16 from '16 | chicago foodie girl


16 from '16

Happy New Year! I hope everyone had a fantastic holiday season and an uneventful start to 2017; after the craziness/sadness/ridiculousness of last year, I know that's about all many of you were hoping for (sigh). As per usual, I spent the first few weeks of my winter break in perpetual party mode (well, as much of a party mode a thirty-something who likes to be in bed by 10pm can shift into): it was all day drinking, Christmas celebrations, movie marathons, and restaurant visits. Alas, the time has come for me to stop acting like I'm a professional lady of leisure; not only do I need to put the finishing touches on my syllabi (classes start next week), but also, I have to shift back into student mode, as my next graduate course begins tomorrow.

Before I dive headfirst into my big plans for the year, I thought I would take a look back at some of the foodie highlights of 2016. I know I say it every year, but 2016 was truly an epic food year! As I did in 2015, I used the summer to make a nice dent in my must-visit restaurants list, as well as discover an abundance of new spots with my lovely group of foodie friends. I also had the opportunity to take a mini-trip to Canada with Diana, in which we ate our way through two cities (more to come on this!). While there were quite a few events during the year that left me puzzled, angry, and devastated, overall, it was still a fab year of food. :-)

Here are 16 of my favorites from 2016:

Lobster Mac & Cheese, with Tallegio and sweet corn from Smack Shack. I don't know what sort of mac & cheese wizardry they have going on over there, but this was not only my favorite of their dishes but also my favorite version of lobster mac I've *ever* had. The mild, tangy cheese pairs perfectly with the buttery lobster and the breadcrumbs add a crunchy texture to the dish (which helps to cut through the richness). So much deliciousness!

Grilled Hanger Steak smothered in peppercorn-brandy sauce and served with a mound of crispy fries from Southport & Irving. Sometimes there's really nothing better than perfectly prepared steak - add in a ridiculously addictive sauce and you have yourself the ultimate plate of comfort food!

RuYi Specialty Roll from RuYi: spicy salmon, tempura crunch, avocado, yellowtail, tuna, and tobiko with spicy mayo. Diana and I both fell hard for this spicy roll during a visit to Milwaukee, thanks to the combination of a few of our favorite cuts of fish paired with the buttery avocado and crunchy tempura pieces. 

The elle, stop (such a clever name!) from Boiler Room: alfredo sauce, mozzarella, provolone, gorgonzola, pear slices & prosciutto, topped with a honey drizzle. As I mentioned on Instagram, this was one of the best pizzas I've had in years - the combination of sweet, salty, cheesy, and meaty was right on!

Spicy Half Chicken with Brussels sprouts and guanciale from Travelle. Honestly, I rarely order chicken when I go to a nice restaurant (I tend to gravitate toward the seafood side of the menu), but after several recommendations, I knew I had to try this perfectly roasted and spiced chicken. Trust me, this is not your typical boring chicken - it's definitely worth ordering!

Buffalo Mac & Cheese with fried chicken and pimento cheese sauce from Honey Butter Fried Chicken. Meaty, cheesy carbaliciousness! Really, what's there not to love about this?!

Croque Monsieur with poached pears, 1655 Gruyere, sage bechamel, and Prosciutto di Parma from Appellation. For me, this flawlessly constructed sandwich not only the standout of our entrées but also it was the best Croque Monsieur I've ever had! If the perfectly creamy Gruyere and sage bechamel (*swoon*) aren't enough, then it will most definitely be the addition of the poached pears that will finally steal your heart. Yes, yes, and YES!

Hamachi Crudo with hearts of palm, blood orange, black truffle sprinkles, and roasted macadamia nuts from GreenRiver. I love a good hamachi crudo (in fact, I order it practically every time I find it on a menu) and this delicate little beauty is absolutely one of my favorite versions I've had in years. My dining companions were lucky to get a single bite of this dish; needless to say, this perfectly composed dish is most definitely a must-order!

Whole Chicken & Chamomile from Roister. The chicken is done three ways (the thighs are boned and fried, the breasts are poached and roasted, and the rest is used for a creamy chicken salad) and served with chamomile flowers and this ridiculously delicious sunchoke gravy that will leave you wanting to lick the bowl clean. It’s an absolute must-order!

Squid Ink Pasta with uni butter from Eataly. The slightly salty pasta paired perfectly with the creamy uni butter. I've always had a thing for squid ink pasta and the addition of the uni butter took it to a new level. So much goodness!

Tikka Masala Wings with ginger yogurt at Beef & Barley. The slightly spicy tikka masala is a delicious twist on the same old, same old wing sauces. 2016 was definitely the year in which I got into specialty wings; Beef & Barley's version is the dish that inspired it all!

Raclette and Prosciutto Sandwich from Baked Cheese Haus (at Christkindlmarket). If you've never had raclette before, you are most definitely missing out, as this Swiss favorite is absolutely amazing!

Virgin Bride Maki with spicy tuna, super white tuna, tempura, and wasabi tobiko at Rock Wrap & Roll is so fresh and flavorful (not to mention fun to photograph!). It's officially one of my favorite rolls in the city!

The re-imagined Sticky Toffee Pudding with dates, blood orange puree, and praline ice cream from Café des Architectes. I could not get enough of the gooey toffee bites paired with the acidic citrus. I already loved sticky toffee pudding to begin with - Chef Young took it to an entirely new level!

Jian Dui from Imperial Lamian: fried rice dough filled with sweet lotus paste and covered in sesame seeds. I'm so glad we made room for dessert after our lunch feast because these sweet, chewy, nutty balls were amazing!

Pumpkin Cupcake Smash with spiced pumpkin ice cream, layers of caramel, and a brown sugar frosted pumpkin cupcake from Smallcakes Chicago (one of my all-time favorite cupcake shops!). This was most definitely the ultimate fall dessert!

Bonus pick! 
Peppermint, Coffee Toffee, Vanilla Oreo, and Chocolate Chocolate Chip Ice Cream Sandwiches from Cocoa + Co (one of the most adorable shops in the entire city!). If you haven't yet made it over to this fantastic shop, you need to put it on your list! Owner Kim Hack knows more about chocolate than anyone I've ever met, and her shop is filled with all sorts of lovely treats you cannot easily find elsewhere.



  1. Replies
    1. Of course! I need to stop by again soon! 👍🏻

    2. Looking forward to see you ��

  2. So excited to have made your list for 2016! New Year's Resolution: Debut more yumscious chocolatey things and earn a spot again next year. Getting right to work!

    1. I easily could have picked any number of your delicious treats/beverages I worked my way through during the year. So much goodness!


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