When Lakeview’s TAC Quick Thai Kitchen opened a decade ago, it was a six-table restaurant seemingly indistinguishable from every curry-slinging joint in town. Andy Aroonrasameruang changed that. He cooked real Thai food, keeping a Thai-language menu on hand for expats, earning praise for making that menu available in English and, eventually, expanding into a bustling two-storefront space. Last fall, his partnership fizzled, so Andy (as he’s known) struck out on his own, debuting a dense, bilingual menu of standouts. Rock-star dishes remain—crispy fried chicken, fermented pork rice sausage, garlic-bathed raw shrimp—but the fresh start has invigorated the experience, making it ideal for popping open a bottle, working your way through the menu and getting to know Andy all over again. 946 W Wellington Ave (773-549-7821).
Other nominees Bistro Dre, Briciola, Kai Zan, Shaman