Slideshow: Joe's 10 Best Bites of 2013 in Chicago

The Hook at Reno ($8.00)
The Hook at Reno ($8.00)

Blues Traveler got it right: the Hook brings you back. Every time I think I'm going to try something new at Reno (like this amazing looking tower of a sandwich), I can't resist the subtle house salmon, chewy bagel, and balanced condiments. And if I'd rather not explain to the uninitiated exactly what Reno does (wood fired bagel shop by day, pizza and small plates by night!), I just steer them toward this sandwich and let them draw their own, well-founded, conclusions. Read more here >>

Fried Alaskan Cod at McGill's Bar & Grill ($6.00 for three pieces, $9.00 for all you can eat)
Fried Alaskan Cod at McGill's Bar & Grill ($6.00 for three pieces, $9.00 for all you can eat)

Simply put, this is the only place I keep coming back for fried fish in Chicago, and that says a lot. Well seasoned fish, a batter that is light and never too rich, and neighborhood kitsch to spare—you can bet I'll be holed up in McGill's all next Lent. Read more here >>

Chimichanga Suiza at Mayan Palace ($9.95)
Chimichanga Suiza at Mayan Palace ($9.95)

Forgive me for complaining, but there are too many great actual Mexican places here in Chicago. So much so that it's next to impossible to score a proper sauced and cheesed Tex-Mex chimichanga. But when that Midwest craving strikes, Mayan Palace will do you right with at least five variations on the theme. One bite, and you'll be craving a margarita as big as your head to wash it down. Read more here >>

Glazed Cake Doughnut at Old Fashioned Donuts ($0.92)
Glazed Cake Doughnut at Old Fashioned Donuts ($0.92)

From the first sight of the windowbox glazing station, it's no wonder that Buritt Bulloch has been turning out rounds and rolls to loyal customers since the early 70s. You really can't go wrong with any of them, but the plain old glazed cake—crunchy craggy with just a touch of sweetness—is the humble centerpiece to any early morning order I make. I'm thankful that this place is both relatively close to my route to see family in Indiana, and also far, far away from my apartment. Read more here >>

Pancakes at Moon's Sandwich Shop ($4.35)
Pancakes at Moon's Sandwich Shop ($4.35)

With a bevy of hard-hitting greasy spoon breakfast options on order, I was surprised by how smitten I was with this simple short stack. The syrup is more Buttersworth than maple, but it suits these fluffy cakes just right. Read more here >>

"Filipino" Street BBQ Style Glazed St. Louis Ribs at Smalls Smoke Shack & More ($14.00 for a half sl

It was hard to choose between the fried chicken and brisket for this list, so I'll go with the dish I've actually been back for. These spare ribs, lanky and glazed, are as good an argument as any for removing "fusion" from the lexicon; 'Asian inspired' or what have you, these are just damn fine ribs, plain and simple. Read more here >>

Sliders with Cheese at State Fair ($2.25 for a single)
Sliders with Cheese at State Fair ($2.25 for a single)

The award for most manic, loosely concepted menu this year goes to State Fair, with Chicago and coney dogs sharing real estate with funnel cake and pork tenderloin. But I'm willing to play along for the sliders, which very well may be the only version being done in the city right now. Dinner roll bun, smashed patty and steamed onions, and simple American cheese: come late and come often. Read more here >>

All You Can Eat Fried Pollock at Nelson's Saloon in Three Oaks, MI ($8.75)
All You Can Eat Fried Pollock at Nelson's Saloon in Three Oaks, MI ($8.75)

This slightly pale pile of handlebar mustache curved fish isn't going to change your life, and if you didn't grow up with it, I don't know that you'll even bat an eye. But one bite into the fish fry of my youth, freshly cooked to order behind the bar, and I knew I'll be making a March pilgrimage here on out for an order of this. Butter the bread and pour on the tartar, fold in some fish, and bask in the warm, comforting glow of the Midwest. Read more here >>