Best of 2017: Dining

Best of 2017, Dining: Shake Shack

For the seventh year, our readers have voted for their favorite Chicago-area businesses in 11 categories. But before that, for the first time ever, we asked you to send us your nominations before voting began. We received more than 6,700 nominations!

Now that the votes have been tallied, it’s time to announce our Best of 2017 winners. Share your thoughts with us on social media using the hashtag #Bestof2017.

Best Pizza (Suburbs)

Lou Malnati’s

Their signature deep-dish pizza keeps us coming back for more! Bonus: you can ship a frozen one to your college kid.

Best Pizza (Chicago)

Gino’s East

Since 1966, the original has been dishing out pan pizza with their signature golden crust to native Chicagoans and visitors alike.

Best Pizza (Editor’s Picks)

Get your Detroit-style cheesy-crusted pizza fix at Union Squared (Evanston and Chicago); for authentic Neapolitan pizza, it’s hard to beat Spacca Napoli (Chicago).

Best Burger (Suburbs)

Edzo’s Burger Shop

Best of 2017, Dining: Edzo's Burger Shop

A must for any serious burger fan, but don’t miss the hand-dipped shakes (Nutella!) and the Garlic Fries.

Best Burger (Chicago)

Au Cheval

The line’s not getting any shorter at this crazy-popular Randolph Street resto, so what’re you waiting for?

Best Burger (Chain)

Shake Shack

NYC restaurateur Danny Meyer gave Shake Shack to the world; there are four (so far) in Chicago. Our fave burger: the Smoke Shack.

Best Barbecue (Suburbs)


Best of 2017, Dining: Hecky's

“It’s the Sauce!” And the Rib Tips, and the BBQ Turkey Drumstick, and the Pulled Pork Sandwich…

Best Barbecue (Chicago)

Smoque BBQ

When a rib joint has a four-page BBQ manifesto, you know you’re in the right place. And that smoked brisket … oh, my!

Best Asian (Suburbs)


Best of 2017, Dining: Koi

Eat your way across China with dishes from eight different regions on the menu. Dim sum brunch on weekends is a must.

Best Asian (Chicago)

Duck Duck Goat

Iron Chef Stephanie Izard bills her newest place as “reasonably authentic Chinese food” but it’s completely delicious without question.

Best Sushi


Inventive maki rolls (try the Sunrise or the Tuna on Top) and beautiful nigiri set this sushi spot apart.

Best Italian (Suburbs)


Chef Vince DiBattista pulls in another win for his consistently fresh and delicious Italian cuisine. The Pappardelle Bolognese is not to be missed.

Best Italian (Chicago)


The gorgeous renovation a few years ago simply reinforced the cachet of chef/owner Tony Mantuano’s spectacular ristorante. The Obamas are big fans.

Best Mexican/Latin (Suburbs)

Taco Diablo

Dan and Laura Kelch’s Taco D rises from the ashes in a big way, and they’ve still got the best margaritas and tequila selection around.

Best Mexican/Latin (Chicago)

Frontera Grill

Thirty years of bringing authentic, regional Mexican food to Chicago, and Rick and Deann Bayless aren’t slowing down.

Best Steakhouse (Suburbs)

Pete Miller’s

This repeat winner is still your favorite.

Best Steakhouse (Chicago)

Gibsons Bar & Steakhouse


Let’s face facts: Chicago is and always has been a red-meat kind of town.

Best Seafood (Suburbs)



The seafood is all pristinely fresh, and the preparations are top-notch.

Best Seafood (Chicago)

Shaw’s Crab House

This new winner has been around awhile and it’s still got it.

Best Fine Dining


Three Michelin stars, a James Beard Award and a top-to-bottom remodel later, Grant Achatz’s temple of gastronomy is still on top.

Best Sandwiches

Nick’s Neighborhood Bar & Grill

Best of 2017, Dining: Nick's

You love everything that’s between the bread at this neighborhood favorite. Our top pick: the Salmon BLT.

Best Vegan/Vegetarian

Blind Faith Café

For more than 30 years, owner David Lipschutz has been serving up the best vegetarian food in the Chicago area.

Best Brunch (Suburbs)

Peckish Pig

Brunch with a British flavor, including fresh scones, Kedgeree and Fish & Chips. Wash it down with a pint of beer brewed on site.

Best Brunch (Chicago)

The Lobby at the Peninsula Hotel

A vast array of delectables — from seafood and carving stations to breakfast specialties — awaits you in this spectacular setting.

Best Breakfast

Walker Bros. The Original Pancake House

Best of 2017, Dining: Walker Bros.

Seven North Shore locations ensure that you’re never far from a Dutch Baby or Apple Cinnamon Pancake. Thank goodness!

Best Coffee

Glenview Grind

Best of 2017, Dining Glenview Grind

It’s good to know that an independent coffee shop can still thrive on the North Shore.

Best Cocktails

Ward Eight

Owner/head mixologist Cody Modeer knows his stuff, and the speakeasy vibe here is enticing.

Best Wine Store

Schaefer’s Wines, Foods & Spirits

They’ve got all your party needs covered — from adult beverages to hors d’oeuvres.

Best Brewery

Temperance Beer Co.

Evanston’s first brewery opened just four years ago, but it’s made quite a splash. We love the Tap Room, especially on Food Truck days.

Best Grocery Store


They are all about customer service, which makes it a pleasure to shop. The Vero Coffee & Gelato café inside makes it a necessity.

Best Farmers Market

Downtown Evanston

No trip is complete without a freshly made crêpe or breakfast tacos!

Best Bakery (Suburbs)

Bennison’s Bakery

Mark your calendar now for Paczki Day 2018 (Fat Tuesday).

Best Bakery (Chicago)

Sweet Mandy B’s

Best of 2017, Dining: Sweet Mandy B's

We loves us some sweets, and this winning bakery never disappoints. Now give us some sugar!

Best Doughnuts

Bennison’s Bakery

Specialty doughnuts supplement a generous daily selection.

Best Cupcakes

Sweet Mandy B’s

From Snickerdoodle to Red Velvet to Confetti, their flavors are always on point.

Best Frozen Yogurt


Best of 2017, Dining: Pinkberry

With more than three dozen flavors in their arsenal, it’s hard to choose a darling.

Best Ice Cream

Homer’s Ice Cream

Best of 2017, Dining: Homer's

Eighty years of frozen creamy deliciousness is quite a legacy. The Fresh Peach is legen … wait for it … dairy.

Best New Restaurant (Opened Since September 2016)

The Barn

Amy Morton (Found) hits another home run with this stylish “modern meatery” tucked away in a downtown Evanston alley.

Best Al Fresco Dining (Suburbs)

Found Kitchen and Social House and Five & Dime (Tie)

Everything tastes better in the great outdoors, especially when the weather is picture perfect. Witty friends and a cold glass of rosé? It doesn’t get much better than that.

Best Al Fresco Dining (Chicago)

Fig & Olive

You still love grabbing a bite to eat at this repeat winner.

Best Cooking Classes (Adult)

Sur la Table

Everyone could benefit from a little help in the kitchen, and cooking classes are a great place to start.

Best Cooking Classes (Kids)

The Chopping Block


Your kids and teens will love these classes and cooking camps.


More from Make It Better: 


Julie Chernoff, Make It Better’s dining editor since its inception in 2007, graduated from Yale University with a degree in English — which she speaks fluently — and added a professional chef’s degree from the California Culinary Academy. She has worked for Boz Scaggs, Rick Bayless and Wolfgang Puck (not all at the same time); and sits on the boards of Les Dames d’Escoffier International and Northlight Theatre. She and husband Josh are empty nesters since adult kids Adam and Leah have flown the coop. Rosie the Cockapoo relishes the extra attention.

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