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  Alphabetical List - Great Neighborhood Restaurants/Resources

  Alphabetical List - Great Neighborhood Restaurants/Resources
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  • Alphabetical List - Great Neighborhood Restaurants/Resources

    Post #1 - August 26th, 2011, 12:53 pm
    Post #1 - August 26th, 2011, 12:53 pm Post #1 - August 26th, 2011, 12:53 pm
    Covering LTH community nominees through May 2018
    Last updated September 2023 with board-reported closures


    This page offers a comprehensive list of all recently operating and awarded LTHForum Great Neighborhood Restaurants/Resources. This thread breaks them out in alphabetical order and location. (An older list organized by cuisine was found in this thread and may be revamped by late 2023; YMMV).


    Al’s No. 1 Italian Beef (Taylor Street location only)-- Taylor Street stand serving classic Chicago Italian beef and charcoal-grilled sausage.
    Alegria's-- One of those singular neighborhood places that draws everyone in…Langostinos, the perfectly tender “Pulpo Especial,” piles of crabs swimming in buttery red sauce, and the “Veneno salad …the type of place where you plan ahead to wear your “eatin’ shirt,” because you will get messy, and you won’t even care.
    Anteprima-- Combining spot-on Italian cooking with a focus on the local and seasonal results in an Italian restaurant that stands with the best in a city full of great Italian restaurants.
    Aroy Thai-- Aroy means “delicious” in Thai and this neighborhood favorite is well-named. From the exotic to the classic, Aroy Thai captures all of the essential flavors—funky, tart, spicy, savory and sweet—with loving care and consistency. Crave-worthy!
    avec-- Offering small plates and wine at communal tables in the west Loop. It does not hurt to have one of Chicago's best chefs helping out, either. Probably more pan-Mediterranean or Spanish, but just eat, drink, and don't worry.
    Bad Apple-- Top quality meat, glorious burgers, great beer selection, a knowledgeable and engaged staff.
    Badou Senegalese Cuisine--A meal at Badou Senegalese Cuisine in Rogers Park has the gracious welcome of a relative's home. Empanadas, chicken pasteles, mafe, savory djollof rice, and lamb shanks taste like home cooking. A cornucopia of vegetarian options round out a menu of well-spiced favorites. Don't miss the whole red snapper or other recommendations from Badou himself.
    Bari-- An icon for great, Italian subs, and a pretty decent deli, too. But the sandwiches are the draw, from the light summery Caprese to the juicy Italian sausage and meatball subs to the classic Hot Italian.
    Big Jones-- Southern cooking gone upscale, along with strong drink of the best sort. Engaged, inspired, and pushing the envelope within the vernacular.
    Birrieria Reyes de Ocotlán-- A one dish restaurant, but what a dish-- birria, piquantly roasted goat, served with a simple squeeze of lime or salsa.
    Birreria Zaragoza-- Be welcomed into a warm, family business where they specialize in one thing, and do it to perfection. Culinary fashions come and go, but the Mexican tradition of Birria (goat stew), Tatemada in this case, is long, storied, and deliciously done here.
    Cafe Orchid-- Turkish classics like imam bayildi (stewed eggplant), sigara borek (feta-stuffed phyllo dough), and iskender kebab (shaved lamb with yogurt and tomato sauce) are just some of the Turkish delights on offer at this West Lakeview spot. The patio area is the perfect place to nibble on meze while taking advantage of the BYOB with a glass of wine or Turkish raki. Afiyet olsun!
    Calumet Fisheries-- One of the last shrimp huts of its kind, serving up addictive smoked and fried shrimp and fish in the shadow of the Skyway and the steel mills.
    Carniceria Guanajuato #3 The grill counter at this grocery store uses a local pipeline of the best ingredients out there to perfect tacos ranging from tongue to chile relleno, with salsas to match.
    Cellar Door Provisions-- Some of the finest, flaky French-style pastries in town can be found in Logan Square at Cellar Door Provisions. Croissants are deeply browned and studded with butter churned in house. Biting into a morning bun showers your plate with shards of crisp, buttery flakes as the cinnamon hits your palate. Beyond the delicious pastries, CDP slings some of the best artisan bread in Chicago, and a small, constantly changing breakfast and lunch menu of well-crafted, seasonal fare.
    Chengdu Impression--Chengdu Impression is serious Szechuan worthy of Chinatown or Anytown, luckily landed in Lincoln Park. Dishes sing at the right pitches of numbing, searing, crunchy, and herbal, with highlights including tiger skin peppers, tofu with peanuts, hot and sour noodles, and twice cooked pork with scallion pancake. This is a good spot to try both offal (dive into the fu qi fei pian!) and flavorful takes on vegetable dishes like the crispy eggplant.
    Coalfire Pizza-- A genuine coal-fired oven is responsible for the tasty char on Italian and New Haven-style thin crust pizzas at this Grand Avenue newcomer.
    D’Amato’s Bakery-- Tiny, vintage storefront, oozing charm. Signature breads from baguettes to foccacia, tasty sheet pizza, and pastries. Who’s next?
    D'Candela-- Excellent Peruvian fare, with the charcoal-grilled chicken headlining, but each dish, down to the simple, white rice on the side, is done with care and skill.
    Dancen-- K-Pop blaring on the TV, pitchers of Korean beer, and a wide array of delicious (and adventurous) bar snacks that work up a thirst all make this Lincoln Square Korean dive bar a great night out. The buldak fire chicken that is grilled over charcoal at the bar is the greatest bar snack you didn’t realize you can’t live without. Wash it all down with a yogurt soju cocktail and call it a night.
    Delightful Pastries-- Excellent Paczki and pierogi are just a start. Dobra is a dedicated and talented baker whose cakes and pastries, savory and sweet, Polish or not, are an irresistible treat.
    El Ideas-- Ever wonder what a dinner party at a professional chef’s house would be like? Phillip Foss has created a completely unique fine-dining experience that brings diners as close to the action as possible while serving cutting edge cuisine. Bring your own wine, spend some time helping the chefs plate the next course, and rock out to what some have called the best playlist in the city. It all makes for an intimate and unforgettable experience.
    Elephant Thai-- The far northwest side’s first Thai restaurant offers bright, freshly-flavored versions of Thai classics.
    Floriole Café & Bakery-- Everything you want your neighborhood café and bakery to be. Perfect pastry meets delicious light meals in a beautiful space.
    Forno Rosso-- For excellent, wood-fired pizza in Chicago’s far Northwest corner, try Forno Rosso in Dunning. Fans cite the stellar, lightly charred crust and interesting toppings, each clearly demonstrating the great pride taken in sourcing only the very best ingredients. You’ll be treated like family while you sip an Italian draught beer and admire the beautifully tiled, wood-burning pizza oven smoldering away at 1000 degrees. Buon appetito!
    Ghareeb Nawaz-- This hole-in-the-wall cabbie joint pumps out delicious Indo-Pak fare at unreasonably low prices. Chilli chicken, goat biryani, beef nihari, and a paratha make for quite a feast. Order it all and get change back on a twenty dollar bill. It’s open 24/7 so you can quench that curry craving whenever it calls.
    Go 4 Food-- If you’re looking for a wide range of Cantonese seafood, look no further than Chinatown’s premiere seafood spot. It’s tucked away on 23rd street off the main drag, but the mammoth oysters in black bean sauce, scallops served on the shell complete with creamy roe, and countless crab and lobster preparations makes them really stand out. Go 4 C Food.
    Gogi-- Gogi is a cut above the rest for Korean BBQ, with high quality meats, excellent service, and real charcoal grilling at the table. This is destination Korean food; a place you can bring more conservative eaters ready for grilled kalbi, or adventurous eaters looking to enjoy a seafood pancake or Gogi’s wide array of kimchi and other banchan.
    Great Sea-- If you go for anything other than the chicken wings – crisp, sweet, sour, spicy nirvana – you are on your own. Thing is, we can’t imagine why you don’t go for the chicken wings. Soon. See you there.
    Honey 1 BBQ-- Terrific, authentically wood-smoked barbecue ribs, rib tips and hot links, transplanted from the west side to Bucktown.
    Hoosier Mama Pie Company (Chicago Ave Location Only)-- They have been selling pies to local restaurants and at Green City Market for years, and now you can buy them every day. Grab a cup of coffee and a piece of pie or two and be sure to take some home too.
    Hopleaf-- Andersonville fixture packing them in for a Belgian-focused beer list and hearty European bar food like mussels and frites.
    Huaraches Dona Chio-- A hidden gem off Clark in Andersonville, serving a range of antojitos, but the large, fresh huaraches – homey, earthy masa with tasty toppings – should not be missed.
    In-On Thai-- This Uptown gem showcases fresh, bright, and popping flavors from Thai salads to curries. Don't miss the fermented pork ribs.
    Jimmy’s Pizza Café-- Quality New York pizza, consistently good in a simple, comfortable place.
    Jimmy's Red Hots-- For many, the classic Chicago Hot Dog is an object of reverence, even worship. On the far west side, Jimmy's is a temple for those faithful. We never argue about where to find the best dot dog, lest blood be spilled, but Jimmy's is a great hot dog and a Chicago classic.
    J.P. Graziano Grocery-- If you love Italian cooking… impeccable products, great selection, and knowledgeable, friendly staff.
    Kabobi-- A special gem of Persian cuisine in Albany Park, Kabobi's care is evident in everything from smooth vegetable preparations to perfectly grilled and seasoned meats.
    Khan BBQ-- Devon Avenue Pakistani restaurant offers grilled meats which sizzle with charcoal flavor and pungent eastern spices.
    La Chaparrita-- Taco heaven. The selection and quality of the fillings is without equal. We can argue all day about best this and best that, but this place is damned good.
    Lao Sze Chuan-- Chinatown Mall restaurant serving a seemingly endless menu of Western Chinese specialties.
    Laschet’s Inn-- Authentic German food, beer and gemütlichkeit in the old German St. Ben’s neighborhood.
    Manny’s-- Cafeteria serving old school Jewish deli classics to a democratic crowd ranging from machers to meshugas.
    Marie's Pizza and Liquors (TEMPORARILY CLOSED)-- Ageless bar and restaurant serving great thin crust pizza on the northwest side. Eat it hot and fresh!
    Mario's Italian Lemonade-- Legendary Taylor Street Italian ice stand (opposite GNR honoree Al's) provides one of summertime Chicago's most vibrant street scenes.
    Maxwell Street Market-- A great selection of Mexican street food and all the tube socks you want, every Sunday just south of the Loop.
    Mekato's Colombian Bakery-- Crisp, cheesy, light bunuelos are the main draw for this north side spot, but the consistent high quality makes it worthwhile to try everything.
    Monti's-- The Italian Beef may be the undisputed champion in Chicago, but the Philly Cheesesteak at this Lincoln Square tavern is a worthy contender. They ship in Amoroso rolls from Philadephia and fill them with shaved beef and housemade aged cheddar sauce. Topped with grilled onions or served Rocky style with some seriously hot peppers, this cheesesteak is a worthy underdog in the battle for beef sandwich supremacy.
    Moon's Sandwich Shop-- A dingy exterior on a changing block on the near west side does not hint of the timeless mastery of the grill work being done inside. Hearty, delicious breakfasts and lunches are the specialty.
    Mr. D's Shish-Kabobs-- Mr. and Mrs. D care, and it shows. A counter, a few booths, and a linoleum floor us are what they call décor. Fresh cut, chunky fries and tasty, meaty kabobs are what we call perfect. Not a bad steak sandwich either.
    Nha Hang Vietnam-- Vietnamese food prepared with love, charm, and good ingredients. They can show why this is one of the healthiest, brightest and just wonderful cuisines in the world.
    Nhu Lan's Saigon Subs-- Delicious Bahn Mi and other Vietnamese specialties served by extremely outgoing and helpful proprietors. If you have not yet sampled the glory of these Vietnamese sandwiches, there is no better place in Chicago for an introduction.
    Nicky's Hot Dogs-- Not all Big Baby places are created equal…perfectly proportioned, elemental hamburger…emphasis on meticulously assembling each and every Big Baby…one of my favorite simple pleasures in Chicago.
    Noon Hour Grill--Prepare to be instantly charmed by this tiny Rogers Park breakfast and lunch joint, offering standard diner fare with a pronounced Korean twist. Susie still does all the cooking, serving, and busing herself. Try a comforting bowl of Susie’s bi bim bop, with its brown rice, homemade gochujang (she also makes her own kimchee), molten fried egg, and gobs of marinated beef bulgogi. Or, indulge in a bulgogi and kimchi omelet, loaded with gooey American cheese. This is Asian Fusion done right.
    Old Fashioned Donuts-- The anchor of its little-visited Roseland neighborhood on the southeast side, this place cranks out fresh doughnuts and breathtakingly rich apple fritters.
    Pleasant House Bakery (31st Street Location Only)-- The savory pies are the draw, in a simple, unassuming space. Okay, that and the fact that the technique, ingredients and taste of everything they serve is just about perfect.
    Podhalanka-- A hearty Polish working-man’s spot, easily overlooked on fast-gentrifying Division Street.
    Purple Pig-- Yeah, yeah, it’s a bit of a celebrity spot, but it delivers. And not just the pork products - the vegetables are delicious, too. Really, we wanted to hate it, but it is too good.
    Rainbow Thai Cuisine-- Rainbow is much more than just the best Thai cuisine currently in Chicago…the Naem Khao Tod, and Issan sausage are just the tip of the iceberg… the owners are the friendliest, warmest people you will meet…the type of restaurant that represents the common interests that tie together this mishmash of people from all walks that is LTH forum.
    Redhot Ranch-- Redhot Ranch builds on the best tradition of Chicago hot dog stands – natural casing dogs, crisp hand-cut fries, deft handling of condiments and customers – with addictive, homemade fried shrimp, and a signature griddled burger that compares favorably with the offerings of both the chef-driven pubs and most coveted national chains. The crisp-edged, well-seasoned cheeseburgers are one of the city’s great values and true delights.
    Riviera Italian Imports-- West side Italian deli offering outstanding housemade sausages and sandwiches, including the “Will Special” (named for LTHForum member “YourPalWill”).
    San Soo Gab San-- Almost-24-hour Korean barbecue spot has stern owners who probably don't quite know what to make of the late-night hipsters scarfing down delicious Korean grilled meats and soups.
    Scofflaw-- What do you get when a former bartender from the Whistler teams up with a former chef from Longman and Eagle? You get a gin-focused cocktail bar that’s dedicated to putting out creative mixed drinks and bar food at a reasonable price. Nothing goes better with a sharp, herbal gin cocktail than the decadent guapichosa sandwich with a side of perfectly-fried French fries and spicy pimenton aioli.
    Scooter's Frozen Custard-- Nothing says summer in Roscoe Village like the seasonal opening of this happy stand serving up creamy custard in the tradition of legendary spots like Kopp's in Milwaukee or Ted Drewes in St. Louis.
    Smak-Tak-- This Polish gem in Jefferson Park is able to stand out in a city full of Polish food by paying attention to what is truly important - crispy potato pancakes, fluffy pierogi and pork cutlets prepared the way your doting grandmother should have done in a perfect world.
    Smoque BBQ-- An instant hit in its underserved Old Irving Park neighborhood, offering smoky brisket, ribs, pulled pork and good sides in an easygoing atmosphere.
    Sol de Mexico-- Mexican sitdown restaurant in the west side Craigin neighborhood, renowned for its complex moles, from yet another branch of the Bahena family.
    Spacca Napoli-- Owner Jonathan Goldsmith studied pizza-making in Italy and imported a massive wood-burning oven (and a pizza chef) to make the best and most authentic Neapolitan-style pizzas Chicago has ever seen.
    Sportsman's Club-- Even in a cozy space, Sportsman’s Club expands the horizons of what a great neighborhood bar can be. They retain great talent, with a knowledgeable team preparing an ever-rotating menu of four perfectly balanced cocktails and amari along with their signature ode to bourbon, and equally happy to sling a High Life and whiskey shot in the comfortable surrounds. The menu is secondary only to the gathering, where thoughtful music, friendly games, and an open mind to community causes carry the day.
    Sticky Rice-- Chicago's first Thai restaurant devoted to Northern (Isaan) Thai cooking offers a wide range of pungent dishes (only a few of which involve bugs).
    TAC Quick-- Chic Uptown Thai spot serving eye-opening authentic grilled meats and Thai curries.
    Tamales lo Mejor de Guerrero--Señora Bustamante, who previously sold tamales on Sunday mornings in front of a nearby McDonald’s, opened her own Rogers Park storefront to the cheers of fans who can now enjoy those particularly plump, red and green chile tamales six days a week. A first visit should also include tamales Oaxaqueños, which are filled with mole and steamed in banana leaves. Weekend specials may include menudo, moles, and an excellent pozole, a hominy stew in a gorgeous red chile broth, served with avocado, lime, onion, and chicharrones.
    Taqueria el Asadero-- This humble taqueria on West Montrose excels at carne asada and has one of the most potent salsas verde around, cutting through even their rich burritos.
    Taqueria Los Gallos #2--If you have eaten Carne en su Jugo, go check out one of the best versions you will find. If you have not tried it, prepare to enjoy.
    Taza Bakery-- Taza Bakery is a portal to the Middle East; the sun rises in everything coming out of their ovens, from stellar flatbreads to substantial samoun to fragrant spinach pies. As good as they are with doughs, they excel with spreads, from herbaceous zaatar to the sweet roasted flavors of muhammara and lemon-drenched crumbles of soujouk sausage. Shawerma is beautifully charred and moist, and pairs so well with fresh-squeezed juices, yogurt, and honey-rich kanafeh. Whether carryout or dine-in under the gaze of the bakers, Taza is freshly savored.
    ”Little” Three Happiness-- GNR Emeritus. A restaurant that will always hold a special place in our hearts as the namesake of the board.
    Toons Bar and Grill-- Old school bar food, lots of TVs showing the game(s) of the hour. From classic hand-formed burgers to homemade soups and stews, Toons shows that bar grub can be damned good.
    Top Notch Beef Burgers-- If you fondly remember the classic hamburger of the 50's, served with fries and a milk shake, these south side spots in Beverly and Oak Lawn are for you. Nothing nouveau or overblown here, no way.
    Tre Kronor-- Great breakfasts and other homey foods at a sunny, friendly west Andersonville Swedish restaurant.
    Troha’s Chicken & Shrimp-- Another Chicago classic, masters of the deep fryer for over 50 years. Troha’s does it right.
    Uncle Mike’s Place--Everyone’s favorite Filipino diner, Uncle Mike’s marries Filipino classics with traditional American breakfast fare. Try the porky combo of lightly-charred tocino and longanisa sausage, with eggs served your way over moist, fragrant garlic fried rice. The skirt steak, marinated in 7UP, is another winner, with great char and chew. And the complimentary chicken lugaw, a savory rice porridge, warms up your weekend morning while you await your breakfast. Service is friendly and efficient and this is one of city’s few great spots where there’s often no more than a minimal wait for weekend breakfast.
    Violet Hour-- More than a bar, this near north side spot features delicious and creative concoctions sure to make an hour or three pass enjoyably.
    Vito & Nick's Pizzeria-- A south side institution and paragon of the Chicago "cracker crust" pizza style.
    Xi’An Cuisine--Simple, satisfying, and soulful, this heart-of-Chinatown storefront stands out amidst the dim sum palaces with its focused menu of Northwestern Chinese food. The most popular sandwich is a cumin lamb flatbread featuring unctuous chopped lamb served in a crisp, freshly baked bun. Among the excellent noodle dishes is the hand-pulled noodles in hot and sour sauce with a beef or lamb add-on. On a chilly day, try the restorative lamb noodle soup, with a cloud-white broth made of lamb bones.
    XOCO-- Bayless’ newest venture has pristine ingredients, attentive service, and an unflagging attention to what ends up on the plate. Mexican-inspired or Mexican? Who cares when the soups, sandwiches, chocolate and everything else is so good?

    Al Bawadi Grill-- Flavorful meats grilled over lump charcoal, fresh Motawma (garlic-potato spread), and all the other Middle Eastern classics. Consistently of the highest quality.
    Al's Deli-- There is beauty to a simple sandwich, made right, as the brothers who run this Evanston institution clearly understand. Try the Brie sandwich and be sure to save room for a cookie.
    Avli Estiatorio-- Greek beyond Greektown, both in location and concept. Combines traditional dishes with creative touches that give it a contemporary vibe. Go beyond your Greek comfort zone…
    Barnaby’s of Northbrook-- Unique, ultra thin-crust pizza -- no deep dish here -- served at the counter, with a little charm and a lot of consistency. A style all its own.
    Bien Trucha-- With its cozy, yet hip, bar-like atmosphere, this modern Mexican bistro in Geneva is known for spicy salsas, classic margaritas, and some of the best fish tacos anywhere. But don’t stop there. Try the decadent cazuelita de camarón: briny shrimp in a bath of queso, gilded with a tart, herbaceous cilantro chimichurri. This simple yet elevated approach to Mexican fare makes Bien Trucha a one-of-a-kind gem in the area.
    Boston Fish Market-- Since it opened, the route from my house to Boston Fish Market has become a well-worn trail for both the variety of fresh seafood (at some very nice prices) as well as the delicious meals prepared by Louis & his crew…from the funky fried clams, Greek style grilled fish, grilled octopus, to Zuppa Di Pesci all while allowing BYOB.
    Carnivore-- Oak Park meat shop of wonder, stocked with local produce, handcrafted charcuterie, fresh oysters, and an expert grill turning out exceptional burgers and vegetable sides.
    Captain Porky's-- Another day trip to a state park, Illinois Beach in Zion this time, is best capped with a visit to this little place with the big servings. Great smoked and fried foods.
    Cross-Rhodes-- Cross-Rhodes is what every Greek diner aspires to be: solid Greek staples, reasonable prices, and efficient, friendly service. Favorites include the Greek salad topped with gyros and plentiful feta, and the perfectly char-grilled burger. But the marquee offering – drawing customers back over decades – is the Greek fries: thick-cut, impossibly crispy fries doused in an herbaceous, lemony vinaigrette. Eat a few right away, then enjoy the rest after they’ve soaked up the tangy sauce.
    Edzo's Burger Shop-- How many burger places offer you a choice of grilled or griddled? How many offer a toasted almond milk shake that may change your whole idea of a shake? We know at least one.
    Evanston Chicken Shack--Evanston Chicken Shack has one trick, and it's the right trick: crisp fried chicken from small and tender birds, seasoned to perfection. The fresh salty flavor seems consistent from exterior to interior even in the white meat, but money is on the leg and thigh special, where the dark meat melds with the garlic and black pepper spikes in the breading. Gizzards, livers, and catfish nuggets are also worth trying.
    Freddy’s Pizzeria-- Cicero deli offering housemade Italian-American dinners, sausages, pizzas, gelato and breads.
    Gene & Jude’s Red Hot Stand-- Ultra-minimalist hot dog stand in River Grove serving classic Chicago dogs and fresh-cut fries.
    Inovasi Restaurant-- A master chef offering a constantly changing menu of creative, and usually delicious dishes. Put yourself in his hands and he will take you on a fun ride.
    Johnnie’s Beef-- Italian beef and sausage fans line up all day long at this legendary spot for the quintessential Chicago specialty.
    Kabul House-- Warm, welcoming, BYO spot serving big, bold flavor, intoxicating aromas, and a fascinating variety of textures - a feast for all your senses.
    Katy's Dumpling House-- Despite the name, handmade noodles are the real star attraction at this tiny spot in a remarkably diverse ethnic strip mall.
    Lao Sze Chuan-- Chinatown Mall restaurant (and suburban sibling) serving seemingly endless menu of Western Chinese specialties.
    New York Bagel & Bialy-- Go to Lincolnwood, pick up some bagels and cream cheese, 24/7. Enjoy!
    Paradise Pup-- Fans line up at this tiny spot opposite a forest preserve in Des Plaines for fresh-ground burgers full of smoky grilled flavor.
    Pollo Vagabundo--Northlake’s Pollo Vagabondo specializes in Norteño Mexican cuisine featuring grilled meats in flaky, rich, house-made tortillas. If you have your heart set on the eponymous grilled chicken, be sure to order ahead. Those in the know recommend a Norteño style burrito or quesadilla gigante, either of which can be filled with Vagabundo’s exceptional carne deshebrada. And don’t even think about skipping the unparalleled salsa bar, a passion project offering up a rainbow of unique salsa creations.
    Poochie's-- Come for the hot dogs and hamburgers, but stay for the fried salami sandwich. A Skokie classic still going strong, proving every day that fast food can be great food.
    Prairie Grass Cafe-- Head up to Northbrook for a "casual meal in the kitchen of one of America's best chefs." Great ingredients prepared to highlight their flavor and quality. Simply delicious.
    Psistaria Greek Taverna-- Fortunate that it's near my office because it has become our ace-in-the-hole, go-to place for lunch…daily, house-made soups, whole grilled fish, grilled octopus, house-made gyros, Spanakopitakia, cold dips and many of the specialty entrees are all highlights… the new gold standard for traditional Greek fare.
    Rand Red Hots-- There are hundreds, maybe thousands of hot dog joints throughout the city and suburbs…and yet only a handful stand out as exceptional… done everything right since the day they opened…hot dogs are top notch, with an almost audible snap upon first bite… fries are done to crisp perfection every time… brings something special to its little island along Rand Road.
    Rip’s Tavern-- Fried Chicken, French fries, fried mushrooms and a drink or two. Expect to wait unless you go at an off hour, but it is more than worth the wait.
    Schoops Hamburgers (Munster location only)-- Schoops is one of those places that even owners of the best burger spots in town speak of with reverence…this burger is a classic--no one does crispy edges quite like Schoop's…the crazy-good onion rings, crispy thick fries and rich shakes were instant favorites as well…uniquely Chicagoland place that represents what GNRs are all about.
    Spicy Thai Lao-- Spicy Thai Lao takes the taste buds by storm, its sour and crisp and herbal sensations creating paths in your brain that force your body to travel south from any part of the city. Take the turmeric-tinged eggrolls with scratch peanut-studded dipping sauce. Are these the best in town? Fresh som tum and other salads bring a nuclear-level heat if you request it, and the contrasting textures in the beef pad tamin can’t be replicated anywhere else.
    Stop 50 Woodfired Pizzeria-- Authentic Neapolitan-style pizza, topped with homegrown herbs, in the Chicago vacation-home community of Michiana Shores, Indiana.
    Tandoori-- You could trek to Devon or Lahore or just land in Des Plaines for ideal biryani and palak gosht, served with notable hospitality.
    Three Floyd's Brewery-- A temple of beer hidden in an industrial park. Always worth a visit to see what these master brewers are thinking, doing and brewing.
    Uncle Johns Barbecue-- Top tier BBQ legacy lives on quite well in Richton Park… these are the same amazing tips and links that everybody loves… great BBQ is definitely worth the trip…sometimes the sequel can be as good as the original.
    Vie-- A great chef with a strong commitment to regional and seasonal flavors brings a downtown foodie outlook to suburban Western Springs.
    Wells Brothers Italian Bar and Restaurant-- Wells Brothers has a crust, sausage, and welcome that is collectively so good Chicagoans cross the border by carloads to embrace it. Start with a caramelized house sausage and tangy-crisp giardiniera – order it well-done if you like, though they may give you the business – and you will understand the allure of the “tavern thin” pizza archetype. True Wisconsin mozzarella-blanketed antipasti is a throwback worth the drive, and you might find a game of cribbage as well.
    Ward Eight-- In the past year, I’ve had more cocktails than I’ve had in decades… I blame Anne and Cody… a relatively small beer list compared to other joints…exceptionally well chosen… food menu is similar – small, but well crafted… would be rare that someone discovered it while walking down the street. But it’s exactly the kind of place that deserves GNR recognition.

    Fresh Farms International Market-- If you had to pick one grocery store to go to for the rest of your life, Fresh Farms in Niles should be the one. It’s like a giant version of your favorite ethnic market, or all of your favorite ethnic markets combined, featuring one of the best delis in the city, a huge and well-priced produce department, a busy fish counter, and a large, European-focused bakery. Well worth exploring, you never know what you’ll discover next.
    Green City Market-- Green City is a year-round market treasure unique to Chicago, with growers from every nearby state working symbiotically with our best chefs.
    Kaufman's Deli and Bakery-- Kaufman’s in Skokie is the definition of North Shore Jewish delicatessen: great bagels, bread, lox, corned beef, chopped liver, and classic cookies. We thought we lost them after a fire, but they came back stronger than ever, with a new eating area and better flow. Stop in for a sandwich on Chicago’s best corn rye bread, pick up a deli tray, or grab fixin’s for a brunch the whole family will love.
    Northwestern Cutlery-- Quite simply, the place to buy knives and get them sharpened in Chicago. Nothing fancy, except the knives.
    Pastoral-- High quality cheese and very knowledgeable staff combine to make this a very good choice for cheese shopping. They also offer some good charcuterie and sandwiches, but the cheese is the draw.
    Publican Quality Meats-- Everything is made from scratch with imagination and commitment at Publican Quality Meats, a showcase of the best that carnivores and herbivores can source and craft in Chicagoland. Sandwiches are a collision of unctuous grilled meats and crisp slaws and relishes, salads a curation of area farms, and soups and stews redolent of pulses and good olive oil. House breads and cookies are noteworthy, and chorizo, chops, and porchetta are highlights to go along with shelves stocked for thoughtful shopping.
    Ream's Elburn Market-- A mecca for fans of sausage, and cured meat of many flavors, all made in-house. Truly world class.
    Romanian Kosher Sausage Company-- Providing glorious meat for over 50 years. Not just about sausage, but great fresh meat as well.
    Sanabel Bakery-- Sanabel is one of those places that I was surprised when I realized that it isn't a GNR…extremely fresh pita made in house and top notch dairy, pie, and produce…my go to place whenever I need any Middle Eastern bread or ingredient…
    Spice House-- A vast range of top quality spices and herbs, all of impeccable freshness. An invaluable resource for any cook.


    Big Guy’s Sausage Stand (CLOSED 2022, NOW BERWYN CHICKEN CO.)-- The sausages are remarkably well-curated, a mix of some of the best from city butchers and their own creations…it's actually their hamburger and weekly sandwich specials …that put this place in nomination territory…simple food served with a smile.

    BIG & little's (NEW LOCATIONS AND MENUS)-- A not-so-humble sandwich shop, serving fare that goes way beyond what you would expect. Hard to choose between the perfect burgers, wonderful seafood options, foie and fries, so just order everything and take a bag home.

    Fat Rice (CONCEPT CHANGE TO NOODLEBIRD)-- For many of us, Fat Rice is one of our favorite restaurants… boatloads of accolades, and still are down-to-earth, putting out wonderful food consistently, with good service and no pretension… service with a smile and superb unique food… where else in the world would one find a Portuguese/Asian/African fusion restaurant?

    La Quebrada CICERO LOCATION CLOSED-- Family of south and southwest side Mexican restaurants excelling at all the standards, including perhaps the best tortillas in town. [Your mileage may very with other locations].

    Renga-Tei (SOLD, NEEDS CHECKING)-- Japanese comfort food and friendly service draws a homey, corner-coffeeshop style crowd in Lincolnwood.


    Argo Georgian Bakery CLOSED-- Delicious breads and a range of dumplings and savory pastries all done to perfection. Be sure to try the hachapuri, and get them while they’re hot.

    Nuevo Leon CLOSED-- Simple, delicious norteño Mexican food at a family-friendly, consistently popular Pilsen institution.

    Cajun Connection CLOSED 2023-- It may be a day trip from Chicago to Utica and nearby Starved Rock State Park, but you can be sure you will not go hungry. Great cajun classics and a chance to admire a master in at the deep fryer.

    Homestyle Taste (CLOSED 2019)-- Homestyle Taste quickly became a favorite spot for us…excellent renditions of Dongbei dishes…something simple like spinach with vinegar and peanut hits the spot every time we visit… tofu with scallions and thousand year eggs is a must order… the iron pots are the ideal cold weather remedy… owners are very warm and proud of their region's cuisine.

    MANA Food Bar CLOSED 2019 -- MANA is a vegetarian restaurant where you don’t miss the meat. No vegetable-based substances dressed up to look like meat, just well-conceived and well-executed food. A small, beautiful place to spend an evening drinking and having small plates, with chef-driven food drawing from Asian, European, Latin, and American flavors. Whether it’s curry, tamales, house-made pickles, or pierogi, there’s plenty for everyone.

    Jimmy Jamm Sweet Potato Pies-- CLOSED Jan 2020 Jimmy Jamm Sweet Potato Pies’ focus on one humble root vegetable is highlighted deliciously in every slice and spud preparation. Jimmy Ferguson’s shop serves up pie from her father’s recipe, as well as loaded sweet potatoes, sandwiches on sticky sweet potato bread, sweet potato ice cream, and more. The friendly service and made-from-scratch menu are just icing on the sweet potato cake.

    Cemitas Puebla CLOSED 1/24/20 -- Fulton Market restaurant [formerly Soccer-themed Humboldt Park stand] specializing in freshly-made cemitas-- Mexican sandwiches with a smoky blast of chipotle heat.

    Da Rae Jung CLOSED 2019 -- It’s easy to miss this innocuous Lincoln Square mom-and-pop Korean restaurant, but once you’re inside, the warmth of the owners will make it hard to keep away. The cold noodles soups (naengmyun) with homemade noodles are perfect on a hot day and the piping hot soups served in a clay pot will keep you warm all winter. It’s like visiting the Korean aunt and uncle you wish you had.

    Elizabeth Restaurant (CLOSED 2023)-- Passionate forager-chef Iliana Regan – whose prior venture was a single-table restaurant in her apartment – serves inventive, seasonal, and artistic dinners in an intimate Lincoln Square dining room. Both serious and whimsical, the evolving tasting menus have included a terrarium with yellow watermelon, uni ice cream, bear rice crispies, and a shrimp noodle. Service is top notch, wine pairings are thoughtful, and reservations are a must.

    Gaetano's Cafe, (CLOSED 2021)-- Trust Chef Gaetano and let him share today’s creations - he has been pleasing diners for years. Italian with inspiration, and a great deal for a creative and delicious meal.

    Owen & Engine (CLOSED 2023)-- Are you a sucker for a pub with great food? Yeah, we are, too.

    Pakeeza (CLOSED 2020)-- This social hub for South Asian cabbies welcomes all with some of the most deeply flavored Indo-Pakistani cuisine out there, and arguably the perfect naan.

    Pearl's Southern Comfort-- This Edgewater spot has a Cajun heart and skills covering the breadth of Southern foodways, from scratch gumbo and pimento cheese to Nutter Butter pie.

    Wiener and Still Champion CLOSED -- First-class dogs, grilled burgers and freshcut fries, and hand-dipped corndogs are the highlights of this Evanston stand.

    Isla Pilipina (CLOSED 2020)--Isla Pilipina’s bright decor, warm welcome, and care-crafted menu work together to transport diners away from the gray Chicago streets. Make a reservation, bring a beer, sit back, and the flavors from 7000 islands will greet you, including excellent lumpia, kare kare - braised to perfection with peanut sauce and shrimp paste - and grilled milkfish. Crispy pata steals the show, and coconut is celebrated from appetizers through chilled desserts.

    New China Station (CLOSED 2022)-- A mothership of Chinatown flavors descended to the North Side, serving huge portions of crisp dry chili fish, pot stickers, and cumin lamb.

    Butcher & Larder (CLOSED 2023)-- Rob’s second GNR is a great place to source top quality meat, and learn about it, too. If the trend continues, will the next place be a ranch?
    Last edited by Santander on September 27th, 2023, 9:21 am, edited 50 times in total. Reason: fixed a typo