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Updated: The 38 Essential Chicago Restaurants, Jan '12

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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. And keep in mind, this list is presented in no particular order.

This month, we're mixing things up and some of the changes will likely piss off some people. It's not that we don't love Hot Doug's, Glenn's Diner or De Cero, but we have to make space for some new places. Coming aboard this round are Franks 'n' Dawgs (all of those gourmet dogs we devoured make us swoon), GT Fish & Oyster (a Michelin-starred Italian doing some of the best seafood around?) and Big Jones (with a special nod to its fried chicken lunch, Southern-focused brunch and all of those historic recipes dotting the menu).

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.

For more Eater 38 guides updated today across the Eater Universe, head over to Eater National

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Note: Restaurants on this map are listed geographically.

1. avec

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615 W Randolph St
Chicago, IL 60661
(312) 377-2002
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2. The Bristol

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2152 N Damen Ave
Chicago, IL 60647
(773) 862-5555
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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. Kuma's Corner

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

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1865 N Milwaukee Ave
Chicago, IL 60647
(773) 252-5687
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6. Lao Sze Chuan

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

7. GT Fish & Oyster

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531 N Wells St
Chicago, IL 60654

8. Nightwood Restaurant

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2119 S Halsted St
Chicago, IL 60608
(312) 526-3385
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9. Anteprima

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5316 N Clark St
Chicago, IL 60640
(773) 506-9990
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10. Purple Pig

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

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

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

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4882 N Clark St
Chicago, IL 60640
(773) 878-4882
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14. Ruxbin

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851 N Ashland Ave
Chicago, IL 60622
(312) 624-8509
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15. Longman and Eagle

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2657 N Kedzie Ave
Chicago, IL 60647
(773) 276-7110
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16. Piccolo Sogno

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464 N Halsted St
Chicago, IL 60654
(312) 421-0077
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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. Bonsoiree

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2728 W Armitage Ave
Chicago, IL 60647
(773) 486-7511
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19. Lula Cafe

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2537 N Kedzie Blvd
Chicago, IL 60647
(773) 489-9554
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20. Girl & The Goat

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809 W Randolph St
Chicago, IL 60661
(312) 492-6262
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21. HB Home Bistro

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3404 N Halsted St
Chicago, IL 60657
(773) 661-0299
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22. Hemas Kitchen

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

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

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

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

26. Coalfire

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1321 W Grand Ave
Chicago, IL 60642
(312) 226-2625
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27. The Publican

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837 W Fulton Market
Chicago, IL 60607
(312) 733-9555
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28. Big Star

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1531 N Damen Ave
Chicago, IL 60622
(773) 235-4039
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29. Davanti Enoteca

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1359 W Taylor St
Chicago, IL 60607
(312) 226-5550
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30. Arami

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1829 W Chicago Ave
Chicago, IL 60622
(312) 243-1535
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31. Big Jones

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5347 N Clark St
Chicago, IL 60640

32. Franks 'N' Dawgs

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1863 N Clybourn Ave
Chicago, IL 60614

33. Chizakaya

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3056 N Lincoln Ave
Chicago, IL 60657
(773) 477-6400
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34. Tac Quick

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3930 N Sheridan Rd
Chicago, IL 60613
(773) 327-5253
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35. Chicago Cut Steakhouse

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300 N LaSalle St
Chicago, IL 60654

36. Maude's Liquor Bar

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840 W Randolph St
Chicago, IL 60607
(312) 243-9712
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37. Lillie's Q

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1856 W North Ave
Chicago, IL 60622
(773) 772-5500
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38. Vincent

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1475 W Balmoral Ave
Chicago, IL 60640
(773) 334-7168
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1. avec

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

2. The Bristol

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

3. Urban Belly

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

4. Kuma's Corner

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

5. Irazu

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

6. Lao Sze Chuan

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

7. GT Fish & Oyster

531 N Wells St, Chicago, IL 60654
531 N Wells St
Chicago, IL 60654

8. Nightwood Restaurant

2119 S Halsted St, Chicago, IL 60608
2119 S Halsted St
Chicago, IL 60608

9. Anteprima

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

10. Purple Pig

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

11. Rootstock Wine & Beer Bar

954 N California Ave, Chicago, IL 60622