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Chicago's Best New Dishes Of 2022

Our 12 favorite new dishes from 2022.

We visited an unbelievable amount of restaurants this year. And after hundreds of meals, lots of leftovers we accidentally forgot in the car, and countless coat check refusals, we present to you Chicago’s best new dishes of 2022. 

These are the bites of food that came into our lives for the very first time over the past year, and have become go-to talking points whenever we corner someone at a party. They’re the reason we had a dream that we were driving a car with a steering wheel made of pizza being chased by a bowl of mushroom korma while it was raining po’ boys. And If you haven’t been lucky enough to meet them all yet, make it your goal to change that in 2023.

THE DISHES

photo credit: Kim Kovacik

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8.1

Bereket Turkish Mediterranean Restaurant

$$$$

333 S Franklin St, Chicago
Earn 3X Points

Iskender

We normally avoid eating in the Loop the way we hope the cast of Love Is Blind avoids Googling themselves. But the Iskender from Turkish restaurant Bereket is responsible for our recent, suspiciously enthusiastic, return to office campaign. The döner meat has crispy edges that pair wonderfully with its buttery tomato sauce-soaked croutons, and the yogurt sauce cuts right through all that richness. We’re firmly in the “take a forkful of each and build your own bite” approach, but you’re free to mix it all together if you want. You can make your own decisions, even if they’re the wrong ones.


Mushroom Korma

Look, we can argue all day about who said what when, and whether the mushroom korma at Wazwan told us it was vegan before we ordered it. If it did, we don’t remember that conversation, and that might be because food doesn’t speak. Regardless, we can’t deny that this is one of the best curry dishes we’ve had, vegan or otherwise. The creamy cashew sauce is filled with so many wild mushrooms you’ll wonder if you’re microdosing, fried garlic, and ginger in a bowl of fluffy rice. We also appreciate the generous amount of shaved black truffle on top.


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Mapo Hot Fries

Rarely do we encounter fries at a bar that make the place more of a destination than the drinks. But this dish from Chinatown speakeasy Nine Bar transcends the humble status of utility snack, so that we now reference every event using the terms pre- or post-Mapo hot fries. They’re topped with pickled pepper, scallion, spicy mayo, and a zesty mapo sauce that makes us want to go door to door and spearhead a campaign to make this the universal condiment for fries. Plus, with their perpetually crispy waffle shape, there’s no better vehicle for the mountain of toppings.


Po'boys

We refuse to pick only one of Daisy’s po'boys to call the best. The correct choice is “all of them” because they’re all the best you’ll find in Chicago. The ratio of bread and meat to mayo, pickles, lettuce, and tomato is perfect. And that bread is imported from a New Orleans bakery, which must make a difference because it’s crackly on the outside and soft on the inside. Wait, what’s that? We have to pick just one for the purposes of this guide? Fine, the fried shrimp.


White Pie

This NY-style white pie makes us want to boycott tomatoes. It has the usual suspects like mozzarella and blobs of ricotta, but then takes a wonderful left turn with the addition of a soubise base, shallots, aromatic fried rosemary, and hot honey. The whole thing is rich, herbaceous, and slightly sweet. Plus, it’s all on a sesame seed crust, which is the pizza dough we didn’t know we needed until now.


Sach Koh Ang

We ate a lot of meat on the job this year, but nothing made us want to climb a mountain and declare our love like the sach koh ang from Khmai in Rogers Park. Our first taste of these smoky Cambodian beef skewers warped us to another dimension where time was suspended and the only thing that existed was us and the sweet and savory meat. And when dipped in Khmai’s housemade tuk trei sauce, each bite gets a burst of spice and tartness.


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Chesa's Bistro And Bar

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Short Rib And Grits

“I want to sleep with this under my pillow, ” is what we said halfway through the short rib and grits at Chesa’s. The gluten-free, Southern restaurant in Avondale serves the kind of food that makes us look forward to–or at least not hate—Chicago’s 30-degree days. It’s a beefy change of pace from shrimp, and after discovering how well cheesy grits incorporate with the pieces of meat, we don’t understand how every Southern restaurant doesn’t already have this combination on their menu.


Halo Halo

The one dish from this Filipino cafe/fine dining hybrid in Ukrainian Village that keeps us on the prowl for reservations is the halo halo. Delicate frozen pear granita is complemented by fruits, nutty pandan ice cream, and the creamiest leche flan we’ve ever had, all with a sprinkling of crackly puffed rice. It’s only available as the finale of their $235 tasting menu, but this dish alone is enough motivation for us to cancel our Netflix and HBO subscriptions for a few months.


Leek Gramigne

If there’s such a thing as a pasta cuffing season, then Segnatore’s leek gramigne is who we’re choosing to comfort us through winter. The gramigne is in a dry vermouth cream sauce packed with short rib and mushrooms, and tossed with cured egg yolk. Calling this pasta rich is like calling Tom Brady, well, rich. Factual, but doesn’t quite cover it. This is a dish you consider leaving your significant other for.


Sausage Egg And Cheese

Like a violin prodigy who played varsity basketball but also helped us dig our car out of the snow, the sausage egg and cheese from Avondale’s Loaf Lounge is an overachiever that we actually like spending time with. From the housemade english muffins to their garlic maple sausage, each component comes together to create the platonic ideal of a breakfast sandwich. All of the above is also how it nabbed the title of the Best Breakfast Sandwich in Chicago.


Misoyaki Eggplant

The first time we tried the misoyaki eggplant tartine from Second Generation in Logan Square, it was like experiencing a Criss Angel illusion without the bulk shipment of black mascara. It was so meaty that even after a thorough dissection we struggled to believe it was vegetarian. This open-faced sandwich is piled with a mountain of umami-packed eggplant and mushrooms on top of a pleasantly tart slice of sourdough. Topped off with creamy egg yolk and hoisin, the whole dish has a comforting richness that would calm us down even if we were the ones being sawn in half.


The Monster

Pork ramen has ruled Chicago’s ramen landscape for years. But its long-standing reign has ended, dethroned by the beef-based broth from Monster Ramen in Logan Square. The Monster bowl is the best platform for their gyukotsu—seasoned with garlic miso tare and loaded with chewy housemade noodles, beef jam, wagyu chashu, and wagyu rib roast. An entire produce section of a grocery store has also been finagled into the soup: Menma, corn, and raw onion add freshness to offset what could be meat overload.

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