Thursday, December 31, 2015

The Best of 2015: Some Most Memorable Meals

It should be fairly obvious that I like to eat.

But I don't like to cook, or at least just don't do it very often.

Certainly, financial imperative demands that I eat some meals at home, but almost all of these involve a microwave, toaster, George Foreman grill, cereal bowl or--if I'm really ambitious--a frying pan.

So in the name of good taste, I wind up eating in quite a lot of restaurants.

The majority of these aren't very fancy and as, in addition to not demonstrating culinary skills I've never watched a single cooking show, I can't really pass myself off as a gourmet.

Or a foodie.

But somewhat akin to how I attend, enjoy, review and, at year's end, compare & extol concerts, musicals, plays, albums, songs, museums, movies, etc., etc., so to do I perceive fine cooking to be an art form worthy of exploration, comparison and, yes, expenditure, rather than simple digestion.

Though I am comfortable dining by myself, and often do, again in 2015 I delighted in many meals
shared with a wide array of relatives, friends and colleagues, some who were kind enough to treat me.

See the full Zagat list here
All of these made for "memorable meals" and although any sort of rankings would be about the food itself, given the challenge of remembering specifics of meals savored over the past 12 months--and who knows if I ordered "the right thing" anywhere--instead I'll just highlight places I greatly enjoyed, split as best I can.

A good number of restaurants below can be found on Zagat's 50 Best Restaurants in Chicago list--based on consumer surveys; published in January 2015--which I used as something of a guide of places to try.

Before the start of 2015, I had eaten at 12 restaurants on the Zagat list, but added 10 more to my tally throughout the year.

The categories are imperfect; some "fancy & exotic" cost far less than some steakhouses--especially if patronized during Chicago Restaurant Week--and a few could even qualify as "cheap eats." And a few of the "cheap eats" had rather fancy flavorings and some costlier options.

The Most Memorable Meals I Enjoyed in 2015
were at these restaurants (in no specific order):

Fancy and/or Exotic

Jean-Georges - NYC
Azul Historico - Mexico City
Pujol - Mexico City
Jean-Georges - NYC
El Mayor - Mexico City
Frontera Grill - Chicago (Mexican)
Longman & Eagle - Chicago
Au Cheval - Chicago (Famed cheeseburger)
Katsu - Chicago (Sushi)
Oceanique - Evanston
Mixteco Grill - Chicago (Mexican)
Blackbird - Chicago
The Purple Pig - Chicago
Tava - Morton Grove (Indian Buffet)
Kansaku - Evanston (Sushi)
Tanta - Chicago (Peruvian)
Seagrape - Miami Beach
Glenn's Diner - Chicago (Seafood)
McCormick & Schmick's - Skokie
Hello Tacos / De Cero - Chicago
Oceanique - Evanston

Heaven on Seven - Chicago (Cajun)
Xoco - Chicago (Mexican)
Cafe de Tacuba - Mexico City
Depot Nuevo - Wilmette  (Latin)

Steak & Chops

The Capital Grille - Rosemont
Chicago Cut Steakhouse - Chicago
Frontier - Chicago
Morton's - Northbrook
Keens - NYC
Rosebud PrimeSwift & Sons
Jameson's Charhouse
Chicago Cut Steakhouse - Chicago

Miller's Pub
L. Woods (Ribs)
Gale Street Inn (Ribs)
Longhorn Steakhouse
Rub Backcountry Smokehouse (Ribs)
Allstate Arena Prime Rib Sandwich
United Center Prime Rib Sandwich
Cheap Eats

Curt's Cafe - Evanston
Real Urban BBQ - Vernon Hills
Naf Naf Grill - Niles
BIG & little's - Chicago
Taco Nano - Northfield
Dengeos - Skokie
El Carrito - Chicago
Poochie's - Skokie
Portillos - Skokie and various
Al's Beef - Niles
Sarkis Cafe - Evanston
Sparky's - Skokie
Pizza Capri - Chicago (I like the Mixed Baby Greens salad) 
Johnnie's Beef - Arlington Heights
Herm's Palace - Skokie
Superdawg - Chicago
Pita Inn - Skokie
Taste of Cuba - Lincolnwood
El Carrito - Chicago (A great newcomer)
Sopraffina - Chicago (I enjoy their salads) 
Cafecito - Chicago
Chicago's Dog House
Azul Historico - Mexico City

Hot "G" Dog

Standbys - Old & New

Las Fuentes - Morton Grove
Pizano's - Glenview (Best Pizza)
The Noodle - Wilmette
Bakers Square - Wilmette
Ruby Tuesday - Skokie
Alexander's - Skokie (Brunch)
Annie's - Skokie (Brunch)
Hotcakes - Wilmette (Brunch)
Courier Cafe - Urbana (Brunch)
Taqueria Los Comales - Niles
Blackbird - Chicago
El Tipico - Skokie
Himalayan - Niles (Indian Buffet)
Glenview House - Glenview
Dixie Kitchen - Evanston
Ridgeview Grill - Wilmette
Players Grill - Highland Park
Siam Rice - Chicago
Lou Malnati's - Lincolnwood 
Sweet Tomatoes - Glenview
The Bagel - Skokie

Sweet Treats

The Doughnut Plant - NYC
Doughnut Plant - New York
Mirabelle Bakery - Urbana
Chez Bon Bon - Miami Beach
Margie's Candies - Chicago
Stan's Donuts - Chicago
Cafe Lutz - Chicago

For the History more than the Meal

Versailles - Miami
News Cafe - Miami Beach
Sloppy Joes - Key West
Jack's - Skokie

Patsy's - NYC

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