My Favorite Chicago Restaurant Discoveries of 2008

Poached Pears at Kiki's Bistro

With 2009 hours around the corner, I thought I’d take a moment to reflect on some tasty eats I enjoyed in 2008. It’s hard to believe the year is already over but I’m thankful for some of the delicious discoveries I’ve made along the way. Read along as I recap my top 5 favorite Chicago restaurants I discovered in 2008. And here’s to discovering more in 2009!

Scallops at Cafe Iberico

1. Cafe Iberico – This restaurant was solely responsible for cementing my love for tapas. With super affordable prices and even better food, they have multiple dishes that keep me coming back. If not for the mussells in marinara sauce or the baked goat cheese appetizer, you must try this place for the scallops and saffron dish pictured above. Make sure you have time for waiting, this place gets crowded. Click on the link above to see my original post on Cafe Iberico.

Cafe Iberico
739 N. Lasalle Dr.
Chicago, IL 60610
(312) 573-1510 – No reservations

Rigatoni Con Cozze at Francesca's

2. Francesca’s Intimo – You know a restaurant is good if you keep going back. After David and I met our friends at Francesca’s Intimo in Lake Forest, we couldn’t stop going back. Their menu changes from week to week but it’s always delicious and authentic. I can’t imagine a more enjoyable Italian restaurant (outside of Italy) than Francesca’s Intimo. This restaurant is part of a chain of Francesca’s restaurants but I have yet to try another location, as I hear they all vary and I love this one too much :) You must try the mussels. Click on the link above to see my original post on Francesca’s Intimo.

Francesca’s Intimo
293 E. Illinois Road
Lake Forest, IL 60045

Salad Bar at Fogo de Chao

3. Fogo de Chao – Unfortunately for the price, this isn’t a restaurant I can go to all the time, but it was awesome to have experienced this Brazilian churrascaria at all. With an extensive salad bar, and an even more extensive meat selection, this meal was heaven for meat lovers. While Fogo de Chao is a chain and certainly not unique to Chicago, I’m told it’d better than all the other Brazilian steakhouses in Chicago, and I for one certainly enjoyed it. Click on the link above to see my original post on Fogo de Chao.

Fogo de Chao
661 N. LaSalle Street
Chicago, IL 60610

Handmade noodles and rice cakes at Amitabul

4. Amitabul – This Korean Vegan restaurant was probably my most unexpected choice. When a friend first told me about it, I knew it sounded interesting but I never thought I would enjoy it as much as I did. With tons of healthy veggies, nuts and tasty sauces, every dish is delicious. All the noodles, teas, desserts, rice cakes are handmade and designed with health and nutrition in mind. It’s definitely worth the experience if anything, but for me it has become something I crave. Click on the link above to see my original post on Amitabul.

6207 N Milwaukee Ave
Chicago, IL 60646
(773) 774-0276

Poached Pears at Kiki's Bistro

5. Kiki’s Bistro – I tried this French restaurant at the beginning of the year for Chicago’s restaurant week. With the prix fixe meal and a couple glasses of wine, I actually thought the check still came out steep for how I felt about my mediocre mushroom appetizer and lamb skewerentree. But it was the dessert that has me including Kiki’s Bistro in my top 5 list. The poached pear dessert redeemed the rest of the meal by tenfold.  It was probably my favorite dessert in 2008. Surrounded by caramel and poached to perfection, I would go back to Kiki’s Bistro again and again just for this dessert. Click on the link above to see my original post on Kiki’s Bistro.

Kiki’s Bistro
900 N. Franklin
Chicago, IL 60610
312 335 5454

Other notable restaurants outside Chicago that I enjoyed in 2008: La Cabrera (Buenos Aires, Argentina), Gates BBQ (Kansas City, MO), Mader’s German Restaurant (Milwaukee, WI).

Happy New Year everyone! Despite extremely poor economic and job market projections for 2009, let’s still hope for a year of health, prosperity and of course, delicious food!

For those of you still in need of last minute New Year’s eve appetizers, check out this post for recipes!

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  • emily

    nice choices! I often find myself turning to Francesca’s Amici in Elmhurst when I can’t decide what I want for dinner…and i’m never disappointed :) Amitabul isn’t a place I would normally seek out, but your review has made it a must-dine for next year. Happy new year!
    Chicago Dining Examiner
    My top 5 NEW Chicago restaurants of 2008

  • Daniel

    You make me want to move to Chicago, and not even wait until the winter’s over. :)

    I just discovered your site and am really enjoying catching up on some of your past posts. Keep it up!

    Casual Kitchen

  • Hillary

    Emily – I will have to expand to another Francesca’s one day. Thanks for the comment and great list of restaurants on your blog!

    Dan – You should visit Chicago! Thanks for the nice comment.

  • Andrea

    My sister moved to Chicago about a year ago and this post has been bookmarked and e-mailed to her. I can’t wait to visit!

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