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Foodporn Fri Jan 09 2015

Friday Foodpic: The Best of 2014

unnamedojj.jpgNow that the tree is down, here's a few of the best things we ate this past year.

Jen Bacher and I had a wonderful Thanksgiving Eve dinner at Portage Park's Leadbelly. The Easy Rider burger (pictured), a tower of bacon, sriracha pickles, BBQ sauce and cheddar was just incredible and took me back the good ol' days, when waiting three hours for a table and the Mastodon burger at Kuma's Corner was worth it. Leadbelly is smaller, but has an impressive beer list and for the non-drinkers, makes milkshakes. A second location is in Gladstone Park; make the trip.

A second place that Jen and I both nominated is Logan Square's El Habanero; of special note is their pambazo, a torta-like griddled Mexican sandwich covered in brick-red guajillo salsa, which gives the outer bread a hue that looks foreboding to those who panic at the suggestion of spice, but instead has a mild but robust taste. The service was extremely gracious, and the horchata made eyes at me from across the room. It's a great addition to the neighborhood.

Brandy Gonsoulin:
At 42Grams, Jake Bickelhaupt's attention to detail and use of interesting yet familiar flavors, textures and concepts along with wife and general manager Alexa Welsh's hosting skills (Welsh essentially narrates the journey that Bickelhaupt orchestrates during your two and half hours) leaves you with small bites of memories that you're somehow still reflecting on months later.

I fell in love with mfk my first night over a bowl of spring peas in a cozy underground corner in a small part of the world. Since tasting the original menu, the newer shrimp papaya salad, burgundy snails and now the fideous continues to prove my original wonderlust right.

I have yet to test my initial impression further at Salero, but if my $13 grilled octopus with smoked espuma, potato, fried olives. pickled mustard seeds, puffed quinoa and black onion powder was a glimpse into what the team is capable of, disappointment isn't one of them.

Andrew Huff:
I loved the rich, savory tonkatsu broth at Strings Ramen in Chinatown. The crispy kurobuta pork belly adds delicious textural contrast to the firm but tender noodles. Swish the nori sheet through the broth, savor its salty sweetness, then start slurping.

All the way up on Howard Street, on the Evanston side, is Ward Eight, a little gem of a cocktail bar far from the trendier parts of town.The menu honors the classics while throwing in interesting new takes and a couple originals, and the bartenders are always happy to go off-menu as well. The vibe is relaxed and comfortable, the service is friendly, and the limited food menu hits the spot after a drink or two.

Danielle Snow:
High Five Ramen: unbeatable ramen in a low-key environment that stays open late enough for industry folk to enjoy after work. Also: gigantic (canzilla!) beers!

Lagunitas: free tasting tours. Incredible space. And delicious beer! A welcome addition to Chicago's brewery scene.

Judy Wu:
Parachute is a great "fusion" restaurant because they truly blend cuisines in way that respects old traditions while creating new ones. Their "bing" is a classic example of that. The bing is a Chinese staple that is already so delicious and perfect that I was surprised by how much sour cream and potatoes elevated the dish.

Bohemian House is Eastern European food done right. Every dish was exceptionally well-flavored and balanced, and the cuisine makes it stand out from its River North counterparts.

 
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Feature Thu Dec 31 2015

The State of Food Writing

By Brandy Gonsoulin

In 2009, food blogging, social media and Yelp were gaining popularity, and America's revered gastronomic magazine Gourmet shuttered after 68 years in business. Former Cook's Illustrated editor-in-chief Chris Kimball followed with an editorial, stating that "The shuttering of Gourmet reminds...
Read this feature »

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Drive-Thru is the food and drink section of Gapers Block, covering the city's vibrant dining, drinking and cooking scene. More...
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Editor: Robyn Nisi, rn@gapersblock.com
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