Thursday, December 24, 2009

My Favorite Restaurants of the '00s

There are so many different kinds of restaurants in so many different places, so I'll try to break this up a bit and clarify what I'm comparing. All restaurants visited in the '00s are eligible for consideration, not just new ones. Keep in mind that almost all of the Fancy Shmancy and Steaks & Chops places listed or considered were visited just once, so my ranking is probably based on just a single meal.

Restaurants in any category may have more locations than the one(s) I visited this decade.

Fancy Schmancy, located anywhere

1. Alinea - Chicago
2. Rockpool - Sydney
3. Charlie Trotter's - Chicago
4. Le Bernardin - New York
5. The Four Seasons - New York
6. Aureole - New York
7. Nobu - New York, Las Vegas
8. Restaurante Botin - Madrid
9. Antoine's - New Orleans
10. Tavern on the Green - New York

Honorable Mention:
Emeril's - New Orleans; Grand Hotel Smorgasbord - Stockholm; Spring - Chicago; Brennan's - New Orleans

Steaks, Chops & Ribs, located anywhere

1. Chicago Chop House - Chicago
2. Gibson's - Rosemont, IL
3. Tavern on Rush - Chicago
4. Ruth's Chris - Northbrook, IL
5. Ben Benson's - New York
6. Carson's - Deerfield, IL
7. Lawry's - Chicago
8. David Burke's Primehouse - Chicago
9. Shula's - Itasca, IL
10. Glenwood Oaks - Glenwood, IL

Honorable Mention:
Don Roth's - Wheeling, IL; Morton's - Westchester, IL; Gene & Georgetti - Chicago, IL; Binyon's Steakhouse - Las Vegas; Wildfire - Oak Brook, Lincolnshire, IL; Myron & Phil's - Lincolnwood, IL; J. Alexanders - Oak Brook, Deerfield & Chicago; Frankie & Johnny's Steakhouse - New York; Metropolitan Grill - Seattle; House of Prime Rib - San Francisco

Casual Dining, Any Cuisine, Chicagoland area only

1. Lou Malnati's - Various locations
2. Players Grill - Deerfield
3. Gino's East - Various locations
4. Hackney's - Various locations
5. Viceroy of India - Lombard
6. Ruby of Siam - Skokie
7. Las Palmas - Various locations
8. Maple Tree Inn - Blue Island
9. The Noodle - Wilmette
10. PF Chang's - Northbrook

Honorable Mention:
Wakaba - Deerfield; Moon Palace - Chicago; Beijing Wok - Skokie; Dixie Kitchen - Evanston; McCormick & Schmick's (casual for lunch) - Skokie; Jamaica Jerk - Chicago; El Tipico - Skokie; China Chef - Morton Grove; Sweet Tomatoes - Glenview, Schaumburg; Baker's Square - Various Locations

Red Hots, Chicagoland only (note: I usually order a char-Polish)

1. Poochie's - Skokie
2. Hot Doug's - Chicago
3. Cookers - Deerfield
4. Gene & Jude's - River Grove
5. The Wiener Circle - Chicago (Clark)
6. Superdawg - Chicago
7. Chicago's Doghouse - Chicago (Fullerton)
8. Murphy's - Chicago (Belmont)
9. Scott Dogs - Lake Villa
10. The Little Island - Skokie

Honorable Mention:

Byron's - Chicago; Jimmy's - Chicago; Paradise Pup - Des Plaines; Fredhots & Fries - Glenview; Portillo's - Various Locations

Quick Serve, Chicagoland only, local operations (if ranked under Red Hots, not re-listed)

1. Al's #1 Italian Beef - Various
2. Sarkis' Cafe - Evanston
3. Dengeos - Skokie, Buffalo Grove
4. Mr. Beef - Chicago
5. Schmaltz Deli - Naperville
6. Johnnie's Beef - Elmwood Park
7. Labriola Bakery Cafe - Oak Brook (a bit upscale & slower)
8. Buena Beef - Various (more for the Pepper & Egg than Beef)
9. Hub's - Skokie
10. Pockets - Chicago

Quick Serve/Fast Food Franchises

1. McDonald's
2. Carl's Jr. (only out west); Hardees in Midwest affiliated & good, but not as good
3. Culver's
4. Panera Bread
5. Panda Express
6. Chipotle
7. Taco Bell
8. Potbelly's
9. Quizno's
10. Burger King

I also enjoy Jack in the Box, but they aren't around Chicago. Sonic is good too, but not near me. And if you travel up to Canada or nearby Michigan, Tim Horton's is good. Not sure where to put Steak 'n Shake, but I love it.

Special Citations:

Best Bagels - New York Bagel & Bialy, Skokie
Best Donuts - Krispy Kreme
Best Coffee - I don't drink it
Best Candy - Long Grove Confectionery

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