CHICAGO
12/31/2013 01:27 pm ET Updated Jan 23, 2014

The Best New Chicago Restaurants That Opened In 2013 (PHOTOS)

Sumi Robata Facebook

2013 was an eventful year in Chicago. As we look to 2014, we wanted to take this opportunity to look back on the year that was, including some of the incredible stories that helped make this year, for better or worse, so special. We reached out to some of the city's most respected trendsetters and influencers in music, food and drink and more to share some of their "year's best" picks, in addition to weighing in ourselves. We'll be rolling them out on the daily through New Year's Day.

Chicago's thriving restaurant scene continued to scale new heights this year with fresh helpings of cutting-edge cocktails, craft versions of comfort food and other epicurean delights.

In order to corral the best new restaurants the Windy City served up this year, we turned to the expert. Friend of HuffPost and the newly-minted editor of Tasting Table Chicago, Anthony Todd, shared his picks of the year with us, writing:

"2013 was a big year for the Chicago restaurant scene. We lost some pillars of the community (Charlie Trotter, Jean Banchet) and some great restaurants closed their doors. Luckily, some amazing newcomers popped up to take their places. Here, in no particular order, are my favorite openings of 2013. Don’t look for Eataly on the list – I’m waiting until the New Year to make my official visit."

Without further ado:

  • Three Dots And A Dash
    Three Dots And A Dash Facebook
    I lied. These may be in a particular order, only because Three Dots is the new place where I have spent the most of my own personal, off-duty, not-paid-for-by-someone else time and money. Paul McGee has created the consummate tiki paradise in a basement in River North, and, while it’s often a bit overrun, if you go at the right time of night you can almost pretend you’re on vacation in the South Seas. Rum haters, don’t fear; order a tiki cocktail made with scotch, rye or tequila and you won’t have to be left out of the party.
  • endgrain
    endgrain Facebook
    Endgrain had a rocky opening, with many delays – they only got their liquor license quite recently, and opening reviews were mixed. But I’m a sucker for their amazing biscuit sandwiches, and anywhere that serves a bacon-butterscotch donut is worth a visit.
  • Dusek’s Board and Beer
    Dusek's Facebook
    The Longman & Eagle team knocked it out of the park with this addition to the Pilsen restaurant scene. Between the warm, woody space, the delicious offal-filled menu and the huge beer list, there’s nothing about this place that isn’t perfect. Even better, the downstairs Punch House is worth its own entry on this list, with a 60s basement vibe that won’t quit and a selection of inexpensive, complex drinks sure to quench your thirst.
  • Fountainhead
    Fountainhead/Facebook
    Ok, Fountainhead isn’t exactly new. But Chef Cleetus Friedman, darling of the local food set and former owner of City Provisions, took over the kitchen earlier this year. He has utterly transformed Fountainhead; previously a joint where the food was an afterthought tacked onto the huge whiskey list, now it’s a real destination restaurant.
  • Honey Butter Fried Chicken
    Honey Butter Fried Chicken Facebook
    Could any restaurant possibly live up to the hype piled on Honey Butter Fried Chicken? The answer is simple: absolutely, positively yes. Their addictive chicken is complimented by some of the best vegetable side dishes in the city, and the crowds at this Avondale spot helmed by Sunday Dinner vets Christine Cikowski and Josh Kulp show no sign of slowing down.
  • The Berkshire Room
    The Berkshire Room Facebook
    It’s been a hell of a year for the Fifty/50 group. First, they totally revamped Homestead (now under Chef Chris Curren) into a year-round restaurant. Then, they hired Boka group mixologist Ben Schiller and gave him a craft cocktail playground: The Berkshire Room. Hiding in the back of the Acme Hotel, the Berkshire Room is the coziest spot in town for a great drink. Plus, it’s the source of my favorite cocktail of 2013: Schiller’s “Weston,” made with coffee and pipe tobacco.
  • Sumi Robata Bar
    Sumi Robata Bar Facebook
    Sumi had the misfortune (at least for year-end lists) to open very early in 2013. But Chef Gene Kato’s tiny restaurant is worth a mention, if only for his amazing tiny meat dishes that kept us coming back for more. Grilled chicken gizzard, anyone?
  • Tanta
    Tanta Facebook
    I was skeptical of this celebrity-chef-helmed outsider in River North – would the fashionistas force them to tone down the food? Happily, the answer was no. Just one sip of their traditional “leche de tigre” (a guaranteed hangover cure made of liquefied ceviche) and you know that Tanta isn’t playing around.
  • Nico Osteria
    Nico Osteria Facebook
    Nico has proven, once and for all, that it’s the restaurants, not the crowds, that make dining in the Gold Coast so permanently mediocre. While the Gold Coast dining scene has long been lame, the Paul Kahan-helmed Italian spot smack in the middle of the Viagra Triangle serves food that is light years ahead of its neighbors (and it’s packed all the time).
  • CH Distillery
    CH Distillery Faceook
    CH Distillery convinced me that drinking vodka wasn’t a waste of time. Try their ice-cold vodka with rye bread and pickles, and prepare to be astounded. Most people don’t realize that CH Distillery even has a menu, but they do – and it’s great, filled with Russian and Scandinavian inspired dishes.

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