their year-end takes.
Morgan Olsen, Time Out Chicago: Vajra became a fast favorite in my house. I could drink the tomato-sesame sauce that comes with the chicken momos, and the goat biryani is always on point. It doesn’t hurt that Juanjo Pulgarin is doing the absolute most with the carryout cocktail menu.
Dennis Lee, the Takeout, Food is Stupid: Hermosa. Hands down. I don’t get tired of it. I feel like half my Instagram feed is sandwiches from Hermosa, and I’m sure people are tired of me constantly talking about it.
Titus Ruscitti, ChiBBQKing: The dry chili fish filet at New China Station, tacos at La Chaparitta, and the burgers, dogs, and shrimp at Redhot Ranch will forever be in my rotation. Johnnie’s and In-On-Thai get regular visits too.
Mike Sula, Chicago Reader: D’Candela, House of Wah Sun, Lawrence’s Fish, Carnitas Esquinita, In-On Thai, Aroy Thai, Jimmy Pizza Cafe, Jet’s Pizza, Roots Pizza, Joong Boo Snack Corner
Michael Gebert, Fooditor: It’s the new restaurant that isn’t quite a new restaurant, but the reinvented restaurant of the year for me was Hermosa, which suddenly exploded this year with Cambodian-Chinese-fusion flavors. Besides having that unholy-good Cambodian chicken sandwich as many times as I could, I also ordered his Cambodian dinner once, so that must be the place I ate from the most this year. Let’s put it this way, the place I went the second most may be Rica Arepa, because it was where I would end up any time I went to Hermosa and they turned out to be closed/prepping Cambodian dinner/taking bullets to the window (that actually happened).
Beyond those, I can’t think of many places I ordered from more than once, because there were so many new things to try all year long. I don’t think I even got pizza twice from the same place this year, because there was always another new pizza place to check out. And I wanted to spread the love (and money) as much as I could.
Aaron Oliver, Seasoned and Blessed: It is a toss-up between Ms. T’s in Lakeview and Soul and Smoke in Evanston.
Michael Nagrant, michaelnagrant.com: Rainbow Thai, Lee’s Chop Suey, Aya Pastry, Pizza Friendly Pizza
Audarshia Townsend, WGN Morning News: Taqueria Traspasada in Avondale
As 2020 threw the world a curveball, Eater Chicago this year has expanded its end-of-year panel to include other members of the city’s media.
Sarah Spain, ESPN: Tie between the Goddess & Grocer (window service FTW!) and Silli Kori/Thai Village delivery.
Chicago Party Aunt, @ChiPartyAunt: I had a boy named “Postmate” deliver me Wrigleyville Dogs on the daily.
Exavier Pope, Forbes, the Athletic, Al Jazeera English: Sushi Dokku on Green Street in West Loop. I’m a vegan, and it’s the best vegan sushi in Chicago. I order the “chef’s choice” and order off the menu each time and I let them know what flavor profiles I want each time and they’ll give me a different roll. They’re very accommodating of my dietary restrictions.
Janice Scurio, Sports Illustrated and South Side Sox: While covering the White Sox this summer, I made it a point to try everything on the menu at Mom’s in Bridgeport/McKinley Park as much as I could. I failed, but I guess there is always next season.
Natalie Moore, WBEZ: Each week we do “takeout Friday” to support small businesses and try to rotate the restaurants. I think we probably ordered from Deli King in Englewood the most. It’s not a delicatessen. I love their jerk chicken pasta salad and order extras for the fridge. Deli King is super affordable and its motto is: Royalty Treats at Jester’s Price.