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Chicago's 100 Best Restaurants: #75-51

By Sarah Freeman
December 18, 2013

The end of the year is nigh, and that means it's time to look back on 365 days of eating and drinking. To commemorate, we're counting down the top 100 restaurants in Chicago, according to our 2014 Restaurant Survey. We already gave you the first 25, but today, let's take a look at restaurants 75 to 51. From Greek food in Wicker Park to an Italian escape on Michigan Avenue, a wide array of cuisines and neighborhoods are represented in this blockbuster list.

We'll reveal the top 50 restaurants before the end of the year, so stay tuned!

  • No. 75: Mercat a la Planxa

    Food: 26
    Decor: 24
    Service: 23
    Cost: $53

    Chef Jose Garces' "flavors meld beautifully" at this South Loop Catalan in the Blackstone Hotel where his "true Barcelona-style tapas" make for an "excellent" meal, especially when enjoyed with the "great wines" and house cocktails; tabs aren't low, but the "open, modern dining room" has a "tasteful" atmosphere, and service is "attentive."

    638 S. Michigan Ave.; 312-765-0524

  • No. 74: TAC Quick

    Food: 26
    Decor: 16
    Service: 18
    Cost: $19

    For "out-of-the-ordinary Northern Thai dishes", go with the "secret menu, all the way" say seekers of "cheap eats, deliciously done" at this "authentic" Wrigleyville BYO; black-and-white decor, sidewalk seating and a "convenient location close to public transport" enhance the "way-better-than-average" experience.

    3930 N. Sheridan Rd.; 773-327-5253

  • No. 73: Rosewood

    Food: 26
    Decor: 20
    Service: 24
    Cost: $50

    Though it may "look like the typical banquet facility", fans say the "prime meats" and "awesome sauces" "far exceed the first impression" at this "old-school" Rosemont chophouse; highly rated staffers and a "retro supper club" feel attract "business-lunchers", and if it's a "bit pricey", jet-setters claim there's "no better dining near O'Hare."

    9421 Higgins Rd.; 847-696-9494

  • No. 72: Taxim

    Food: 26
    Decor: 22
    Service: 22
    Cost: $43

    Diners who've gone once "daydream" about the "authentic" "carefully prepared" fare at this moderate Wicker Park Greek where the "flavorful" small and large plates are so "inventive", they're "unlike any other"; a "beautiful", "modern" space featuring archways and vaulted ceilings and "delightful" staffers further ensure it earns "must-try" status.

    1558 N. Milwaukee Ave.; 773-252-1558

  • No. 71: Tweet

    Food: 26
    Decor: 21
    Service: 25
    Cost: $19

    "Awesomely good" breakfast and lunch eats come in "more-than-generous" portions at this cash-only Uptown New American, where the "extensive" menu includes many gluten-free choices and a "lot of options" for vegetarians too; "local art" decorates the walls of the small space, and though it gets "busy" on the weekends, "friendly", "efficient" servers keep things moving – and you can always "hunker down" with a "delicious" Bloody Mary if there's a wait.

    5020 N. Sheridan Rd.; 773-728-5576

  • No. 70: The Publican

    Food: 26
    Decor: 23
    Service: 23
    Cost: $50

    "Try everything" say fans of Paul Kahan's "inspired" West Loop New American, where the pork-centric menu allows for a "superb pigtastic experience" and includes other "well-prepared, full-of-flavor" share plates plus oysters too; "lots of craft beers" and "stiff" cocktails up the "cool" factor and the "huge communal tables" add group appeal, so even if it's "loud" and the bill can "add up quickly", it's still considered "all the rage (and rightfully so)."

    837 W. Fulton Mkt.; 312-733-9555

  • No. 69: A Tavola

    Food: 26
    Decor: 21
    Service: 26
    Cost: $49

    All of the ingredients for a "great night out" can be found at this "small" Ukrainian Village Italian, from "wonderful comfort food", including some of the "best gnocchi in the city", to "knowledgeable" staffers who are "attentive, but not obtrusive"; if the dining room doesn't get the same high marks, there's always the "lovely" outdoor courtyard.

    2148 W. Chicago Ave.; 773-276-7567

  • No. 68: Gibson’s

    Food: 26
    Decor: 22
    Service: 25
    Cost: $67

    A "big-time steakhouse for big-time folks", this Gold Coast "staple" and its suburban spin-offs deliver "cooked-to-perfection" chops, equally "excellent" seafood and drinks and "absurdly large desserts"; "professional, accommodating" staffers lend more appeal, while an "energetic" atmosphere (especially at the flagship, which can get "crowded" and "noisy") means it's tops for "people-watching."

    1028 N. Rush St.; 312-266-8999

  • No. 67: Boka

    Food: 26
    Decor: 24
    Service: 25
    Cost: $69

    Chef Giuseppe Tentori's "sophisticated", "inventive" menu includes "well-cooked", often "exceptional" small and large plates at this Lincoln Park New American; the "knowledgeable" staff also delivers drinks from a "fablously stocked" bar, and the "beautiful" modern space and "wonderful" patio have a "calm, relaxing" vibe – which comes in handy once the check comes.

    1729 N. Halsted St.; 312-337-6070

  • No. 66: Perennial Virant

    Food: 26
    Decor: 23
    Service: 24
    Cost: $53

    Paul Virant (Vie) makes uses of "incredibly fresh" local ingredients in "delicious", "unfussy" dishes that are "interesting" "without being crazy" at this "light, airy" New American in Lincoln Park's Hotel Lincoln; "excellent" cocktails and "knowledgeable" service further explain why you can "count on a great meal", so though the bill's not cheap, it's still considered "reasonable."

    1800 N. Lincoln Ave.; 312-981-7070

  • No. 65: Anteprima

    Food: 26
    Decor: 21
    Service: 23
    Cost: $42

    Acolytes "still dream" about the "market-driven" "authentic Italian cuisine" at this "lively" (some say "noisy") "little" Andersonville "storefront" where a "well-chosen" wine list complements the midpriced menu; "accommodating" service and "cozy" environs complete with a "romantic outdoor patio" further leave regulars rhapsodizing "so sophisticated, so simple, so neighborhood fantastic."

    5316 N. Clark St.; 773-506-9990

  • No. 64: Big Star

    Food: 26
    Decor: 19
    Service: 17
    Cost: $19

    "Hipsters" pile into Paul Kahan's "affordable" Wicker Park Mexican for "flavorful" tacos "like you've never tasted" plus "delicious", "strong" margaritas, "solid" beers and a "top-notch bourbon selection"; it's cash-only and the "modern garage-type" space can seem "acoustically tragic", but it's still "always packed", especially on the happening patio ("if you can grab a spot, never leave"); P.S. "ridiculous waits" may be remediated by a recent expansion.

    1531 N. Damen Ave.; 773-235-4039

  • No. 63: Mastro’s

    Food: 26
    Decor: 23
    Service: 24
    Cost: $77

    Some of the "best steaks, period" keep this River North chophouse on the Chicago "food radar", as do its "massive" seafood towers and other "decadent" offerings; "professional" staffers are "there when you need them" in the "upscale" bi-level space with chandeliers and white linens, so it all adds up to a "premier" meal – with premier tabs to match.

    520 N. Dearborn St.; 312-521-5100

  • No. 62: Yoshi’s

    Food: 26
    Decor: 21
    Service: 25
    Cost: $51

    Still a "remarkably good standby" after more than 30 years, chef-owner Yoshi Katsumura's Lakeview destination provides a "top-shelf experience", from the "consistently delicious" and "creative" French-Japanese fusion cuisine down to the "A+" service; inside is "unpretentious, warm and inviting", and prices are in keeping with the "high-quality" experience.

    3257 N. Halsted St.; 773-248-6160

  • No. 61: Sabatino’s

    Food: 26
    Decor: 19
    Service: 24
    Cost: $36

    "It does not get any more old school than this" attest admirers of this Old Irving Park "time machine" where you "get your money's worth" with "plentiful" portions of "delicious", "well-prepared" Italian "classics" served in "throwback" "supper club" surrounds"; "friendly" servers "done up" in white shirts and bow ties contribute to the "charm", but be warned it can be "crazy crowded" on weekends when there's piano music.

    4441 W. Irving Park Rd.; 773-283-8331

  • No. 60: Purple Pig

    Food: 26
    Decor: 21
    Service: 21
    Cost: $42

    It's "always packed" at Jimmy Bannos Jr.'s "intimate" River North gastropub where the "interesting" Mediterranean menu is a "foodie adventure", full of "delicious", "mind-blowing" small plates including "unusual" "comfort zone"–busting choices you "won't see anywhere else"; "terrific" wines, "dynamite beers" and "friendly" staffers help fuel a "lively" scene, and while it's "easy to rack up a bill", it has all the makings for a "memorable" meal – if you can outlast the "long" wait (no reservations), that is.

    500 N. Michigan Ave.; 312-464-1744

  • No. 59: Shanghai Terrace

    Food: 26
    Decor: 28
    Service: 26
    Cost: $69

    You'll feel "transported into another era" at this dining room in River North's Peninsula Hotel, where "excellent", "upscale" Chinese fare is served in an "exquisite" 1930s-styled room that "makes you feel like you're in Shanghai" (and wins top Decor honors in Chicago); "genuine" service and a "romantically lit" terrace provide further enticements – just expect "premium" pricing.

    108 E. Superior St.; 312-573-6744

  • No. 58: Toro Sushi

    Food: 26
    Decor: 14
    Service: 19
    Cost: $28

    A "cult following" clamors for "talented" chef-owner Mitch Kim's "fresh", "imaginative" sushi at this "tiny", affordable Lincoln Park BYO; "you don't come for the ease of getting a table, the prompt service or the decor" but it's still a "favorite" of many, though it "pains" them to say so since "the wait is long enough already."

    2546 N. Clark St.; 773-348-7255

  • No. 57: Edzo’s

    Food: 26
    Decor: 13
    Service: 20
    Cost: $12

    "Simply awesome" "top-of-the-line" burgers with "tons of options for customization", plus a "fantastic selection" of "imaginative" "to-die-for" fries and "transcendent" "thick malts in terrific flavors" earn "wows" at this counter-service Evanston joint (with a Lincoln Park sequel); so even with "nonexistent" decor, "short hours" (the newer sib is open later) and "crazy long lines", it's still "really hard to complain."

    2218 N. Lincoln Ave.; 773-697-9909

  • No. 56: L2O

    Food: 26
    Decor: 28
    Service: 27
    Cost: $182

    "Imaginative, exquisitely executed" tasting menus evoke "oohs and aahs" at this "fine-dining" seafood specialist in Lincoln Park; the "classy", "calming" space is tended by an "attentive, knowledgeable" staff, so those deep-pocketed enough to weather "aftershocks of the bill" declare it "money well spent."

    2300 N. Lincoln Park West; 773-868-0002

  • No. 55: Spiaggia

    Food: 26
    Decor: 26
    Service: 26
    Cost: $104

    "The place for a romantic evening" say fans of Tony Mantuano's Gold Coast Italian where "absolutely heavenly" fare is matched by an "elegant" dining room (jackets required) with a "nice view of the lake"; sure, it's "not for the faint of heart or light of wallet", but with "wonderful" service it has all the ingredients for a "special night."

    980 N. Michigan Ave.; 312-280-2750

  • No. 54: RoSal’s

    Food: 26
    Decor: 17
    Service: 25
    Cost: $38

    Those who've "never had a bad meal" say some of "the best" Sicilian food around can be found at this Little Italy longtimer that continues to "impress" with its traditional fare; toss in strong service and affordable tabs and no one even brings up the small surrounds.

    1154 W. Taylor St.; 312-243-2357

  • No. 53: Davanti Enoteca

    Food: 26
    Decor: 22
    Service: 22
    Cost: $39

    "Inventive" takes on "rustic" Italian cuisine, including small plates with "enormous taste" and "lick-the-bowl" pastas, come via restaurateur Scott Harris (Mia Francesca, The Purple Pig) at this Little Italy enoteca (with a newer Western Springs double); the "knowledgeable" staff aptly handles the "crowds" amid a "laid-back" atmosphere that customers call "casual dining at its best."

    1359 W. Taylor St.; 312-226-5550

  • No. 52: Chicago Cut Steakhouse

    Food: 26
    Decor: 24
    Service: 25
    Cost: $72

    Returnees say this River North steakhouse "gets it right every time", turning out "excellent" chops offered alongside a serious iPad wine list large enough to "get lost in"; service is "knowledgeable", and its "right-on-the-river" locale helps lend a "very Chicago" vibe, so many shrug off "pricey" tabs and sometimes "noisy" conditions, finding the overall experience "worth it."

    300 N. Lasalle St.; 312-329-1800

  • No. 51: Mana Food Bar

    Food: 26
    Decor: 21
    Service: 23
    Cost: $33

    "Creatively prepared" Eclectic-vegetarian small plates are so "delicious" "you don't even realize you aren't eating meat" swear "discerning diners" of this no-reservations Wicker Park veggie "heaven"; service is "friendly" and prices are "reasonable" too, so the "only problem" is the "small" size of the "modern" wood-lined space, leading patrons to plead "please open in a bigger location."

    1742 W. Division St.; 773-342-1742

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