NEW & NOTABLE
FINEST SICILIAN BAKERY
Beautiful pastries, beautiful owner
5406 N. Clark St.; 773-989-0662
BEST USE OF HEARTS OF PALM
The Costa Rican spot’s huge ensalada de palmito
3605 N. Ashland Ave.; 773-248-3087
COZIEST COFFEE SHOP
Blue Max Coffee Roasters & Cafe
Has thought of everything: a couch, a fireplace, and even a play area for the kids
26 Lathrop Ave., Forest Park; 708-366-9224
MOST UPSCALE DELI
Eleven City Diner
Serves Mighty Leaf tea and charges $1.85 for a side of dill pickles.
1112 S. Wabash Ave.; 312-212-1112
MOST MEMORABLE SANDWICH SPOT
Serves grilled organic peanut butter–and–banana sandwiches
3706 W. Armitage Ave.; 773-661-0675
GREAT GOURMET CARRYOUT
Bonsoirée Cafe & Delicacies
The fancy foods are gorgeous and affordable.
2728 W. Armitage Ave.; 773-486-7511
BIGGEST IDENTITY CRISIS
Deli, or pub?
1709 Benson Ave., Evanston; 847-733-7117
The Saigon-style banh mi is more Potbelly’s than Pasteur, but it’s terrific.
2269 N. Lincoln Ave.; 773-248-0884
TERRIFIC FRENCH TOAST
The from-scratch challah number
301 S. Halsted St.; 312-454-0748
COOLEST RETRO DINER
Depot American Diner
A perfectly restored vintage spot in Austin
5840 W. Roosevelt Rd.; 773-261-8422
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BEST WINE BARS
The past year saw a slew of wine-related openings. New faces include everything from Forest Park’s HouseRed (7403 W. Mad-ison St.; 708-771-7733), a cozy shop with frequent tastings and wine-themed events, to Pops for Champagne‘s splashy and, on weekends, downright raucous new River North outpost (601 N. State St.; 312-266-7677). But for serious, sit-down wining, two places stand out. Eno (505 N. Michigan Ave.; 312-321-8738) occupies the redesigned space in the Hotel InterContinental where pianist Judy Roberts used to play. We were all set to not like it, as we miss Roberts, but we ended up charmed. Well-chosen wines, cheeses, and chocolates are all you’ll find here, along with a comfortable ambiance and knowledgeable servers who understand that wine should soothe and stimulate at the same time. Ambitious in a more aggressively hip direction is the sleek Juicy Wine Co. (694 N. Milwaukee Ave.; 312-492-6620), where Iggy’s used to be. Minimally decked out with warm woods and soft lighting, the hangout offers a daunting array of pedigreed wines, cheeses, and artisan-cured meats made by Armandino Batali (Mario’s father) to enjoy in the ground-level café, or upstairs, in an after-hours lounge with
– Joanne Trestrail
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ONE DISH WONDERS
A handful of new restaurants that basically do one thing-and do it well
FredHots and Fries
Whether you’re after wild game or a classic Chicago specimen, this joint is all about the hot dogs.
1707 Chestnut Ave., Glenview; 847-657-9200
Both the sweet and the savory crêpes are consistently fresh, delicate, and delicious.
5200 N. Clark St.; 773-271-5233
The humble Polish dumpling goes fast-food: you can get 15 different options steamed or fried.
1034 W. Belmont Ave.; 773-325-1015
Sapore di Napoli
Neapolitan pizza done right: blistered collars, tender chewy crusts, thin layer of tomato sauce, blobs of mozzarella, fresh basil leaves.
1406 W. Belmont Ave.; 773-935-1212
Chicago just became a go-to city for barbecue.
3800 N. Pulaski Rd.; 773-545-7427
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Aigre Doux, Blu Coral, Chalkboard, Chiyo, DeLaCosta, Erba, Ginger Asian Bistro
Habana Libre, Koda, Marigold, Mulan, Niche, Osteria Di Tramonto, Sage Grille
Sam & Harry’s, Sequel, Sol de Mexico, Tay Do, Tepatulco, Tramonto’s Steak & Seafood, Xel-Há
Rest of the Best – Wine Bars, One-Dish Wonders, New & Notable, What’s Hot & Not
Q&A with Rich Dyer, a Great Waiter