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Updated: The 38 Essential Chicago Restaurants, Oct '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. Every few 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 time around, we're making changes based on things readers have been talking about both in the comments and on the tipline. That said, DMK Burger Bar and Hema's Kitchen are coming off. And TAC Quick is going through some changes so we want to see if the quality holds up there.

So coming aboard: Balena where Chris Pandel delivers amazing housemade pastas, wood-fired pizzas, grilled meats and seafood to go with those amaro-based cocktails; Matthias Merges' Yusho for yakitori-style Japanese street food; and Brendan Sodikoff's modern diner Au Cheval.

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. The Bristol

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2152 N Damen Ave
Chicago, IL 60647
(773) 862-5555
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2. Purple Pig

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500 N Michigan Ave
Chicago, IL 60611
(312) 464-1744
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3. Telegraph Wine Bar

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2601 N Milwaukee Ave
Chicago, IL 60647

4. Urban Belly

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3053 N California Ave
Chicago, IL 60618
(773) 583-0500
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5. Nightwood Restaurant

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2119 S Halsted St
Chicago, IL 60608
(312) 526-3385
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6. Balena

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1633 N Halsted St
Chicago, IL 60614

7. avec

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615 W Randolph St
Chicago, IL 60661
(312) 377-2002
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8. Yusho

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2853 N Kedzie Ave
Chicago, IL 60618

9. Au Cheval

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800 W Randolph St
Chicago, IL 60607

10. Kuma's Corner

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2900 W Belmont Ave
Chicago, IL 60618
(773) 604-8769
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11. Lula Cafe

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2537 N Kedzie Blvd
Chicago, IL 60647
(773) 489-9554
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12. Lao Sze Chuan

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

13. GT Fish & Oyster

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531 N Wells St
Chicago, IL 60654

14. Irazu

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1865 N Milwaukee Ave
Chicago, IL 60647
(773) 252-5687
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15. Vera Chicago

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1023 W Lake St
Chicago, IL 60607

16. Anteprima

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5316 N Clark St
Chicago, IL 60640
(773) 506-9990
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17. Rootstock Wine & Beer Bar

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

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3800 N Pulaski Rd
Chicago, IL 60641
(773) 545-7427
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19. Ruxbin

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

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2657 N Kedzie Ave
Chicago, IL 60647
(773) 276-7110
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21. Franks 'N' Dawgs

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1863 N Clybourn Ave
Chicago, IL 60614

22. Piccolo Sogno

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464 N Halsted St
Chicago, IL 60642
(312) 421-0077
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23. HB Home Bistro

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3404 N Halsted St
Chicago, IL 60657
(773) 661-0299
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24. Demera Ethiopian

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4801 N Broadway
Chicago, IL 60640
(773) 334-8787
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25. Chilapan

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2459 W Armitage Ave
Chicago, IL 60647

26. Sun Wah Bar-B-Que

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5039 N Broadway
Chicago, IL 60640
(773) 769-1254
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27. Taxim

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1558 N Milwaukee Ave
Chicago, IL 60622

28. Pho Xe Tang/Tank Noodle

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

29. Coalfire

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

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

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1531 N Damen Ave
Chicago, IL 60622
(773) 235-4039
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32. Pleasant House Bakery

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964 W 31st St
Chicago, IL 60608

33. Davanti Enoteca

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1359 W Taylor St
Chicago, IL 60607
(312) 226-5550
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34. Lillie's Q

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1856 W North Ave
Chicago, IL 60622
(773) 772-5500
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35. Three Aces

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1321 W Taylor St
Chicago, IL 60607

36. Big Jones

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5347 N Clark St
Chicago, IL 60640

37. Han 202

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605 W 31st St
Chicago, IL 60616

38. Calumet Fisheries

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3259 E 95th St
Chicago, IL 60617

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1. The Bristol

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

2. Purple Pig

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

3. Telegraph Wine Bar

2601 N Milwaukee Ave, Chicago, IL 60647
2601 N Milwaukee Ave
Chicago, IL 60647

4. Urban Belly

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

5. Nightwood Restaurant

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

6. Balena

1633 N Halsted St, Chicago, IL 60614
1633 N Halsted St
Chicago, IL 60614

7. avec

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

8. Yusho

2853 N Kedzie Ave, Chicago, IL 60618
2853 N Kedzie Ave
Chicago, IL 60618

9. Au Cheval

800 W Randolph St, Chicago, IL 60607
800 W Randolph St
Chicago, IL 60607

10. Kuma's Corner

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

11. Lula Cafe

2537 N Kedzie Blvd, Chicago, IL 60647