Let me tell you, it can be hard to make up your mind when you’re a food writer. So we’ve got a little dessert in the form of some honorable mentions on our list of noteworthy bites of 2022. Enjoy!

Honorable mentions:

Top row left to right:

Smoked Oyster Sardou at the Fire and Wine dinner hosted by Babygold BBQ, Berwyn: Inspired by an egg dish popularized in New Orleans, this one-time-only offering was the opening dish at the Ridge Wine dinner at Babygold Barbecue, 6615 Roosevelt Rd., in November. The deceptively complex oyster, garnished with artichoke and spinach, was at once delicate, smoky and crispy.

Gifts from the chef at Sen Sushi, Oak Park: We received this gorgeous amuse bouche before a casual weekday lunch. It was rich with texture and bold flavored–we love how simple it is to remember a delicious bite we didn’t know we were going to get. You get consistently good sushi at Sen, 814 S Oak Park Ave., but their little surprises are a total delight, too.

Nuts to Go at the Soul City Community Market, Chicago: When we visit the weekly Soul City Community Market, 5713 W Chicago Ave., we are quick to buy beautiful produce from Forty Acers Fresh Market, but often ended up buying roasting nuts from Nuts to Go—we are big fans of the aroma and the flavor!

Middle row: Left to right

Jimmy’s Creation from Poke Burrito, Oak Park: This is a go to dish for us and has been a favorite year after year. Colorful, creative and complex the offering is the personal selection of owner, Jimmy Chen. He has great culinary skills and big love for our local restaurant community—those are two great ingredients! Grab your own fresh bowl at 1025 Lake St.—it is briming with salmon, tuna and avocado.

Omurice from Kyuramen, Oak Park: A feast for the eyes and social media worthy, too the classic omurice from Kyuramen, 118 N Marion St., features a fluffy omelet on top of fried rice, topped with demi glace. The egg is spilt in dramatic fashion before being sauced.

Herb chicken, mac n’ cheese and collard greens from Two Sisters Catering, Chicago: Veah Larde, chef-owner of Two Sisters Catering puts love in every dish and we swear you can taste it. She closed her brick-and-mortar in 2022 and now runs her business out of the Hatchery, 135 N Kedzie Ave. Her model is evolving, but her food is consistently delicious.

Bottom Row: Left to right

Our last burger from Big Guys Sausage Stand, Berwyn: Saying goodbye is hard, but in this case, we were able to eat our feelings. After a decade on Roosevelt Rd. Brendan O’Connor closed the counter service joint that locals loved. We savored our last burger—onion straws and all—and look forward watching his catering business expand at 7021 Roosevelt Rd.

Retro Meatloaf Appetizers, GCM annual meeting, Oak Park: Two years into being a non-profit organization, Growing Community Media invited donors into the newsroom. We served up some 1970’s themed treats including these little meatloaf sandwiches—they were pretty darn delicious!

Salt and Pepper Wings from Happy Chef, Forest Park: This strip mall Chinese spot, 1215 S. Harlem Ave., flies low under the radar, but they are making some of the most reliable counter service fare in the area. Sure, you’d expect them to make a mean eggroll and lovely Lo Mein—spoiler alert they do, but their wings are an unexpected stand out. Expect them to be shatteringly crisp with notes of star anise. They come six to an order and can be served mild to extra spicy.

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