The 12 Best Surprises from Serious Eats Chicago's First Year

[Photographs: Nick Kindelsperger]

Can you believe it? Exactly one year ago today, Serious Eats Chicago launched with the simple goal of eating as much in the city as we could and reporting back with our thoughts. I can personally attest that everyone here has tried his or her best to do just that. Not to get too technical, but since November 14, 2011, we've written about 262 different sandwiches, 33 bowls of noodles, and at least 54 kinds of encased meats for Sausage City. I could go on. But instead of cataloging the incredible number of dishes devoured, I thought it might be more interesting to talk about the dishes that surprised me the most.

I try to eat out at least one meal every day. Sure, sometimes I skip a few days, though those lapses are usually made up when I visit three to four places in one go (I don't recommend doing this regularly). While most of the food I encounter is good, the unexpected gems keep me excited.

Some of these were legitimate finds, ones that I randomly stumbled upon during my year of eating. Sometimes, they were dishes I never knew could be quite so delicious. But most were restaurants that have been catalogued before, and I just didn't expect them to stand up as well as they did.

Check them all out by clicking on the slideshow. What about you? Did something over the past year surprise you? I'd love to hear about it in the comments. And here's to another year!

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