As we finally loosen our belts, unbutton our pants and reflect on the amazing bites we savored over the past 365 days, we feel quite lucky to live in such a taste-forward town. Chicago chefs and bartenders pulled out all the stops, offering unparalleled experiences we’ll never forget. The best part for you? Dining well doesn’t have to break the bank—you can enjoy most items on this list for less than $15. From a revamped peanut butter and jelly sandwich to a decadent chocolate crémeux and funky fried green tomatoes, these are the 100 best morsels we tried this year.
Classic avocado poke bowl at ASAP Poke
These days there’s a poke joint in every neighborhood, but we were blown away by the super fresh, on-demand options at this delivery-only concept from Lettuce Entertain You. Pink-hued cubes of tuna are jazzed up with a hodgepodge of colorful ingredients: scallions, cucumbers, watermelon radish, avocado and more. $9.95–$12.95.
Butterscotch pie at il Porcellino
With its generously portioned bowls of gnocchi bolognese and plates of oil-dappled fried calamari, you’ll have to make an effort to save room for dessert at this River North eatery. But trust us: It’s worth showing some restraint for a slice of butterscotch pie, which boasts an addictively sweet and slightly smoky center topped with a cloud of house-made whipped cream. It’s the kind of dessert you’ll keep eating long after declaring, “This is my last bite.” $6.95.
Coconut cake at Oyster Bah
There’s something inherently playful about coconut cake; perhaps it’s the fact that each slice looks like a cloud plucked from the sky. The version at this East Coast–inspired spot tastes like a beach vacation, sunshine and all. $8.95.