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2006 Chicagoland favorites


ronnie_suburban
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I established a personal goal at the end of 2005 to focus on eating more in 2006. That's not exactly what the doctor ordered but what the heck. Anyway, not only did I want to experience more of the fantastic chef-driven cuisine this town has to offer but also as many diverse and new (to me) venues as I could possibly hit. I succeeded in many ways (as my ever-expanding girth will confirm) and had a great year of eating and cooking. I was also fortunate enough to travel a bit in 2006 and experience some great meals, snacks and food shopping all over the country but those experiences are not listed here. This list is strictly Chicagoland.

Chicagoland faves of 2006:

Food Shopping (alphabetical):

Bennison's Bakery (Evanston) - Fantastic bread, croissant, etc.

Foodstuffs (Evanston and other locations) - Full-service gourmet grocery where you can get hooked up with just about anything you need. Lately, I'm feeling the Foodstuffs love like never before.

Fox and Obel (401 E. Illinois) - Similar to Foodstuffs but with a deeper and more intense selection of products.

Lincolnwood Produce (Lincolnwood) - Best (independent) grocery store on the north side. "Produce" barely begins to describe this place.

New York Bagel and Bialy (Lincolnwood) - The standard in Chicago. Period.

Produce World (Morton Grove) - A more compact version of Lincolnwood Produce, which specializes in Greek items. Fresh offal in the meat case on a regular basis . . . what could be better? Get your lamb tongue here!

Spice House (Evanston and other locations) - The owner has posted a few unkind things about yours truly but their stuff is great and the entire staff is remarkably helpful and knowledgeable.

Sunset Foods (Highland Park and other locations) - Pricey but 'worth it' local grocery chain where the quality and selection of goods is consistently high.

Three Tarts Bakery (Northfield) - Excellent breads and pastries. This is one of the few bakeries I know of that does both categories well enough to warrant a stop. And their sandwiches are delicious too.

Zier's Prime Meats (Wilmette) - This is my favorite butcher shop of all time. The owner, Dave, is a meat-handling diety. Not only is their dry-aged prime beef absolutely remarkable but they also carry high-quality pork, free-range poultry, etc. Dave turns out a vast variety of delectable, handmade charcuterie as well.

Cheap Eats (alphabetical):

Al's Beef (Taylor Street and other locations) - Hot subject. There are those who would curse this selection and curse me for making it. But in a town known for its eye-talian beef sandwiches, these are the very best. Don't agree? Make your own damn list! :raz::biggrin:

Barnaby's Family Inn (Northbrook) - The extremely delicious and distinctive thin-crust pizza pies turned out here are just about my favorite anywhere. Don't know a thing about any other Barnaby's locations. This is the only one I ever hit and it's worth it just about every time.

Chuck Wagon (Wilmette) - This place hit the big time in '06 when the "mainstream" media came a'calling. But we've been enjoying their unique, gyros-derivative sandwiches like the Waitress (grilled american cheese on white bread stuffed with gyros meat) and the Nicky's Special (cheeseburger topped with gyros meat) for years.

Hai Woon Dae (California Avenue) - My very favorite spot for Korean BBQ. Yes, live coals -- and my favorite assortment of panchan in the city.

La Pasadita (3 locations on Ashland Avenue) - My favorite (steak) burritos in town -- as big as your head and crammed with just the basics -- steak, cheese, onion and a bit of cilantro.

Nuevo Leon (18th Street) - In a town that offers unparalleled Mexican at every level of dining, Nuevo Leon remains my absolute favorite Mexican "restaurant."

Opart Thai (Wilmette and other locations) - My Thai equivalent of Nuevo Leon (without the dining room).

Pita Inn (Skokie and other locations) - When it's on, it's on and that's most of the time. I've tried a ton of Middle Eastern places and I like most of them quite a bit but PI stands out for me as the best of the lot.

Pizza D.O.C. (Lawrence Avenue) - Fantastic pies. Great toppings and outstanding crust. Their other offerings are decent and the small wine list is very good but the pizza is what's transcendant here. Their Pizza Quattro Formaggi and Pizza Silvil e Gabriele are among the best pizzas I've had in a long time.

Tweet (Sheridan Road) - Their house-made corned beef hash was one of the best things I ate in 2006 and they even corn their own brisket on premises.

Finer Dining (ranked):

10) Le Francais (Wheeling) - While the luster has probably faded on this venerable spot, chef Roland Liccioni's cooking is as tight as ever.

9) Avenues (Peninsula Hotel on Superior) - Chef Graham Elliot Bowles is one of the true young masters in Chicago. His cuisine is unique, innovative and delicious. GEB's pre-ban Foie Gras Chef's Palate menu was one of the highlights of my food year.

8) Carlos' Restaurant (Highland Park) - The reigning Zagat champ in Chicago and for good reason. Sublime creations here are founded in classical technique but are far more than merely the traditional the sum of their parts.

7) NaHa (Clark Street) I've never had less than a stellar meal (lunch or dinner) at NaHa. The sensibility with which the entire menu is generated is not only distinctive but the food itself is compelling, comforting and delicious.

6) Schwa (Ashland Avenue) No other dining experience quite equals the one to be had at Schwa. The food is amazing and it's served in a tiny, 26-seat dining room by the chefs who created it. Chef Michael Carlson isn't shy about asking you how you liked it, either. That along with the rustic, boldly-flavored food makes Scwha a one-of-a-kind experience.

5) Prairie Grass Cafe (Northbrook) I ate here at least 43 times in 2006 and that's no exaggeration. It's near my house and I'm truly grateful that it is. Chefs Stegner and Bumbaris put loving care and decades of top-tier cooking experience into every plate. It's home cooking with a conscience and a world-class pedigree. GM/owner Rohit Nambiar has put together a great, affordable wine list and he also runs the front of house, along with manager Dan Sviland, with aplomb.

4) Custom House (Blake Hotel on Dearborn) - The food, wine list and service distinguish Custom House. Their quail appetizer, short rib, sweetbreads and other creations are so memorable, you'll find yourself talking about them weeks after you've had them. For me, several of their dishes have become benchmarks. It's easy to see why Chef/Owner Shawn McClain won the Best Chef Midwest Beard award this year.

3) Butter (Green Street, Greektown) - Chef Ryan Poli may be the most underrated culinary star in Chicago. This kitchen, heavily influenced by Poli's well-spent time in Spain, is turning out food like no other in Chicago. Some of the very best things I ate in 2006 were at Butter, including Slow-Poached Egg, with Parmigiano Reggiano and Prosciutto, Short Rib Ravioli, Milk and Cereal and several immaculate pasta dishes. If you haven't been to Butter, you're missing out on something special. RP and his crew are a force to be reckoned with.

2) Alinea (Halsted) - What need be said? Chef Achatz is amazing and Alinea carries a "wow" factor like no other place in the city. The Tour De Force (the tasting menu to end all tasting menus) is not only the most sought after meal in Chicago, but possibly the entire U.S. It changes and evolves regularly which adds additional excitement to each dining experience. Chef combines seasonality and regionality with an unequalled ability to reach out and grab items from all over the globe, at their peak. Wine service here is also the most enjoyable in the city, for me. Thanks to wine director Joe Catterson and head sommelier Craig Sindelar, I probably tasted more fantastic wines at Alinea in 2006 than at every other restaurant I'd been to last year -- combined. Is it avant garde? Is it hyper-modern? Don't know, don't care. I've eaten hundreds of dishes at Alinea and every single one of them let the amazing, memorable flavors do the talking.

1) Vie (Western Springs) - I suppose this could be considered somewhat of surprise selection but only by those who've never been to Vie. Simply put, Chef Paul Virant's food speaks to me. I love the seasonality and regionality of the menu, the focus on classical french technique and its derivations and the fact that virtually every main ingredient on the menu is identified by its origin. I completely dig how resourceful chef Virant is in every regard. His pantry of hand-canned and preserved foods is not only amazing but one glance at it reveals chef's unending passion for what he does. It almost brought a tear to my eye. There is an aesthetic at Vie which distinguishes it for me like no other place. I had 3 meals at Vie in 2006 and each one delighted me completely. Service also happens to be amazing at Vie and the wine list is especially thoughtful and food-friendly.

Honorable Mention: (all categories, no particular order)

Joe's (The Sausage King) Fless Market (Western Avenue) - Loved this man's sausages and veal bologna but he closed his shop in 2006. We'll miss you, Joe.

Del Toro (Damen Avenue) - great stuff and their Patatas Bravas are near-perfection in a bite.

Osteria di Tramonto (Westin Hotel, Wheeling) - Love it so far but I'm just getting my feet wet here -- still have not tried any of their salume.

Quince (Evanston) - Mark Hannon's lamb spare ribs and braised short rib were some of the best things I ate in 2006.

Tramonto's Steak and Seafood - (Westin Hotel, Wheeling) Their "Tomahawk" was best restaurant steak I ate 2006.

Francesca's Forno - (Milwaukee Avenue) Memorable dishes here included the delicious Spaghetti ala Gricia and Pollo Arrosto all Diavola.

Margie's Candies (Western at Armitage, Montrose Avenue) - best 'old skool' desserts in town. Ice cream creations are majestic and their Terrapin candies -- always fresh -- are to die for.

Hot Chocolate - (Damen Avenue) Best high-end desserts in town. They're beautiful and delicious. And the house-made ice creams are absolutely sublime.

Quartino - (State Street) Loved the house-made salume, especially the Duck Prosciutto.

La Casa del Gordo - (Highland Park) Mid-priced, delicious Mexican, focused on fresh seafood, in Highland Park.

Tag's Bakery - (Evanston) Great butter cookies, danish and hotdog/hamburger buns.

Paulina Market - (Lincoln Avenue) A fantastic spot for fresh meat and charcuterie made on premises.

Bombon Bakery - (18th Street) Everything I've eaten from here has been stellar and their Tres Leches cake is my favorite rendition of all-time but I haven't been here enough times to move it out of the HM category.

What were your standout food experiences in 2006?

=R=

"Hey, hey, careful man! There's a beverage here!" --The Dude, The Big Lebowski

LTHForum.com -- The definitive Chicago-based culinary chat site

ronnie_suburban 'at' yahoo.com

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I loved your list. I am surprised that Moto was missing and also I think Shawn Mcclain's Spring should be there. I am amazed how he has been able to craft 3 restaurants with three very dramatic and different visions (and he is also a genuine great guy).

I have to admit that I have never been to "Vie." Time to change that. What is the price point?

Thanks,

L

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I loved your list too, ronnie. I also trust you. I've eaten out exactly twice this year -- Nuevo Leon and Custom House, and I echo your sentiments on both. If you recommend Vie, that will be my big dinner out in 2007. I hope.

Margaret McArthur

"Take it easy, but take it."

Studs Terkel

1912-2008

A sensational tennis blog from freakyfrites

margaretmcarthur.com

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I loved your list.  I am surprised that Moto was missing and also I think Shawn Mcclain's Spring should be there.  I am amazed how he has been able to craft 3 restaurants with three very dramatic and different visions (and he is also a genuine great guy).

I have to admit that I have never been to "Vie."  Time to change that.  What is the price point? 

Thanks,

L

Sadly -- especially in light of recent reports on this forum -- I have to admit that I've never been to Moto. It was on my list for 2006 but I never got there :sad: I won't let 2007 lapse without going to Moto.

I ate at Spring once in 2006 and I definitely enjoyed it. It just didn't come to mind when I thought about the highlights of my year. I agree about Shawn McClain, though. Green Zebra is also an inspired and distinctive restaurant but I didn't get there in 2006.

Starters at Vie are priced low to mid teens, soups and salads are around $10 and entrees are mid $20's to mid $30's. The first time I ate there, I was suprised by how "in line" Vie's prices were with city dining. But after experiencing the level of care that goes into sourcing the food that winds up on chef Virant's menu, I realized that it was definitely money well-spent.

=R=

"Hey, hey, careful man! There's a beverage here!" --The Dude, The Big Lebowski

LTHForum.com -- The definitive Chicago-based culinary chat site

ronnie_suburban 'at' yahoo.com

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I loved your list.  I am surprised that Moto was missing and also I think Shawn Mcclain's Spring should be there.  I am amazed how he has been able to craft 3 restaurants with three very dramatic and different visions (and he is also a genuine great guy).

I have to admit that I have never been to "Vie."  Time to change that.  What is the price point? 

Thanks,

L

Sadly -- especially in light of recent reports on this forum -- I have to admit that I've never been to Moto. It was on my list for 2006 but I never got there :sad: I won't let 2007 lapse without going to Moto.

I ate at Spring once in 2006 and I definitely enjoyed it. It just didn't come to mind when I thought about the highlights of my year. I agree about Shawn McClain, though. Green Zebra is also an inspired and distinctive restaurant but I didn't get there in 2006.

Starters at Vie are priced low to mid teens, soups and salads are around $10 and entrees are mid $20's to mid $30's. The first time I ate there, I was suprised by how "in line" Vie's prices were with city dining. But after experiencing the level of care that goes into sourcing the food that winds up on chef Virant's menu, I realized that it was definitely money well-spent.

=R=

You have convinced me. Next stop for me in Chicago will be "Vie" and I will report back.

Thanks for the information,

L.

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Foodstuffs (Evanston and other locations) - Full-service gourmet grocery where you can get hooked up with just about anything you need.  Lately, I'm feeling the Foodstuffs love like never before.

Fox and Obel (401 E. Illinois) - Similar to Foodstuffs but with a deeper and more intense selection of products.

Come to think of it, these two are similar! I'd say Fox and Obel has about 4 times as much stuff, and the selection of condiments and other cooking items at FS is pretty haphazard, but I think FS has improved. I just had their turkey cranberry salad yesterday. Every time I go in there I try to worm the recipe for those lower-fat mayo salad dressings out of them, but no luck so far. Also, I think they put heroin in those fish quesadillas and burritos.

The takeout food at Fox and Obel is pretty awesome. I had the Indonesian ginger chicken recently-- fabulous! Wish I lived closer. I also scored a huge bag of cippollini onions that day, quite a bit cheaper and in much better shape than you get at my nearest Whole Foods.

I'm with you on Sunset too.

I tried to come up with a list of restaurants and, wow, it looks like I didn't eat out much at all. Will have to remedy that in 2007.

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Nice list Ron...

Though I'm not familiar with many on the "Cheap Eats" list, Nuevo Leon anjd Al's on Taylor are long time favorites.

With the exception of Le Francais and Butter, I dined at the remainder on the "Finer Dining" list in 2006. I checked Butter's web site and it looks like I'll be making a reservation very soon. Poli's credentials look pretty impressive. Stints at Le Francais, The French Laundry, and Sergi Arola's La Broche, one of my favorite restaurants in Madrid.

I'll throw my hand up for Vie also. I eat there 3-4 times monthly. Fortunately, it's less than a 5 minute drive from my house or 60 second walk from my commuter train stop. Your comments are right on. In addition to outstanding food and service, there is a certain vibe that makes you happy to be there and want to return often. They really have their act together. For those who might be interested, a copy of Vie's menu can be found here.

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Ron's thoughtful post has gotten me thinking about the places I've loved in 2006. For me, 2006 was not a big food year, thanks to a long (and so far successful) weight reduction regime. But I still managed to come up with a highlights reel. I, too, had some wonderful food out of town (Albuquerque, Columbus, Sheboygan, Louisville), but that's not what this topic is about. Anyway, on to my own list:

Chicagoland faves of 2006:

Food Shopping (alphabetical):

Al's Deli (Evanston) A lot of people go there for the sandwiches, but I fell in love with their cookies this year (chocolate chip, lemon iced, iced sugar, fudge brownie). They put the chocolate chip cookies in the front window. Get there at 11 a.m. when they open, and they're still warm out of the oven. Just like the best homemade cookies using the recipe on the bag of Nestle's chips.

Belgian Chocolatier Piron (Evanston) The very best chocolates in the country, handmade in the shop from Belgian ingredients every day. Proof: at the start of each day, Mr. Piron's apron is clean, and by the time they close, it's full of chocolate smears.

Fox and Obel (also on Ron's list) What a wonderful gourmet food store! I just love this place. The quality of everything is absolutely superb. I like Foodstuffs because it's close to home, but the quality and variety at F&O is far superior, IMHO. Personal favorites: cinnamon swirl rolls, prepared soups, cornbread-stuffed chicken breasts, omelets in the cafe.

Gourmet Frog (Highwood) This adjunct to Froggy's restaurant sells excellent French pastries and bread, as well as prepared food (e.g. soup).

Kaufman's (Skokie) Still the best Jewish deli food in the area.

Marketplace on Oakton (Skokie) Terrific produce, terrific deli counter, lots of European imported stuff. I have not been to either Lincolnwood Produce or Produce World, on Ron's list, but both sound very similar to MoO. Anyone who's been to all three, I'd love to hear any comparative comments.

Schaefer's (Skokie) Great wine selection and knowledgeable staff. Nice selection of cheese and other gourmet foods. Notable: their warehouse sales, their tastings on Saturdays.

Spice House (also on Ron's list)

Three Tarts Bakery (also on Ron's list) This place doesn't get a lot of press, but it's wonderful. Don't overlook all those small cookies right before the cash register!

Zier's Prime Meats (also on Ron's list) - Everything Ron says is true. We served their dry-aged prime rib on December 25 to celebrate the 11th night of Hanukkah, and it was superb, as good as the very best restaurants.

Cheap Eats (alphabetical):

Giordano's, Lou Malnati's, Gino's East (multiple locations) What can you say about it? Love it or hate it, it is what it is. I love it, and it's the thing I miss most when trying to take off pounds.

Lupita's (Evanston) My favorite Mexican restaurant. The food on their regular menu is very good, but if that's all you have, you won't understand why I cite them. They have weekly lunch and dinner specials, and this is where they shine, in both creativity and quality. They keep their dinner specials updated on their website. Their grilled fish specials are as good as any seafood restaurant.

Thai Sookdee (Evanston) Currently my favorite Thai restaurant in the Chicago area, and I've tried 40-50 of them, all over town, including all of the dozen or so in Evanston and most of those nearby. They have improved markedly in the past few years; I wouldn't have made such a statement 3-4 years ago. But lately, everything there has been just wonderful, including all my favorites: chicken satay, tom kha gai soup, panang, thai iced tea, mango with sticky rice for dessert (in season), etc.

Walker Brothers Original Pancake House (Wilmette, Glenview, and other locations) Still as wonderful as ever for breakfast items, especially their famous apple pancake and German pancake.

Finer Dining (unranked):

Michael (Winnetka) My best dinner of the year, and one of the very best all-time. See my detailed report in the separate topic for this restaurant.

Oceanique (Evanston) Always superb. Everything at this place is simply wonderful. Sure, you expect the seafood items at a place specializing in seafood to be excellent. But you might not expect the same quality to extend to the sauces, and the soups, and the desserts - oh, those heavenly desserts!

Chef's Station (Evanston) Another winner. Again, everything is consistently excellent. I ate here twice this year, including on Thanksgiving when they had a special, limited menu. It was worthy of the occasion.

I'm going to stop here for a comment. These were the only true fine dining places I hit locally this past year. I usually hit a few more than that, but this year I decided to do most of my finer dining out of town. However, I also enjoyed dining at numerous local places that I would not classify as "fine dining" - they are not places that I would consider particularly creative or expensive - but they don't really fit neatly into the "cheap eats" category, either. Those are:

Black Ram Steakhouse (Des Plaines) This is a place that nobody here ever heard of, that you'll never hear mentioned by anyone else on a gourmet board. I go there several times a year, and everything I have there is just excellent. Don't look for creative, unusual food; DO look for well-prepared, delicious food. Their steaks are perfect, their seafood is perfect, their prime rib is the best in the area, their desserts are equally outstanding (including not only the more unusual, like the banana bavarian cream or white chocolate mousse, but also the utterly conventional but delicious creamy rice pudding). The service is extremely accommodating. This place is extremely comfortable and has a huge percentage of repeat customers, many of whom are greeted by name as they arrive.

Carson's Ribs (Deerfield, Chicago) There are lots of barbecue places in the Chicago area; this is still my favorite. Great baby back ribs, also great prime rib and steaks, and the best cole slaw I've ever had in the Chicago area.

Mitchell's Fish Market (Glenview) Yes, it's a chain, which means some people won't like it, often without even trying it. But the seafood is consistently excellent, and the preparations are often creative.

Bonefish Grill (Skokie) Same comments as Mitchell's. If I have to choose between the two, I would give the nod to Mitchell's.

Tin Fish (Tinley Park) Another excellent seafood restaurant. I went there before a concert at World/Tweeter/FirstMidwest/whatever Amphitheater. Beware long waits, and they don't take reservations.

Gio (Evanston) This newcomer has excellent upscale Italian food.

Wolfgang Puck Grand Cafe (Evanston) Consistently good American food.

Wildfire (multiple locations) Again, consistently good American food.

May Street Market (Chicago) Very good upscale dining.

Not Cited

Here are some of the other Chicago-area places I hit this year, just in case you're wondering which ones didn't make my favorites. Many of them were quite good, too, just not at the same high level as those previously mentioned: 42 N Latitude (Chicago), Mt. Everest (Evanston), Bad Dog Tavern (Chicago), Mr. Thai (Chicago), El Tipico (Skokie), Wishbone (Chicago), Thai Classic (Chicago), O'Hare Hilton (Chicago), Seasons (Chicago), Prairie Moon (Evanston), Maggiano's Little Italy (Skokie), altThai (Arlington Heights), Kona Grill (Lincolnshire), Gridley's Grille (Buffalo Grove), Pinto Kitchen (Evanston), Noodle Garden (Evanston), Barn of Barrington, Miramar (Highwood), Vita Mia (Mount Prospect), Cafe Central (Evanston)

Edited by nsxtasy (log)
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Nice list, Ron. I, too, am a big fan of Fox & Obel, both the cafe and the store. Hello, tomato/basil soup. Also, I second nsxtasy's choice of the Marketplace on Oakton. Love it for the sheer variety of produce I don't always see downtown. And certainly, at much friendlier prices.

I'd substitute Spacca Napoli (on Sunnyside at Ravenswood) for Pizza D.O.C. I was at both last year and the crust on the pizzas at Spacca Napoli is so far superior it keeps me coming back.

Also, for cheap eats, Dixie Bait Shop in Hyde Park. Consistently delicious, superb greens, good red beans and rice and crispy breading on the fried shrimp po'boys. Plus, the waitstaff is prompt, if not anticipatory with refills and extra plates, and somehow, always manages to make that single piece of bread pudding we like to split - the size of our heads.

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Ronnie,

Did I read that one of your resolutions for 2006 was to eat more in 2005 :biggrin: ?

Ok, my list in the Heartland...in no particular order...

Ambria

On a Monday night, I was meeting a couple friends for dinner at Mon Ami Gabi. When I arrived at the Belden Statford, I walked into Ambria to check out the menu to see what Chef de Cuisine Christian Eckmann had going on. I loved the menu, but our plans were set and I was not dressed for Ambria. When I walked over to Mon Ami, I found out the wait was 45 minutes and that was not going to work. I walked back over to Ambria and asked if we could sit at the bar and order dinner, because we were under-dressed. The Maitre'D, in an act of conviviality, did not have us sit at the bar and gave us a table. We ordered a tasting menu and Chef Eckmann blew us away with his perfectly executed and creative fare. He has a great one-two punch of his French and Spanish training firmly placing Ambria as one of the best restaurants in town, if you have not been or not been in awhile-GO. I look forward to my next meal there...

Nomi

I had enjoyed drinks at Nomi, but never had the pleasure of dining there. IMO, the nicest table in town is one of window tables at Nomi . New Chef Christophe David's cuisine was great with Chef de Cuisine Christian Ragano executing his vision this ia a place that I look forward to dining again.

Schwa

Quail Egg Ravioli...damn, I missed the white truffle season and those ravioli. The place to bring even the most finicky diners to watch them be placed under the spell of Chef Michael Carlson and Sous-Chef Nathan Klingbail (right Dad). This restaurant is such a special experience, if you have not been then before it moves to a larger venue...CHECK IT OUT, if you can get a table.

Butter

Chef Ryan Poli dazzled our table of 7 that was not really made up of foodies. Everyone licked the plates clean....

BlackBird

To think that Blackbird has been around for as long as it has and continues to deliver the goods is phenomenal. This is one of my favorite Chicago restaurants for lunch and dinner...that pork belly sandwich at lunch, ohhhhhhh!

Francesca's Forno

I have been a long time fan of the Francesca's restaurants. This was a delicious meal with all courses as winners.

Desserts at Hot Chocolate

The best way to squeeze another meal out of an evening...blame it on dessert. Chef Mindy Segal has the way with the sweets.

L'Appetito

I have been addicted to their sandwiches for over twenty years.

Pastoral Artisian Cheese, Bread and Wine

IMO, top spot for cheese in town and great sandwiches

Muskies

Do not confuse this with the other one that was on Belmont.

I used to be a Wiener Circle guy, but Muskies is the go to spot for burgers, dogs, chicken sandwiches.

Potbelly

Timeless subs...

Mr. Beef

Been loving those beefs for 25 years

2007 have to's:

Alinea

I can not believe my shadow (ever expanding) did not cross into Alinea in 2006

GTM at Moto

I had a quick 5 courses and a couple months ago and need to take the whole trip once again...MR. Suburban are you listening

Vie

If Ronnie S. and my finicky Father rave about the place, it must be out of this world.

Osteria Tramonto etc.

I would like to see what they are serving now that they have there own gig.

Top -Notch Burger

I have heard too many good things

Johnnie's

My last two beefs there have not been up to snuff...it had to be an off beef

Good Eating in 2007,

Molto E

Edited by molto e (log)

Eliot Wexler aka "Molto E"

MoltoE@restaurantnoca.com

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First of all, Ron...great list. Anytime someone is coming in from out of town, that should be the Bible.

My 2006 favorites in all categories and in no particular order:

Alinea - NYE dinner, post midnight. Also a great anniversary dinner in March. A shame that I didn't get to go more this year.

Avenues - Foie gras tasting menu at the chef's bar. Great meal, great company.

Quartino - If only for the duck prosciutto

Schwa - Quail egg ravioli, prosciutto consume, you name it. I'm just glad I was able to go a few times before the masses caught on.

Carlos' - Why can't more restaurants be as flexible as Carlos' when creating tasting menus? Also, Carlos and Debbie are about the nicest people you'll ever meet.

Custom House - Quail appetizer is one of the best in town. Fortunately I was able to get to Custom House several times this year and explore the menu a bit. They had a rabbit main course on in December that completely blew me away. Loin wrapped in housemade pancetta with a stew from the rest of the meat.

Frasca - Finally, pizza in Chicago I like.

Avec - Fried oyster salad, braised pork shoulder. Hard to pick a favorite here.

Blackbird - Two words: pork belly

Tsuki - Other than the fact that I got engaged here this year, the sashimi is consistently excellent. They also had a wonderful New Year's Eve menu that far too few people took advantage of.

Sweets and Savories - Kobe beer and foie gras burgers. Even better one night with shaved black truffles (see, "How to turn a $10 burger into a $50 burger")

ronnie_suburban's homemade pastrami - Dangerous, dangerous stuff

"Little" Three Happiness - Crispy skin chicken. I wasn't nuts about it at first, but it grew on me more and more with every bite. Now I crave it.

I think that about covers it. 2006 was another very good year.

-Josh

Now blogging at http://jesteinf.wordpress.com/

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Marketplace on Oakton (Skokie) Terrific produce, terrific deli counter, lots of European imported stuff.  I have not been to either Lincolnwood Produce or Produce World, on Ron's list, but both sound very similar to MoO.  Anyone who's been to all three, I'd love to hear any comparative comments.

I've been to all three; here's my ranking:

#1 Marketplace on Oakton

#2 Lincolnwood Produce

#3 Produce World

This is not to slam Produce World - I like it - it's just that the other two are larger (Marketplace on Oakton feels like the largest), and has the advantage of being next door to Aldi for stocking up on really cheap stuff.

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ronnie_suburban's homemade pastrami - Dangerous, dangerous stuff

Josh,

That would be homemade wagyu pastrami...that Ronnie S. may joke, but he does not play. Have you tried his Lox?

Molto E

Eliot Wexler aka "Molto E"

MoltoE@restaurantnoca.com

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Unfortunately I spent only a very limited amount of time in Chicago in 2006, but I didn't waste it!

Alinea, Avenues, Schwa (the quail egg ravioli was my dish of the year!), Frontera Grill, street food at the Mexican market (the street name is eluding me at the moment). There were many more I would have liked to dine at - perhaps in 2007.

John Sconzo, M.D. aka "docsconz"

"Remember that a very good sardine is always preferable to a not that good lobster."

- Ferran Adria on eGullet 12/16/2004.

Docsconz - Musings on Food and Life

Slow Food Saratoga Region - Co-Founder

Twitter - @docsconz

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I was reluctant to add this since I'm not a native and it falls under the category of "slumming" compared to Ronnie's picks. Since Doc jumped in and someone upthread mentioned Aldi, I think it's relatively flame-retardent :wink:.

I learned to love Caputo's this summer during a couple of visits. It's not the highest-end, best of anything, but the variety and price-point makes me really wish we had one here in KC. I would take a run through the deli counter right now if it weren't a seven-hour drive. Although I could stop at Devotay on the way up and back, which very nearly makes the rationlization work for me. :rolleyes:

Judy Jones aka "moosnsqrl"

Sharing food with another human being is an intimate act that should not be indulged in lightly.

M.F.K. Fisher

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What, no hot dogs?!!

LOL! I thought about this long and hard and there are definitely several local places that I love. But the net differences between them all are so slim (in terms of overall pleasure derived), that I decided to list none of them instead of all of them.

=R=

"Hey, hey, careful man! There's a beverage here!" --The Dude, The Big Lebowski

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ronnie_suburban's homemade pastrami - Dangerous, dangerous stuff

Josh,

That would be homemade wagyu pastrami...that Ronnie S. may joke, but he does not play. Have you tried his Lox?

Molto E

I've tried both. Ronnie's charcuiterie is high on my Best of 2006 Chicago list.

Margaret McArthur

"Take it easy, but take it."

Studs Terkel

1912-2008

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margaretmcarthur.com

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street food at the Mexican market (the street name is eluding me at the moment).

Perhaps 18th Street, in the neighborhood we call Pilsen?

Maxwell Street?

Bingo! Thanks.

John Sconzo, M.D. aka "docsconz"

"Remember that a very good sardine is always preferable to a not that good lobster."

- Ferran Adria on eGullet 12/16/2004.

Docsconz - Musings on Food and Life

Slow Food Saratoga Region - Co-Founder

Twitter - @docsconz

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