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Chicago’s Dining Experts Share Their Best Meals of 2023

From tantalizing pasta, to delicious Filipino food, this year is full of deliciousness

A wooden table laid with six dishes of various sizes, including bowls of rice and sliced sausage.
Boonie’s Filipino Food impressed in Irving Park.
Jack X. Li/Eater Chicago
Ashok Selvam is the editor of Eater Chicago and a native Chicagoan armed with more than two decades of award-winning journalism. Now covering the world of restaurants and food, his nut graphs are super nutty.

Chicago’s media dish on their favorite spots in 2023 as part of Eater’s ongoing tradition of polling the city’s experts for their year-end takes. Here, the panel answers what was their best restaurant meal of the year?

Monica Eng, Axios Chicago: Chengdu Impression — water-boiled fish and crispy eggplant.

Alex Jewell, Best Food Alex: This has to go to the tasting menu at Kasama. We went back for my birthday and the titillation still tingles in my mouth.

Jeffy Mai, editor Time Out Chicago: Omakase by Phillip Frankland Lee at Sushi by Scratch.

David Manilow, host of Crain’s Chicago’s the Dining Table Podcast, creator of Check, Please!: The crab cakes at Holu. Simple and delicious. I went back for a second visit and they were just as fantastic!

Michael Nagrant, author of the Hunger, a Substack newsletter; former Sun-Times and RedEye dining critic: A single dish — Jenner Tomaska’s dover sole at Bar Esme. This was a comp by the chef as part of a meal I paid for, however, I’m grateful I got to taste it because I’ve been thinking about it for months.

Top-to-bottom meal — Bistro Monadnock. Chef Johnny Besch is one of the Chicago greats, a perfect technician of the bisto arts, and should be glazed as much as possible like his frites fried in beef tallow.

Janice Scurio, South Side Sox and CHGO Sports: Boonie’s Filipino Restaurant takes the crown here yet again. The bright “kain tayo!” sign upon entrance commanded us to eat and we were left with no choice but to comply. My three friends and I ordered nearly everything on the menu, sharing an ulam assortment along with the coveted small-batch garlic rice. The pièce de résistance of the meal, however, was the kare kare specially designed for the cold ‘ber months — substituting tongue for the common oxtail and accompanied by chef Joe Fontelera’s house-made bagoong paste. Finished with a touch of ice cream from milky milky, we left with full hearts and full bellies.

Danny Shapiro, founding partner of the Scofflaw group; co-host of the Joiners podcast: El Che Steakhouse — I mean, that grilled shellfish parrillada is what dreams are made of.

Sarah Spain, ESPN writer, TV and radio host: Indienne. I’ll take a vat of the black dairy daal, a giant jar of the smoked date & black garlic chutney, and 20 or so of the passion fruit pani puri, please. Oh, and a couple dozen pitchers of the Mumbai cocktail poured directly down my gullet.

Brenda Storch, contributor, Eater Chicago: I found Daisies’ stracci with lamb sugo and green peas to be quite memorable.

Amy Cavanaugh, Chicago magazine dining editor: I had many wonderful meals this year. El Che Steakhouse & Bar never misses, and I was happy to make it in a few times. Other standouts included Sepia, Parachute, Monteverde, Dear Margaret, and Perilla.


3201 West Armitage Avenue, , IL 60647 (773) 252-9700 Visit Website

Dear Margaret

2965 North Lincoln Avenue, , IL 60657 (773) 360-8213 Visit Website

Bistro Monadnock

325 South Federal Street, , IL 60604 (312) 945-7040 Visit Website


1001 North Winchester Avenue, , IL 60622 (773) 697-3790 Visit Website

Boonie's Filipino Restaurant

4337 North Western Avenue, , IL 60618 (708) 990-8886 Visit Website


3837 Main Street, , CA 90232 Visit Website


3500 North Elston Avenue, , IL 60618 (872) 204-7138 Visit Website


2101 South Jefferson Street, , IL 60616 (312) 291-8472 Visit Website


123 North Jefferson Street, , IL 60661 (312) 441-1920 Visit Website


1020 West Madison Street, Chicago, IL 60607 (312) 888-3041


217 West Huron Street, , IL 60654 (312) 291-9427 Visit Website

El Che Steakhouse & Bar

845 West Washington Boulevard, , IL 60607 (312) 265-1130 Visit Website


2375 North Milwaukee Avenue, , IL 60647 (773) 697-9443 Visit Website