Credit: Illustration by Jason Wyatt Frederick

From Brianna Wellen’s introduction, “Losses and gains: Best of Chicago 2020”:

Some business to get out of the way: the reader poll results were determined by you, the readers! If you’re angry about the results, you only have yourselves to blame! Let this be a reminder to keep a close eye on when voting begins next year so you can campaign for your favorites to get the top spot. Or better yet, share your own losses and gains on social media and tag us @Chicago_Reader with the hashtags #bestofchi and #BoC2020. Tell us what made your year worthwhile, shine a light on the people, places, and things that helped you survive, and we’ll share with our followers. I should also acknowledge that a lot of writers’ picks skew to the north side, in part because we weren’t leaving our homes and that’s where many of us live. It’s something we recognize and are always working on changing—I hope this encourages all folks reading this to look beyond those borders.

Review the closed ballot to see all the finalists.

Best alfresco dining

Eris Brewery and Cider House

Runner-up: Beatnik

Best bagels

New York Bagel & Bialy

Runner-up: Chicago Bagel Authority

Best bakery


Runner-up: Lost Larson

Best bang for your buck

Sultan’s Market

Runner-up: Redhot Ranch

Best banh mi

Nhu Lan Bakery

Runner-up: Ba Le Sandwiches

Best bar

Lost Lake

Runner-up: Liar’s Club

Best barbecue

Smoque BBQ

Runner-up: Green Street Smoked Meats

Best barista

Haley Amicon

Runner-up: Tyrone Banks

Best beer shop

The Beer Temple

Runner-up: Andersonville Wine & Spirits

Best bread

Bungalow by Middle Brow

Runner-up: Publican Quality Bread

Best burger

Au Cheval

Runner-up: Kuma’s Corner

Best butcher shop

Paulina Market

Runner-up: Gene’s Sausage Shop & Delicatessen

Best Caribbean restaurant

90 Miles Cuban Cafe

Runner-up: Casa Yari

Best carryout/delivery cocktails

Lost Lake

Runner-up: Scofflaw

Best cheesemonger

Cheeze & Thank You

Runner-up: Stamper Cheese Company

Best chef

Stephanie Izard

Runner-up: Yari Vargas

Best Chinese restaurant

Sun Wah BBQ

Runner-up: Lao Sze Chuan

Best Chinese takeout/delivery

Sun Wah BBQ

Runner-up: House of Wah Sun

Best cocktail

Lost Lake

Runner-up: Scofflaw

Best coffee roaster

Dark Matter

Runner-up: Intelligentsia

Best desserts

Bang Bang Pie & Biscuits

Runner-up: Hoosier Mama Pie Company

Best doughnuts

Do-Rite Donuts

Runner-up: Stan’s Donuts

Best falafel

Sultan’s Market

Runner-up: Taste of Lebanon

Best farmers’ market

Logan Square Farmers Market

Runner-up: Green City Market

Best food relief effort

Greater Chicago Food Depository

Runner-up: The Love Fridge

Best food truck


Runner-up: The Fat Shallot

Best fried chicken shack

Honey Butter Fried Chicken

Runner-up: Harold’s Chicken (no franchise specified)

Best gluten-free pizza

Paulie Gee’s

Runner-up: Spacca Napoli

Best gourmet market

Gene’s Sausage Shop & Delicatessen

Runner-up: Eataly

Best Greek restaurant

Greek Islands

Runner-up: Athenian Room

Best hot dog


Runner-up: The Wiener’s Circle

Best ice cream


Runner-up: Margie’s Candies

Best Indian restaurant

The Spice Room

Runner-up: Ghareeb Nawaz

Best Italian beef sandwich


Runner-up: Al’s #1 Italian Beef

Best Italian restaurant


Runner-up: Piccolo Sogno

Best Korean restaurant

San Soo Gab San Korean BBQ

Runner-up: Cho Sun Ok

Best liquor store

Binny’s Beverage Depot

Runner-up: Andersonville Wine & Spirits

Best local beer

Revolution Brewing

Runner-up: Half Acre Beer Company

Best local brewery

Revolution Brewing

Runner-up: Half Acre Beer Company

Best local distillery

Koval Distillery

Runner-up: CH Distillery

Best local farmer

Mick Klug Farm

Runner-up: Urban Growers Collective

Best local food product

Upton’s Naturals

Runner-up: Phoenix Bean tofu

Best local grocer

The Dill Pickle Food Co-op

Runner-up: HarvesTime Foods

Best local spirit

Jeppson’s Malört

Runner-up: Koval Bourbon

Best meal kits

Logan Oyster Socials

Runner-up: Alinea

Best Mexican restaurant

Mi Tocaya Antojería

Runner-up: 5 Rabanitos

Best Middle Eastern restaurant

Sultan’s Market

Runner-up: Reza’s

Best new food trend


Runner-up: Quesabirria

Best new pop-up

Chicago Vegan Test Kitchen

Runner-up: Birria Ta-Ta-Tacos

Best online cooking instruction

The Chopping Block

Runner-up: The Wooden Spoon

Best overall restaurant

Lula Cafe

Runner-up: Girl & the Goat

Best paleteria

La Michoacana

Runner-up: D’Fruta la Vida

Best pandemic pivot from a restaurant


Runner-up: Bungalow by Middle Brow

Best pierogi


Runner-up: Gene’s Sausage Shop & Delicatessen

Best pizza


Runner-up: Spacca Napoli

Best pizza by the slice

The Boiler Room

Runner-up: Dante’s Pizzeria

Best pizza delivery

Lou Malnati’s

Runner-up: Dante’s Pizzeria

Best place worth a wait

Lula Cafe

Runner-up: Au Cheval

Best Polish restaurant


Runner-up: Red Apple

Best preserves

Rare Bird Preserves

Runner-up: Spoken: A Cafe

Best quesabirria/birria de res tacos

Birrieria Zaragoza

Runner-up: Tacotlan

Best ramen


Runner-up: Furious Spoon

Best restaurant group

Lettuce Entertain You Enterprises

Runner-up: The Alinea Group

Best sandwich

J.P. Graziano

Runner-up: Bari

Best seafood restaurant

Calumet Fisheries

Runner-up: Lowcountry

Best socially distanced dining

Eris Brewery and Cider House

Runner-up: The Warbler

Best soul food restaurant

Luella’s Southern Kitchen

Runner-up: Soul Vegetarian

Best soup

Taste of Lebanon

Runner-up: Soupbox

Best sourdough

Bungalow by Middle Brow

Runner-up: Publican Quality Bread

Best steak house


Runner-up: Tango Sur

Best sushi

Lawrence Fish Market

Runner-up: Kai Zan

Best taqueria

El Milagro

Runner-up: L’Patron

Best Thai restaurant

Opart Thai House

Runner-up: Sticky Rice

Best up-and-coming chef

Kelly Ijichi

Runner-up: Halee Raff

Best urban farm

Urban Growers Collective

Runner-up: Urban Canopy

Best vegan restaurant

Chicago Diner

Runner-up: Ground Control

Best vegetarian restaurant


Runner-up: Chicago Diner

Best Vietnamese restaurant

Pho 888

Runner-up: HaiSous Vietnamese Kitchen

Best wine shop

Binny’s Beverage Depot

Runner-up: All Together Now

Best of Chicago 2020 is
presented by

    Sponsored in part by