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News Tue Mar 19 2013

Local Flavor: LTHForum's Great Neighborhood Restaurant Award Winners Announced

lth_2009gnr.jpgThis time every year, passionate food nerds descend upon LTHForum.com for weeks of debate regarding their annual Great Neighborhood Restaurant & Resource Awards. Lively discussions, curated meals at nominated restaurants for a litany of greatest hits, and even more discussions lead to the culinary money shot — GNR status. I participated in at least a half dozen outings myself, and the dedicated GNR committee, many more.

"Distinctly better than the rest" is what to expect. It may be for a lone item or an entire meal. It's best to read the individual award and stick pretty close to what they're honored for. And while "great" can be an ambiguous value judgement, in this case it really means that the members of LTHForum finds there to be something very special living there.

Gleaned directly from LTH guidelines, this is what "great" does not mean in the context of the GNR program:

  • "Great does not necessarily mean it is one of the best restaurants in Chicago.

  • Great does not necessarily mean a place is the best in its class.

  • Great does not exclude a certain style of restaurant over another, for instance, a taqueria may be considered great as well as a high-end steakhouse.

  • Great does not mean that every dish on each menu is wonderful — there are some places chosen on the basis of one, or a small number of dishes. It is important that you read why a place is a GNR to know what is Great about it.

  • In some cases, Great does not even mean that the food is wonderful. A Great diner may offer good eggs, nice meat, decent grilled stuff, and a heaping serving of character, charm and atmosphere, and be great mostly for those last three."

With this in mind, we congratulate the winners of this years LTHForum's Great Neighborhood Restaurant Awards. Here they are in alphabetical order, followed by brief descriptions from the GNR Committee.

  • Cafe Orchid, 1746 W. Addison St. "Turkish classics are on offer at this West Lakeview BYOB joint with a beautiful patio."

  • Da Rae Jung, 5520 N. Lincoln Ave. "A cozy mom-and-pop Korean restaurant in Lincoln Square satisfies with hot soups and cold noodles for any time of year."

  • Dancen, 5114 N. Lincoln Ave. "K-Pop, Korean beer, and buldak fire chicken turn this Korean dive bar into a great night out in Lincoln Square."

  • EL Ideas, 2419 W. 14th St. "Here, a unique fine dining experience lets diners enjoy cutting-edge cuisine as they interact directly with the chefs."

  • Ghareeb Nawaz, 2032 W. Devon Ave. "A 24-hour, hole-in-the-wall cabbie joint pumps out delicious Indo-Pak fare at amazingly low prices."

  • Go 4 Food, 212 W. 23rd St. "Chinatown's premier seafood spot offers a wide range of Cantonese seafood, from mammoth oysters to scallops on the shell."

  • Monti's, 4757 N. Talman Ave. "The Philly cheesesteak from this Lincoln Square tavern makes it a worthy contender in the battle for beef sandwich supremacy."

  • New England Seafood Company, 3341 N. Lincoln Ave. "Wicked good Boston-sourced lobster, clams and more make the cut in West Lakeview."

  • Nightwood, 2119 S. Halsted St. A bona fide neighborhood venue in Pilsen without an ounce of pretense generates distinctive, seasonal cuisine from scratch.

  • Scofflaw, 3201 W. Armitage Ave. "This creative, gin-focused cocktail bar presents reasonably-priced gourmet eats in Logan Square."

  • Vera, 1023 W. Lake St. "Spanish-inspired small plates are served with impeccable ingredients and the best selection of sherry in the city."

 

Sarah Black / March 25, 2013 12:59 AM

I congratulate all the winners. Café Orchid is one of my favorite restaurants - the quality of food is simply awesome and makes it one of the best dining experiences in the city.

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I was using Rick Bayless' restroom, I mused, staring up at the ceiling window that was projecting a heavenly beacon of light upon my less-than-angelic duties. I could barely distinguish Rick's faint murmurs through the orange walls, something about how...
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