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The 38 Essential Chicago Restaurants, January '11

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It's time to update the Eater 38, your answer and ours to any question that begins, “Can you recommend a restaurant?” This highly elite group covers the entire city, spans myriad cuisines and collectively satisfies all of your restaurant needs, save for those occasions when you absolutely must spend half a paycheck. Every couple of months, we'll add pertinent restaurants that were omitted, have newly become eligible (restaurants must be open at least six months) or have stepped up their game.

This time around, we're making a few changes. We love Alinea, but it's just too pricy for the Eater 38—and nearly impossible to get in since receiving three Michelin stars (we're also making space for Next when it finally opens). In its place we're popping in Ruxbin. What's the connection? Both chefs, Grant Achatz and Ruxbin's Edward Kim worked under Thomas Keller. While Kim isn't doing molecular gastronomy he experiments with flavors and global influences. Next off is Great Lake. Yes, the pizza is worthy, but waiting hours to snag a table in the 14-seater is mind numbing. We're replacing it with the just-eligible Girl & The Goat. Sure, tough to get a reservation, but the space is 10 times the size—and it was the hottest opening of 2010. Finally we're bumping Hopleaf. Love the beer list, but we want to see what the kitchen churns out once it expands. Coming on board is Lula Cafe, an omission from our first Eater 38 back in October. It's a pioneer in the casual, locally sourced, organic game and it should've been on in the first place.

For those of you readying the pitchforks because your favorite restaurant isn't on the list, wouldn't it just be more productive to nominate it for inclusion? State your cases for (or against) restaurants in the comments or in the tipline.

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Note: Restaurants on this map are listed geographically.

1. Anteprima

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5316 N Clark St
Chicago, IL 60640
(773) 506-9990
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2. avec

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615 W Randolph St
Chicago, IL 60661
(312) 377-2002
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3. Urban Belly

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3053 N California Ave
Chicago, IL 60618
(773) 583-0500
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4. Hot Doug's

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3324 N California Ave
Chicago, IL 60618
(773) 279-9550
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5. Kuma's Corner

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2900 W Belmont Ave
Chicago, IL 60618
(773) 604-8769
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6. Irazu

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1865 N Milwaukee Ave
Chicago, IL 60647
(773) 252-5687
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7. The Bristol

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2152 N Damen Ave
Chicago, IL 60647
(773) 862-5555
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8. Lao Sze Chuan

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2172 S Archer Ave
Chicago, IL 60616
(312) 326-5040

9. Purple Pig

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500 N Michigan Ave
Chicago, IL 60611
(312) 464-1744
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10. Rootstock Wine & Beer Bar

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954 N California Ave
Chicago, IL 60622
(773) 292-1616
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11. Smoque BBQ

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3800 N Pulaski Rd
Chicago, IL 60641
(773) 545-7427
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12. Ceres' Table

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4882 N Clark St
Chicago, IL 60640
(773) 878-4882
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13. HB Home Bistro

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3404 N Halsted St
Chicago, IL 60657
(773) 661-0299
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14. Wakamono Sushi Bar

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3317 N Broadway St
Chicago, IL 60657
(773) 296-6800
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15. Perennial

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1800 N Lincoln Ave
Chicago, IL 60614
(312) 981-7070
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16. Francesca's Pizzeria Napoletana

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2423 N Clark St
Chicago, IL 60614
(773) 327-3400
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17. DMK Burger Bar

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2954 N Sheffield Ave
Chicago, IL 60657
(773) 360-8686
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18. Kith and Kin

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1119 W Webster Ave
Chicago, IL 60614
(773) 472-7070
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19. Longman and Eagle

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2657 N Kedzie Ave
Chicago, IL 60647
(773) 276-7110
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20. Bonsoiree

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2728 W Armitage Ave
Chicago, IL 60647
(773) 486-7511
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21. Nightwood Restaurant

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2119 S Halsted St
Chicago, IL 60608
(312) 526-3385
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22. XOCO

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449 N Clark St
Chicago, IL 60654
(312) 334-3688
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23. Gilt Bar

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230 W Kinzie St
Chicago, IL 60654
(312) 464-9544
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24. Piccolo Sogno

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464 N Halsted St
Chicago, IL 60654
(312) 421-0077
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25. Hemas Kitchen

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2439 W Devon Ave
Chicago, IL 60659
(312) 338-1627
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26. Demera Ethiopian

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4801 N Broadway St
Chicago, IL 60640
(773) 334-8787
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27. Sun Wah Bar-B-Que

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5039 N Broadway St
Chicago, IL 60640
(773) 769-1254
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28. Pho Xe Tang/Tank Noodle

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4952 N Broadway St
Chicago, IL 60640
(773) 878-2253

29. De Cero Restaurant

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814 W Randolph St
Chicago, IL 60661
(312) 455-8114
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30. Glenn's Diner

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1820 W Montrose Ave
Chicago, IL 60613
(773) 506-1720
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31. Coalfire

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1321 W Grand Ave
Chicago, IL 60642
(312) 226-2625
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32. Big Star

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1531 N Damen Ave
Chicago, IL 60622
(773) 235-4039
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33. Jam

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937 N Damen Ave
Chicago, IL 60622
(773) 489-0302
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34. Chickpea

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2018 W Chicago Ave
Chicago, IL 60622
(773) 384-9930
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35. Tac Quick

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3930 N Sheridan Rd
Chicago, IL 60613
(773) 327-5253
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36. Girl & The Goat

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809 W Randolph St
Chicago, IL 60661
(312) 492-6262
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37. Ruxbin

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851 N Ashland Ave
Chicago, IL 60642
(312) 624-8509
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38. Lula Cafe

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2537 N Kedzie Blvd
Chicago, IL 60647
(773) 489-9554
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1. Anteprima

5316 N Clark St, Chicago, IL 60640
5316 N Clark St
Chicago, IL 60640

2. avec

615 W Randolph St, Chicago, IL 60661
615 W Randolph St
Chicago, IL 60661

3. Urban Belly

3053 N California Ave, Chicago, IL 60618
3053 N California Ave
Chicago, IL 60618

4. Hot Doug's

3324 N California Ave, Chicago, IL 60618
3324 N California Ave
Chicago, IL 60618

5. Kuma's Corner

2900 W Belmont Ave, Chicago, IL 60618
2900 W Belmont Ave
Chicago, IL 60618

6. Irazu

1865 N Milwaukee Ave, Chicago, IL 60647
1865 N Milwaukee Ave
Chicago, IL 60647

7. The Bristol

2152 N Damen Ave, Chicago, IL 60647
2152 N Damen Ave
Chicago, IL 60647

8. Lao Sze Chuan

2172 S Archer Ave, Chicago, IL 60616
2172 S Archer Ave
Chicago, IL 60616

9. Purple Pig

500 N Michigan Ave, Chicago, IL 60611
500 N Michigan Ave
Chicago, IL 60611

10. Rootstock Wine & Beer Bar

954 N California Ave, Chicago, IL 60622
954 N California Ave
Chicago, IL 60622

11. Smoque BBQ

3800 N Pulaski Rd, Chicago, IL 60641