Chicago’s restaurant writers dish on their biggest surprises of 2022 as part of Eater’s ongoing tradition of polling the city’s experts for their year-end takes.
Matt Lindner, writer and marketing manager: The ribs at Murphy’s Bleachers. Food isn’t the first thing most people think of when they think of Murphy’s, but they do just about everything well and it’s why my wife and I are regulars there on non-Cubs game days. Their ribs are the best meal that you can get around the ballpark, in my humble opinion. Smoky, well-sauced, and at $16 for a half slab, priced competitively for the neighborhood.
Brenda Storch, Eater Chicago contributor: I keep going back to the Sopa del Mar at Oaxacan-centric Kie-Gol-Lanee. The seafood soup is similar to a cioppino. Everything was cooked perfectly every time; for me, there is nothing like a tortilla to sop up the fragrant broth. I am getting hungry as I type!
Jeffy Mai, Time Out Chicago: The tasting experience at the Omakase Room at Sushi-san. Omakase menus filled with premium luxuries are the norm these days, but chef Kaze Chan and the team don’t just rely on the quality of their fish. They’ve created a fun, and oftentimes lively, environment to showcase their dazzling bites.
Jay Westbrook, local craft beer professional: I don’t know who needs to hear this, but the folks at Heffer BBQ love you and you can legit feel that love in their life-changing smoked brisket burger. We’re talking American-cheese-topped freshly ground top-quality brisket packed with love, red onions caramelized with love, garlic dill cukes pickled with love, and a black sesame seed topped sweet potato bun toasted with love in the form of beef tallow. You have to catch these loving people in traffic (they’re currently doing a residency at Kimski).
Sarah Spain, ESPN: I ate my way through Italy, Spain, and Switzerland this summer, and attempting to rank those meals would take days of agonizing over every bite, so I’ll stick with Chicago and say Armitage Alehouse. The triple cream cheese & truffle honey starter, mango, paneer & chutney salad, and glazed black cod were all big winners. Rooh’s butter paneer (a vegetarian version of traditional butter chicken) was also magical.
Samira Ahmed, best-selling author of Love, Hate & Other Filters, Internment, Mad, Bad & Dangerous to Know, Hollow Fires, Amira & Hamza, and a Ms. Marvel comic series: I’m a sucker for a fabulous tasting menu and this is the first year since the pandemic started that I returned to that gluttonous, indulgent delight. My first post-pandemic tasting menu was also the most memorable: Next: Seafood. As with every tasting menu, there were definite standout plates and for me, they were the sando — Japanese milk bread stuffed with uni topped with caviar (a trio of faves in one delectable bite), the inventive and creamy clam chowder, and the amazing, just-smoky-enough turbot.