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The 100 best dishes in Chicago 2014: entrees

Fill up on the best crispy pizzas, decadent pastas, rich ramen and other top entrees we had this year

When hunger pangs strike, seek out these big dishes to fill you up. This year we sampled lots of new pizzas and pastas, found a fantastic bowl of ramen and hit a food truck for currywurst. And about half the dishes are vegetarian, so you can also eat—a little bit—lighter. These are our 18 favorite entrees of the year.

RECOMMENDED: The 100 best dishes and drinks in Chicago

The best entrees

Bucatini carbonara at A10
Photograph: Matthias Merges
1/18

Bucatini carbonara at A10

Our award for the most decadent pasta of the year: John Vermiglio’s bucatini carbonara, coated in cream sauce, studded with guanciale and finished with an egg. Slice it open to release the velvety yolk, then loosen your belt. $20.

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Hyde Park
Vegetarian beer cheese arepa at Bar Takito
Photograph: Martha Williams
2/18

Vegetarian beer cheese arepa at Bar Takito

You can get this dish with meat, too, but it definitely doesn’t need it—the pickled vegetables, mushrooms, and aji pepper and peanut sauce are a great combination with the corn bread base. $10.

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West Loop
Roasted chicken at Boka
Photograph: Martha Williams
3/18

Roasted chicken at Boka

You haven’t had chicken until you’ve had Lee Wolen’s chicken, with lemon and thyme brioche stuffed between the tender meat and crackly skin. $29.

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Lincoln Park
Pizza at Ceres’ Table
Photograph: Martha Williams
4/18

Pizza at Ceres’ Table

We like Ceres’ Table’s new Lakeview location, but we like the new wood-burning pizza oven even more since it started turning out these exceptional, lightly charred crusts topped with mozzarella. $14–$16.

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Lake View
Egg yolk raviolo at Cocello
Photograph: Kari Skaflen
5/18

Egg yolk raviolo at Cocello

One slice into this single raviolo and ricotta and egg yolk will spill out and mingle with brown butter. It’s so good you’ll want one per person. $14.

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River North
Margherita pizza at Craft Pizza
Photograph: Martha Williams
6/18

Margherita pizza at Craft Pizza

There are more elaborate pizzas at Craft, but this pie, with a bubbly crust, zippy tomato sauce, fresh mozzarella and a drizzle of olive oil, is simplicity at its best. $14/$18.

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Wicker Park
CurryWurst from DönerMen
Photograph: Martha Williams
7/18

CurryWurst from DönerMen

We scraped up every bit of the rich, tomatoey housemade curry sauce that coats the grilled sausage and fries, and wound up returning to the food truck for an extra cup. $8.

High Five ramen at High Five Ramen
Photograph: Kari Skaflen
8/18

High Five ramen at High Five Ramen

Chicago may be ramen-crazed right now, so we’ll make this easy: Our current favorite bowl is the namesake variety at Brendan Sodikoff’s basement ramen bar. The velvety tonkotsu broth is spiked with Sichuan peppers and Japanese chilies, plus springy noodles and luscious pork belly. $14.

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West Loop
Sinigang chicken soup at Isla Pilipina
Photograph: Martha Williams
9/18

Sinigang chicken soup at Isla Pilipina

On one of the coldest days of the year, we walked into Isla Pilipina, ordered a bowl of the sour, peppery tamarind soup—packed with tomato, green beans and big hunks of chicken—and instantly felt happy and warm. $8.

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Lincoln Square
Chef’s choice sashimi at Juno
10/18

Chef’s choice sashimi at Juno

The chef in question is esteemed sushi chef B.K. Park, which means you’re crazy if you don’t let him fill a bowl with a generous array of pristine slices of fish. $38.

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Sheffield & DePaul
Confit potatoes a la plancha at Salero
Photograph: Martha Williams
11/18

Confit potatoes a la plancha at Salero

So often consigned to being a side dish, the potato gets its due at Salero, where the tender slice of potato is joined by a fried egg, mushrooms and thick slices of melted Spanish cheese. $23.

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West Loop
Spicy and salted crab at Silver Seafood
12/18

Spicy and salted crab at Silver Seafood

Bring a friend and get messy with a massive Dungeness crab, which is broken apart, deep-fried and tossed with onions and peppers. We wound up with crab in our hair, but who cares? $36.

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Uptown
Housemade pork sausage pizza at Stella Barra Pizzeria
Photograph: Nick Murway
13/18

Housemade pork sausage pizza at Stella Barra Pizzeria

You could put anything on this chewy, crispy crust and we’d bet it would be amazing. But we can’t imagine anything better than this fennel-loaded sausage. $14.95.

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Lincoln Park
Autumn garden at Tete Charcuterie
Photograph: Nick Murway
14/18

Autumn garden at Tete Charcuterie

That the standout dish at this charcuterie restaurant is a bowl filled with seasonal vegetables, fruits and herbs (which are roasted, raw and pickled) is a testament to just how thoughtful chefs Thomas Rice and Kurt Guzowski are with every dish. $18.

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West Loop
Plin at Osteria Langhe
Photograph: Martha Williams
15/18

Plin at Osteria Langhe

Recommended

The tiniest, most delicate ravioli we’ve ever had, the plin are stuffed with melting La Tur cheese and Parmesan and tossed with thyme and butter sauce, for a deceptively rich dish. $14.

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Logan Square
Smoked rainbow trout at Sepia
Photograph: Douglas Bening
16/18

Smoked rainbow trout at Sepia

Smoke can often overwhelm a dish, but not in the capable hands of Andrew Zimmerman, who balances the smoked rainbow trout and smoked trout roe with dill potatoes and caraway butter. $29.

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West Loop
Gyro platter at the Parthenon
17/18

Gyro platter at the Parthenon

Sometimes, you need to visit a classic, which is how we found ourselves recently demolishing a plate of tender, well-spiced gyro meat, pillowy pita, thick tzatziki sauce, tomatoes and raw onions. Throw in a glass of moschofilero, and you have our perfect meal. $8.75.

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Greektown
Butternut pizza at Reno
Photograph: Martha Williams
18/18

Butternut pizza at Reno

Never had squash pizza? Now’s the time to start. Sage, walnuts, Gouda and brown butter combine for a perfectly autumnal, charred-edge pie. $13.

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Logan Square

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