Best of Chicago 2020: Dining


Restaurants deserve some extra love this year. In response to the Covid-19 pandemic, restaurants have pivoted to everything from 100 percent take-out to patio dining. Here are some of your favorite restaurants in 2020!

Best Al Fresco Dining (City):
Le Sud

2301 W Roscoe St.

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This Roscoe Village spot will transport you to the South of France… especially when you’re dining outdoors in their flower-and-herb–strewn rooftop patio and sidewalk cafe.

Best Al Fresco Dining (Suburbs), Best Italian (Suburbs):
Convito Café & Market

1515 Sheridan Rd. #5, Wilmette

It’s official: Our readers love dining outside in Plaza del Lago, drinking glasses of chilled rosé to wash down the perfect Pappardelle Bolognese.

Best Bakery (City):
Sweet Mandy B’s

1208 W Webster Ave.

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There is nothing better than a sweet treat from Sweet Mandy B’s, from their old-fashioned pies to beautifully decorated cakes and cookies.

Best Bakery (Suburbs):

1733 Central St., Evanston

Hand-forged artisan loaves, made with locally sourced heritage grains, mingle with scones, muffins, croissants, and other delectable treats.

Best Bar (City):
Village Tap

2055 W Roscoe St.

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This Roscoe Village classic has been the spot to grab a craft beer for over 27 years, and their beer garden is the perfect place for a distanced night out.

Best Bar & Grill (Suburbs):
Nick’s Neighborhood Bar & Grill

1168 Wilmette Ave., Wilmette

Nick’s in Wilmette exemplifies what’s best about a great neighborhood bar: terrific cocktails and a real sense of community.

Best Barbecue (City):
Smoque BBQ

3800 N Pulaski Rd.

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Hit up the original in Avondale; you’ll find smoky, luscious, Texas-style beef brisket and pulled pork.

Best Barbecue (Suburbs):

1902 Green Bay Rd., Evanston

This long-standing and beloved spot for classic BBQ on the North Shore is continuing the amazing legacy of its founder Hecky Powell, after his passing this year.

Best Breakfast/Brunch (City):
Travelle at The Langham

330 N Wabash Ave.

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Toast the weekend with Travelle’s seasonal American cuisine, which includes bruschetta eggs, skillet cinnamon rolls and avocado and heirloom tomato toast. The view is hard to beat, too.

Best Breakfast/Brunch (Suburbs):
Walker Brothers Original Pancake House

Various: Glenview, Highland Park & Wilmette

Better readers just can’t get enough of Dutch Babies and Apple Cinnamon Pancakes, so it’s a good thing there are multiple locations.

Best Brewery (City): Tie

Goose Island


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What began as a single brewpub in 1988 has become one of the biggest names in beer out of the Midwest.

Revolution Brewing

3340 N Kedzie Ave.

Located in Logan Square, Revolution Brewing is Illinois’ largest independent craft brewery. 

Best Brewery (Suburbs):
Temperance Beer Co.

2000 Dempster St., Evanston

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A repeat winner, their reopened Beer Garden is the best spot on the North Shore for a truly unique craft beer.

Best Burger (City):
Au Cheval

800 W Randolph St.

The hype is real, and this West Loop restaurant is known to sell up to 500 burgers in a weekend. Bon Appetit even declared it the best in America.

Best Burger (Suburbs):
Grill House

3061 Dundee Rd., Northbrook

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The grill house burger is a fan favorite, with melty Merkts cheddar cheese, Nueske bacon, grilled onions, BBQ sauce and a pickle. Perfection!

Best Chinese (City):
Ming Hin


With various locations throughout the city, including Chinatown, you don’t have to travel far for Dim Sum, shrimp dumplings and more. 

Best Chinese (Suburbs):

624 Davis St., Evanston

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A winner year after year, Koi has all the authentic Chinese specialties you crave, from spring rolls to roast duck.

Best Coffee Shop (City):

1538 N Clark St.

This Brazilian coffee shop has made a big splash in Old Town, with their full coffee bar and classic empanadas. 

Best Coffee Shop (Suburbs):
Glenview Grind

1837 Glenview Rd., Glenview

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Pull up to the drive-thru window if you’re in a hurry or grab to go from this local independent coffee shop.

Best Farmers Market (City):
Green City Market


Access and education are the focus of this seminal farmers market championing Midwest producers and local craft food purveyors.

Best Farmers Market (Suburbs):
Evanston Farmers Market

1800 Maple Ave., Evanston

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From early May to late October, this market boasts beloved local farmers, many of whom have been setting up shop at this market for years. 

Best Ice Cream (City):
Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams


You’ll find this Ohio-based ice cream in local supermarkets, but the scoop shops have all the flavors, and with five Chicago locations, there’s bound to be one nearby.

Best Ice Cream/Gelato (Suburbs):
FRÍO Gelato

1301 Chicago Ave., Evanston

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Evanston is the proud home of this artisanal Argentine gelato store, where people clamor year-round for flavors like Malbec & Berries and Dulce de Leche.

Best Grocery Store (City):
Whole Foods


Everyone loves Whole Foods, with its fresh juice bar, prepared foods, amazing wine and cheese selection, and jaw-dropping organic produce department.

Best Grocery Store (Suburbs):
The Grand

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Winnetka & Glencoe

The Grand is the hub of the suburbs, where the employees feel like family. A staple in the community, they have been keeping North Shore families fed for years with fresh produce, a huge deli selection and even a sushi bar.

Best Italian (City):
Bar Roma

5101 N Clark St.

Andersonville’s Bar Roma has a fierce following for their updated, but still authentic, take on Italian cucina.

Best Mexican (City):
Frontera Grill

445 N Clark St.

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Chef Rick Bayless’ flagship restaurant serves up some of the best creative Mexican fare in the city.

Best Mexican (Suburbs):
Tamales, a Mexican Joint

493 Central Ave., Highland Park

From margaritas to chicken enchiladas, this Highland Park favorite is a crowd pleaser.

Best Pizza (City):

2207 N Clybourn Ave.

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If you are craving deep-dish pan pizza, this is hands down your favorite spot.  

Best Pizza (Suburbs):
Lou Malnati’s


Tradition is king in the suburbs, and Lou’s classic pie is a clear winner.

Best Sandwiches (City):
Manny’s Cafeteria & Delicatessen

1141 S Jefferson St.

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One of the last cafeteria-style delis around, Manny’s award-winning corned beef and no-frills style is what’s kept customers coming back for decades.

Best Sandwiches (Suburbs):
Stacked & Folded

Winnetka and Evanston

Featuring locally sourced meats and fresh seasonal produce in their sandwiches, their menu plays on their name: sandwiches (“Stacked”), tacos (“Folded”), plus, there are salads, too (“Forked”). 

Best Seafood (City):
Joe’s Seafood, Prime Steak & Stone Crab

60 E Grand Ave.

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For a truly unique experience, head to the best seafood restaurant in the city, famous for their tuxedo-clad staff and signature stone crab claws. 

Best Seafood (Suburbs):
Pescadero Seafood & Oyster Bar

1167 Wilmette Ave., Wilmette

Fresh oysters and wood-grilled fish? Sign us up. This hot spot in the heart of Wilmette will satisfy all your seafood cravings.

Best Steakhouse (City):
Gibson’s Bar & Steakhouse

1028 N Rush St.

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A true Chicago icon, there is no better place for a peppercorn steak and martini while people watching on Rush Street.

Best Steakhouse (Suburbs):
The Barn Steakhouse

1016 Church St. Rear, Evanston

Looking for an airy, yet intimate, space with a speakeasy feel? Head to Amy Morton’s The Barn Steakhouse. 

Best Sushi (City):
Coast Sushi & Sashimi

2045 N Damen Ave. 

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Visit the Bucktown location for colorful and inventive Signature Sushi rolls.

Best Sushi (Suburbs):
Torino Ramen

1162 Wilmette Ave., Wilmette

A ramen spot with the best sushi in town? You better believe it.

Best Vegan/Vegetarian (City):
The Chicago Diner

2333 N Milwaukee Ave.

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The Chicago Diner has been “meat free since ’83,” providing Chicago vegetarians, vegans, and even meat eaters, with amazing dishes year after year.

Best Vegan/Vegetarian (Suburbs):
Blind Faith Café

525 Dempster St., Evanston

For 40 years, this seminal restaurant has defined what vegetarian food can be. They’re still keeping it real.

Best Wine Store (City):
Binny’s Beverage Depot


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You’re a fan of this adult-beverage superstore, with its endless aisles of wines from every region.

Best Wine Store (Suburbs):
Schaefer’s Wines, Foods & Spirits

9965 Gross Point Rd., Skokie


They’ve been “setting the bar since 1936,” and this North Shore institution continues to win your vote.

Category Sponsor
Koi Fine Asian Cuisine & Lounge

Koi Restaurant

Sandy Chen, philanthropist, community leader and owner of Koi Fine Asian Cuisine has been serving up award-winning cuisine for 26 years. We at Better, are grateful to her and her dedicated staff for tirelessly providing our community with culinary excellence, dignity and love.

Top Dining Picks from Sandy Chen and the Koi Team:

Favorite outdoor dining spot?

Farm House Evanston 

Local, seasonal Midwestern fare and brews. Try the Beer Battered Wisconsin Cheese Curds. 

703 Church St, Evanston (847) 492-9700

Favorite breakfast place?

Clarke’s Off Campus 

All-day diner serving breakfast, lunch and dinner. A Northwestern student’s dream.

804 Davis St, Evanston (847) 864-1610

Favorite Brunch Place?

Koi Dim Sum Brunch 

Dim Sum Brunch at Koi is back (and it has bottomless mimosas)!

624 Davis St, Evanston (847) 866-6969

Favorite lunch place?

Next of Kin Café 

Salad bar, sandwiches, coffee and house-made eclairs!

625 Davis St, Evanston (847) 563-8242

Favorite local coffee shop? 

Newport Coffee Shop Evanston 

Strong coffee in sleek digs. Plus, great pastries.

622 Davis St, Evanston (847) 563-8322

Favorite to-go cocktail spot?

Ward Eight 

A Friday and Saturday night cocktail (to-go) party. Plus, bar snacks.

629 Howard St, Evanston

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