17 from '17 | chicago foodie girl


17 from '17

Happy New Year! I hope everyone had a fantastic start to 2018. I have to admit that I’ve been less than impressed with this year thus far, as I’ve spent just about all of it on the couch in my pajamas nursing various gross ailments (leaving the apartment only once to go to the doctor's office), worrying about a close friend in the hospital, and very much not doing the work I need to do for the start of the semester. It can only go up from here though, right?!

Despite the less than auspicious start to 2018, I am glad to leave last year in the dust. It was one of those years with extreme highs and extreme lows. While I had some fantastic professional opportunities (several of which included some fab travel), much of the year was spent worrying about a professional setback Mario suffered and dealing with some major anxiety surrounding the loss of someone very close to us. The majority of the year was one big emotional drain, although thankfully, things finally started to turn around in December. While I know logically there’s not a big difference between December 31 and January 1, it just felt cathartic to leave the year behind.

Despite some personal struggles, it was a fantastic year in food. I ate my way across Chicago and fell hard for some new restaurants, explored some fab eats in Wisconsin, Indiana, Arizona, and Mexico, and finally knocked a three-Michelin starred restaurant off my bucket list (stay tuned for more about this in an upcoming post). There were some sad losses in the Chicago restaurant community (Grace! 😢), but I’m still confident Chicago will continue to offer amazing experiences and I’m excited to see what this next year will bring!

Here are 17 of my favorites from 2017:

The OG Lox and the Confit Albacore Tuna with oil-cured olives at Snaggletooth. I loved this charming cured fish deli from the moment I first stepped foot in it shortly after its opening in 2016. The space was adorable and owners Bill Montagne and Jennifer Kim put a lot of love and effort into every one of their perfectly constructed dishes. I was so sad to say goodbye to this gem over the summer!

Cuban Benedict with pork loin, city ham, poached eggs, Swiss cheese, and sherry mustard hollandaise at The Craftsman. This benedict officially ruined all others for me - it's the perfect combination of salty, cheesy, rich, tart and oozy. So decadent and incredibly delicious!

I stopped by Gayle's Best Ever Grilled Cheese to pick up two of her epic Lobster Grilled Cheese Sandwiches in honor of National Grilled Cheese Day (as I love a good food holiday!) and fell hard for this rich and cheesy masterpiece. Her sandwiches are so fantastic (and photogenic) and definitely worth trying.

It took me ages to make it over to Parlor Pizza - and now that I’ve finally been there, I’m obsessed! 🍕🍕🍕 This Crispy Pork Belly & Blistered Shishito Pizza with ponzu is *so freaking good!* I’ve officially added it to my list of favorite pizzas in the city.

Everything Wings at Mott Street: crispy wings glazed with soy and dried chilis, and tossed with sesame, poppy seed & fried shallots. Holy YES!! I’ve become a bit of a wing connoisseur (how cool of a job title would that be?! 🤣) over the last few years and I have to say that I’m rarely blown away - there are a lot of good/decent wings and even more mediocre wings out there. But these wings? Exceptional!

Quarter Pounder Burger with cheese, pickled onions, and garlic aioli served with duck fat fries at The Bristol. The burger is so juicy and savory... and there's the salty cheese... and the tart pickles... and the creamy aioli... and... *heavy breathing.*

If the Slagel Farm Butter Burger Joy District isn't on your radar, you're seriously missing out! With Red Rock cheddar, black garlic & miso aioli, this burger is every umami lover's dream.

After just one visit to Eight Bar, I officially added the Downstairs Burger (with cheddar cheese, pickles, red onion, and dijonnaise) to my list of favorite burgers in the city. It's a classic double cheeseburger that is so perfectly done it blows all previous cheeseburgers out of the water!

I finally made it to the much-beloved neighborhood favorite Bistro Campagne and fell hard for their Steak Frites (filet mignon, bordelaise sauce, maître d’hôtel butter). Again, this is a classic done so right, thanks to the high-quality meat, rich sauce, and perfectly crispy fries.

It's no secret that I love all things Eataly and their Ristorante Toscano pop-up was no exception! My absolute favorite dish was the flavorful hand rolled Tuscan Spaghetti with wild boar ragù, dried fruit, and pine nuts.

I've always been fairly indifferent about grits; I found most of them to be boring and blah (and some were downright terrible). All that changed the day I walked into Heaven on Seven. Paired with gulf shrimp and beef debris, these Parmesan Grits are phenomenal!

The savory Chicken Balti and Masala Chicken Pies at Chiya Chai are some of the best I've ever had - the crust is soooo flakey and tender. Also, their amazing chais are not to be missed; I especially loved the iced raspberry coconut summer special chai.

Peanut Butter and Jelly Brisket Sandwich at Jalapeño Bucks in AZ. The creamy, warm peanut butter and sweet jelly combined with tender, moist brisket made it one of the best sandwiches I've ever tasted!

Beef Filet with black recado sauce and chorizo at El Patio. Not only was this one of my favorite dishes of my trip to Mexico, but it was also one of the best pieces of beef I've ever had! The black recado sauce was ridiculously good with its deep flavor and light/slow heat.

Butterscotch & Nutella Toast at Slightly Toasted. A thick slab of housemade brioche slathered in bourbon butterscotch sauce, a dollop of Nutella, and a sprinkling of sea salt. OMGeee! So delicious!

Basque Cake with seasonal fruit, candied walnuts, and vanilla chantilly at The Bristol. The golden cake is slightly less dense than the traditional version and so, so perfect. It's definitely a must-order!

I cannot get enough of the gorgeous cakes from newcomer Jennivee's Bakery, including the floral Ube Cake with macapuno and the bright and fruity Mango Cake.



  1. I am so sorry, I have been fighting off a bug myself since December, and I hope I am close to flushing it out. I look forward to trying every one of your recommendations, Wabash may be the only Heaven on Seven that is open right now, the Naperville location sadly closed its doors on the 1st, very sad about that


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