Takeaways and Surprises From the ‘New York Times’ 25 Best Chicago Restaurants List

Must read

It’s parachute season for the Gray Lady as the New York Times has begun to drop dining guides for cities nationwide. Last week, the paper’s Pete Wells dropped his 100 best restaurant list in New York City. Chicago and its 2.7 million population, received a list 75 percent smaller on Tuesday when the paper released its 25 Best Restaurants in Chicago Right Now from a trio of writers — former Tribune food writer Kevin Pang, Times reporter Priya Krishna, and editor Brian Gallagher.

Via Instagram, Pang touts that he’s been “eating like a maniac the past seven months.” Unlike the New York City list, the Chicago one isn’t ranked. The Times described its effort in an introduction as a regularly updated list that recommends new and classic restaurants (not unlike Eater’s own 38). The Times pays for all meals and doesn’t accept free items, per its disclosure.

Off the top, the lead photo is of Doug Psaltis, who operates Andros Taverna and Asador Bastian, with the latter being selected by Pang for the Times feature. Psaltis is a New York-born chef, which seems appropriate for a New York-based publication, formerly represented the “P” in Lettuce Entertain You’s celebrity-baked RPM restaurants; Psaltis departed LEYE in 2019 amid allegations that he attacked a subordinate.

Meanwhile, LEYE — Chicago’s largest restaurant group, with entries like the new Tre Dita and stalwarts like Sushi-san and Aba — has zero restaurants on the Times’ list.

Folks who have followed Pang’s Chicago career might not be surprised by some of the selections. For example, he made a movie about Ever chef Curtis Duffy, For Grace. He also worked as creative director for M. Harris, the PR firm that represents the restaurant. And he’s written love letters to other restaurants, like Uncle John’s Bar-B-Que (in the form of its predecessor) and Shanghai Terrace.

Here are some takeaways:

  • New restaurants: 4. Not all of them have opened within the year: Akahoshi Ramen, Maxwells Trading, Thattu, Warlord
  • South Side spots: 5. Twenty restaurants are north of Madison Avenue, the following are south: Kim’s Uncle Pizza (suburban Westmont), Al Bawadi Grill (suburban Bridgeview; there’s also a northern suburban location in Niles), The Duck Inn (Bridgeport), Uncle John’s Bar-B-Que (suburban Homewood), Virtue (Hyde Park)
  • Suburban restaurants: 4. Al Bawadi Grill (Bridgeport, Niles), Johnnie’s Beef (Elmwood Park; there’s also an Arlington Heights location that was omitted from the Times piece), Kim’s Uncle Pizza (Westmont), Uncle Jerry’s Bar-B-Que (Homewood)
  • Chinese: 1. Shanghai Terrace
  • Filipino: 1. Kasama
  • Japanese: 1. Akahoshi Ramen
  • Restaurants that serve sushi: 0
  • Indian 1. Thattu
  • Italian: 1. Monteverde
  • Mexican: 2. Mi Tocaya Antojeria, Tortas Frontera
  • Airport restaurants: 1. Tortas Frontera at O’Hare International Airport
  • Michelin-starred/tasting menu restaurants: 3. Ever, Kasama, Oriole
  • Places that serve Italian beef: 2. Johnnie’s Beef, The Duck Inn
  • Hot dog stands: 1. Superdawg
  • Pizzerias: 1. Kim’s Uncle Pizza
  • Pizzerias that serve deep-dish pizza: 0
  • One Off Hospitality restaurants: 1. Avec.
  • Boka Restaurant Group restaurants: 1. Boka.
  • Lettuce Entertain You Enterprises restaurants: 0.
  • Bars: 2. Loyalist, Hopleaf


615 W Randolph St, Chicago, IL 60661 (312) 377-2002 Visit Website

The Duck Inn

2701 South Eleanor Street, , IL 60608 (312) 724-8811 Visit Website


1729 North Halsted Street, , IL 60614 (312) 337-6070 Visit Website


1001 North Winchester Avenue, , IL 60622 (773) 697-3790 Visit Website


2601 West Fletcher Street, , IL 60618 (773) 754-0199 Visit Website

Shanghai Terrace

108 East Superior Street, , IL 60611 (312) 573-6744 Visit Website


5148 North Clark Street, , IL 60640 (773) 334-9851 Visit Website


3500 North Elston Avenue, , IL 60618 (872) 204-7138 Visit Website

Lettuce Entertain You

5419 N Sheridan Rd, Chicago, IL 60640 (773) 878-7340


661 West Walnut Street, , IL 60661 (312) 877-5899 Visit Website

Boka Restaurant Group

820 West Lake Street, , IL 60607 (312) 238-9896 Visit Website


1020 West Madison Street, Chicago, IL 60607 (312) 888-3041

Al Bawadi Grill

7216 West 87th Street, , IL 60455 (708) 599-1999 Visit Website


3198 North Milwaukee Avenue, , IL 60618 Visit Website

Akahoshi Ramen

2340 North California Avenue, , IL 60647 Visit Website

Tortas Frontera

10 S Dearborn St, Chicago, IL 60603 (312) 732-6505 Visit Website


1462 E. 53rd Street, Chicago, IL


1330 W. Fulton Market, Chicago, IL 60607 Visit Website

More articles

Latest article