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SEE ALSO: Best New Restaurants 2012 »


BELLYQ Something just feels right about eating kimchi in a former pickle factory. 1400 W. Randolph St., 312-563-1010

RELATED: Check out photos of BellyQ’s banana leaf-wrapped salmon, grilled edamame, and other goodies on our photo blog, What Penny Eats and read more on BellyQ



ELIZABETH Three communal tables, three different menus, online ticketing for the 24 seats. It might be easier to get into Next. 4835 N. Western Ave., 773-681-0651


Carriage House

CARRIAGE HOUSE To us northerners, low-country cuisine always sounds like the food is going to be bad. Time to get over it. 1700 W. Division St., 773-384-9700

RELATED: Browse pics of Carriage House’s she-crab soup, Lyonnaise, and more on What Penny Eats


Bavette’s Bar & Boeuf

BAVETTE’S BAR & BOEUF Brendan Sodikoff’s best trick: getting a bunch of 20-something hotties to eat short rib stroganoff. 218 W. Kinzie St., 312-624-8154

RELATED: See pics of Bavette’s hanger steak, crab cake, and more on What Penny Eats and read about the bar’s soul-warming Old Fashioned


Kai Zan

KAI ZAN In five months flat, this friendly 22-seater in Humboldt Park has become the center of the sushiverse. 2557½ W. Chicago Ave., 773-278-5776



EMBEYA Who better to nail Asian fusion than a Vietnamese chef and a Transylvania-born Hungarian host?. 564 W. Randolph St., 312-612-5640

RELATED: Read more on Embeya


The Savoy

THE SAVOY The legend is true: After you’ve had enough absinthe and oysters on the half shell, the fish photos on the wall come alive. 1408 N. Milwaukee Ave., 773-698-6925



SENZA A restaurant that doesn’t asterisk its gluten-free options. How rude! Oh, the whole place is gluten free. Never mind. 2873 N Broadway, 773-770-3527



JERRY’S The endless sandwich options at the newest Jerry’s are more impenetrable than a Pynchon hardcover. 5419 N. Clark St., 773-796-3777


Andy Thai Kitchen

ANDY THAI KITCHEN Will the throngs of TAC Quick die-hards follow its former chef ten blocks south to his new BYO? They already have. 946 W. Wellington Ave., 773-549-7821


Photography: (Elizabeth) Jennifer Moran/JenMoranPhotography; (Embeya) Jason Little; (The Savoy) Jamco Creative; (all others) courtesy of the restaurant