Best of 2018: Dining

Best of 2018: Dining (Hewn)

In a city as vibrant as Chicago, making everyday decisions — where to order dinner, get a haircut, push your kids on the swings — can feel downright dizzying. Enter our (eighth annual!) Best Of awards: You shared your favorite spaces and places, we tallied the votes, and together we’ll celebrate all that makes our beloved communities shine.

Here are the Best of 2018: Dining winners:

Best Alfresco Dining (City)

Piccolo Sogno

464 N. Halsted St., Chicago, 312-421-0077

In the city, Piccolo Sogno’s magical back terrace, under a bower of trees and twinkling lights, won your vote.

Best Alfresco Dining (Suburbs) (Tie)

Convito Café & Market

1515 Sheridan Road, Wilmette, 847-251-3654


1241 Harms Road, Glenview, 847-724-5577; 1514 E. Lake Ave., Glenview, 847-724-7171; 123rd and LaGrange Road, Palos Park, 708-448-8300

There’s nothing like the great outdoors, especially when you’re eating Convito’s famed Nicoise Salad or biting into a juicy Hackney’s burger.

Best Bakery (City) (Tie)


1220 W. Webster Ave., Chicago, 773-883-1313

Sweet Mandy B’s

1208 W. Webster Ave., Chicago, 773-244-1174

These Lincoln Park neighbors have a friendly rivalry. Head to Floriole for gorgeous breads and French-inspired pastries and to Sweet Mandy B’s for classic birthday cakes and cupcakes.

Best Bakery (Suburbs)


810 Dempster St., Evanston, 847-869-4396

Best of 2018: Dining (Hewn)
Photo by Julie Matthei.

Owner/baker Ellen King spins heritage grains into glorious, crusty loaves.

Best Bar (City)

Broken Shaker

19 E. Ohio St., Chicago, 312-940-3699

This Miami import with a hipster vibe turns out impressive craft cocktails.

Best Bar (Suburbs)

Valley Lodge Tavern

2132 Waukegan Road, Glenview, 847-724-7440; 1141 Central Ave., Wilmette, 847-920-5675

This popular suburban watering hole has two great locations.

Best Barbecue (City)

Smoque BBQ

3800 N. Pulaski, Chicago; 125 S. Clark St., Chicago, 773-545-7427

With outlets in Avondale and at Revival Food Hall in the Loop, Smoque brings the barbecue to all.

Best Barbecue (Suburbs)


1902 Green Bay Road, Evanston, 847-492-1182

Best of 2018: Dining (Hecky's)
Photo courtesy of Hecky’s.

It’s still all about the sauce, especially on Hecky’s tender rib tips and pulled pork.

Best Breakfast/Brunch (City)

Southport Grocery

3552 N. Southport, Chicago, 773-665-0100

There’s always a line on weekends, but it’s well worth the wait. Breakfast and lunch are served all day, so you don’t have to choose.

Best Breakfast/Brunch (Suburbs)

Walker Bros.


You 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)

Half Acre

4257 N. Lincoln Ave., Chicago; 2050 W. Balmoral Ave., Chicago, 773-754-8488

This cult-fave microbrewery now has two tap rooms — one in Andersonville and one in Lincoln Square.

Best Brewery (Suburbs) (Tie)

Sketchbook Brewing Co.

821 Chicago Ave., Evanston, 847-584-2337

Best of 2018: Dining (Sketchbook Brewing Co.)
Photo courtesy of Sketchbook Brewing Co.

Temperance Beer Co.

2000 W. Dempster St., Evanston, 847-864-1000

Evanston’s two premier craft breweries are homegrown and wildly popular.

Best Burger (City)

Au Cheval

800 W. Randolph St., Chicago, 312-929-4580

This perennial “best burger” choice has expanded with three locations of Small Cheval — the menu is limited, but it’s that same great burger. Smaller lines? Dream on.

Best Burger (Suburbs)

Edzo’s Burger Shop

1571 Sherman Ave., Evanston, 847-864-3396

Best of 2018: Dining (Edzo's)
Photo courtesy of Edzo’s.

Hand-cut fries, hand-dipped shakes, and the best burgers on the North Shore. Chef Eddie Lakin isn’t playing.

Best Central/South American (City)


118 W. Grand Ave., Chicago, 312-222-9700

Best of 2018: Dining (Tanta)
Photo courtesy of Tanta.

Grab a pisco sour and groove with the Peruvian vibe here. Known for their Cebiche Tasting and Pollo a la Brasa.

Best Central/South American (Suburbs)


315 Waukegan Ave., Highwood, 847-926-7495

Their beefy Argentine steak with herby chimichurri and a lovely glass of malbec are all you need to transport yourself from Highwood to Buenos Aires.

Best Chinese (City)

Duck Duck Goat

857 W. Fulton Market, Chicago, 312-902-3825

“Top Chef” winner Stephanie Izard has got our goat with this West Loop resto, her personal take on Chinese favorites.

Best Chinese (Suburbs) | Best Sushi (Suburbs)


624 Davis St., Evanston, 847-866-6969

This Evanston stalwart is still packing them in with Chinese cuisine from eight different regions and a terrific dim sum Brunch.

Best Cocktails (City)

Billy Sunday

3143 W. Logan Blvd., Chicago, 773-661-2485

Logan Square denizens swear by the exceptional beverage program here.

Best Cocktails (Suburbs)

Ward Eight

629 Howard St., Evanston, 847-420-7353

This outstanding craft cocktail bar with a speakeasy feel draws from far beyond Evanston.

Best Coffee Shop (City)

La Colombe


We love the deep, dark roast, and the nitro on tap is the perfect summer quaff.

Best Coffee Shop (Suburbs)

Glenview Grind

1837 Glenview Road, Glenview, 847-729-0111

Best of 2018: Dining (Glenview Grind)
Photo courtesy of Glenview Grind.

This fiercely independent coffee shop beat out the big boys for the suburban title! They’ve also just opened a drive-thru in downtown Glenview.

Best Farm-to-Table (City)

Homestead on the Roof

1924 W. Chicago Ave., Chicago, 773-332-2354

Dine among the growing herbs and vegetables on the rooftop terrace. You can’t get much fresher than that.

Best Farm-to-Table (Suburbs)


703 Church St., Evanston, 847-492-9700

Whether for breakfast, brunch, lunch, or dinner, this restaurant stays true to its name, bringing in much of the fruit and honey from its own Brown Dog Farm in Wisconsin.

Best Farmers Market (City) (Tie)

Green City Market

Various, 773-880-1266

Best of 2018: Dining (Green City Market)
Photo by Chris Cassidy Photography.

Logan Square Farmers Market

Outdoor (May-October): Logan Boulevard between Milwaukee and Whipple, Chicago; Indoor (November-March): Emporium Arcade Bar Logan Square, 2363 N. Milwaukee, Chicago, 773-489-3222

Connect with Midwest farmers and local craft food purveyors at these two wonderful markets. Watch for the GCM Chef BBQ in Lincoln Park this July!

Best Farmers Market (Suburbs)


University Place and Oak Avenue, Evanston

We love the Evanston market for the free parking, the great selection of fresh, local produce, and all the yummy ready-to-eat treats (looking at you, crêpes and tamales).

Best Fine Dining (City)


661 W. Walnut St., Chicago, 312-877-5339

Best of 2018: Dining (Oriole)
Photo by Sammy Faze Photography.

With two shiny Michelin stars right out of the gate, Chef Noah Sandoval and his team have much to crow about.

Best Fine Dining (Suburbs)

Restaurant Michael

64 Green Bay Road, Winnetka, 847-441-3100

Fine dining is not dead; look no further than the enduring Restaurant Michael and the ambitious George Trois within for proof.

Best Frozen Yogurt/Ice Cream/Gelato (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 must be one nearby!

Best Frozen Yogurt/Ice Cream/Gelato (Suburbs)

FRÍO Gelato

1301 Chicago Ave., Evanston, 847-868-8767

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

Best Grocery Store (City)



Everyone loves Mariano’s, with its fresh juice bar, amazing wine and cheese selection, and jaw-dropping bakery department.

Best Grocery Store (Suburbs)

Grand Food Center

341 Hazel Ave., Glencoe, 847-835-2842; 606 Green Bay Road, Winnetka, 847-446-6707

This locally owned mini chain is truly your favorite North Shore market.

Best High Tea (City)

The Drake

140 E. Walton Place, Chicago, 312-787-2200

You picked a classic! The Drake has been doing high tea right for decades.

Best High Tea (Suburbs)

Deer Path Inn

255 E. Illinois Road, Lake Forest, 847-234-2280

Refined service and delectable tea sandwiches and mini pastries are hallmarks of this hotel.

Best Indian (City)


10 W. Hubbard, Chicago, 312-527-4060

Owner/chef/tastemaker Rohini Dey keeps the spice coming at this River North spot; cocktails are also on point.

Best Indian (Suburbs)

Mt. Everest

630 Church St., Evanston, 847-491-1069

Of course there’s an extensive lunch buffet at this Evanston stalwart, but the a la carte menu of Nepalese and Indian specialties is what sets it apart.

Best Italian (City)

Riccardo Trattoria

2119 N. Clark St., Chicago, 773-549-0038

Although it may be located in the heart of Lincoln Park, the cuisine at this Italian ristorante reminds us most of Florence.

Best Italian (Suburbs) | Best New Restaurant (Opened Since September 2017) (Suburbs)


985 Green Bay Road, Winnetka, 847-386-6053

This newcomer is already making waves with its modern take on Italian cucina.

Best Japanese (City)


4229 N. Lincoln Ave., Chicago

Chef Iliana Regan is really about honoring the techniques and flavor profiles of Japanese cuisine, rather than turning out a carbon copy, and the results are often spectacular.

Best Japanese (Suburbs)

Torino Ramen

1162 Wilmette Ave., Wilmette, 847-920-5075

Chicago’s best ramen may well be in … Wilmette?!? The broths here are simply luscious, and they’re making the tender ramen noodles in house.

Best Mexican (City)

Dos Urban Cantina

2829 W. Armitage Ave., Chicago, 773-661-6452

Frontera Grill vets Brian and Jennifer Enyart are reinventing Mexican dishes at their colorful Logan Square restaurant, and we are here for it.

Best Mexican (Suburbs)

Depot Nuevo

1139 Wilmette Ave., Wilmette, 847-251-3111

Best of 2018: Dining (Depot Nuevo)
Photo courtesy of Depot Nuevo.

They’ve brought the crown back to Wilmette with their enormous margaritas, deep bench of tequilas, and a menu filled with crowd-pleasers.

Best New Restaurant (Opened Since September 2017) (City)

Bar Biscay

1450 W. Chicago Ave., Chicago, 312-455-8900

Best of 2018: Dining (Bar Biscay)
Photo by Galdones Photography.

This West Town newbie is named for part of Spain’s Atlantic coastline and features Spanish seafood preparations and Basque-influenced dishes.

Best Pizza (City) (Tie)


3707 N. Southport Ave., Chicago, 773-477-2625; 1321 W. Grand Ave., Chicago, 312-226-2625


1927 W. North Ave., Chicago, 773-772-4422

Thin-crust pie is the best pie! Especially when it’s the blistered, charcoal oven-fired pizza at Coalfire in West Town or Wrigleyville, or the New Haven-style apizz (not a typo!) at Piece in Wicker Park.

Best Pizza (Suburbs)

Lou Malnati’s


This is your favorite deep-dish pizza, so you probably already know you can ship one directly to your family and friends who’ve moved away!

Best Place to Bring a Group (City)


1748 W. Lake St., Chicago, 312-366-2294

Best of 2018: Dining (Eden)
Photo by Hallie Duesenberg Photography.

Your group will be spoiled for choice at this West Loop farm-to-table restaurant with its emphasis on fresh and flavorful.

Best Place to Bring a Group (Suburbs) | Best Service (Suburbs)

Nick’s Neighborhood Bar and Grill

1168 Wilmette Ave., Wilmette, 847-251-3262

Best of 2018: Dining (Nick's)
Photo courtesy of Nick’s Neighborhood Bar and Grill.

They’ve just celebrated their fifth anniversary in Wilmette with an updated menu, so now there are even more yummy options for you and your guests.

Best Romantic Dining (City)

Cherry Circle Room

12 S. Michigan Ave., 2nd Floor, Chicago, 312-792-3515

Dark and clubby, with gorgeous woodwork and killer cocktails, this stunning spot in the Chicago Athletic Association Hotel has got it all going on.

Best Romantic Dining (Suburbs)


1625 Hinman Ave., Evanston, 847-570-8400

You know what’s romantic? Hearing your loved one speak without shouting over the music and the general din. Hearth is a welcome respite from sensory overload.

Best Sandwiches (City)


1840 W. Irving Park Road, Chicago, 773-661-2469

It’s all about fast-casual service at this North Center Jewish deli (and its new outpost in Ravenswood manor) with a fine selection of smoked meats and fish.

Best Sandwiches (Suburbs)

Stacked & Folded

551 Lincoln Ave., Winnetka, 847-386-9100

Fresh, locally sourced ingredients help elevate the sandwiches at this Winnetka storefront.

Best Seafood (City)


660 N. State St., Chicago, 312-202-6050

The Fifty/50 Group hits another one out of the park at this beautiful fish-centric spot in the Dana Hotel.

Best Seafood (Suburbs)


505 Main St., Evanston, 847-864-3435

Chef Mark Grosz continues to produce pristine preparations of fresh fish and seafood inspired by French classics.

Best Service (City)


1639 S. Wabash Ave., Chicago, 312-360-9500

The professional, attentive service one would expect at a restaurant with two Michelin stars and a mind-blowing tasting menu.

Best Steakhouse (City)

Del Frisco’s Double Eagle Steakhouse

58 E. Oak St., Chicago, 312-888-2499

This is what meat lovers dream about when they close their eyes. We’re talking beef nirvana.

Best Steakhouse (Suburbs)

Ruth’s Chris Steak House

933 Skokie Blvd., Northbrook, 847-498-6889; 100 W. Higgins Road, Suite U-1, South Barrington, 847-551-3730

You love that sizzling steak!

Best Sushi (City)


2300 N. Lincoln Park W, Suite N, Chicago, 773-868-0002

This is where Chicago’s Japanese Consulate brings hungry visitors from Japan, and that tells you all you need to know!

Best Takeout Dining (City)

Antique Taco

1360 N. Milwaukee, Chicago, 773-687-8697; 1000 W. 35th St., Chicago, 773-823-9410; 125 S. Clark St., Chicago, 773-770-6195

There are now three locations — Wicker Park, Bridgeport, and The Loop — to fulfill your emergent taco needs. Don’t miss the Pork Carnitas or the Crispy Fish tacos.

Best Takeout Dining (Suburbs)

Convito Café & Market

1515 Sheridan Road, Wilmette, 847-251-3654

Best of 2018: Dining (Convito)
Photo by Robert Warner Photography.

For nearly 40 years, they’ve been bringing the delicious so that you can look good. Whether it’s a Ravinia picnic basket for 10 or a dinner for 100, the quality is consistently high.

Best Thai (City)

Opart Thai House

1906 S. State St., Chicago, 312-567-9898; 1371 W. Chicago Ave., Chicago, 312-988-0986

Both the South Loop and West Town locations are serving up a huge menu of tasty Thai standards.

Best Thai (Suburbs)


1622 Orrington Ave., Evanston, 847-733-8424

Best of 2018: Dining (NaKorn)
Photo courtesy of NaKorn.

Nakorn means “cosmopolitan” in Thai, and that’s an apt description of the exceptionally prepared and presented food here in Evanston. Think ginger, lemongrass, coconut, and tamarind with lots of fresh seafood, meat, and veggies. Not your average Thai by a longshot.

Best Vegan/Vegetarian (City)

Bad Hunter

802 W. Randolph St., Chicago, 312-265-1745

A wonderful addition to the West Loop Restaurant Row, this produce-centric menu makes veggies sexy.

Best Vegan/Vegetarian (Suburbs)

Blind Faith Café

525 Dempster St., Evanston, 847-328-6875

Part of the Evanston landscape for nearly 40 years, they’ve been serving up vegetarian and vegan cuisine since before it was cool.

Best Wine Store (City)

Binny’s Beverage Depot


This wine and liquor superstore now has 38 locations in Illinois.

Best Wine Store (Suburbs)

Schaefer’s Wines, Foods & Spirits

9965 Gross Point Road, Skokie, 847-677-9463

Skokie is home to one of the finest family-run wine stores around, known for personal service.

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