You voted. Vigorously, enthusiastically, perhaps more than once (permitted under our one-ballot-per-day rules). And in the end, you named more than a dozen Readers’ Choice Dining Award winners that, in terms of insight, made me a little nervous for my job.
You people know your food. And drink.
From a list of nominees chosen by Food & Dining staffers (OK, we helped a little), you voted for Chicago’s best new restaurant, best food court, best coffee roaster, best restaurant views, best airport food — and 10 others. Some races were incredibly close. Some were runaways. Worthy winners, all.
Nice job, food fans. And now, the envelopes …
— Phil Vettel, Tribune food critic
Best New Restaurant: Aba
I could have predicted this one. Aba, the sequel to Ema in River North (the names mean “father” and “mother,” respectively, in Hebrew), opened in June in the Fulton Market District and was the hottest place in town all summer long. Even now, people crowd in when the doors open (at 4 p.m.!) for a shot at a table and chef C.J. Jacobson’s food, inspired by the Mediterranean and Middle East but protein-rich enough for American palates (start with stracciatella, finish with beef tenderloin and truffle butter). Match that with a wine list with a trove of bottles from Lebanon, Greece, Israel and Morocco (selected by Ryan Arnold of Bar Ramone). Aba easily outpolled its closest competitors, Pacific Standard Time and S.K.Y. (in that order). 302 N. Green St., 773-645-1400, abarestaurantchicago.com — Phil Vettel