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Time Out Chicago Announces 2013 Eat Out Awards

By Anthony Todd in Food on Apr 16, 2013 3:00PM

2013_4_16_TOC.jpg Last night, Time Out Chicago released the latest incarnation of the Eat Out Awards, an annual set of dining accolades that always helps us decide what new restaurants to put on our list. The event (and the resulting feature) was a bit bittersweet, since the awards were prepared before the massive layoffs that ravaged Time Out's staff. For lovers of the old Time Out Chicago food section, this feature may be the last time the entire dining staff is all on board, as Dining Editor David Tamarkin looks to be one of the casualties of the cuts.

As always, there are two main parts to the Eat Out Awards. First, the critics' picks. In the grand Chicago tradition of critics' picks (using a technique perfected by the Reader) the quirky categories were clearly chosen to fit the restaurants that the editors felt deserved recognition. This allows foodies to play an entertaining guessing game — what are the few restaurants or food projects that could possibly fit the category?

For instance, "Most Graceful Exit." Go ahead, think about it. It's like a gameshow. Ok, maybe only we are amused. This award refers to the chocolates that finish the meal at Grace, everyone's favorite new restaurant. The "White Castle Award for Slider Advancement?" As anyone who has been there knows, this could only go to Sumi Robata Bar. Check out the rest of the critics picks, which include things like "Biggest Threat to Chipotle," "Best Bar with a Restaurant Attached" and "Nuttiest Side Project."

The rest of the awards are Readers' Choice Awards. This is where ordinary diners got to pick their favorites in somewhat more standard categories: best bar, best new restaurant, best microbrewery, cheap eatery of the year, etc. A few highlights: Brendan Sodikoff (subject of a much-remarked-upon, somewhat silly Time Out cover a few months back) won Best Restauateur, Fat Rice won Best New Restaurant, Scofflaw won Best New Bar and Revolution won Best New Microbrewery.

In a week of lists, why should you read Time Out's? Aside from the beautiful pictures and the whimsy (that will be missed) of the dining critics, their awards have more breadth than Chicago Magazine's. This isn't just a list of restaurants — it includes everything from a candy bar to a series of special sandwiches. It's definitely worth losing a lunch hour perusing.