Happy New Year! Though it’s off to a grim start:


This is just ghastly—John Ross, co-owner of The Bristol, was shot in an attempted carjacking, in the middle of the day, in Bucktown on December 22:

Police said a 49-year-old man was approached by two unknown suspects who demanded his vehicle.

At least one suspect fired shots, striking the man, later identified as John Ross, one of the owners of The Bristol, in the leg. The suspects did not end up taking the vehicle.

Natalie Gubman was wrapping up work from home before the holidays, when a noise caught her attention.

“I just heard a shot and I heard like the squealing of a car,” she said. “so I just opened my door up there and I saw there was a guy that was just laying on the sidewalk and I was just like, Oh My God.’”

Ross put out a statement on Facebook a few days later:

As many of you know, I was shot in an attempted carjacking Wednesday afternoon. I would like to thank so so many people that have reached out to Triphena, my family & friends and me. I would also like to thank all the strangers that called 911 and the doctors and nurses that have been taking such good care of me.

I wanted to give you a little info as so many people have been asking. My femur is broken and has been put back together with many metal plates and my knee was shattered. I will not be able to walk for at least 3 months and I will need additional surgeries. There is a long road ahead for me but I am surrounded by wonderful people.

I thought I was going to be killed and I am very thankful to be alive.

Fooditor wishes for a speedy recovery for one of our best restaurateurs.


Not a lot of end of year lists, compared to past years. But here’s what we have:

Nick Kindelsperger did a personal twelve best list (though you’ll recognize many of them from his past stories on things like artisan bagels and smash burgers).

Count on Titus Ruscitti to give us the truly epic best-of list we’ve known in past years, with his 33 best bites and then a top ten restaurants as well (only two of which are in Chicago).

Inside Hook calls out “The 10 Chicago Restaurants We Loved Most in 2021,” with an emphasis on how they survived 2021 (ironically, one of the first ones is The Bristol, but word of the shooting must not have reached them by publication time):

It’s certainly been no walk in the park, just ask Andrew Barbera, Owner and Front of House Manager of Edgewater’s Beard & Belly, “The main thing I want people to know is that we are still getting our butts kicked. We have almost no business after 9pm, and every single time there is a Covid surge or a new variant, we see a major dip in sales for weeks or months. The next three months are going to be absolutely crucial for us to survive.”

Okay, impressed by something at The Infatuation for once—Adrian Kane’s list of top dishes of 2021 digs deep into things like a second-floor jiangbing place in Chinatown.

Resy asked its writers in each city to come up with their best bite this year: Chicago’s is a bit of an old favorite.

David Hammond has a top five of stories he ran at NewCity. Top five stories, or top five tastes among the stories he published?

At the Reader Mike Sula has mostly been focused on pop-ups this year, including the ones highlighted in the weekly Foodball event he hosts at Kedzie Inn, so in lieu of a top ten he talks about the year in pop-up experimentation:

One-off pop-ups are in some ways like opening nights at brick-and-mortar restaurants. If you’re a seasoned diner, you go in with adjusted expectations. You’re among the first to try something new and exciting, but you also know the chef is working in a new kitchen, and sometimes there are hiccups. Only amateurs get mad at this. But shout-out anyway to the hangry old dude in October, tired of waiting for his chicken sandwich, who went out of his way to tell me he’d be tipping the kitchen—but not me.

And here’s my own top ten for 2021, at Sky Full of Bacon.

I usually try to include top eats lists I see on social media, but I haven’t seen any—if you posted one, let me know and I’ll include it next week.

Buzz 2


Who knows what 2022 will be, other than the year that Soylent Green happens. But we’re in a weird state of sort of repeating the initial lockdown of nearly two years ago, without the conviction. Officially, yes, it’s very serious, and you can pretty much get the Omicron variant by looking at somebody, so the city has instituted rules which take effect Monday the 3rd that anyone going to sit and eat at a restaurant must show proof of full vaccination. Per Eater:

…those as young as age 5 will have to be fully vaccinated, and those 16 and older will have to produce a government ID along with their proof of vaccination. [Mayor Lori] Lightfoot said the January 3 rollout is designed to give the service industry time to talk to workers and to prepare to comply.

The list of locations covers essentially everywhere “food and drink are served,” Lightfoot said. Gyms, bowling alleys, pool halls, theaters, concert venues, and sports arenas are included. The order includes weddings and other private events…Restaurants and bars could face $2,000 to $10,000 in fines for noncompliance.

Here’s the thing that tells us we’re in a new era, though: requiring proof of vaccination status is a way of not doing what we routinely did in 2020 and the first part of 2021, which is, shutting indoor dining down. There are two reasons for this: nobody wants to politically own the death of restaurants that would follow another wave of closures; and two, nobody’s actually afraid of Omicron. Of course, IANAE (the e is for epidemiologist), so my science here could be all wrong, but there’s a general feeling that Omicron is similar to a medium-bad cold and won’t do you much harm—South Africa, where it was identified, mainly found out about it when people went to the hospital for something else and got tested for COVID along the way. Still almost no deaths anywhere in the world are attributed to Omicron.

That could change with the next wave of whatever, but it seems healthy to me that we’re now talking about acceptable levels of COVID, and other things which are risks, too, like kids being deprived of two straight years of in-person teaching and socialization—and killing off the food and beverage sector. So get your booster shot, wear your mask in public, but it looks like COVID is moving into the ranks of general hassles we tolerate, like winter colds and having to shovel your front walk. Good, because I like restaurants and want them to survive this wave.


I’ll take John Kessler’s word that Noble Thai’s “seasoning is so clean and so bright that it makes you consider favorite dishes anew,” even if “The dining area, with its abstract black-and-white mural suggestive of undulating waves and its blond wood furniture, is serene and beautiful; it’s like a next-gen Apple Store or the reading room in a just-built university library.” I tend to trust a place with divier decor than that.


A Lima-style Peruvian restaurant (for when you’re bored with eating Arequipan food), Avenida Peru opened in Belmont Central this past year and Titus Ruscitti says:

Most people who travel to Peru might spend one night in Lima, as a layover between their arrival in the country and their main reason for visiting – Machu Picchu. But those in the know aka people that like to travel for food know that Lima is the undisputed gastronomic capital of South America. The food of Peru is a conflation of indigenous Peruvian cultures from the Amazon mixed with Spanish and Arab and Moore influences that were fused with African, Chinese, and Japanese ingredients and culture. The use of the word “melting pot” is overplayed but Peruvian food is a true melting pot of flavors and if you want to experience the best it has to offer Lima is where it’s at. I think you could make the case that Limeño’s (people from Lima) are as food obsessed as anyone. So while the menu at Avenida Peru is somewhat similar to other Peruvian places around town it’s also a bit different.

Titus also finds a previously unrepresented regional specialty—Tijuana-style tacos. And a Thai dessert shop in Oak Park: Habrae Cafe.


One of the first places I went after lockdown, partly to get food for the family but also to see how places were doing, was the new Niles location of Al-Bawadi Grill, which had opened to lines out the door, and now was scraping by on takeout. At least when Steve Dolinsky went before Christmas, they were fully open again and he explains why the restaurant has two sides to it—one Palestinian, one Jordanian.


A picee allegedly by Grant Achatz at Inside Hook begins with this statement: “This story is an exclusive sneak peek at Wondercade, the new newsletter from Neil Patrick Harris produced in partnership with InsideHook Studios.” Of course it is! Anyway, too late for New Year’s, but it’s a fun show-offy shrimp dish to try to make for a party sometime.


Happy 100 years in business—making it a survivor of two pandemics—to Valois Cafe in Hyde Park, a place that can honestly post a president’s preferred breakfast on the wall. Hyde Park Herald commemorates a century of Greek cafeteria-style breakfast in photos.


Donna Malnati, widow of Rudy Malnati Sr., who was often given credit for inventing Chicago style deep dish pizza when he worked at Pizzeria Uno in the 1940s, died in January 2020. Now her son Rudy Malnati Jr. has passed away at 65. Why start this news with his mom? Because one of the most interesting things is that with two kids who started different pizza chains (stepson Lou with Lou Malnati’s and Pizano’s for Rudy Jr.), Mom devised two different dough recipes, somewhat similar but different enough to keep peace in the family. I always admired that. Besides carrying on the family tradition, Rudy Jr. was director of the Air and Water Show for 30 years. Anyway, here’s the Sun-Times’ obit.