Best of 2015: Dining

Make It Better’s Best of 2015 drew more than 105,000 verified votes across 10 categories. Share your thoughts with us on social media using the hashtag #MIBBestof2015.

Go-To Eats


Ten Mile House (North Shore)

This newcomer has won a legion of fans with their sunny morning meal, not to mention the Hangover Fried Rice. 1700 Central St., Evanston, 847-905-0669

Little Goat Diner (Chicago)

Top Chef Stephanie Izard knows just what you want to eat for brunch, although it’s available all day long. 820 W. Randolph St., Chicago, 312-888-3455


Union Pizzeria (North Shore)

My best dreams involve their Spicy Lamb Sausage and Eggplant pizza. 1245 Chicago Ave., Evanston, 847-475-2400


Piece Pizza (Chicago)

New Haven-style pizza rules supreme here, and the brews are outstanding as well. If it’s good enough for Dave Grohl and Rick Nielsen, it’s good enough for us! 1927 W. North Ave., Chicago, 773-772-4422


Walker Bros. The Original Pancake House

With six North Shore locations to get your Dutch Baby or Apple Cinnamon Pancake fix sorted out, it’s no wonder they win every year! 825 Dundee Road, Arlington Heights, 847-392-6600; 1615 Waukegan Road, Glenview, 847-724-0220; 620 Central Ave., Highland Park, 847-432-0660; 767 S. Rand Road, Lake Zurich, 847-550-0006; 200 Marriott Drive, Lincolnshire, 847-634-2220; 153 Green Bay Road, Wilmette, 847-251-6000


Edzo’s (North Shore)

It’s a four-peat for Chef Eddie Lakin, the brains behind all that delicious meat, to-die-for milkshakes and loaded fries. 1571 Sherman Ave., Evanston, 847-864-3396 

Kuma’s Corner (Chicago)

Get down with your bad self at Kuma’s Corner, where the wait may be long, but the music is loud and the burger is totally worth it. 2900 W. Belmont Ave., Chicago, 773-604-8769

Five Guys (Chain)

Is it the peanuts you shell yourself while waiting? Whatever the reason, Five Guys is the chain that wins your vote. Various locations

Neighborhood Hangout

Nick’s Neighborhood Bar & Grill

A runner-up last year, Nick’s takes the crown with their laid-back, convivial atmosphere, tasty eats and happy neighborhood vibe. 1168 Wilmette Ave., Wilmette, 847-251-3262

Hippest North Shore Restaurant

Found Kitchen and Social House

The city comes to the suburbs. Owner Amy Morton and Chef Nicole Pederson have created a destination restaurant on the North Shore. 1631 Chicago Ave., Evanston, 847-868-8945

Photo by Galdones Photography.

New Restaurant

Boltwood (North Shore)

When Chef Brian Huston met John Kim, it was restaurant alchemy. Much like the Boltwood menu, it’s an eclectic pairing but it works perfectly. Evanston is killing it this year! 804 Davis St., Evanston, 847-859-2880


RPM Steak (Chicago)

The Melman kids and Lettuce Entertain You hit it out of the park, again. Beautiful food, excellent service and a killer wine list make RPM Steak an instant star. 66 W. Kinzie St., Chicago, 312-284-4990



Hecky’s (North Shore)

They say that “clothes make the man,” but more importantly, Hecky knows that “it’s the sauce” that makes the BBQ. 1902 Green Bay Road, Evanston, 847-492-1182 


Smoque BBQ (Chicago)

A place that’s become a destination for great ‘cue, including Memphis-style ribs and juicy pulled pork. 3800 North Pulaski Road #2, Chicago, 773-545-7427


Pete Miller’s (North Shore)

Gibson’s (Chicago)

If red meat is your thing, we know exactly where we can find you. These two steakhouses have been around for awhile, and there’s a reason for that longevity: consistency. Pete Miller’s: 1557 Sherman Ave., Evanston, 847-328-0399; 412 N. Milwaukee Ave., Wheeling, 847-243-3700; Gibson’s: 1028 N. Rush St., Chicago, 312-266-8999

Cocktail Bar

Ward Eight (North Shore)

It’s a modern cocktail bar with a speakeasy feel. Mixologist Cody Modeer is one of the finest gin slingers around. 625 W. Howard St., Evanston, 847-420-7353

The Aviary and The Violet Hour—tie (Chicago)

These two critical darlings duked it out for the title, but it ended in a draw. You can’t go wrong at either one. The Aviary: 955 W. Fulton Market, Chicago, 312-226-0868; The Violet Hour: 1520 N. Damen Ave., Chicago, 773-252-1500

The Violet Hour


Sweet Home Chicago

Ice Cream 

Homer’s Ice Cream (North Shore)

Margie’s Candies (Chicago)

Summertime, and the living is easy. Because ICE CREAM. Homer’s: 1237 Green Bay Road, Wilmette, 847-251-0477; Margie’s Candies: 1960 N. Western Ave., Chicago, 773-384-1035


Three Tarts Bakery (North Shore)

Sweet Mandy B’s (Chicago)

Individual cakes frosted with luscious buttercream? Genius. The cupcake craze may have peaked, but in our hearts, we know what’s what. Three Tarts Bakery: 301 S. Happ Road, Northfield, 847-446-5444; Sweet Mandy B’s: 1208 W. Webster Ave., Chicago, 773-244-1174



Bennison’s Bakery (North Shore)

Glazed & Infused (Chicago)

It’s the year of the donut, and don’t you forget it. Now hush up and pass me a Maple Bacon Long John. Bennison’s Bakery: 1000 Davis St., Evanston, 847-328-9434; Glazed and Infused: 813 W. Fulton Market, Chicago; 30 E. Hubbard St., Chicago; 1576 N. Milwaukee Ave., Chicago; 201 E. Delaware Place, Chicago; 939 W. Armitage Ave., Chicago; 222 North LaSalle, Chicago, 312-226-5556


Sweet Bakery

Bennison’s Bakery (North Shore)

Sweet Mandy B’s (Chicago)

You loves you some sugar. And why not? It’s delicious, especially when featured in a tasty cake, pastry, cookie or pie. Or all of the above. Bennison’s Bakery: 1000 Davis St., Evanston, 847-328-9434; Sweet Mandy B’s: 1208 W. Webster Ave., Chicago, 773-244-1174


Ethnic Eats


Campagnola (North Shore)

Chef Vince DiBattista’s cooking is modern trattoria style at its best, showcasing fresh, local ingredients. 815 Chicago Ave., Evanston, 847-475-6100

Spiaggia (Chicago)

Thirty years old and stronger than ever, this four-star Italian restaurant remains innovative—and relevant—under the stewardship of Chef Tony Mantuano980 N. Michigan Ave., Chicago, 312-280-2750



Coast and 153 Akira—tie (North Shore)

Japonais by Morimoto (Chicago)

When it comes to raw fish, freshness is paramount. Pristine seafood, treated with reverence, is the only way to go. Coast: 2545 Prairie Ave., Evanston, 847-328-2221; 153 Akira: 1137 Greenleaf Ave., Wilmette, 847-537-5100; Japonais by Morimoto: 600 W. Chicago Ave., Chicago, 312-822-9600


Koi (North Shore)

Regional Chinese food gets the royal treatment at this longtime Evanston favorite. 624 Davis St., Evanston, 312-955-8018


Belly Q (Chicago)

Bill Kim’s West Loop hot spot takes Korean BBQ to the next level. And don’t miss the crazy good soft serve parfaits for dessert! 1400 W. Randolph St., Chicago, 312-563-1010


Depot Nuevo (North Shore)

From the first sip of the potent margarita and the crunch of fresh, warm tortilla chips, you know you’re in good hands. 1139 Wilmette Ave., Wilmette, 847-251-3111

Frontera Grill/Topolobampo (Chicago)

Chef Rick Bayless has done more to educate America about real Mexican food than any other chef. He’s elevated it to four-star status. Frontera Grill: 445 N. Clark St., Chicago, 312-661-1434; Topolobampo: 445 N. Clark St., Chicago, 312-661-1434 


Where to Shop


Kaufman’s Deli

Stop in for the best corned beef around, or order a dairy tray for your next brunch. Grab a pickle from the barrel while you’re there! 4905 Dempster St., Skokie, 847-677-6190


Bread Bakery


Ellen King has a way with grains. From the hand-forged breads to the exquisite croissants and brioche, prepare to be wowed. 810 Dempster St., Evanston, 847-869-4936


Wine Store

Schaefer’s Wines, Foods & Spirits

This North Shore stalwart has been around for a minute or two. Great selection and service. 9965 Gross Point Road, Skokie, 847-677-9463



Peet’s Coffee & Tea (North Shore)

Grab a latte and set up camp. A perfect place for meetings. 1622 Chicago Ave., Evanston, 847-864-8413; 817 Elm St., Winnetka, 224-255-2125

Intelligentsia (Chicago)

Started in Chicago in 1995, these in-demand beans can now be found in NYC and LA as well. 3123 N. Broadway, Chicago, 773-348-8058; 53 W. Jackson Blvd., Chicago, 312-253-0594; 53 E. Randolph St., Chicago, 312-920-9332; 2642 N. Milwaukee Ave., Chicago, 773-945-1690; 1233 N. Wells, Chicago, 312-548-3319; 1609 W. Division, Chicago, 773-516-5833

Gourmet Market


Your go-to place for stocking up on party must-haves (Red Pepper Dip!), cheeses, snacks and more. The butchers here are knowledgeable and so helpful. 2106 Central St., Evanston, 847-328-7704; 338 Park Ave., Glencoe, 847-835-5105; 1456 Waukegan Road, Glenview, 847–832-9999; 255 E. Westminster Ave., Lake Forest, 847-234-6600


Grocery Store


They may be new to the Chicago area, but they’ve quickly won our hearts. Sorry Dominick’s—we hardly remember ye. Various locations 

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