RECOMMENDED: The 100 best things we ate and drank this year
1/9Photograph: Martha WiliiamsKale sandwich at RangeYeah, this sandwich sounds healthy, but it's really a super-gooey, rich grilled cheese that's lightened up with kale and sunflower-cranberry bread. $10.50.
2/9Photograph: Jason LittlePimiento cheeseburger at Big JonesOver the years, Paul Fehribach's burger (which appeared on this list in 2010) has changed, morphing from a single patty with Gruyere to a double patty with pimiento cheese (and earning the title of Top 5 Burgers in Chicago in the process). What hasn't changed is our unabiding love for it. $14.
3/9Credit: Amy CavanaughBrisket cemita by Cemitas Puebla and Smoque BBQTwo places that are great on their own are even better when they join forces. About once a year, Cemitas Puebla and Smoque team up to create the brisket cemita and lines extend far, far out Smoque's doors. They take Smoque's brisket and layer it inside Cemitas Puebla's roll, along with cheese, avocado, and barbecue and chipotle sauces. It's smoky, messy and so unfortunate we can't eat this sandwich all the time. Occasionally available.
4/9Photograph: Kari SkaflenCorned beef sandwich at Dillman'sAt Brendan Sodikoff's latest restaurant, the corned beef is cured in-house, then sliced very thinly and stacked into a tower with lacy, fatty edges atop soft rye. It's so big you may not think you can finish it, but rest assured you will. $10.95.
5/9Photograph: Anthony TahlierBurger at DryHop BrewersIf there's one dish we haven't shut up about this year, it's DryHop's burger. The meat is a blend of brisket and sirloin and it's topped with ancho chile-tomato jam, arugula, pickled sweet onions and a dollop of creamy aged raw milk cheddar. Don't even bother adding a slice of bacon or a fried egg-this burger is meaty, juicy and perfect the way it is. $13.
6/9Photograph: Jason LittleThe New York Special at Kaufman's DelicatessenThis beloved Skokie deli survived a devastating fire in 2011. But can you survive this combination of corned beef and chopped liver, sandwiched between Kaufman�s famous rye bread? Ask for mustard to cut through the insanely delicious richness. $11.25.
7/9Photograph: Jason LittleThe Big Baby burger at Little Market BrasserieRyan Poli brought a taste of the South Side to this tony Gold Coast restaurant via this deceptively named burger. Baby? This thing's a beast-grilled onions and spicy mayo oozing out from between two griddled patties. To paraphrase the great Kelly Clarkson: What doesn't kill you makes you stronger. $15.50.
8/9Photograph: Jason LittleSeitan gyro at Kitchen 17Don Clements makes seitan in-house and uses it in many dishes, like the gyro, loaded with flavorful slices of seitan, cucumber, onion, tomato and a tangy tzatziki sauce. $8.
9/9Photograph: Jason LittleArctic char tartine at Publican Quality MeatsLike its across-the-street sibling, PQM flaunts its meat credentials, but these guys take fish just as seriously. Paul Kahan and co.'s take on the Swedish smørrebrød open-face sandwich is spot on, from the rustic slice of country bread to the delicately smoked fish to the crunchy slices of radishes and fennel to the pop of the cured roe sprinkled on top. No longer available.