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Chicago’s Dining Experts Share Their Best Meals of 2022

From splashy omakase menus to smoky, well-sauced ribs, the year had plenty of high points

A pristine piece of nigiri on a black table.
Omakase remains a strong contender despite economic pressures.
Lindsay Eberly/Lettuce Entertain You Enterprises
Ashok Selvam is the editor of Eater Chicago and a native Chicagoan armed with more than two decades of award-winning journalism. Now covering the world of restaurants and food, his nut graphs are super nutty.

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.

David Manilow, Check, Please! creator and host of The Dining Table podcast: I’d be surprised if I’m alone in this choice but the Kasama tasting menu was an extraordinary experience.

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.

Maggie Hendricks, Bally Sports: Bless you, Rose Mary. Brussels sprouts, gnocchi, panna cotta. It was amazing.

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).

Amy Cavanaugh, Chicago magazine: El Che Bar. This was a great restaurant before the pandemic, but now it’s even better. Get all the seafood and wine pairings, and don’t miss the quail.

Michael Nagrant, The Hunger: Improvisational afternoon of steak sandwiches from Billy Z at J.T.’s Genuine while also killing dumplings and doing dim sum at Dolo with my youngest son.

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.


736 West Randolph Street, , IL 60661 (312) 267-2323 Visit Website

Armitage Alehouse

1000 West Armitage Avenue, , IL 60614 (773) 270-6402 Visit Website

Dolo Restaurant and Bar

2222 South Archer Avenue, , IL 60616 (312) 877-5117 Visit Website

Murphy's Bleachers

3655 North Sheffield Avenue, , IL 60613 (773) 281-5356 Visit Website


953 West Fulton Market, , IL 60607 Visit Website

Rose Mary

932 West Fulton Street, , IL 60607 (872) 260-3921 Visit Website

The Omakase Room at Sushi-San

63 West Grand Avenue, , IL 60654 (312) 766-7899 Visit Website


954-960 West 31st Street, , IL 60608 (773) 823-7336

El Che Bar

845 West Washington Boulevard, , IL 60607 (312) 265-1130 Visit Website


5004 North Sheridan Road, , IL 60640 (872) 241-9088 Visit Website


1001 North Winchester Avenue, , IL 60622 (773) 697-3790 Visit Website

J.T.’s Genuine Sandwich Shop

3970 North Elston Avenue, , IL 60618 (773) 754-7729 Visit Website