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Chicago Tribune's 10 favorite restaurant dishes of 2014

We in the Dining section ate exceedingly well in 2014, and so selecting the best things we ate was a delightfully difficult chore. These are dishes we would happily order a dozen more times, if duty did not compel us to new restaurants and tastes.

In compiling this list, what surprised us most is how only one dish here is meat-centric — chalk it up to a very good year for Mother Nature and desserts.

This isn't the most practical list; some of these dishes are unavailable because of seasonality, some have departed their respective menus, and at least one belongs to a restaurant that, sadly, is no longer among us.

—Phil Vettel and Kevin Pang

Tell us: What's your favorite dish of 2014? Include your name, hometown, the name of the dish, restaurant and what made it so delicious in an email to ctc-dining@tribune.com with "favorite dish" in the subject line. Your submission may appear online or in print in the Dining section. 

  • Potato soup at 42 Grams

    Potato soup at 42 Grams

    It's difficult to imagine a more impressive debut than Jake Bickelhaupt's 42 Grams, which opened in January and copped two Michelin stars by November. Bickelhaupt's first menu was chock-full of marvels, including a stupendous sea urchin dish, but the standout for me was the pedestrian-sounding...

  • Bing bread at Parachute

    Bing bread at Parachute

    Ho-hum potato bread — hard sell, right? But there's also scallions, cheddar and Broadbent's Kentucky bacon in the dough. And it's brushed with sesame oil, fried in a cast-iron skillet and finished in the oven. Suddenly, ho-hum potato bread becomes altogether crisp, chewy, smoky, habit-forming —...

  • The Lou pizza at Lou Malnati's

    The Lou pizza at Lou Malnati's

    How is it that I didn't discover this pizza, which owner Marc Malnati introduced several years ago as a tribute to his father, until last year? This deep-dish pizza is marvelous, richly flavored with a blend of four cheeses, spinach and Roma tomatoes, with subtle hints of garlic and basil. You'd...

  • Garden cocotte at Tete Charcuterie

    Garden cocotte at Tete Charcuterie

    With German engineering-level precision, Tete Charcuterie pulls off a technically masterful dish. More than three dozen vegetables, herbs and fruits are presented in various cooked and raw states. Some get grilled, some butter-poached, some pureed, some pickled, some left unadorned; all are then...

  • Broccoli salad at Boka

    Broccoli salad at Boka

    Joyful and delicious are the interactions between chef Lee Wolen and all things leafy and crunchy. The beautifully composed broccoli salad, which I ate in the spring, is a case in point. Raw, shaved broccoli stems and florets, brightened with preserved lemon and a barely there lemon vinaigrette,...

  • Focaccia at Charlatan

    Focaccia at Charlatan

    When bread reminds you of cracklins, applause is an appropriate reaction. Charlatan, the West Town pasta house from the Three Aces team, manages to bake focaccia as light and crunchy as fried chicken skin. (I'm told the secret involves not being shy with olive oil.) Add roasted garlic butter and...

  • Cannoli at Cicchetti

    Cannoli at Cicchetti

    Sadly, Cicchetti did not last very long, but I still have fond memories of the place. In particular, I shall miss Sarah Jordan's whimsical cannoli dessert, which was so unlike a cannoli it should have been accompanied by a menu disclaimer (“ceci n'est pas une cannoli” might fit the dessert's surreal...

  • Nashville hot chicken biscuit at The Roost

    Nashville hot chicken biscuit at The Roost

    Hot chicken has been a thing in Nashville, Tenn., for some time. The last time I had it, it was so spicy my body spent half the day hunched at a 90-degree angle. Now it's become a thing in Chicago as well, and no place reaches Nashville levels of self-inflicted pain like The Roost Carolina Kitchen....

  • Chocolate cake at Topolobampo

    Chocolate cake at Topolobampo

    This dessert was unique to Topolo's daring “Mexico City 1491” menu, a pre-Columbian exercise in Mexican cooking without the use of cilantro, beef, pork, garlic, onion, lime or any of the myriad ingredients brought to the New World by the Spaniards. For pastry chef Jennifer Jones, the challenge...

  • Churros at Salero

    Churros at Salero

    Once upon a time, Xoco served the finest churros in Chicago, until new kid in town Salero knocked it from its perch. Piped and fried to order, the ephemeral ribbons are 99.2 percent air, held together by a miracle of physics with the crispiest gossamer exterior. These churros are a proper plated...

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