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  Announcing the Spring 2008 GNR Renewals
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  • Announcing the Spring 2008 GNR Renewals

    Post #1 - April 2nd, 2008, 10:24 am
    Post #1 - April 2nd, 2008, 10:24 am Post #1 - April 2nd, 2008, 10:24 am

    LTHForum Great Neighborhood Restaurant Award Renewals, Announced April 2, 2008

    Of the many restaurant awards handed out in Chicago, only one represents the heartfelt opinions of a broad base of ordinary food enthusiasts spending their own money on the food they truly love. That's the LTHForum Great Neighborhood Restaurant award, nominated and awarded by the members of the popular Chicago-based culinary chat site. Its members run the gamut from four-star chefs to hot dog stand proprietors, lawyers, writers, musicians, college students and everything in between, all united by a love of food-- and a willingness to share their finds on the internet.

    Now LTHForum is pleased to announce that 35 restaurants last awarded the Great Neighborhood Restaurant designation in 2006 have been recertified for the award, following a lengthy period of trial, discussion and careful evaluation-- to make sure the places chosen still have the magic that captivated LTHForum posters in the first place. Each restaurant will receive a certificate similar to the one shown above, highlighting some of what makes it special-- and in many cases, recommending specific dishes to try.

    Why Great Neighborhood Restaurant

    Chicago is a city of great neighborhoods, made distinctive by history, ethnic mix, and vibrant street life and culture. The Great Neighborhood Restaurant awards honor restaurants all over Chicagoland that contribute to their neighborhoods’ and the city’s character by offering outstanding food, an authentic experience of their ethnic culture, and/or a welcoming (or in some cases, belovedly cranky) atmosphere for guests. The restaurants run the gamut from Gene’s & Jude’s simply wonderful hot dog stand to a refined wine bar and restaurant, Volo. Most of the GNRs, and the true strength of the list, lie in simple ethnic places sprinkled across Chicagoland and offering the diner an opportunity to experience another world of tastes.

    Restaurants are nominated by registered members of, the Chicago-based culinary chat site, and ratified by a group including the moderators of the board, based on the degree of discussion and community-wide enthusiasm evidenced on the site. For the renewal process, this meant that each restaurant must either have had ongoing favorable discussion since 2006, or members had to try them again and report back to ensure that the restaurant had retained its previous level of quality and distinction.

    Click on each restaurant’s name to read the nominating thread for more details. For a handy pocket guide to all 83 current LTHForum Great Neighborhood Restaurants, gohere.

    LTHForum Great Neighborhood Restaurant Award renewals for 2008-9

    Burt's Place
    -- A pizza master who started several of the area's best-known spots now holds court and serves great deep-dish in this homey little spot hidden on a side street in Morton Grove.
    Calumet Fisheries-- One of the last shrimp huts of its kind, serving up addictive smoked and fried shrimp and fish in the shadow of the Skyway and the steel mills.
    Cunis Candies-- Far South side ice cream parlor and candy shop serving up housemade delights.
    Gene’s & Jude’s-- Ultra-minimalist hot dog stand in River Grove serving classic Chicago dogs and fresh-cut fries.
    Honey 1 BBQ-- Terrific, authentically wood-smoked barbecue ribs, rib tips and hot links, transplanted from the west side to Bucktown.
    Hot Doug’s-- Wildly innovative Roscoe Village “encased meats emporium” serving exotic sausages and duck fat fries.
    Johnnie’s Beef (Melrose Park & Arlington Heights locations)-- Italian beef and sausage fans line up all day long at this legendary spot for the quintessential Chicago specialty.
    Scooter's-- Nothing says summer in Roscoe Village like the seasonal opening of this happy stand serving up creamy custard in the tradition of legendary spots like Kopp's in Milwaukee or Ted Drewes in St. Louis.
    Sweets and Savories-- Unpretentious but impressive Lincoln Park bistro offering innovative cuisine at very reasonable prices.
    Volo-- Wine bar and restaurant serving up innovative small plates to families and trendies in Roscoe Village.

    -- Andersonville fixture packing them in for a Belgian-focused beer list and hearty European bar food like mussels and frites.

    Katy's Dumpling House
    -- Despite the name, handmade noodles are the real star attraction at this tiny spot in a remarkably diverse ethnic strip mall in Westmont.

    La Unica
    -- Make your way through this Rogers Park grocery and you'll find a lunch counter in back where Cuban-Americans of all ages enjoy authentic cafe de cubano, Cuban sandwiches and more.

    -- Edgewater quickie-mart unexpectedly serves up hot, fresh and delicious Indo-Pakistani food along with the Marlboros and Lotto tickets.

    Spacca Napoli
    -- Owner Jonathan Goldsmith studied pizza-making in Italy and imported a massive wood-burning oven (and a pizza chef) to make the best and most authentic Neapolitan-style pizzas Chicago has ever seen.

    -- Japanese comfort food and friendly service draws a homey, corner-coffeeshop style crowd in Lincolnwood.
    Sunshine Cafe-- Homey Japanese-American diner welcomes a highly diverse Andersonville crowd for non-sushi Japanese comfort food. [REOPENED June 2007.]

    Hai Woon Dae
    -- Authentic-feeling, popular Korean BBQ spot where you can sit at a table or on mats to grill your own meat over charcoal.
    San Soo Gap San-- Almost-24-hour Korean barbecue spot has stern owners who probably don't quite know what to make of the late-night hipsters scarfing down delicious Korean grilled meats and soups.

    Birrieria Reyes de Ocotlán
    -- A one dish restaurant, but what a dish-- birria, piquantly roasted goat, served with a simple squeeze of lime or salsa.
    Bombon Bakery-- Chicago's best Mexican bakery (and maybe best bakery period), this highlight of any visit to Pilsen is owned by a couple who trained under Rick Bayless and in Europe.
    La Casa de Samuel-- Sitdown Little Village Mexican restaurant (with a mariachi feel) offering fine handmade tortillas and some unusual specialties like venison.
    Fonda del Mar-- Upscale but reasonably priced Logan Square Mexican restaurant stressing high quality seafood dishes.
    La Quebrada-- Family of south and southwest side Mexican restaurants excelling at all the standards, including perhaps the best tortillas in town.
    Nuevo Leon-- Simple, delicious norteño Mexican food at a family-friendly, consistently popular Pilsen institution.
    Taqueria Puebla-- Soccer-themed Humboldt Park stand specializing in freshly-made cemitas-- Mexican sandwiches with a smoky blast of chipotle heat.

    -- Unassuming spot on the Albany Park middle-eastern strip offers some of the best falafel, kefta kebab and shawerma in town.
    Semiramis-- Roast chicken, shawerma and other middle eastern dishes at a place more upscale than most on the Kedzie middle eastern strip.
    Steve's Shish Kabob-- Excellent middle-eastern standards in a bright, welcoming storefront in Palos Hills.

    Tre Kronor
    -- Great breakfasts and other homey foods at a sunny, friendly west Andersonville Swedish restaurant.

    Sticky Rice
    -- Chicago's first Thai restaurant devoted to Northern (Isaan) Thai cooking offers a wide range of pungent dishes (only a few of which involve bugs).
    The Elephant-- The far northwest side’s first Thai restaurant offers bright, freshly-flavored versions of Thai classics.

    A delightful and eclectic selection once again. Special thanks to those who put extra effort into the GNR program including Ramon, SteveZ, Ronnie Suburban, Santander, MHays, and GWiv, and all the LTHForum members who post, nominate and discuss these and so many more places, as well as providing good suggestions on the GNRs.

    Visit, enjoy, post and as the masthead said, repeat often.

    for the LTHForum Great Neighborhood Restaurant Program