Okay, not exactly, but a lot of our local critics and observers are compiling end of year lists in lieu of doing reviews this week, so we’re compiling a compilation of them. (If we missed one, let us know.) In true listicle fashion, we’ll evaluate each one for three key factors: a general theme, the place or thing on the list we most want to check out, and what we think it means, or says about the writer and how he or she approaches our food scene. Check them out below.
Author: Mike Sula, Reader
Format: A top ten, plus an outdoing-even-Time-Out supplementary list of 124 things he liked
Theme: If you’re just eating on Randolph Street and not eating Chinese food in Bridgeport and African in Rogers Park, you are so missing out. That said, the actual top ten is pretty much famous name places.
We Want: “Baby potatoes with soy sauce, Northern City.” With a name so plain, it must be great.
What We Learned: Sula keeps much better notes on what he eats than we, or just about anybody else, does
Author: Time Out Chicago Restaurants & Bars Staff
Format: 100 best things they ate, cumulatively, in 2012
Theme: All the usual suspects are here, but the occasional ringer points you to places you’d kind of forgotten about, which may not be great, but still might have one really good thing— barbecued chicken at Big Bricks, whole fish at The Savoy, the Negroni sbagliato at RPM Italian.
We Want: Onion rings from Indie Burger.
What We Learned: Time Out sometimes writes like it barely leaves Wicker Park, but somebody there knows good cheap Mexican food.
Author: Michael Nagrant, Sun-Times reviewer
Format: Pinterest board, the internet’s answer to hieroglyphics
Theme: Small plates
We Want: Shrimp, poblano, corn pudding, from Tavernita.
What We Learned: The rhubarb pizza at Balena turned up on both TOC’s and Nagrant’s list. We had it, but it didn’t stick with us the same way.
Author: Chicagoist food & drink crew
Format: Favorite bites from everybody.
Theme: Eclectic, to say the least.
We Want: Pork belly gyros with raita from Publican Quality Meats.
What We Learned: The underground hit of the year is Bang Bang Pie’s biscuits.
Author: Joe Campagna, Chicago Food Snob
Format: Faux predictions snarking on 2012’s food scene.
We Want: A Kevin Boehm Shirt.
What We Learned: “Paul Kahan takes the farm-to-table concept to its obvious endpoint and announces Publican Quality Animals, a Fulton Market storefront where customers can purchase live cows and chickens. You can take them home to harvest or let the butchers do the work for you.”
Author: C. Esposito, food fan on Twitter
Format: Tweeting one per day up til New Year’s.
Theme: What’s strong on our scene is approachability.
We Want: To go back to Ruxbin in 2013.
What We Learned: You can pretty much nail it in 140 characters.
Author: Mike Gebert, Sky Full of Bacon
Format: Top ten.
Theme: Pork and farmer’s market vegetables in superior hands.
We Want: It’s our list, so by definition, we already had it.
What We Learned: Like Sula, we love the little joints, but had to give the name places the prizes this year.