Nick's Favorite New Chicago Restaurants of 2012

[Photograph: Nick Kindelsperger]

I tried desperately to come up with some kind of theme to tie all of my favorite new restaurants of 2012 together–that is the point of these things, right?—but I give up. Sure, most have an owner or chef keeping close tabs on the operation, making sure the food is consistently excellent. But that's about it. These new restaurants are literally all over the map, and come from both respected restaurateurs and hungry novices. The only similarity is that I was legitimately surprised by what I ate.

Of course, though I ate an awful lot last year, I wasn't able to visit every single new opening. Also, a few were too new to include (which explains the absence of Little Goat). But first, check out my list of the best new Chicago restaurants of 2012.

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